Every once in a while, we hear of schools banning their track/ cross-country/ some other sport team from practising shirtless. I have already reproduced a critical report of a school banning shirts-vs-skins practice (click here for the report). Below is an excerpt from Stoganews.com chronicling - and protesting - another 'let no one be shirtless' order. Writer Meghan Morris' arguments seem to me concise, pithy and hard to refute. There's something truly antediluvian about such edicts, and it's a good job some students aren't just knuckling under without a fight.
No shirt, no shoes? No running
By Meghan Morris
Assistant Managing Editor
It happens every day. Warmup. Stretch. Suns out, guns out. No matter who says it, every runner promptly peels off their shirt on command, readying themselves for an intense workout. It’s practically Pavlovian.
Due to a recent ruling from Athletic Director David Grace, however, boys are no longer permitted to run shirtless, and girls can no longer practice in only a sports bra. According to Grace, a concerned community member complained about the shirtless female runners, prompting a new decision to enforce a rule prohibiting the team from running shirtless, even during hot August preseason practices.
I am a writer, but I am also a runner, which is why I take issue with changing my team’s favorite running traditions. Yes, we run shirtless, but not to promote any sexual image of ourselves. When the thermometer climbs to 95 degrees in August, running six plus miles during the typical practice becomes unbearable when even Under Armour tech shirts can’t keep you from sticking to your shirt.
I challenge our concerned community to practice with us at Wilson Park and Valley Forge Park, and to look around. At these parks, there are elite runners from all over the country, as well as neighborhood runners, most of whom do not wear shirts on hot days. In competition, too, many female runners’ uniforms consist of a high-tech sports bra and shorts resembling bikini bottoms.
Kara Goucher, a leading professional runner, wears such a uniform when she races in global competitions. She embodies strength and poise, not indecency, as she crosses the finish line in her sports bra. Her photo on the March cover of Runner’s World magazine, in which she confidently smiles in a sports bra, portrays her as a role model for runners of all ages and genders. Runners like these do not project a sexual image, nor does the Conestoga track team.
While I do not argue that sports are an extension of class policy, the reasoning behind this particular rule is illogical. The policy is not P.I.A.A.-enforced, nor is it standard across schools. To continue this running tradition, our community and athletic director need to prioritize. Questionable indecency is not enough to end a practice that produces Division I runners and state champions.
Meghan Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The original online version of this article can be reached by clicking here.
Printed originally on p. 22 of The Spoke’s May 6, 2010 edition.
May 2015: First up, though I still try to put up blog content whenever I can, it has been easier to more regularly visit the the Twitterverse. Follow me at @barethomas10 and let's keep the shirtless running flag flying. Of course, the blog still attracts very interesting comments, and good discussion. Keep it up.
Second, in the years since this venture launched, and as shirtless running among women has gone increasingly mainstream, the term "jogbra" has clearly declined in use. I will thus prefer "sportsbra" henceforth - as has already been the case on Twitter, and in recent posts here.
I continue to welcome guest posts (sent to email@example.com) on any related topic, including from those who would discourage stripping to the waist. I am myself of course a fervent convert to the joys of running bare. But let all voices be heard!