Sexualized uniforms aren’t designed for performance

Female sports uniforms have always incorporated aspects of current fashion trends

“Shorter and tighter clothes allow for better performance from players.” Every female volleyball athlete has heard some form of this phrase. While this may seem reasonable, it’s no secret that men’s sports uniforms don’t reflect this same mentality. 

Female sports uniforms have always incorporated aspects of current fashion trends. Until the 1960s, conservative skirts were worn as part of women’s volleyball uniforms. Today, female athletes wear shorter and tighter clothes while men’s uniforms are designed more for performance, not appearance. Not only are these unfair outfit standards used in professional volleyball, but also for Miramonte’s girls’ volleyball team. Miramonte’s sexist female volleyball uniform standards and requirements should be amended to allow for clothing styles and options other than the stereotypical “tight and short” uniforms. 

Just through mere observation, women’s volleyball uniforms are overly sexualized.

 “I just can’t help but notice that for volleyball, where the sport is the exact same regardless of gender, the girls wear tight shirts and spandex while the boys wear longer loose shorts and not tight shirts,” sophomore volleyball player Emi Ross said. 

Miramonte reuses their jersey tops for a couple seasons before buying a new set for women’s volleyball. While there is no problem to this, it does mean there is no variation whatsoever in the style of uniforms; one must wear the uniform provided to them. Whether students are on varsity, junior varsity, or even the freshman/sophomore team, players’  jerseys are tight-fitted long-sleeves. If they wanted a looser fit, they could go up a size, but even then, larger sizes are not plentiful and, since a larger fit is not the intended style, it could potentially fit strangely. Miramonte should allow players to choose among various styles and fits. 

Miramonte provides uniforms for athletes but allows players to choose their own warm-up clothing used for practice and to wear over jerseys before games. But even with these casual warm-up outfits there are few options. The vendor of Miramonte’s volleyball warm ups for the 2020 season, the Nike Digital Catalog through BSN Sports, had no alternative styles to pick. Every warm-up top option was skin tight. The only variation was color and sleeve length. Players were never given the option to change their fit or style. Miramonte should provide uniforms that are meant to be functional, not just look pretty. 

Furthermore, while Miramonte doesn’t explicitly say what type of shorts girls should wear, there is a societal expectation and an accepted norm that women should wear spandex when playing volleyball. 

Before high school volleyball, the majority of girls played for local club teams, such as Red Rock Volleyball Club and Xceleration Volleyball Club. Local clubs are associated with the Northern California Volleyball Association. In its “Uniform Requirements and Reminders Handbook,” they do not list anywhere what type of shorts girls must wear, yet only pictures of spandex shorts are used as examples of women’s uniforms. In no way is it against the rules for local clubs to offer other options, they just simply don’t. Popular local clubs such as Pacfic Rim Volleyball Academy and Vibe Volleyball Club also provide their uniforms with a pair of spandex instead of providing alternative options. 

“At times it [spandex shorts] can feel like you are wearing a bathing suit bottom. Most of the clubs I have played for haven’t offered any looser fitting options or other styles of bottoms,” freshman volleyball player Keira Elliott said. She has played for Vibe Volleyball and Xceleration in the past and is hoping to play for Miramonte this season. 

When coming into high school volleyball, even though players are able to choose their style of shorts, there is a presumption that spandex should be worn.

 “Every female athlete should be able to choose what style of uniform they want to wear. This way, the current styles of uniforms can still be available for those who are most comfortable and perform best with them. Athletics performed by females are just as valid as male-performed sports and we shouldn’t have to be validated by what we wear,” Ross said. 

 The importance of women’s sports should not be measured based on the attractiveness of the athletes’ uniforms, and Miramonte should actively advertise that other styles of shorts are acceptable to wear to disband this stereotype on campus.  

It is apparent that sexist female uniforms are not standard across all sports, such as basketball and soccer. But this shouldn’t be an excuse to disregard the multiple current examples of female uniforms being sexualized. Women’s volleyball has been oversexualized for years and has been altered to appeal to audiences not by the athletes’ talent, but by their looks. Doing this degrades the sport itself. 

“Being a guy, I’ve never felt sexualized wearing a sports uniform, although I am aware and understanding of the sexualization of women’s sports uniforms,” sophomore Fred Neuburger said. 

A uniform not only should unify a team but should be designed for the best performance for each player. Miramonte’s volleyball uniforms should respect and embrace this by challenging societal norms and offering different styles of volleyball uniforms. 

This article appeared as an editorial in the Mirador, the Miramonte High School newspaper.