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Editorial: New varsity athlete dress code is unnecessary and problematic

Editorial%3A+New+varsity+athlete+dress+code+is+unnecessary+and+problematic
Joshua Pantano

During October 2023, Ithaca College implemented a dress code for all varsity athletes that applies during practices, when traveling across campus and when using facilities in the Athletics and Events Center. These rules are a waste of resources by the college, target certain sports teams and enforce sexist standards.

Dress code rules include that athletes must wear team-issued practice gear, or that they must wear shirts that cover their entire back and torso, specific footwear, athletic pants or shorts. For sports involving leotards or bathing suits, athletes must wear shorts or pants when traveling between the locker room and their practice space, among other rules. The justification for these rules is that they make the athletes look more professional and help maintain decorum. 

All that should matter for athletes when they are practicing is that they are wearing athletic clothing that they are comfortable in and that is suited to their particular sport. Many of the rules beyond this suggest ulterior motives. Dress codes in academic settings have a long history of promoting discrimination against female and LGBTQ+ students. They promote body shaming and victim-blaming attitudes, as well as restricting what students can wear based on their perceived genders. They suggest female students in particular have something inherently wrong with their bodies that must be hidden, or that it is the fault of female students if they are “distracting” their peers with their attire. Specific rules that prohibit attire largely worn by female athletes — like crop tops or sports bras, leotards and one-piece bathing suits — suggest that this new athletics dress code follows the same trend. 

To make matters worse, although the policy requires athletes to wear practice uniforms when possible, for some teams they do not supply these uniforms. In some cases, practice uniforms have been supplied on request from the coaches, but some teams have said it would not be possible to wear a practice uniform. For others still, they do not supply enough for athletes to get through practices and lifting sessions every day of the week. If the college is not going to provide the particular clothing for athletes to look “professional,” they do not have the grounds to institute a dress code. 

The new varsity athletics dress code is built on antiquated ideas specifically targeting female and LGBTQ+ athletes and it should be eliminated. The only dress code rules imposed on varsity athletes should be those that promote safety and uniformity in the playing arena when it is necessary for competition. 



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