Rowan University objectifies its female athletes

Why is Rowan University choosing judgement over empowerment?


photo via Wikimedia Commons under creative commons license

The Rowan University Women's Cross Country Team currently is not allowed to run on the official track due to the athletic director's recent ruling on sports bras.

Heather Suraci, Features editor

Rowan University has decided to ban the women’s cross country team to run in sports bras only.  They believe that the small tops are eye-catching and distracting to others around them.  The Rowan University Womens Cross Country athletes believe that this is an unjust decision, and think that running in sports bras at practice should be permitted.

First and foremost, women do not run in sports bras to attract male attention. Women run in sports bras because it is hot outside and it is more comfortable to complete workouts with minimal fabric in their way. The Rowan University Womens Cross Country team, like other womens’ running teams, needs to complete demanding and vigorous workouts to prepare for their meets and competitions.

Even the teammates who do not partake in shirtless runs at practices believe that the other members of the team should be allowed to run in whatever they feel comfortable. The cross country team at Rowan is not provided with a daily practice uniform.  Since there is no uniform, the women on the team do not have a specified dress code to follow. Therefore, wearing sports bras only does not break any documented dress code regulations.

To make matters worse, in addition to the sports bra ban, in a meeting with the university’s cross country coach and the athletic director, it was decided that the women are no longer allowed to run on the university’s $4.6 million athletic practice facility which was recently renovated in 2015. The practice facility offers a place for each sport to practice. There is a dedicated practice area for each team. Both the men and women teams have their track; however, the women no longer have the privilege of using it.

The team was told that women running around in their sports bras was deemed “too distracting” to the football team that practices on the field that the track is surrounds. The university’s resolution to the problem was to unfairly terminate the women’s right to practice at the facility, regardless of their choice of clothing.  

Rowan’s female athletes are working hard day in and day out for their university, so it should not matter what they choose to wear. The discontent of these women on this team not only represent the atmosphere at the university, but also the growing irritation of the female athlete’s community. We live in a time where women are allowed to embrace their bodies and not live in constant fear of being degraded and judged.  In the world of professional athletics, all female elite runners are authorized to wear racing crop tops. Not only are they non-restricting, but they are a comfortable and empowering part of the running culture. So, why is Rowan University choosing judgement over empowerment?