Free the Nips


Kelly Shinnick

According to school policy, athletes are required to wear shirts at all times, and articles of clothing such as sports bras or crop tops are prohibited.

It’s 90 degrees outside, you’re running or conditioning for your sport, you’re dripping with sweat and your shirt is mostly see-through. As a cross country runner, I know this feeling. You want to take your shirt off but you can’t, due to district and school policies.  

The official shirt policy is that the shirt needs to overlap with the shorts and be the same type of apparel that you compete in. According to interim Athletic Director John Fischl, the new shirt policy, which applies to all sports was put in place over the summer due to the need to be “Title IX compliant, that since the girls cannot run shirtless, and they need to be dressed in more than a sports bra, the boys need to be dressed in a shirt.”

I’m on the cross country team, and I run in all weather, including the heat. But even when it’s not hot, a shirt is a pain to lug around — so, boys should be able to run shirtless and girls should be able to run in their sports bras.

When it is beyond hot outside in Midwest humidity and sweat is spilling from athletes’ faces because of the heat, they should be able to take their shirt off. Even if athletes are wearing a regular dri-fit t-shirt, which is designed to be more comfortable while working out, it’s still hot. Plus, not every athlete can afford a running tank top or other quality dri-fit shirts.

In addition, running shirtless is a good way to cool off in the heat. Less clothing means more evaporation, keeping athletes cooler. To cool off, you need that sweat to evaporate. It’s evaporation that drains the heat from your body. To help the sweat evaporate, you want air to flow over your skin — as much of your skin as possible, according to NPR.

I think we’re all on the same page in respect to shorts – when it is too hot for pants, you wear shorts or capris. When it is too hot to wear high-ankle socks, you wear low-cut socks. So, when it is too hot to run with a shirt on, you take it off.

Even when it’s not 90 degrees outside, there are benefits to running shirtless. In a 2017 study done by the University of Utah, your basal metabolic rate (i.e. the number of calories needed to simply exist without spending any extra energy) increases slightly in colder climates. So, in colder temperatures, with your shirt off, your body is working harder in order to keep warm. Therefore, the body is burning more calories. This is important because calories are energy and burning more of those leads to a better workout.

Running shirtless can also prevent from chafing. Trust me — that’s a pain no one wants to deal with. It can cause a workout to end in a matter of minutes and could be a setback during the season.

The shirt policy directly affects and is enforced by both the boys and girls cross country teams. On the other hand, the boys basketball team always plays shirts versus skins while scrimmaging early in the morning. So if the basketball team isn’t told to put their shirts on, why can’t the cross country team, the soccer team, the football team or the cheer team be allowed to take their shirts off?

Mr.Fischl said that if he saw them with their shirts off he’d tell them to put them back on,but I still see them do it all the time. He later went on to say, “As you walk on to pool decks around the world, competitive swimming males have a requirements for the area to be covered by their swimsuit. We follow those requirements.”

At swim meets in the Olympics and at LHS, I have seen males walking around with their shirt off, whether they are swimming or not. I don’t understand why that is okay.

Many attempts have been taken to get around the policy. During last year’s cross country season, the boys cross country teams began to cut up their shirts, like crop tops, so that all you could see was their stomach.The girls team later joined in during the track season. That was not allowed either.   What’s wrong with that? In boys swimming, you can see a lot more than just their stomach.

Many sports want the ability to practice shirtless or in their sports bras, so why isn’t it allowed? Other school districts allow it; I see Mundelein running the trails shirtless, and other teams at meets are shirtless. Besides, people see a lot more on the beach than they do while watching people work out shirtless.

If swimmers are able to do it, amidst a big crowd, why can’t runners, baseball players, soccer players, lacrosse players or cheerleaders?

So, in the words of the cross country team, “free the nips.”