October 20, 2005

NBA Dress Code

I have been listening to the sports radio station in the morning as I drive to work because I can't stand the bitch on in the morning on Star. I couldn't stand her 6 years ago, and guess who's still there when I come back?

But I digress. One of the topics between 8:30 and 9 was the NBA dress code, and the special guest that called in to discuss it was none other than Sir Cheese and Broccoli (Charles Barkley).

Interestingly, he immediately dismissed the whining of several NBA players, including Allen Iverson, that individuality was more important, or that as other players have alleged, the new code was racist. Charles said, "It's not about racism. Every other league has a dress code, every workplace has a dress code, why can't the NBA?"

This is true. Sure, I can wear jeans and birkenstocks to work, but they must still be neat and clean, and I need to wear something nicer if I have a meeting.

Then he went on to say something very significant, which was this, "Young blacks look up NBA players. We can't have a bunch of black millionaires going around dressed like thugs because the kids see that and they think it's ok to dress like thugs. Young black kids aren't going to be able to get jobs if they dress like thugs"
"But it is racial, too. We have a lot of problems in the black community today. If you get good grades, you get accused of acting white, if you dress nice, you get made fun of. Why is that? Why can't a young brother look nice? We need to tell these black kids that it's ok to do well and look nice. Maybe these NBA players can help us do that"

It was very refreshing to hear this point of view, which has been all but ignored in this latest brouhaha. Cheese is right. A kid in a throwback jersey and pants around his hips is less likely to get a job than a kid in a t-shirt and nicely fitting (if ratty) jeans with the same qualifications, and both are less likely to get a job than the 3rd kid who wears slacks and a tie to his interview. Even for McDonalds. I find it both telling and sad that these players would rather flaunt their wealth as a mark of their personal style than accept their responsibility as role models to the black community. Barkley went on to say that there's a time and a place for that kind of dress and behavior, and that the time comes when tthese guys need to step up and be men and take responsibility. Kids wear throwback jerseys. Men don't. He asked the host if he could imagine himself (Barkley) going to a parent-teacher conference in a throwback. This got a lot of laughs.

Barkley made another point: This is all about $$. Big money in sports comes from corporate dollars: Sponsorships, Commercials, Luxury Suites. The NBA can afford to risk alienating a few kids or slowing sales of $350 throwback jerseys because presenting their players as professionals courts earns $350,000 more corporate dollars from another sold commercial spot. And that's the $$ they want.

Maybe this is just me, looking in on this debate from the outside, but it is, in a nutshell, really an example of some of what's wrong with society in general. Individualism and wealth have become so important that people have forgotten what's appropriate. When businessmen and women dress, they hold themselves to a certain standard of what is appropriate. Not only because it is expected of them, but because it is a mark of respect to the people thet work with that they dress in such a manner. If I walked into a business meeting in ratty jeans and sandals, the people I was meeting would feel disrespected. Wouldn't you? These men are also professionals and businessmen. They should dress accordingly as a measure of respect for the people they interact with, in this case, other players, team administration, and the fans. It is appropriate.

This extends to other parts of life too. When you see someone that needs help, do you ignore, or offer? To offer to help is appropriate, even if it's something as simple as opening the door for a colleague that has his/her arms full, yet each of us can probably count on both hands the number of times we've seen some one too wrapped up in themselves to notice.

Or turning off your cell phone. I try very hard to NOT use my phone in public, and I make sure it's off in meetings, classes, and other places where it would be inappropriate to chat on the phone. If I need to speak to someone while I'm in a restaurant or store, I try to speak low and cover my mouth so others are not disturbed.

Here's the thing. Standards used to be important. Somewhere along the line, individualism became more important and standards went out the window. Now everyone is an individual and everyone is special. Maybe it's time that we realized that what makes things work is a balance between the two.

Posted by caltechgirl at October 20, 2005 12:28 PM | TrackBack

Amen, sister!

Posted by: Ith at October 20, 2005 04:39 PM

The really sad part is that this issue is so polarizing. You would think that there would be no controversy with millionaire professionals dressing as such. Honestly, I wouldn't think a dress code would be necessary. I'd think they would do it as a matter of course.

The other thing that occurs to me is that if we are all so special, isn't that just a way of making sure that none of us is?

Well written, btw.

Posted by: Phoenix at October 21, 2005 08:49 AM

I feel bad for Charles.

Here is a man who had a commercial which stated loud and clear: "I am not a role model"!! And it couldn't be more true.

It is tragic to me to hear him or anyone else speak of the black community like that. Black is always bad in America. These young players are everything for young black kids ~ for once our (black) youth can see that they can accomplish whatever they want in life, despite being stereotypes in this society. They see people who look like them, and come from similar situations overcoming the odds and making it.

What is wrong with a throwback jersey? It really honors players that were getting screwed over by the leagues. Many young black designers/owners are doing well worldwide. Sean John, Rocawear, Fubu. These are young men who wore nothing but sagging jeans and what not, but became saavy business execs, STILL wearing jeans. There is more than one way to achieve in this world.

Charles, you be a role model for once by encouraging our young to want to OWN a company, not grow up and look a certain way to GET A JOB. That is a slave mentality that "they" want to keep us trapped in, and your helping. Embrace change and evolution.

They certainly play hip hop on EVERY commercial, and talk hip hop on SportCenter, and play rap in EVERY arena. They don't mind making money off of "urban" music and talents, but they want you to "look" a certain way. I say it is BULLSHIT.

Remember the biggest THUG in the world wears a suit and tie and has us in Iraq dying for nothing.

Posted by: Raymond Stone at November 5, 2005 09:01 PM

Comment: Other than incredible opportunity and talent, which not every person can claim or much less count on, how did everyone else get to the top to OWN a company? It was starting at the bottom and working their way up, not relying on getting their big break so they can dress more comfortably.
I'm glad that they play hip-hop and rap everywhere, it's because everyone enjoys the music, and rappers can dress how they want to as it's a way of promoting their music. Everyone else in the business world, including every other sports, whether it has blacks or not, dresses professionally, and it is not racist. The whites wore bling too and they have to change as well. It's time that people stop assuming that blacks can't look good and succeed without being white. It's a step EVERYONE takes to succeed, race does not play in. What's the deal about hating looking professional? If that's all someone is asking professionals to look, I think they'll live. Or quit and pout with their bling.

Secondly, how does Iraq tie into this? Random comment that is lacking information. Dying for nothing is a big claim to make without any evidence.

Posted by: Hobbit at November 28, 2005 03:28 PM

We're doing this topic for apart of debte this month. I agree with everything you and Barkley are saying -- about being rolemodels. I like your outlook on this topic =)

Posted by: Lauren at November 29, 2005 08:28 AM

Everyone of you bitches should stop hounding on the ALMIGHTY Charles Barkley!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: ? at November 30, 2005 02:43 PM