Students question athletic dress codes

Auriel Brown

Baggy sweats, sagging shorts or a fresh out the gym appearance are styles some athletes at Missouri Southern prefer on a regular basis.

Natalie Murray, sophomore nursing major, said Southern is not known for its clubs or other organizations, but more for its athletics, and responsibility falls on athletes to present themselves in a respectable manner.

“They are definitely a representation of the school,” Murray said.

She also said a more clean cut look can benefit athletes in the long run.

“If they want to go anywhere in life they have to look a little bit more professional, that doesn’t mean suits, just wear clothes that fit,” Murray said.

Heather Eylar, sophomore medical tech major, said she believes the athletes could dress more appropriately. She describes their look as “dumpy.”

“They always look like they just crawled right out of bed and came to class,” Eylar said.

She said the female athletes especially could use a dress code.

“The girls are probably worse than the guys with their cut-off T-shirts that have the arm holes down to their waists and their long baggy shorts,” Eylar said.

Myron Hodges, junior physical education major and basketball player, said a dress code would not bother him and while dressing up occasionally could make athletes even more influential on campus, the nature of their dress is for convenience.

“Considering that we are ball players, we like to wear what we want to feel comfortable, whether we’re going to class or going to our games,” Hodges said.

Ashley Mehrer, junior public relations major and volleyball player, said there is pressure for athletes to present themselves in a certain way on campus.

“I think a lot of students look to us because we represent the school,” Mehrer said. “We play a big role in the way people act especially the incoming freshman.”

She said while she has seen wardrobe from fellow athletes which may be deemed inappropriate, she avoids dressing in a way which could leave any negative effects on the program.

Currently there is no dress code for the athletes at Southern.

Some faculty members think athletes have a full plate with the normal expectations that come along with their status and trying to control their appearance may be asking too much.

“They are set apart from the student body in that they are asked to perform academically at a certain level, and how far do you want to carry that,” said Sally Beard, head of the athletic department.

“As much as possible, we want them to be like normal students, so the decision has been not to impose more,” she said.

Beard said the athletes’ wardrobes have never been an issue and called the athletes’ choice of style a “right of passage.”

Robert Corn, head men’s basketball coach, said the way many athletes dress is just a reflection of an evolving society.

“It’s a sign of the times,” Corn said.

Corn said while there are no guidelines as to what his team can or cannot wear, he would like them to keep up neat appearances when at class or out in the community.

“I think our athletes are a representative of our student body on the athletic field,” said Chris Willis, head women’s volleyball coach. “Fortunately or unfortunately, the athletic field sometimes happens to be the biggest public relations instrument for the University to the community and the surrounding area.”

He said the way athletes dress has the tendency to generalize both the team and athletic department.

Willis said he encourages his girls to dress they way they would like their entire team to be represented.

“We don’t put any blanket statements on how people should dress just that it’s respectful and it’s in a first class manner,” he said.

Willis said he has had to talk to some players about their dress attire, but it never became a negative issue.

“It’s been a very positive experience in terms of those individuals not realizing the perception out there of how they were dressing,” Willis said. “I think once that mirror is put in front of them they realize that, you know what, I don’t want image portrayed for myself and for my teammates,” he said.

Hodges said although they choose not to dress up, many athletes are still a good reflection of the campus.

“Every time you see us we walk around wearing MOSO stuff so I think we represent the school pretty well,” Hodges said.