So, my wife and I are watching Serena in the U.S.Open the other day and we were both commenting about the size of her earrings. Trying to imagine how big the openings in her ears must be, with all the jumping and running she has to do. Although our chat was not very earth shattering, the one thing it did leave me pondering is why jewelry is allowed in professional sports at all.
About a year ago, I remember a story in California where a girls high school track team won a title, on the last event, in the pole vault. After the girl completed the jump, that won the championship, the opposing coach pointed out a woven friendship bracelet on her wrist. As this was a violation of the rules, banning jewelry for competitors, she was disqualified and the other team was declared the winners. Although, I would argue that it was a very classless move on the part of the opposing coach, it was still against the rules.
As a sports fan, who may be in the last age bracket that could be called old school, I am not a fan of jewelry on athletes during play. We have rules in place, on a high school level, that prevent athletes from wearing jewelry. We also have those same rules in college athletics. The reason is defined as a safety issue. If that’s true, why do professional athletes and olympians get a pass, and just as importantly, why do they feel the need to wear this stuff in the first place?
As it relates to the rules, I am dumbfounded as to why this has not been addressed already. With every passing year, the things that players are wearing is getting increasingly more flamboyant. It is inevitable that a player will finally take it too far, and that will naturally lead to rule changes. The only problem with that, is that it will create limits to what can be worn, instead of rules preventing jewelry all together. Why is that? Why do the powers that be, in all professional sports and the Olympics, want their athletes wearing jewelry? If it is considered a safety issue, on all other levels, why not in the pros? Don’t know? Me either.
Now, from the athlete’s side. Why the hell do you play sports your whole life, with rules against wearing jewelry, and the second you go pro, you gotta break out the bling on gameday? Is it really so difficult to play the game without it? Is it like steroids, and if you dont have it, you can’t keep up with those who do? Have you dominated at the high school, and college levels, but are so glad to be in the pros, where you can finally get that extra little something you need to be the best you can truly be? “With the 1st pick, in the 2011 NFL draft, the Carolina Panther select Cam Newton, quarterback from Auburn. Here, hold up your jersey while I get your chain.” OK, maybe I’m being a little ridiculous. I do that sometimes. What I suspect, as is the case in so many aspects of sports today, it’s a “me” thing.
As sports get better and better, and its athletes bigger and stronger, the one thing that seems to be getting worse is the image of its athletes. Although, I have no issue with jewelry in everyday life, I think it is not endearing to the masses in competition. I find it hard to believe that anyone watching a sporting event is ever “impressed” by the adornments the athlete is wearing. I am well aware that image plays a huge part in an athletes life, as it pertains to endorsments, but I cannot think of a single example in which the jewelry an athlete wore, during competition, had any real effect, on their off the field money. But hey, maybe I’m just jaded on the subject.
In the end, maybe I’m just out of touch. Just an over 40 sportsfan on the fast track to phrases like, “Back, in my day.” I only hope that if my kids are ever in a position where this was something they had to think about, that they would make me a proud Dad, by recognizing all the responsibilities that come with being a professional athlete, and leave the bling in their locker. However, I would be equally as proud of them if they could argue why I need to just shut up about it, and quit being such a killjoy. Either way, it would be a nice problem to have.