Written by Isabella Pallotto ‘19
What we wear sends messages to others around us and influences how we are treated. Athletes wear team uniforms to develop a reputation and control messages sent to other teams and spectators. In addition to messages sent to others, a uniform outfit creates an environment of harmony, efficiency, team spirit, and prestige among an athletic team (Harris, Ramsey, Sims, & Stevenson, 1974).
The goal of the present study was to assess if female athletes are perceived differently by teachers and peers if they are wearing their athletic uniform compared to casual clothes (Harris et al., 1974). Researchers photographed four female athletes participating in softball, basketball, volleyball, and shot-put in both their uniform and casual clothes. The photos were arranged on different bulletin boards so that each board had a photo of each athlete. Two of the four photos featured an athlete in casual clothes and the two remaining photos featured an athlete in uniform. Two-hundred and seventy-one high school girls and twenty-six general education teachers rated the athlete in each photo on changeable traits of perceived professionalism, team spirit, and overall ability as a player as well as biological traits of perceived coordination, natural ability, and muscular strength.
The photos of the uniformed athletes were rated higher on all measured traits than the photos of the casual clothed athletes. The highest ratings were for the changeable traits such as team spirit, professionalism, and overall ability as a player compared to the biological traits of coordination and muscular strength (Harris et al., 1974). Teachers and students gave similar ratings for each trait. This study demonstrates that uniforms create a more favorable perception of an athlete, especially on changeable traits valued in society.