Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Do Clothes Really Make the Man?

I've posted on here about dress codes before; my general take on the idea is that they don't really tend to accomplish what the instigators expect they will do, and that, more often than not, it's really about a power play on the part of those in authority. And now, the NBA is making headlines with the announcement of an off-the-court "business casual" requirement for its players:
Players are required to wear Business Casual attire whenever they are engaged in team or league business.

"Business Casual" attire means:

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

- Dress slacks, khaki pants, or dress jeans.

- Appropriate shoes and socks, including dress shoes, dress boots, or other presentable shoes, but not including sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, or work boots.
(Read the whole thing here.)
As you can imagine, this isn't going over well with the players. Here in Dallas, the Mavs players don't like it, and the general consensus around the league is that this has gone way too far when we're talking about grown men.
That's a key element of the topic – being told how to carry oneself. Jerry Stackhouse said players – many of whom are products of the hip-hop generation – value their individuality. Players are hopeful that the rules will be relaxed or amended once the league sees the backlash.

The flip side to that is that they are earning millions of dollars from fans, television and corporate sponsors to whom commissioner David Stern must market the players.
There must be one out there, but I have yet to see a positive response to this by anyone outside the league office. Local sports columnist Kevin B. Blackistone calls it a power trip on the part of the commissioner:
This is one quip Mark Twain got wrong. Clothes don't make the man.

Some pretty reprehensible folks over the years have dressed like they belong in boardrooms. Come to think of it, some of them have been in boardrooms. And now they're in jail rooms.

But the NBA's commissioner, Stern, who has become so inebriated with his own power that he's turned into the sports world's Great Dictator, is hellbent on making over an image that he perceives as deleterious to his league, a league that set attendance records last season and is growing in popularity overseas by leaps and bounds.

... And now he's decided, pretty much on his own (he consulted the union he's emasculated), that the urban black fashion aesthetic has no place in the game.
Ahh, yes, the race card. Blackistone is a fine writer (and a jazz fan to boot), but hardly a column goes by where the subject is not viewed through the lens of race. After a while, it tends to dilute his message, so that, like the Columnist Who Cried Wolf, it's difficult to distinguish real issues from bluster.

But is he right this time? Are there racial undertones to this? Or is it more about an executive who's just gone power-happy? And, for that matter, will this actually work? Will it raise the profile of the league, or will it just serve to alienate the players? Drop me your thoughts in the comments.

UPDATE: More player reaction: Spurs superstar Tim Duncan, not usually known as a man of many words, calls the new code "basically retarded."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: (from an amusing exchange between me and a clerk at the store where I was buying some new school shoes on my lunch hour)

CLERK: Do you have a membership with us?
ME: Nah, I don't buy enough shoes to make it worth my while.
(This is very true, by the way. I never wear shoes at all in my house--that's Fun Facts #9 if you're playing at home--and I'm in flip-flops whenever it's seasonal and possible. One good pair of shoes for teaching should last me several years, but the heels wore out of the pair I bought last year, and I was starting to feel the pain.)
CLERK: Well, maybe your wife does.
ME: Well...if you introduce her to me, then we'll be in business.
CLERK: (laughs)
ME: I've been waiting a long time for her, as a matter of fact.
CLERK: I have to tell you, sir, that's a good one.

1 comment:

Gary P. said...

Of course employers have the right to dictate to employees how to dress when on company business, and the NBA apparently feels it's not in their best interest to have its players reprazentin as thugz and pimpz and playaz.