Friday, August 23, 2013

No patience for bold men


Everybody knows I'm not a fan of dress codes. The way I see it, if people dress appropriately for the job that they do and feel good as a result, then micromanagement shouldn't be necessary. The work should matter most. Obviously, there are exceptions such as the military and sports. In the latter cases, the uniform has aesthetic and practical functions. 

In this case, the NFL jumped on the Redskins' rising-star quarterback for committing what it deemed an apparel violation. Good for them. Football players are big stars and must conduct themselves in a becoming way on the football field. So, what loud, inappropriate, violatilicous shirt did RGIII wear during pregame?

Er ... OK.
"Operation Patience" supposedly refers to Griffin's comeback from a major injury this past season, one that received tons of attention — and continues to do so as he gradually re-emerges. One that, incidentally, the NFL has publicized to the hilt.

Granted, you could argue that he's a two-time offender, that he knows the rules, that he shouldn't bite the hand that feeds him, that the fine is a drop in the bucket for him, etc.

In any case, the NFL dress code is bull. It serves only one purpose: to advertise league-licensed apparel — specifically, Nike apparel. Every player, coach and support staffer is required to be a walking billboard for a specific line of merchandise at all times. Notice how you haven't seen a head coach wear a suit in a while? That's the reason.

Even that would be OK, though, if they weren't so stringent about it (after all, it's not as if he wore the shirt during the game). What the money people fail to realize is that, in their quest to market the league to fans, they've squelched virtually all personality from it. But personality is as much a draw as teams and touchdowns. As I've said before, if all the NFL brass cares about is teams and shilling apparel, it might as well not put names or numbers on the players' uniforms. After all, that only encourages personality. And that would hurt the bottom line somehow.

What bothers me is how many fans agree with the league's mindset. That's a victory for the PR muscle, because it takes deliberation on a fan's part to decide that an inoffensive T-shirt during warmup drills is an affront to team harmony. It's something no one cared about until the league decided to care about it.

The funny thing is, the NFL was just fine before all this stringency. I'd argue in some ways that it was even better. 

I guess the bottom lines are better now, though.

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