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NBA Dress Code: Welcome to the marketplace, gentlemen

Published October 25, 2005 12:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When the National Basketball Association announced last week that it would enforce a dress code, most working stiffs probably muttered, "Welcome to my world." But a few NBA players charged that the policy was racist.

It's easy to see why. The NBA dress code bans outsize jewelry, baggy clothes and headgear, including do-rags and caps worn askew, which are associated with hip-hop.

About 75 percent of the players in the NBA are black. They are right that this policy is all about making white fans more comfortable with the appearance of black players.

But tell that to the white guy or the black guy who has to wear a suit and tie to the office every day as a condition of his job. Or the woman who has to wear a tailored suit. Or the many people in trades and retail who are required to wear uniforms.

Dress codes are all about stereotypes, about making customers and clients feel more comfortable with the people who represent a business. In this, the NBA is no different.

(That said, ties should be outlawed. They restrict circulation through the carotid arteries to the brain, which explains why most male managers are mentally impaired.)

The players of the NBA will be required to wear what is called "business casual dress" (no ties) when they are on team business. That's pretty much the same dress code we ink-stained wretches at The Salt Lake Tribune have to observe. And we aren't compensated an average of $4 million a year, as NBA players are.

Another harsh fact of life, aside from stereotyping, is that fans are deserting the NBA. If the players want to continue to pull down that kind of salary, in addition to rebounds, they might consider it to be in their own best interest to wear a dress shirt and a pair of slacks when they are on company time but not on the basketball court.

The dress code won't save the game, of course. Critics of dress codes in all industries are correct that what should matter is job performance, not appearance. (Tell that one to your boss. But don't bother if he's wearing a tie.)

Remember, too, that the NBA is entertainment, a business in which image is everything.

Case closed. But while we're on the subject, what's with the gold chains on Major League Baseball players?

There is no bling in baseball. Or at least, there oughtn't be.