You Should Be Reading: Fashion and Sports

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The 22nd Olympic Games are well underway in Sochi, and in the spirit of the event, Worn Through would like to dedicate this week’s You Should Be Reading column to three articles that explore the relationship between fashion and sports. Recent scholarship on this topic has gone beyond the study of athletic wear to extend to the effects dress and appearance have on athletes of all types. These effects touch on topics like gender, race, and nationalism, to name a few. Given the wide reach of sports in today’s society, the role of fashion in these relationships is of particular interest. The three articles below, published within the past year, feature some of the most thought-provoking research on this topic. We hope you enjoy. 

1. Biddle-Perry, G. (2014). Sporting hats and national symbolism: The Kangol beret and the London Olympic Games of 1948Clothing Cultures, 1(2), 111-126.

This article explores the British Olympic Association’s adoption of the Kangol beret for both male and female athletes at the London Games of 1948. The Games represented a critical juncture in both Olympic and British political history. The article outlines the fashion historical development of the ‘Anglo-Basque’ beret as a context for examining how the beret came to function as the symbolic embodiment of shifting concepts of British sporting nationalism within the Olympic arena. In World War II the beret became synonymous with Lord Montgomery of Alamein (Monty), and by extension the fighting spirit of the British nation. The article questions to what extent the choice of the ‘Monty’ beret in London in 1948 can be seen as both a response to the Berlin Olympics in 1936 and the wider contemporary context of a nation at the crossroads between austerity and affluence, and new demands for wider democratic freedom and welfare reform. — Full Article Abstract

2. Lorenz, S. L., & Murray, R. (2014). “Goodbye to the gangstas”: The NBA dress code, Ray Emery, and the policing of blackness in basketball and hockeyJournal of Sport and Social Issues, 38(1), 23-50. 

This article assesses cultural representations of Blackness in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) in relation to contemporary forms of racism in North American society. In particular, this case study examines media narratives surrounding the adoption of the NBA dress code and the behavior of NHL goaltender Ray Emery during the 2005 to 2006 basketball and hockey seasons. Despite significant differences in the racial composition of the two leagues, the NBA and the NHL made similar efforts to discipline, police, and contain the young Black males under their control. Racialized constructions of Black athletes as menacing, criminal, and dangerously different were prominent in media coverage of both sports. An exploration of these sporting controversies offers a transnational and comparative framework for understanding racial discourses in the United States and Canada today. — Full Article Abstract

3. Weber, J. D., & Carini, R. M. (2013). Where are the female athletes in Sports Illustrated? A content analysis of covers (2000-2011)International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 48(2), 196-203.

The authors content analyzed more than 11 years of Sports Illustrated (SI) covers (2000–2011) to assess how often females were portrayed, the sports represented, and the manner of their portrayal. Despite females’ increased participation in sport since the enactment of Title IX and calls for greater media coverage of female athletes, women appeared on just 4.9 percent of covers. The percentage of covers did not change significantly over the span and were comparable to levels reported for the 1980s by other researchers. Indeed, women were depicted on a higher percentage of covers from 1954–1965 than from 2000–2011. Beyond the limited number of covers, women’s participation in sport was often minimized by sharing covers with male counterparts, featuring anonymous women not related directly to sports participation, sexually objectifying female athletes, and promoting women in more socially acceptable gender-neutral or feminine sports. — Paraphrased Article Abstract 


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