In the 1980’s it was not only OK for guys to wear short shorts, it was cool! As you can see from the pictures above, even NBA giants like John Stockton and Michael Jordan wore shorts that today might be referred to as “Daisy Dukes.” In the 90s the style for mens’ shorts continued to lengthen. By the time we entered the 2000’s it was almost unacceptable for a guy to wear shorts that revealed his kneecaps.
Male Cross Country athletes have not been immune to the fashion trend, but at the highest levels, short shorts are still enjoying their heyday. Why? We believe it’s because short shorts feel faster and most runners would rather look silly while getting a huge PR than look cool and running slow. The questions for this week and this blog is, “Should male distance runners continue to ignore widely accepted fashion trends or should they conform to the long short fad and at least mix in a pair of half tights?”
When I was coaching in Denver in the early 2000s my high school boys loved to wear basketball shorts to practice. When they found some pictures of me in high school wearing short flag shorts, they laughed until their stomachs hurt. I tried to explain to them that when I was in school this was considered cool, and if they had been in high school in the 80s they would have worn them too. They continued to point and laugh at me so I defiantly told them, they were not fast enough to wear short shorts anyway and that if they did come to practice in short shorts I would send them home. I told them they had to EARN the right to wear short shorts. They loved this challenge and asked what they had to do. I told them that if the 4X800 relay team could average under 2:00 per leg then they could all wear flag shorts and nobody could make fun of them. Two weeks later they broke 8:00 in the 4X800 and the following took place….
Now it was my turn to laugh, but they embraced the short shorts from that point on, and other runners tried to earn the right to wear them.
I have spent so much of my life wearing short shorts, that I almost can’t tell the difference. I often find myself in the grocery store after a workout drawing awkward stares from the other customers. When I realize that I am shopping in shorts that have not been cool (outside the running world) in almost 20 years, I start to feel a little self conscious. Here is my theory on guys wearing short shorts:
If you are running faster than 6 minutes and 30 seconds per mile, then you are allowed to wear short shorts. If you are running slower than 7 minutes a mile, then you need to have shorts that go down to just above your knees. I know I commented after the “How to Spit” blog that it is not so much how fast you run, but how good you look doing it, but when it comes to shorts, I think it is a combination of the two. In order to look good wearing short shorts you have to be running fast. When I am slow and old like Tim, then I will have to consider mixing in some longer shorts. I wish he would!
What is your opinion?
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