In October 2005, the National Basketball Association (NBA) issued a dress codefor players that became the
ect of discussion and controversy across spsrts pages, Web sites, and blogs. Some objected to the idea of a
erver, where he's worked for over a quarter century, in Charlotte, North Carolina. This article appeared there
October 2005. As you read, pay careful attention to the style of Sorensen's piece.
The dress code, which is new this Eleven months ago at the Palace in 5
suits worked well with the leg clinic and is approved by manage- public that the brawl was an aberra-
tion and that its players are profes-
othes don't make the man. So if a basketball player wears an sionals. Since it can't prove the players
who throw beer at him? is absurd to others. In Charlotte,
4 Rc- Carruth:former PGA: Professional Golfers' which, after Ron Artest
wide receiver for the Association. was hit by a full drink cup
Carolina Panthers who from the stands, he and
was convicted of "Go into the Meachen": A Stephen Jackson, among
murdering his girlfriend, reference to a Detroit others, entered the stands
who was pregnant, Pistondlndiana Pacers and began fighting with
in 1999. game of November 2004 spectators. Officids
in the Palace in Auburn stopped the game with
Hills, Michigan, during le%than a minute left.
@ CHAPTER23 ISSPORTSJUST PROXY FOR POLITICS?
business casual means t h a t y o u dress
as if 18 holes o f g o l f c o u l d b r e a k o u t
at any moment, a n d y o u w a n t t o b e NBA Player Dress Code
ready t o tee o f f if they do. 1. General Policy: Business Casual
I don't dress t h a t way. I don't u n - Players are required to wear Business Casual attire whenever they are engaged in team c
derstand t h e safe polo-player-or- league business.
emblem-on-the s h i r t style. O r t h e "Business Casual" attire means
dress-the-same-as-everybody-else A long- or short-sleeved dress shirt (collared or turtleneck), and/or a sweater.
look. Dress slacks, khaki pants, or dress jeans.
B u t it doesn't matter w h a t I like. It's
Appropriate shoes and socks, including dress shoes, dress boots, or other presentabl
n o t as if Ik n o w t h e o n e t r u e w a y t o
shoes, but not including sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, or work boots.
dress. To b e h o n e s t w i t h you, Idon't
devote a l o t o f attention t o the attire o f 2. Exceptions to Business Casual
other adult males. That's just me. There are the following exceptions to the general policy of Business Casual attire:
. There i s n o universal d e f i n i t i o n o f 10 a. Players In Attendance At Games But Not In Uniform
nice. Walk d o w n any street i any city
n Players who are in attendance at games but not in uniform are required to wear the
a n d there w i l l always b e somebody t o following additional items when seated on the bench or in the stands during the game:
w h o m y o u c a n ask, " W h o t o l d y o u Sport Coat
t h a t l o o k e d good?"
Dress shoes or boots, and socks
W h a t counts i s w h a t looks g o o d t o
you, w h i c h i s w h y w e get t o p i c k o u r b. Players Leaving the Arena
o w n clothes all by ourselves, p r o v i d e d Players leaving the arena may wear either Business Casual attire or neat warm-up
w e don't p l a y i t h e NBA.
n suits issued by their teams.
Style changes f r o m g e n e r a t i o n t o c. Special Events or Appearances
generation. W h e n I came o f age, it was Teams can make exceptions to the Business Casual policy for special events or playel
appearances where other attire is appropriate-e.g., participation in a basketball
3. Excluded Items
The following is a list of items that players are not allowed to wear at any time while on
team or league business:
T-shirts, jerseys, or sports apparel (unless appropriate for the event (e.g., a
basketball clinic), team-identified, and approved by the team)
Headgear of any kind while a player is sitting on the bench or in the stands at a gamt
Indiana Pacers basketball players
during media interviews, or during a team or league event or appearance (unless
Stephen Jackson, Ron Artest, and appropriate for the event or appearance, team-identified, and approved by the team)
Jermaine O'Neal attend a pre-trial Chains, pendants, or medallions worn over the player's clothes
hearing with their attorneys on
September 23,2005, for the fight that
broke out during the PacerslPistons
game of November 2004.
Sunglasses while indoors
Headphones (other than on the team bus or plane, or in the team locker room)
SORENSEN /Dress Code Suitable Only to NBA Suits @
der length hair and bell-bottoms Earl T h e Pearl" Monroe:
NBA player (1967-1 980)
en my kids came of age, it was known for his amazing
shots. Many compared
watching him to listening
to great jazz.
oked, I knew they could find old
ctures of me and ask, W h o told you E a d n "Magic" Johnson:
NBA point guard
M favorite all-time NBA players
y Earl Monroe of the New York
(1971-1991,1996) for the Knicks drives to the basket
Earl Monroe0 and Mag~c JohnsonP
Lakers. For many, one of during the 1980 NBA game
them so much I would have paid
ch them shoot layups in a gym by
the greatest living basket- against the Boston Celtio at
selves. Their moves were amazing. ball players. Madison Square Garden in
Yes, but were their clothes amazing? 15 New York City.
1. In what senses is the NBA Player Dress Code a definitional argu-
ment? How successful is it as such an argument? Why? (For a dis-
cussion of definitional arguments, see Chapter 8.)
2. According to Sorensen, why is the NBA Player Dress Code unneces-
sary? Which events or circumstances, in particular, does Sorensen
see as having led to the creation of a dress code? In what sense can
these events be seen as political or as being part of larger political
debates in the United States?
3. What functions does the opening example of Rae Canuth serve in,
Sorensen's argument (paragraph I)?Is it impdrtant that Sorensen Magic Johnson shoots in the
is able to use personal experience here (rather than, say, reporting Radio Shack Shooting Stars
competition during the NBA
on something he observed on cable television)?Why or why not?
All-Star Weekend in Houston,
4. One characteristic of much journalistic prose, and especially opin- Texas, February 2006.
ion columns on the sports page like this one, is their style: short
sentences, short paragraphs, and a conversational tone. Such char-
acteristics are often evaluated negatively in academic writing. s
Informal logic i the basis for
Rewrite Sorensen's article using much or all of the content that his Sorensen's argument against
column includes, converting it into a form that's more appropriate Bs '
the N A dress code. Use the
for academic arguments than the current column is. If you're hav- description of Toulmin
ing trouble getting started, imagine that you're Sorensen and you argumentation in Chapter 6
want to write an essay for the class you're now taking in which you
to identify the reason, warrant,
disagree with the NBA Player Dress Code, using the arguments and
and claim of this argument.
examples Sorensen uses.
..,...........................,............................. ..... ........ .. . .. . . . .. .............. .........
Larry Stewart is a sports writerfor the Los Angeles Times, where this
article appeared in October 2005. In contrast to the preuious selection, where
Tom Sorensen presents his own opinion about the NBA Player Dress Code,
Stewart is writing a newsfeaturefocusing on Charles Barkley, who played
for the NBAfor sixteen years and serves now as a TNT studio commentator
on the NBA. Thus it's Barkley's, rather than Stewart's, opinion that we hear.
As you read, consider how Stewart uses Barkley's opinions to create an
ethos for Barkley and for himself.
Barkley Fully Supports NBA's New Dress Code
when they go out in the real world, Barkley says young men
what they wear is held against them. making $10 million a year or
Charles Barkley might not want to be "See, these players make $10 mil- playing basketball should I
your kids' role model, but he could be lion to $15 million a year, so nobody fame and wealth to do some
a role model for NBA players. And not cares how they dress. But regular society.
just because he supports the league's black kids go out into the real world After the Leno taping,
new dress code. and how they dress is held against said, "I wish we would have
Barkley was in Los Angeles on them. to talk about Katrina."
Wednesday for an appearance on "If a well-dressed white kid and a 5 Barkley explained that h
NBC's "Tonight Show With Jay Leno." black kid wearing a do-rag and throw- moved by the hurricane trai
Years ago, Barkley said that parents, back jersey came to me in a job inter- its victims that he visited sf
not athletes, should be role models for view, I'd hire the white kid: he said. Atlanta, Houston and Birm
their kids. But he now at least acknowl- "That's reality. That's the No. 1 reason Ala., to see what he might
edges that athletes do influence kids. I support the dress code. to do.
"Young black kids dress like NBA "From the NBA perspective, they've
players:' he said. "Unfortunately, they got a product to sell. They've got to
don't get paid like NBA players. So make it as attractive as possible to fans,
viewers and corporate sponsors.
"Dr. J [Julius Erving]" told me Dr. J (Julius ENing) :ABA-
Stewart presents a proposal years ago that we, the players, are the NBA player (1972-1987)
argument on behalf of Charles caretakers of the game. I think too who's said to have trans-
Barkley. Barkley is quoted as many players today have lost sight of
formed the game with his
supporting the action of instating that."
Barkley, a TNT network basket- ability to manipulate the
a dress code for the NBA. See
ball analyst, concedes there are racial ball and fly through the
Chapter 1 for a comparison of
overtones to the new dress code but air. Because of the respect
proposal arguments with other
points out there is a dress code in he was accorded, he often
types of argumentation.
every business in the country. "It's sewed as a spokesman for
............................ -. dictated by the boss:' he said. professional basketball.
STEWARTIBarkley Fully Supports NBA's New Dress Code
"In talking with these people I "Where the Red Cross has helped he said. "I think I got this gift so that I
earned what they needed most was a is in determining what families get could do some good for society and
lace to live:' he said. these homes:' B d e y said. "That's the help people. And not just black
Barkley provided $1 million to pay hard part, picking who gets what." people. Poor people. That is what is
houses where Katrina victims can Such charity is not a first for really important."
Barkley. He has given more than $3 He hears that Marcus Camby0 of
"I didn't want to just make a dona- million to schools-$1 million to his the Denver Nuggets wants a stipend to
on to the Red Cross," he said. "I alrna mater, Auburn, $1 million to his buy clothes to adhere to the dress
ed to make sure the money high school in Leeds, Ala., and $1 mil- code, and Barkley cringes.
d go where it could do the most lion to other schools in his hometown. "Guys like that have lost perspec- 20
"I've been blessed with a skill, but tive:' he said. "What's he make, $8
He has been directly involved in 15 I don't think God gave me the ability million a year? It's like when Latrell
project. He is in the process of to play basketball just to win a cham- Sprewel1° said he needed more than
ing five homes in Atlanta, with pionship-although winning a $14 million a year so that he could
ans to buy more in other areas. championship would have been cool:' feed his family. Give me a break."
Marcus Camby: NBA player
Latrell Sprewell: NBA player
since 1992-2006; suspended
in 1997-1998 for choking his
Marcus Camby of the Denver
Nuggets looks on during a
game against the Philadelphia Latrell Sprewell of the
76ers on March 9,2006. Minnesota Timberwolves
holds the ball during a
Erving slam dunks game against the Denver
the 1984 All-Star Nuggets on April 8,2005.
r H APTE R 2 3 IS SPORTS JUST A PROXY FOR POLITICS?
.....R E S P O N D *
1. As noted, Stewart's article focuses on Charles Barkley, but much of the
piece is devoted to the NBA Player Dress Code. What's Barkley's opin-
ion of the dress code? Why? How does he support his position?
2. To what extent do Barkley and Tom Sorensen, author of the previous
selection, see the NBA Player Dress Code as an effort to respond to
similar social forces or issues? To what extent do they see it as an ef-
fort to respond to different social forces or issues?
3. What kind of ethos does Barkley create for himself (with the assis-
tance of Stewart)? How does his former career as a professional bas-
ketball player contribute to (or perhaps detract from) that ethos?
If you examine a number of responses to the N A Player Dress Code,
you'll find that writers seem to agree that a major issue to be consid-
ered is the influence of professional basketball players, many o f
whom are African American, on young African American boys and
men. In what ways is this issue a political one?
5. To what extent should public figures-professional athletes, profes-
sional musicians, politicians, and television or movie stars-be seen
as role models? Should any or all of these groups be expected to be-
have as role models? For whom? Why or why not? Write an essay in
which you evaluate the claim that one or more of these groups should
(or shouldn't) be taken as role models or be expected to serve as rol(