Sports Bras Distract Football Players? Rowan University Clarifies Practice Rule
GLASSBORO — Twitter exploded in indignation at a report that the Rowan University women's cross-country team was no longer allowed to wear sports bras during practice because the team was "distracting" the football team.
The outrage prompted the school to clarify its policies in order to allow the bras.
In a post on the website Odyssey, Rowan University student Gina Capone wrote that the women wear sports bras because they do not have official practice gear and the bras are comfortable to wear outdoors during their "demanding, challenging, and vigorous" workouts in hot weather.
Capone said that all 15 members of the team believe running in sports bras at practice should be permitted.
Rowan President Ali A. Houshmand on Friday said that women had been allowed to wear sports bras despite a longstanding protocol that required players to wear shirts.
Houshmand said confusion ensued after this verbal policy was explained to new staff members, who relayed it to players as if it were a new policy.
He said the administration was not aware of the verbal policy and worked to develop written policy allowing sports bras to be worn during practice without shirts.
The president did not address Capone's allegation that the rule was brought up because they were distracting football players.
In her Odyssey post, Capone lay blame for the decision in "rape culture" and said the university contradicts itself by supporting the claim of the women being distracting while putting together a video with student athletes with the message that "rape culture" is not accepted at Rowan.
"As girls, we could look at the football team and say that their tight pants showing off everything is asking for it, but we don't. When we are on the track, we are doing a hard workout that requires all our focus, so we aren't looking at them and what they are doing. If they are distracted by us, then their practices clearly don't require their full attention, or they just aren't as committed to the sport."
Before Rowan's statement was issued, U.S Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J. 1st District, commented on the story on his Twitter account: "Really? This is 2018, we must treat female athletes fairly and with respect."
Statement from Rowan
A recently published article raised questions about the possibility of Rowan’s women athletes being restricted from wearing sports bras without shirts during training. The piece raises questions about the possibility of an inequitable protocol for women’s athletic apparel. I ensure you that the University and our Athletics program are committed to providing the most accommodating and fair environment for all of our athletes.
Rowan’s Athletic Department has had a longstanding verbal protocol that all athletes must wear shirts, even during practices. The verbal policy was adopted as a matter of keeping a level of standards throughout its men's and women's programs. What led to the article and brought light to the verbal policy was a recent explanation of it to new staff, who then relayed the information to students. Having practiced all season in “sports bra” tops, many interpreted this as a new policy.
Not knowing the verbal policy existed and just becoming aware of it, Rowan’s administration has met with the Athletics Department and promises immediately to develop a written policy that allows women athletes to wear sports-bra tops without shirts during practices. Rowan Athletics will continue to follow NCAA guidelines for uniforms during competition. In the new formal policy, there will be no restriction of sports bras without shirts as practice apparel.
The University recognizes that while the verbal policy attempted to set standards, it could be misunderstood and does not accommodate today’s training practices across sports. We recognize this may stir debate within the University community and beyond. By clarifying our support of women’s athletics and its student-athletes, Rowan strongly affirms its commitment to ensuring that women are able to train and perform at the highest levels.