Dress codes are for racists

While we've all been waiting with baited breath for the conclusion of the CIA leak investigation, something may have passed under everyone's radar, especially those who don't directly follow the sporting world. The National Basketball Association has issued a new dress code, a set of guidelines that has league officials excited and many players crying foul.

I'm not here to argue the dress code's legality - I'd rather leave that to the more litigious types among us. But the racial undertone at play here is unmistakable. And so is the hypocrisy.

The primary thrust of the code is having players follow a "business casual" look while engaged in official team and league business. Exceptions exist, but not in ways apparent to the average fan. While specific punishments for violating the code are forthcoming, they will include fines and subsequent suspensions. To the NBA, business casual includes:
A long or short-sleeved dress shirt (collared or turtleneck), and/or a sweater; dress slacks, khaki pants, or dress jeans; and appropriate shoes and socks, including dress shoes, dress boots, or other presentable shoes, but not including sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, or work boots.
Seems obvious enough - almost as obvious as the players' predictably negative initial reaction. Now take a look at the items prohibited thanks to the code:
Sleeveless shirts; shorts; t-shirts, jerseys, or sports apparel (unless appropriate for the event (e.g., a basketball clinic), team-identified, and approved by the team); headgear of any kind while a player is sitting on the bench or in the stands at a game, during media interviews, or during a team or league event or appearance (unless appropriate for the event or appearance, team-identified, and approved by the team); chains, pendants, or medallions worn over the player's clothes; sunglasses while indoors; and headphones (other than on the team bus or plane, or in the team locker room).
You don't have to be a genius to see which NBA players this code will affect most. And that's just the point. This, to me, is a cultural crackdown, an older generation preaching to the new schoolers. Anytime you have predominantly white management telling predominantly African American employees what to do - especially how to look - it's no surprise when words like "racism" get thrown around. For good reason. And if the players don't like it? Tough, says league commissioner David Stern. "If they are really going to have a problem," he told ESPN, "they will have to make a decision about how they want to spend their adult life in terms of playing in the NBA or not."

Without a doubt, the NBA has had an image problem recently, especially following last season's vicious brawl between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons. The fight, if you'll recall, featured multiple players engaging in fisticuffs with fans throughout the arena, as well as fighting on the court and general disorderly conduct by all involved.

Yes, the punishment was swift and severe, but the debate lingered: Is this the NBA that players and officials would like to promote? Sure, Stern would rather have you seeing superstars like LeBron James fly through the air non-stop, but let's not forget the league's recent past.

Did the NBA do anything to stop the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys" teams? Of course not; in fact, they promoted it. As I wrote shortly after the Pacers/Pistons brawl, video of Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn fouling opponents hard was almost more common than the on-court acrobatics of Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars' steady play. Instead of putting a stop to this behavior, the NBA helped promote the Bad Boys culture, leading no doubt to more recent incidents and the urge to impose a rigid dress code.

But the NBA itself isn't the only party responsible for promoting the predominant league "lifestyle." Networks like ESPN ceaselessly rebroadcast video of the fight, to say nothing of their steady stream of flashy, slam-dunk driven highlights. The same "playa" lifestyle the NBA low looks to suppress is given constant exposure thanks to shows like "MTV Cribs" and "Ride with Funkmaster Flex." And that's only the tip of the iceberg.

While trying to clean up its reputation, the NBA itself seemingly has no problem continuing to promote its street image. Look no further than the NBA's own video games Web site, where offerings like "NBA Ballers" and "NBA Street V3" are promoted. One of the "NBA Ballers" selling points is that it's the "Exclusive one-on-one basketball videogame highlighting the 'bling-bling' lifestyle of NBA superstars."

Seems like the "bling-bling" lifestyle is just fine when it comes to making the league money - so long as the "ballers" themselves know their place. And keep their mouths shut, too, else they'll face stiff fines for speaking out. Theirs is not to question why; theirs is but to dunk and fly.

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Comments

36 Comments

Of course it is racist
You don't see them trying this shit with the NHL...
by Parker 2005-10-20 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Of course it is racist
You idiot, there is already a dress code in the NHL and it is more strict than the new dress code for the NBA!  

This is about being a professional and taking your profession seriously and has nothing to do with race.

You should get your facts straight before you start alleging racism.  Maybe if people would think before they threw out that word race relations in this country would not be nearly as strained as they are.

by Colaw 2005-10-20 03:42PM | 0 recs
Hmmm
I don't think it's racist to ask someone to dress appropriately for work.
by simplesinger 2005-10-20 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
To sit in the stands...
by Parker 2005-10-20 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
I see what you're saying, but I think it's irresponsible and reactionary to say this policy is racist when:

A)The players union agreed to this idea in principle.

B)They're not asking them to where tuxedos; heck they're not even asking them to wear suits, ties or jackets.  They're simply asking them to wear clothes that are of a more professional nature.

C)Virtually every job has some sort of dress code which applies when that person is at work or representing their place of employment.

I work in an office where we have people of all sort of different ethnicities.  We have a dress code to which EVERYONE must adhere.  Am I happy that I don't get to wear the clothes that I feel comfortable in to work? No not really.  Do I think it's racist? Absolutely not.

Furthermore I think it's reckless and harmful to more truly important diversity issues, when we spend time gnashing our teeth and referring to the fact that overpaid hyper-egoed athletes are being asked to put on some professional clothes, and leave the do-rags and the bling at home, while they're at work.

by simplesinger 2005-10-20 10:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
All of the "prohibited" item of dress are connected to the Hip Hop fashions... that is were the rascism comes in.

I remember my brother being suspended from school in the 70's for having a pick in his afro. There have been police officers suspended for having dreadlocks of women wearing braids.

IT IS RACIST.

Who decided that chinos and turtle necks are more appropriate?

by Parker 2005-10-20 11:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
I think it's funny how people refer to it as "hip-hop" fashion.  Hip-hop fashion has been taking it's cues for the past few years from gangster culture.  If you're being truly honest, then what you're protecting here is the right of these men to promote a gangster lifestyle, which they're free to do.  

I think David Stern is saying, "Fine, if you guys want to dress like gangsters do it on your own time, not when you're at work."  I don't think that's unreasonable.

I love how you're putting words in my mouth with the chino's and turtle necks crap.  In my office we have a few muslim people who wear their traditional clothing to work, and everyone thinks it's fine because it is clean and appropriate for work. Same with an Indian woman in my work group.

I hate wearing a shirt and tie to work, but I do it because my employer asks me to and I don't think it's unreasonable to ask us to dress according to current cultural standards of "business casual".

Maybe those standards are wrong, but that is not the issue here.  In fact I know a lot of terrible people who wear suits to work, and a lot of truly remarkable people who don't, but that is not the issue either.

by simplesinger 2005-10-20 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
Bull..

Hip-hop fashion has been taking it's cues for the past few years from gangster culture.

That is Stern interpretation.

He wants these guys to dress "white"

by Parker 2005-10-20 11:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
You think that's bull?

You got 50 cent and The Game getting into gun fights, when they were supposedly friends.  Biggie and Tupac dead because of this gang bullshit, and whole genre entitled gangsta rap.  You're going to honestly tell me that a lot of "hip-hop" culture isn't influenced by gangster culture.

Hey if you want to promote a gangster lifestyle go right ahead and do it buddy, but at least be honest about it.  

I really like a lot of hip hop music, but I say keep the killing and the drugs out of it. Especially since you and I both know that a lot of these guys are pretenders. You might say, "That's hip-hop, deal with."

Now THAT is bull...

by simplesinger 2005-10-20 11:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm

They want them to stop looking Black

by Parker 2005-10-20 11:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
So wearing a chain makes you black now?
by simplesinger 2005-10-20 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
I wonder what Dr. King would have to say about that.
by simplesinger 2005-10-20 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
He'd say you should judge a basketball player by his abilities and talent not by what he is wearing
by Parker 2005-10-20 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
First of all I would disagree with your premise.  I think that the standards of the dress code are sufficiently vague enought to still allow the players to express themselves in creative ways (which I think we will see by the way), and still leaves room for them to dress "black", whatever that means.  (Talk about stereotypes, I didn't know all black people dressed the same.)

Secondly, do you think that Dr. King would be an advocate for allowing black culture to so closely align itself with gangster culture? Of course he wouldn't judge these men by their style of dress, but he would attempt to convey to them the communicative importance of how we dress.  He was about empowerment, and I don't think he would be happy with rich, successful, black role models passing themslves off as thugs and gangsters.  He knew that that they could do better than that, and that it was important for these role models to show others that they could do better too.

Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I just want to say I appreciate your conversation about all this. I really do see your point.  I always have a problem when it comes to the taking away or freedom, but in this case I think that a new standard needs to be set, and on that point I guess we disagree.

by simplesinger 2005-10-20 12:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
even this is no forbidden

A long or short-sleeved dress shirt (collared or turtleneck), and/or a sweater.

by Parker 2005-10-20 12:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
I don't know if this helps your case, Parker, but here's the whitest guy to ever play in the NBA, and how he chooses to comport himself:

Image source: kenthorner.com/Stockton_Ceremony/stockton_sloan.jpg
by Crazy Vaclav 2005-10-20 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
What is "looking black"?
by v2aggie2 2005-10-20 08:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
Well, I disagree with the dress code.

But the players had a chance to address this.

The collective bargining agreement was signed this year.  The league made it clear that this was what they wanted.  The response from the players union? Nothing.

by v2aggie2 2005-10-20 08:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm
My job has a dress code and we do not get paid there money, I say shut up were a suit and play ball, unless of course you wish to work in our world.
by THE MODERATE 2005-10-20 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Ebonics ?
Even speakers of ebonics should be
able to spell "their" and "wear" correctly.
by Woody 2005-10-20 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Ebonics ?
We dyslexics know how to untie.
by THE MODERATE 2005-10-20 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: What is the work?
If a player comes out of
a locker room and sits down
for a TV interview wearing
a couple of gold chains
over a sweatsuit, and
looking like L.L. Cool J.,
how is that "inappropriate"
for his work?

Now if David Stern showed up
for an interview wearing Nikes,
that would be ludicrous and
inappropriate for his work.

As a union man, I'm objecting
to rules that say the employees'
wishes ain't worth 50 cents.

The employer is telling people
what they can wear from their
homes to the job -- where they
change into the uniform that
is appropriate to their work --
and telling them what they can
wear as they leave work. It
is not right to snoop into the
private lives of employees.

If the fellas want to hit the clubs
after a game and pick up eager
groupies, that's none of Big Daddy
Stern's business, what or who
they do off hours. Or how they
dress after their work is finished.

You want them to wear sports
jackets as they leave the locker room
and then, like refugees from
a repressive regime, change
into street fashion in the
parking lot? Hey, I say they have
a right to do that. Peel off the jacket,
collared shirt, pants, and dress shoes,
stand there in their undies while
they put on a sleeveless T-shirt,
shorts, sneakers, gold chains, and
backwards caps.

Or isn't it their right to wear in
their off hours whatever is
fashionable among other
black guys their age ?
Otherwise they could show up
at the club looking like outcasts.

I mean, just because the playas'
great grands used to be slaves
doesn't give David Stern the right
to tell them how to dress off court.
If his crew is too live, too bad,
they are "free, white, and 21"
as we used to say back home.

I don't see it here, but I'm sure
that to usher in a cleancut era
the NBA will want to ban wearing
caps backwards, too. And baggy
pants. And anything else that might
be seen on any ghetto boys or
in the pages of VIBE or another
hip-hop magazine. Next, Stern will
want to ban rap music, or at least
its unexpurgated versions not
suitable for radio airplay.

Oh, and most of all, ban skin.
Pull off your sweat-soaked jersey
after a hard-fought win -- oh no,
you don't dare do that -- because
you're too sexy for my league.
Keep your clothes on -- you're
too sexy already. You and Wilt
Chamberlain. Don't flash your
six-pack or your two pack or any
alluring body parts at all.

Stern must be regretting all his
many missed opportunities.
Why didn't he ban tattoos back
when? And come down like
a hammer on black hair dyed
green, etc. And most of all, why
didn't he ban cornrows and
dreadlocks? But then again,
back in the good old days,
when playas knew their place,
the NBA did ban dreadlocks
and braids, no ? Or was it
only a rule of certain teams,
like, all the teams in the NBA ?

by Woody 2005-10-20 10:54AM | 0 recs
Class lines
The NBA is getting pulled in two different directions. There are the people who actually have the money to buy the seats in NBA arenas (or at least who have the money to buy seats that are close enough that you can clearly see what the players on the bench are wearing). These people are mostly white, professional, upper-middle-class, many of whom don't follow the league closely but are at the arena on a corporate junket. They want to see athletes who are respectable employees and team players (like themselves). So, the NBA says dress politely while you're on the bench.

Then there are the people who don't have the money to go to the games (except maybe once-a-year in the nosebleeds), but who do have the money and interest in buying the paraphrenalia (the video games, the throwback jerseys). These people might see themselves in opposition (perhaps involuntary opposition) to the world of work and conformity, and they want to see athletes who are outlaws (like themselves). So, the NBA says flaunt your bling while you're appearing in the youth-oriented media.

by Crazy Vaclav 2005-10-20 11:03AM | 0 recs
With all the Problems we have
Man, with all the problems going on around us-some of you are worrying about a bunch of multi-millionaries over dresscode?

You think Allen Iverson, Shaq, Kobe, Jermaine O'Neal even think about your well being!

PLEASE! They work for the NBA! What the NBA tells them to do, they follow. If they don't, they don't play!

Yes, they are role models to a lot of young people whether we like it or not. Generally, You can get away with all these Bling-Blings if you're EITHER in the Hollywood biz or if you're an athelete. Some Artists also get away with it.

But 95% of jobs or business out there- NO ONE's GOING to hire you.

That's a fact. Young people who emulate these entertainers think that wearing a Bling- Bling is okay just like these athletes & actors. HEY, Entertainers can get away with it. But 95% of people who are NOT Gifted as an Entertainer CANNOT!

These PROS should STOP Whining!

by labanman 2005-10-20 11:07AM | 0 recs
why the same diary @ dKos?
you have like 200+ comments on this subject over there, why post it over here? some thought this was a troller... i dunno.

anyway, like i said over there, the nba is a private business doing what they want for their image. the players have a union and could protest -- but they don't, because this is a business decision, not a racist one.

blacks and whites and whatever color all dress like "other races." making someone dress "formally" means the same whatever race you are; it's not an insult to the clothes you happen to be wearing when you're dressing casually.

by jessev 2005-10-20 11:08AM | 0 recs
im sorry
but this blog is stupid.  There is nothing racist about a dress code.  Its applied evenly to all players.
by IrnBru001 2005-10-20 11:20AM | 0 recs
Re: im sorry
Bull...

It does not outlaw Dockers and Topsiders

by Parker 2005-10-20 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: im sorry
what are you talking about?!?!?!  what does that have to do with anything???
by IrnBru001 2005-10-20 11:44AM | 0 recs
Re: im sorry
Did you even read the list of "forbidden" items of clothing.... they are ALL associated with a black style of dress... therefore no Dockers or Topsiders were listed or anything associated with "white" dress
by Parker 2005-10-20 11:56AM | 0 recs
Re: im sorry
saying there is a "black style of dress" is the only racist thing i've read in this post.
by IrnBru001 2005-10-20 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: im sorry
no it means that you are ignorant
by Parker 2005-10-20 12:04PM | 0 recs
Re: im sorry
no it means you sterotype people...  blacks wear this whites wear that, instead of a persons clothing preference being a product of many thing none of them includes the color of their skin.  Skin color is just skin color nothing more so stop making it into something it isn't.
by IrnBru001 2005-10-20 12:11PM | 0 recs
Frankly I think the real problem is
that too many little white boyz are imitating these black guys.

THEY ARE ROLE MODELS

The last time I watched MTV I was shocked because I had my backed turned to the tv and I knew it was a bunch of balck kids but when I turned around it was all of these white boyz talking and dressed in black hip hop.

by Parker 2005-10-20 11:23AM | 0 recs
Bob Knight, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird
When Bob Knight stopped wearing those horrible plaid jackets and started wearing sweaters and team-ID polo shirts it was over.  He also looked better.

I think this is more a class thing than a race thing.  Michael Jordan's parents were teachers.  He wore impeccable suits and ties.  Looked great.  I don't remember Larry Bird's dress except that he did not look great.  Jordan got the clothes commercials, not Bird.  Nobody wanted to put their Hanes or anything else on the BirdMan.  McDonald's was OK but not clothes ads.

The bad suits on draft day don't add dignity to the league.  Phil Jackson's suits look good.  But Jackson and Pat Riley belonged to a generation where dressing up meant you had made it.  That generation no longer plays in the NBA.

by David Kowalski 2005-10-20 01:56PM | 0 recs
The Allen Iverson Rule
...sadly this is what it is.

And it bothers me.

You see, Allen Iverson is my favorite player.
Why?

Well, watch him play.
Here's a guy who at 6'0", 150 lb drives the lane, gets knocked down, and gets back up.  He he has the heart of a lion and leads his team.

And last year, he was the leader of our Olympic Team.

As far as his look?
It doesn't matter to me.

Yet the league hates him.  Why?

Because it's bad for corporate business.
It is about perception, not reality.

And that's the real issue.
Yes, race factors into the equation, but money and perception are what really matters to Stern as a commissioner.  That's why the decision was made.

As far as the dress code?
It doesn't make Kobe Bryant a good guy.
It just led to that perception.

by v2aggie2 2005-10-20 08:46PM | 0 recs
Here's what NBA Star Charles Barkley has to say!
Here's what Sir charles has to say, and I AGREE with him 100% !

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-barkley21oct21,0,7170990.story?coll=la-home-sports

by labanman 2005-10-21 11:10AM | 0 recs

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