Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baseball's New Dress Code

This is how bad things have gotten: Major League Baseball has just issued a dress code.

Not for players, or managers, or even front-office folks.

For reporters.

MLB thus becomes the first of the major North American sports leagues to tell the people who cover the games that they, in some cases, need to cover up. The policy forbids flip-flops, short-shorts, tank tops, and visible underwear.

San Francisco Chronicle writer Susan Slusser is a member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America committee that worked with MLB to develop the dress code. She is probably well-understating the issue when she says, "Personally, I believe the baseball media in general could dress slightly more professionally."


You know what they say about stone-throwers in glass houses, so I'll be careful here. But let's just say very few of the people who cover pro sports are going to show up on any Best-Dressed lists. For every on-camera sideline dandy (yes, Craig Sager, I'm talking about you), there's a horde of guys (and gals) in torn jeans, ratty shorts, and T-shirts.

Some of them might get a free pass because they're pulling cables and schlepping cameras. But most are hauling nothing any heavier than a notepad or MP3 recorder.

The "how to dress for the ballpark" story blew into the headlines a year or so ago when a reporter for a Mexican TV channel showed up in the New York Jets training camp dressed for...well, I'm not sure what. Maybe a dance club? There have also been numerous sightings of Miami TV reporters who looked like maybe they mistook Sun Life Stadium for a trendy South Beach nightspot.

Clearly, some of this has been "look at me"-driven. But it's also true that the art of personal presentation has been in decline for many a year. Have you looked around you at a nice restaurant lately?

Social norms have evaporated, but there's also something else at work here. MLB's Pat Courtney points out that many of the people who cover baseball no longer work for "a bigger organization that may have a dress code." In other words, they're freelancers, bloggers and the like. They're their own bosses and they don't have anyone telling them what's OK to wear to the office.

Now MLB is telling them. The rules may improve the look of the media corps, but it's doubtful the ballplayers will be any more impressed with the people with the notepads. After all, they know how to dress.

1 comment:

Edith Salvatore said...

Working in front of the Giants' main press box for a decade, I have seen media from most of the markets in MLB come through. The problem is, if you look at the "specifics", this is a dress code for FEMALE members of the press. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen a woman in short-shorts (not hot pants, mind you, but at the time trendy "city shorts" that were popular in well-dressed circles), off-the-shoulder or sheer blouses. I have NEVER seen an exposed midriff.

There is nothing in it that says men can't still wear jeans, ratty shorts, and tshirts. Or perhaps that part just hasn't been reported. The only restrictions on men's clothing, it seems, is that their shorts not be 3-4 inches above the knee (what man is wearing those shorts this century?), that their undergarments not be showing (sorry, no "sagging"), that they forego the flip flops in the locker room, and that there be no team insignia apparel. This last is the only one of the rules I can remember seeing violated.