UPDATE: Following the publication of this article, Rowan University administration has released a statement ending the sports bra ban and a statement regarding the usage of athletic facilities by the Cross Country team.
If you're running in a sports bra, then you must be asking for it, right? Well, according to a football player at Rowan University, this is true.
I'll have you know the real reason women run in sports bras, and it's not to show off our hard-earned abs. Women, whether they have a six-pack or not, run in sports bras because, quite frankly, it's hot outside. We run in sports bras because our workouts are demanding, challenging, and vigorous.
We run in sports bras because we are confident, hardworking student-athletes.
We do not run in a sports bra as a way to show off our bodies in attempts to distract men.
Out of the 15 Rowan University Women Cross Country athletes, all of them believe running in sports bras at practice should be allowed. Even the girls who don't partake in shirtless runs at practice still believe the other members of the team should be permitted to wear whatever they feel confident in.
The Cross Country team at Rowan is one of the only teams that is not provided with a daily uniform to practice in. With that being said, how is it expected for the women on this team to partake in an non-existing dress code?
A meeting was held with the Women's Cross Country Coach and the Athletic Director to address this issue resulting in the verdict of the women on the team no longer being able to run in sports bras. If that wasn't already enough of an outrage, it was also decided the women were no longer allowed to run on the track.
Women running around the track in sports bras at their own practice were claimed to be distracting to the football players on the field during the same time.
As if the women no longer being able to run in sports bras wasn't enough, now they're no longer allowed to run on the track, period. The girls are now mandated to run on the local high school track on workout days.
In 2015, Rowan University officially finished their new $4.6 million athletic practice facility. The practice facility includes two fields for football, soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse athletes. There is a dedicated practice area for each team. The men and women Cross Country teams have their track. Now they no longer have that privilege.
The problem here is not the women on the team. The problem is not the women wearing sports bras. The problem is not women's bodies.
Rape culture is the problem.
The fact that the Athletic Department supports the claim of this being distracting, or the women "asking for it," is disgusting. Mind you, the Athletic Department put together a video involving student-athletes addressing rape culture and how it is not tolerated here. Oh, is that so?
"As girls, we could look at the football team and say that their tight pants showing off everything is asking for it, but we don't. When we are on the track, we are doing a hard workout that requires all our focus, so we aren't looking at them and what they are doing. If they are distracted by us, then their practices clearly don't require their full attention, or they just aren't as committed to the sport." -Anonymous source
In the world of professional athletics, all female Elite runners are permitted to wear racing crop tops. Not only are they non-restricting, but they are a trendy, comfortable, and empowering part of the running culture.
As women, we are constantly reminded that we should be ashamed or embarrassed about our bodies. It's 2018, and yet women are still being objectified with their physical appearance.
As a nation, we are taking a step back into history, and as a University, we are teaching student-athletes that this is acceptable.
The women on this team not only represent the University but the growing community of female runners. It's time women are allowed to embrace their bodies and not live in constant fear of being degraded by men.
Women, athletes or not, deserve to use their voice and take a stance. The future generations are watching. Let's set a good example.