I established a solid routine when working Rex Sox games during the sweltering, humid Boston summers. Dressed to impress with high-def TV makeup firmly caked on, I’d put on my backpack (filled with notes, a laptop and high heels), slip on my flip-flops and leave my apartment for the local T stop about four blocks away from my place.
I’d hop on the train and get off a few blocks from Fenway Park. By the time I would arrive inside the press box, I’d be sweating, but hiding it well of course. I would find my seat, unpack my notes and laptop, then finally, before heading down to the clubhouse (still several hours before first pitch), I would exchange my comfortable black sandals for those pesky and painful (but necessary) heels.
After the game ended and I had completed my final TV hits, I would run the same routine in reverse, feeling such relief when taking off the heels and putting on my trusty flip-flops. I would say my goodbyes to my coworkers and do a few chat-and-waves with coaches, players and stadium workers as I left Fenway for the train ride and walk home, arriving back at my apartment around midnight.
Those days are long gone now with news of Major League Baseball becoming the first major sport in North America to create a dress code for the media. Ben Walker, a baseball writer for the Associated Press, explains the basic idea with help from an MLB press release:
"The media should dress ‘in an appropriate and professional manner’ with clothing proper for a ‘business casual work environment’ when in locker rooms, dugouts, press boxes and on the field, the new MLB rules say."
Here is the MLB’s list of what not to wear:
-Sheer and see-through clothing
-Tank tops, one-shouldered or strapless shirts
-Clothing exposing bare midriffs
-Skirts, dresses or shorts cut more than 3-4 inches above the knee
These new guidelines didn’t fall out of the sky and land in Bud Selig’s lap. They were carefully constructed by, “a committee of executives and media representatives,” according to Walker. “The panel included female and Latin reporters and there was input from team trainers, who had health concerns about flip-flops in clubhouses and bare feet possibly spreading infections. Such footwear is no longer permitted.”
The AP article quotes an MLB spokesperson as saying the policy wasn’t adopted because of any one, specific incident but that baseball was aware of a situation involving the New York Jets and female TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz at a practice in 2010 (read about that incident here: http://bit.ly/sqClSF ).
It looks like the new guidelines are geared more towards women’s apparel, which, as a female reporter, raises a red flag. BUT, this dress code is absolutely reasonable and is really more of a reminder to use common sense than anything.
I’ve had plenty of reporters come up to me and say something like, “did you see what he was wearing? Cargo shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops? This isn’t the beach!” Yes, men hate on each other’s wardrobes. Who knew?
I think using the language “business casual” is the league’s way of sending a message to male media members that the dress code isn’t only for the ladies.
Just as the MLB took notice of the incident in the Jets locker room, there is no doubt the NFL, NBA and NHL will keep an eye on baseball’s new policy going forward.
"MLB said it would consider appropriate actions if the guidelines were broken," wrote Walker.
From now on, I guess I’ll have to rock sneakers and a dress before slipping on the heels. It won’t exactly be fashionable, but hey, at least my feet won’t hurt, I won’t endanger the health of professional athletes and I’ll be within the new rules of baseball. I wonder if the league will use video replay when assessing possible violations? Just a thought.
To read Ben Walker’s AP article about the MLB’s new media dress code, click here: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5heIzPhQdHGiKc3v4aFwGqokboMUA?docId=3749bb1d25eb4ce0b9849db3c830493b
Jackie Mesa Pepper is a sports journalist with nearly a decade of experience. As an anchor and reporter for Comcast SportsNet in Boston she covered the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins for the network's flagship show SportsNet Central and sister station New England Cable News. Jackie recently won a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her work as a video features producer for Yahoo! Sports.
In addition to her work with Comcast Boston, Jackie also anchored and reported for CBS affiliate KIDK, covering the Utah Jazz and various sports teams throughout the United States.
Jackie began her sports journalism career as a college radio reporter and talk show host at the University of Arizona. She went on to work for ABC Sports, ESPN and NFL Network, Yahoo! Sports and TMZ.
PepperOnSports.com features original articles, interviews, commentary and breaking news from around the sports world. Jackie also frequently contributes to live television and radio broadcasts as a guest sports and cultural analyst.
VIDEO RESUME: http://youtu.be/fabq0uVocpk