Shirts and Short-Shorts: Inconsistency in Sports Dress Code

Junior+Alex+Harner+wears+her+cross-country+shorts+in+the+Friends+School+gym.

Vincent Walk

Junior Alex Harner wears her cross-country shorts in the Friends School gym.

At the start of this year’s cross-country season, the Athletic Department hit the team with new rules regarding our dress code.  Specifically, our shirts. Or, more accurately, the lack of them. 

As part of the new policy, all runners must wear shirts at all times, even when off campus. To add insult to injury, they announced it to us through our coaches, and let them break the news. This was all without a peep of justification. From our point of view, the department took a freedom we had and removed it for no real reason.

As my teammate Carson Freeman put it:  “The school should have no say in what we wear off campus.”

 And yet, it seems they still do.

By this point, you’re probably asking: “Why does it matter? Shirt or no shirt, you can still run.” 

Well, at least as long as I’ve been at Friends, it’s been a privilege of all cross-country runners to take our shirts off while off campus if we choose to. If any of you readers have had the chance to run in our wonderful 90% humidity here in Maryland, you’ll know why this is significant. Absorbent fabrics in t-shirts and basketball shorts get heavy.

 But while our shirts are heavily regulated, our shorts are not. We are allowed to wear the running shorts that are given to us as a part of the meet uniform, shorts that typically aren’t long enough to cover average length boxers. They’re pretty revealing.

“I’m glad they ran out of them before I got some,” says junior JX MacMillan, and ex-cross-country runner, who last ran in our 2019 season

 With these new rules, the reactions on the team have been mixed. 

“It doesn’t particularly affect me,” says sophomore Sam Girardi, who is in his second season on the boys’ cross-country team. “I think people have been making a big deal about it.”

 The rule extends to the girls’ team as well. Until this year, they were allowed to take their shirts off too, and run in sports bras. 

“I don’t usually take my shirt off, so it doesn’t affect me that much,” says girls’ team member Alex Harner, “but they shouldn’t tell us what to do when we aren’t on school grounds.” 

And why is the school so keen on us keeping up appearances off campus now, when we don’t even have to wear uniforms during practice? 

“The rule is stupid,” Carson says. “All the other school teams that run on Stony Run are able to take their shirts off….The school has no right to tell us what to wear off campus.”

I agree with him. If we are restricted with what we wear off campus, at what point are we allowed to dress the way we want?

The other day, I forgot to bring shorts to practice. I ended up going home and doing the workout starting from my house. While running, a thought crossed my mind: If I’m running on my own along the same trails we run for practice, during our practice, am I allowed to take my shirt off if I didn’t start on campus?  Is the next step to assign us a dress code at home?