Taking A ‘Clothes’ Look

Why officials should not be the fashion police.

What percentage of your games include enforcing any number of the uniform, apparel and accessory rules?

FashionPoliceInvariably, we spend more time than we would like, re-dressing some infraction on the floor either before or during the contest.  And this often comes AFTER the conference with the coaches asking them to verify if all their players are properly dressed.

Good people can find some common ground on this matter to make things to be less intrusive and help take officials out of the spotlight as the ‘bad guy.’

A practical solution … let’s focus on getting the judgment decisions right along with the critical rules to keep the balance of play — and get the NFHS rule makers to listen to the customer —the players, coaches, and officials — and simplify some of these requirements which have NO EFFECT on the game.

Before we get into regulating socks and sneakers, let’s take a 60-second timeout and put a few reasonable suggestions on the table to consider:

  • Headbands / Wristbands / Sleeves: Any color should be permitted (like socks and shoes).  Players would be permitted to mix and match (like shoes and socks) and express their personality.  If in the official’s judgment there is something unsportsmanlike (logo / motto) then they can be removed.  Why do we concern ourselves if player A-1 is wearing a black headband/wristband and A-2 is wearing white?
  • Sleeves and Tights (Below the Waist):  Same thing, mixing and matching anything below the waist should be permitted.  Colors and length provide no athletic advantage to one player over another.
  • Undershirts / Sleeves / Tights (Above the Waist): Here’s the ONE THING we should stay consistent on, based on the need for officials to easily discern opponents from one another.  Home must wear white on their “torso and arms” — to match the predominant color of the jersey.  Visitors would be required to wear the same predominant color as the jersey or black (not beige or white).  Keep it simple and easier for officials to determine which team is which.
  • Penalty for Infractions: If some teeth were put into the enforcement of this issue, coaches and administrators would have a clear incentive to be more involved in the wardrobe of their players…As it stands now, it is simply left to the officials enforcing matters that have no impact on the game.   If an official requires a player to fix their apparel for a rules infraction — there could be a new type of foul — “personal administrative foul” that can be penalized anytime it’s detected.  This new type of fouls would go toward the team bonus and personal disqualification count of five fouls.  Additionally, after the coach certifies their players are properly dressed, if any “personal administrative fouls” are given to a player — the head coach is also penalized with an “indirect technical foul” which results in losing the coaching box privilege if available.  While it sounds harsh — the head coach just told you they “certified” their players are properly dressed according to NFHS and local rules.  So let’s make that statement mean something!

So while we wait patiently and respectfully for meaningful change in this matter, your 60 Seconds on Officiating staff has created an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, chart that you can download, print and stick in your uniform bag to help get your crew on the same “fashion police” page.

Download the

As always, we would love to hear from you — the Ref60 audience — on your ideas and recommendations to help remove these obstacles in the future.  Please post your comments below and maybe the NFHS rule makers will take notice!

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10 thoughts on “Taking A ‘Clothes’ Look

  1. Great job by keeping Officials up to snuff. I have one question about Fashion Police. Tails on head bands are not permitted. However, I had a player with a Religous head garb with extremely long tails. How or what can I instruct a coach or player who about why 1 is legal and the other is not. Correct me but was the rule put in place because it may cause an injury?

  2. Interesting scenario Tom. I’m thinking tails — even on religious headwear — could require tucking, and still be in the spirit of religious freedom and the safety of the rule.

  3. UNIFORMITY is the philosophy supporting the rules on uniform and team member’s apparel and equipment. Why would we not want to see UNIFORMITY in appearance presentation for a team or team member? Color selection should not be the issue. The issue should be UNIFORMITY….are all the players on the team wearing the same color for their uniform/apparel articles. Do we want UNIFORMITY or do we not want UNIFORMITY?

  4. I’ve seen, increasingly, girls who roll their wasteband inside out and expose numerous logos along the wasteband (see under armor). How have you been handling this? I’ve had one coach bring this to my attention this year.

  5. Our crew tells the captains at the captains meeting that they are to wear their uniforms in a correct manner ie. No rolled waist band, no untucked shirts, no strings hanging out..etc and that anyone found in non-compliance would be sent to the bench for the infraction and a substitute would be brought in. Not many want taken out of the game and have to sit next to the coach for this infraction.

  6. This season the Maryland State Association (2017-18) allows the game pants to be rolled, thus in many cases exposing excess logos. The reason given for allowing the rolling is the fact that in many cases the uniforms do not fit the players, boys and girls, correctly and rolling the pants gives them a chance to look presentable.

    1. I have had the “size and fit” conversation with coaches and administrators as well. Their response: “We can’t just go out and buy new uniforms each year.”
      My response: “For a minimal cost, you can have the shorts altered by a professional.” There are still people in the world (that do not work for Nike or Under Armour that can use a needle and thread.

  7. This has very little to do with size. It is nearly 100% fashion and fad. Here’s how a person can tell… in my area, it was started by college players in college programs that have more money than they know what to do with rolling waistbands. Now the younger players want to do the same thing. True enough that it has no bearing on the game, but the Federation has it in the rule book. An official (or a state organization) setting aside Federation rules? Slippery slope.
    How about this idea? Coaches confirm that all players are legally and properly equipped, therefore the onus should be on them. If a player enters the game improperly or illegally equipped, the offending team is assessed a team technical for delay of game. Two free throws and division line throw in. Repeat as necessary.

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