Business of Men

Who wrote the beach handball dress code? Hugh Hefner?


A Norwegian beach handball team has been fined this week for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms. Apparently the shorts, even as short as they were, did not bare enough flesh for the bosses of the sport, which termed them “improper clothing.”

That’s a phrase that in most minds would echo with overtones of warnings usually from a judge’s bench (or your grandmother) about what constitutes a socially acceptable amount of coverage. But in this case, the European Handball Federation (EHF) is advocating that the women — because of course it’s about women — wear less, not more.

The women have been fined €1500 — €150 each — for not adhering to the dictated dress code. Happily, their own country’s handball federation is supporting them wearing whatever they bloody well choose, saying: “We at NHF stand behind you and support you. Together we will continue to fight to change the rules for clothing, so that players can play in the clothes they are comfortable with.”

The EHF slammed the women’s shorts as being “not according to the Athlete Uniform Regulations defined in the IHF Beach Handball Rules of the Game”. Those rules dictate that women must wear sports bra tops and bikini bottoms.

In fact, the rules go even further and dictate how tight and skimpy the bikini bottoms should be: “Female athletes must wear bikini bottoms … with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg.”

And men? They get to wear singlet tops and shorts.

The EHF goes on to say that: “Athletes’ uniforms and accessories contribute to helping athletes increase their performance as well as remain coherent with the sportive and attractive image of the sport.”

Pretty much every sport has equipment and apparel designed to increase performance. Those bodysuits that runners and swimmers wear, the firesuits that race car drivers wear, the sweaty lycra of the elite cyclists — all of those are designed to aid speed, aerodynamics, and safety.

Bikini bottoms increase … absolutely nothing we can think of, except the chances that with a bit of ‘sportive’ action they’ll get pulled up into the butt cheeks in a derriere-revealing g-string wedgie.

So obviously the key factor for the EHF is the “attractive image”. This is not about women ahtletes playing sport competitively. It’s about women and girls baring enough flesh to be ogled, because apparently you can’t set up a sporting federation for pole dancing or mud wrestling.

Why draw the line at the close-fitting, high-cut bikini bottoms? Perhaps the EHF should also dictate stripper heels and full makeup as part of the uniform.


About Hillary Cray'

Hillary Cray is a longtime commentator on women in politics.

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