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Dress Code Controversy

I’m not a sports fan.

But I’m going to step into normally unexplored territory here at “Patrick’s Place” on the subject of a new dress code policy from NBA (that’s basketball, of course) Commissioner David Stern has for his players when they are engaged in team or league business.

As reported by USA Today, Stern’s stern policy:

• Bans sleeveless shirts, jerseys, T-shirts, sneakers, shorts, headgear, sunglasses indoors and “bling,” including chains, pendants or medallions worn over clothes.

• Requires players to wear “dress” shirts (either collared or turtleneck), shoes, slacks or jeans.

• Requires players out of uniform on the bench to add a sport coat as well.

NBA superstar Allen Iversen of the Philadelphia 76ers suggests that if the NBA wants players to dress a certain way, there should be a clothing allowance to accomodate the cost of their prescribed wardrobe. He must be joking. Iversen makes $16.4 Million per year playing basketball. The minimum salary for an NBA player is $385,000.

If my boss was willing to pay me three-quarters of a million per year to do my job, I don’t think I’d be complaining at all if he asked me to dress up while I was doing company business…and I don’t think I’d have a problem finding something appropriate to wear. Somehow, I suspect that if I had that kind of money, I’d already have something fully appropriate in the closet. I’d be willing to bet that Iverson’s loungewear is probably more expensive than my best suit as it is.

Others call the policy racist against black team members. Since the policy itself applies to all players rather than singling out only members of a single race, the policy itself isn’t racist. If anything, perhaps the motivation in prompting it is racist, but if you believe that, you must believe that only the black players are causing the image problem the NBA is trying to correct. That sounds like a racist opinion to me.

The big question seems to be whether an employer should be able to dictate to an employee what is and isn’t inappropriate dress when you’re doing your job. The NBA isn’t trying to tell players what they can and can’t wear on their own time, but simply what is and isn’t appropriate when they’re on league business. I don’t see what’s so unreasonable about that.

Any thoughts?

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.