Should a certain type of dress be expected for special occasions? Should a person be required to dress a particular way when an event is considered formal or semiformal?
What would you wear on a visit to the White House?
I dont mean your everyday tourist visit. I mean a formal, official meeting with the President of the United States.
It has become a tradition for the President of our country to invite members of various championship sports teams to the White House.
I dont know when the tradition started, or which President started it. Honoring champions at the White House makes for a nice photo op and allows the athletes and coaches to receive recognition for a job well done.
However, a recent visit has raised the eyebrows of some.
The Northwestern University Womens Lacrosse Team won the 2005 NCAA Division I Lacrosse Championships. Subsequently, they were invited to the White House to meet President George W. Bush and be honored for their achievement.
According to all reports, everything went well. Everyone had a great time, and the athletes and coaches were given an experience they would never forget.
As in any event, the participants stood for a photo. President Bush was in the middle of the group, surrounded by these fine, young women and their coaches.
The photo was sent out over the wire services, and that is when the questions started.
It seems that some of the young ladies chose to wear flip flops.
None of the ladies seemed to be dressed inappropriately. They all wore nice dresses, blouses and skirts, or pants and shirts.
The question that has been brought up and been asked by many; are flip flops acceptable footwear for a formal visit to the White House?
Do shoes really matter? Does an occasion dictate your selection of footwear? I would have to say that it does. I feel that certain events dictate the selection of footwear.
Would a man wear running shoes to his wedding? Would a woman wear house shoes to the opera? Would a person wear flip flops to a job interview with any major corporation?
The answer to all three of the above questions is a resounding no.
In todays society, many things are just brushed off as unimportant. It is obvious to me that this issue does not rank up there with the War on Terror or the cost of a gallon on gas.
What it does bring to mind is what is acceptable in todays society. Some have stated that flip flops are acceptable footwear for todays youth. They view flip flops as comfortable, stylish, and as a fashion statement of their generation.
One of they young ladies was quoted in saying that the flip flops that were worn were not the cheap kind. They were brown, decorated with sequins and had a cost of about sixteen dollars.
All of this really doesnt matter. The offending young ladies should have made a better choice of footwear. The coaching staff should have insured that the ladies were properly dressed. The university should have a dress code for athletes when they are representing their school.
I know many athletic teams, whether they are professional, college, high school or club, have dress and attire requirements when they are representing their organization.
I know of a long time high school swimming coach, who has coached swimmers at every level from novice to national champion. She always has a dress code for her athletes, be it at practice, competition, or travel.
She would tell her athletes they represented four entities: their coach, their team or school, their parents, and themselves.
Society has placed an unwise idea in the youth of today. Allowing them to believe that people shouldnt judge them on their appearance and that they have the right to self expression with their choice of dress, will do more to hurt them in society then they will benefit.
People are judged on their appearance. Even if it is something as simple as wearing flip flops to the White House, people do judge you.
In reaction to the furor, some of the young ladies have said they will donate their flip flops to the White House, to be auctioned off to benefit a young fan who has brain cancer,
Whether they came to their senses about their inappropriate choice of footwear or are trying to make an unfortunate situation better is unclear. What is clear is they have thought about the issue and are trying to rectify the situation.
Perhaps the universitys athletic department will enact a policy concerning appropriate dress for their athletics teams.
Perhaps the coaches of these young women will enact a team policy concerning appropriate dress for their athletes and coaches.
Perhaps the young women involved will think about appropriate dress and footwear for activities and events they are involved in.
After all, this isnt brain surgery. It is about some young people making a poor choice. They will all live through it, as we all will. I hope this will take them, along with many others, use common sense when it comes to appropriate dress and footwear.
Robert H. Kelly is an independent sport writer from Texas.