She wears short skirts, he wears t-shirts- Men’s vs women’s sports uniforms

Krysta Schwab, Staff Writer

Men vs Women’s track uniforms are highly differing even at the professional level. The woman is wearing a swimsuit-like design of a small top with a brief-like bottom while the man wears a tank-top paired with a running short. (Credit: USATF official Instagram)

Sleek, shiny, and cutting-edge sports attire has become of the most popular branches of the sports fashion industry. Every new season is accompanied by clean and untouched cleats, jerseys, swim parkas, leotards, gloves, and more. The designation of new sporting attire can bring forth refreshing energy and excitement for upcoming events, no matter the sport. However, this is also the very aspect that can bring forth potential resentment, inequality, and injustice in the sports industry.  

For centuries, competitive sports were only accessible to men. Dating all the way back to Ancient Greece, men were expected to participate in “highly masculine” physical activities while women were not typically permitted to participate in any competitive sports teams. In fact, women’s history states that it was not until 1922 that women were even allowed to participate in the Olympic Games.  

Throughout most of history, woman was valued only for her maternal duties. A woman was supposed to be meek, frail, and obedient to her husband. Aristotle’s declaration that women were ruled by their reproductive system planted a seed for thought that “too much study…or bicycle riding and other unladylike sports would render nice women infertile.” Other elements of toxic masculinity were justified by the times of warfare, and sports such as baseball and basketball were used to cope. Correspondingly, women were not authorized to fight in the war at this time, and this placed restrictions on the views of women’s capability to endure pain and physical labor.  Essentially, any activity that men would consider “feminine sport” became the variety for women’s sports events. However, as society and time progressed women became more integrated into the sports industry and are now able to freely compete on myriads of women’s (and some coeducational) sports teams.  

Similar to the track uniform comparison, the woman’s clothing is much more form fitting and revealing than her male partner.
(Credit: USTA official Instagram)

With the induction of separate men and women teams comes differing uniforms, even within the same sport.  In relative comparison to men’s uniforms, women’s have altered drastically. In fact, women’s sports attire has become a sensitive topic of conversation currently. Over time, many of the women’s sports uniforms have become more exposing and form fitting compared to its previous expectations that the attire was modest to preserve the women of her purity. Along with this, the women’s uniforms are highly different from men’s attire. For example, a men’s volleyball uniform might consist of a relatively loose-fitting muscle shirt and semi-lengthy shorts whereas a typical women’s volleyball uniform is a form fitting long sleeve shirt with spandex for shorts.  

It was noted that during the summer 2020 Olympics, the beach volleyball uniform differences caused quite a commotion. The men wore a uniform similar to the previous description, but the women wore a sports bra or bikini top with bikini bottoms. This was not the first notice of speculation for the sexualization of professional sports attire. Figure skating, dance, gymnastics, and even running uniforms for women are highly revealing compared to the men’s uniform.  

While no individual truly has a say in what the sports industry deems acceptable for attire, women have received criticism on their revealing uniforms or lack thereof. Roswell senior Ainsley Gillespie gives insight on her experience as a female runner on the cross-country team. When inquired about uniforms, she states that the meet uniforms and expectations are different from practices. “On race days everyone has to wear our uniform singlet and shorts of their choosing and I feel completely comfortable in that. At practice however, the “unsaid” rule used to be that only guys could run shirtless and not girls and this made many girls mad, so naturally, we broke this rule, and all ran shirtless sometimes.” While the coaches never reprimanded them, Gillespie rebuttals, “However, as of this year, we’re not allowed to be shirtless on campus at all. I personally feel this rule is ridiculous, especially since we run in the heat.” Since the cross-country season starts towards the end of summer, the Georgia heat takes a toll on the runners and they do whatever they can to cool themselves down. This rule could potentially be more harmful for the female runners in terms of overheating which contributes to heatstroke, drops in blood pressure etc. Full circling, these issues could ultimately harm the entire team if runners are not well and able.  

Some of these issues can also be linked to the dress code in high schools. For more on the targeting of women in the dress code at RHS, check out Sofia’s article here. 

Additionally, RHS senior Rachel Sandstrom explains her experience on the Tennis team. The general women’s tennis uniform consists of a short, tight tennis skirt and a form fitting tank top. Sandstrom confirms that “the uniform typically has the girls in short skirts, and tank tops while the boys’ uniform is a t-shirt paired with appropriate length shorts.”