MLB Imposes Media Dress Code, Restricts Skirt Lengths

BlogHer Original Post

We've been hearing a lot lately about sports organizations mandating dress codes. Most recently, the Amateur International Boxing Association and Badminton World Federation made news for requiring female athletes to wear skirts during competition.

Now league directives are targeting an entirely different group.  Wednesday at the Winter Meetings in Dallas, the MLB announced a new dress code for media members. Whaa?

For reporters covering Major League Baseball, beachwear and club outfits will no longer be among press box fashions.

Beginning next season, ripped jeans, flip flops and micro minis  will be banned. According to the MLB rules, “The media should dress ‘in an appropriate and professional manner’ with clothing proper for a “business casual work environment” when in locker rooms, dugouts, press boxes and on the field.”

In making the announcement, MLB becomes the first major sports organization to tell the media that they need to dress a certain way.

Also on the list of fashion don’ts are sheer and see-though clothing, muscle tees, one shoulder or strapless tops or anything baring the midriff.

 Credit Image: © Albert Pena/Cal Sport Media/ZUMA Press

Skirts or dresses must be no more than 3-4 inches above the knee. Also no visible undergarments. Oh, and no team logos.  No mention of whether white socks with loafers are allowed.

MLB insists this is not in response to one particular instance but the controversial incident with Ines Sainz and the New York Jets was cited as an example of media fashion that garnered unwanted attention.

While there’s nothing wrong with a business casual work environment, the dress code does seem to be directly targeting female sexuality. The Associated Press noted in its story that the move is likely an attempt by MLB to avoid having its own Ines Sainz incident.

The Big Lead has this take on the new rules:

Such regulations are couched in language such as “appropriate” and “professional,” when they are really a system of patriarchal control. MLB is instituting the policy to prevent “incidents,” presumably of the sexual harassment nature. However, this absolves responsibility for said incidents from the harassers, men, and places it upon the victims, women. This portrays men, particularly those in baseball uniforms, are wanton, lustful beasts. Any woman who looks attractive is asking for whatever comes for her. This outlook is wrong and outmoded.

Following the announcement, a committee of executives and media representatives joined together to work on guidelines. Included on this panel were female and Latin reporters, with input from team trainers who had health concerns about flip-flops in clubhouses and bare feet possibly spreading infections.

"We just thought it was time to get a little organized, to put it in place before there was an incident," said committee member Phyllis Merhige, an MLB senior vice president.

"There's no one who expects reporters to wear a suit and tie," she said. "But with the advent of different media, there are now individuals who are not part of a bigger organization that may have a dress code."

Could she be referring to bloggers? The fact is, TV reporters are usually the only ones who come dressed to be, well...on camera. Most of the beat sports writers don't make a lot of money and a lot of them have a general lack of interest in fashion.

No word yet on consequences but MLB said it would consider appropriate actions if the guidelines are broken.

What do you think? Should MLB dictate the media's dress code?






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