Girls tennis team angry after dress code regarding sports bras is enforced


Photo By Lizzy Sidman

New wind blockers for the tennis courts have recently been installed to enhance the quality of the courts. The tennis team recently ended their season after sending senior Evelyn Taylor to State.

     Since Sept. 16, 2021, the Kaneland High School Athletic Director’s office has been verbally enforcing rules banning shirtless practicing, causing some to be angered because they believe the rule is unjust.

     David Rohlman is the Athletics and Activities Director at Kaneland High School and is in charge of enforcing all rules and regulations set by the Board of Education. He is the person who originally applied this dress code to the girls tennis team on Sept 16.

     A sophomore on the junior varsity tennis team Lauren Andrews said, “[Rohlman] approached the tennis, cross country and dance teams telling us that [wearing only sports bras] was ‘inappropriate.’”

     This struck a chord with Andrews. She decided to email Rohlman in protest of this rule. She only became more passionate as each day passed that she did not receive a response, and she ended up never hearing back from Rohlman.

     “I did not see that email,” Rohlman said.

     Rohlman stated that he receives at least one hundred emails a day, and it was not crazy that he could have missed this email. Regardless, Andrews felt her opinion was being ignored, though she does not blame Rohlman and rather hoped that he would be able to help her make a change.

     “My role is to only enforce the dress code set by the Board of Education,” Rohlman said.

     According to this statement, Rohlman had no choice in the situation but to enforce the rules made by those above him. The Board of Education has laid out these rules that would be very difficult to change.

     The Kaneland High School student handbook states, “Underwear/undergarments must not be seen at any time. When enforcing this rule, consideration will be made in regard to current fashion trends and any specific allowances will be made clear to students and staff.”

     It is known that wearing sports bras without a shirt is clearly stated to be inappropriate for after-school activities. The real question raised by the girls involves whether or not the heat is enough of an extenuating circumstance as stated in the handbook.

     “I understand the viewpoints of these people because it was very warm,” Rohlman said.

     During the tennis season, the temperature at the time of practice was around 85 degrees. Because it was so hot, Andrews thought there must be other biases in play in the enforcement of the dress code.

     “This is a sexualization of young girls,” Andrews said.

     Andrews thinks that there is no problem with girls showing their bodies because there should be nothing innately sexual about girls’ bodies existing. On the other hand, Rohlman believes that sexualization is not the reason for the dress code.

     “The dress code is not intended to sexualize anyone,” Rohlman said.

     Rohlman refers to the fact that this dress code is enforced for both boys and girls. Andrews, however, believes that the rule is not completely equal in its implementation. She says that she sees boys without shirts all of the time at sports practices, and it seems to her that this specific part of the dress code is disproportionately enforced towards girls. 

     “I also approached the boys soccer team for taking off their shirts at practice,” Rohlman said.

     Though Rohlman is in charge of enforcing the dress code in sports, this is not his rule so he could not provide specific insight as to why this rule exists in the first place. In 2018, Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, went through a scandal sparked by protests against the dress code regarding the banning of sports bras without a shirt. Many were left wondering the root of this rule, and the administrators attempted to answer this question almost immediately after the scandal exploded.

     Rowan spokesman Joe Cardona said, “The roots of that policy is an attempt to teach all of our athletes there are certain standards.” 

     These certain standards were not made clear by Rowan University or Kaneland High School to explain exactly why this dress code exists. Andrews thinks that the boundaries of these rules are very unclear, making her question the validity of this dress code.

     “It’s not the 1900s anymore,” Andrews said.

     Andrews thinks this dress code is outdated and stems from the sexism of the past. She believes that this rule should be changed but does not know exactly how to go about it without being too drastic. She hoped that Rohlman would help her make a change, and she is unsure if that will happen.

     “I will do what I can to listen to the students,” Rohlman said. 

     As of this date, there have been no changes to the dress code.