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Business Casual Dress Code Arrives At the NBA

By Yong-yi Zhu

Business casual. Not a particularly controversial topic, but when Commissioner David Stern created the new dress code for the NBA, the players revolted against what they claim is a sport-coat tyranny.

The new NBA dress code regulates what players wear while on official NBA business, requiring them to wear a dress shirt, nice shoes and appropriate pants. No longer allowed are hats, sleeveless shirts, shorts, chains outside of their clothing, sunglasses when indoors and headphones anywhere but in the bus, plane, or locker room.

Is the dress policy more trouble than it’s worth? Many players feel that way because they don’t see the point of dressing up for the games or the interviews. They feel it simply is too strict. Players’ complaints range from their desire to express themselves in the way they dress, to accusations that the no-chains policy is racist. The consensus among players is that the new policy is unwarranted and unnecessary.

What they do not realize is that they must look presentable to the outside world. David Stern is playing it safe by forcing the dress to be strict. He wants to set the bar high so that the players will take it seriously.

Is the NBA going too far with its current dress code? I think it is completely reasonable for the League to force its players to wear more professional-looking clothing. After all, I don’t even work for a company and I am often compelled to dress in business formal clothing for interviews. It’s not as though the NBA players cannot afford the clothing or cannot stand to wear the clothing that David Stern is proposing for them. It’s just not what they’re used to.

Is dressing like a gangster a player’s right? Perhaps. But dressing like a gangster influences not only the image of that individual, but also the image of the league as a whole. Some have said that the new dress code is purely catered toward courting big businesses. Because David Stern wants the players to look more professional off the court, it’s easy to conclude he wants to make the NBA a cleaner league with which more businesses would want to associate.

The fact of the matter is that dressing more professionally not only gives a positive image to businesses, but also to kids watching the games. How does a kid react when he or she sees a favorite athlete dressed up like a thug? Under the new policy, this would never happen in professional settings, and kids, too, will have a more positive image of what the NBA represents, which will in turn have a positive effect on their behavior.

Sure, the players might complain at first, but I think they will soon realize that the benefits of this policy far outweigh the burdens. It will make players feel more professional during games and curb their propensity for fights. It will influence some young children in a positive way. Endorsement contracts will increase as the image of the NBA improves. The only downside is that a couple of basketball players have to be a little less comfortable than usual. I say it’s worth it.