Friday, April 26, 2013

Do-Rags in the NFL

In 2001, the National Football League created a new rule banning do-rags. This new ruled raised controversy. Do –rags, bandannas and stocking caps are no longer allowed under football helmets. NFL players had previously been allowed to wear solid color do-rags underneath their helmets in a color that matched their team uniforms. The new rule banned do-rags all together, but allowed skull caps in the teams color with the team’s logo located on it. Many African American players wore do-rags in order to prevent the helmet from rubbing against their hair which causes hair loss. African Americans typically use a lot of product in their hair and the friction was causing some players to lose their hair or for the helmet to slide uncomfortably.
Because most of the players affected by this ruling are African American, many feel this dress code is directed at African American players.  The NFL stated that two of the voting members that voted in favor of the do- rag ban are African American.  The NFL argued that skullcaps would be able to prevent this hair loss just as well as do-rags. The NFL also argued that this new rule was simply a change in uniform.
The NFL employs professional football players, so the players are supposed to listen to their employers and follow the dress code.  They NFL officials compared this to a business that insists its employees wear suits.  If the employee does not like to wear suits, they are welcomed to find another job.
There is the thought that the NFL is trying to change its image of employing “thugs”.  Do- rags and stocking caps are often associated with gangs. Many believe that this is the reason for the NFL banning them. The NFL has been trying to have a more professional image and there are those that think this is the motivating factor.
The NFL has said that the players could be exempted from this ruling for a medical need. For example, Ray Lewis from the Baltimore Ravens has a known scalp condition and his doctor produced such proof of need.  

As the article below asks, “Is banning do-rags a culturally biased move?” Should NFL players be allowed to wear do-rags, or do they symbolize something other than what the NFL stands for? Does wearing a do-rag promote or encourage gang related behavior? These are all questions that this ban has raised. 


  1. It is an interesting thought, at what point does an employer have the right to mandate attributes about an employee’s dress before the rule becomes prejudice. The article shows that the vote came from the owners, who are actively trying to sell a brand. I think that this mandate maybe racially biased but not in the negative way of claiming that do-rags are a sign of a person being a thug. Rather I think that it is all markets, the owners want players to switch to something that has the teams logo on it. Not only does this mean that when the players are not wearing helmets they are actively promoting the teams brand on their head, it also allows the team to sell an item that African American children who are fans of particular African American player to want to purchase the skull caps from the team. Therefore I think the notion of player looking like thugs with do-rags is a cover up to get African American youth to buy a product, racially motivated but not necessarily racist.

  2. Hmmm this an intriguing post. I never saw a problem with do-rags. Of course I would not suggest someone to go out in public wearing a do-rag as it not necessarily the trendest fashion statement. Now at first glance it can be seen as culturally biased, in particular when it is a dominant group that it is participating in the act. At the moment, I cannot say that I agree or disagree about it being a culturally biased move yet it does cause me to wonder why such a ban could happen. These guys are not wearing them out on the street; they are worn under helmets. The NFL players are even saying that they are using them to prevent hair loss.

    For the NFL to compare themselves to a business and want to uphold professional standards I believe is merely a poor excuse for banning the do-rags. If they want to uphold a standard, how about making players with tattoos that are completely offensive and lewd cover the tattoos. Do-rags don't necessarily promote gang violence. People promote gang violence. For something as small as do-rags to even be considered related to gang violence can be taken too far. If do-rags should be considered, then why don't we consider the colors that teams wear? If anything else can promote anything gang-related, it would be the colors people wear.

  3. While it could be seen a "culturally biased move," do-rags are not only worn by African Americans. Yes, most African American NFL players do wear do-rags, so many other people in the world wear them as well. I do not see this article of clothing as "symbolizing something other than what the NFL stands for." If people want to wear do-rags they should have the freedom to do so. Why should something covered by a helmet matter this much? If an argument is concerned with the idea of do-rags encouraging gang-related behavior, shouldn't skull caps also be included in that argument? Plenty of people, including those in gangs, wear skull caps as well. I think this is a silly ban, one that is completely unnecessary simply because it shouldn't matter what football players wear under their helmets. Do-rags, bandanas, and skull caps all have negative connotations just like any other article of clothing; for the NFL to ban certain articles of clothing is a waste of time.

  4. I do think that the NFL is trying to promote a market. There is some past precedent for both of these cases.
    On the professionalism account; all coaches are required to wear the clothing of their clothing sponsor.This is a very basica marketing ploy since the coaches are constantly being shown standing on the sidelines making decisions it seems reasonable that clothing sponsors would want them covered under contract. I fail to remember the name of the coach but i know of atleast one professional coach who had his sponsor specifically make him a suit because that is what he wanted to wear on the sidelines and was contractually obligated to wear clothing from that company.
    I also believe this to be the case as players are routinely fined for things like wearing the wrong cleats and socks and it is a big issue of contention with players about these ridiculous fines. I think that it is plausible the NFL was trying to dodge this "Thug Look". the NFL probably wants little to do with selling dorags with team logos but , it willing to oblige with player needs. I believe they think they can market a similiar product as athletic gear and avoid the thug issue.
    Another reason they might ban it is often players will wear what used to be a sleave as what is probably being classified as a dorag. while this looks nothing like a traditional dorag it does look pretty unprofessional.

  5. I'm not sure about the intentions of the NFL in doing this but this definitely could be seen as a racist policy. It reminds me much of banning sagging in malls which definitely fits a certain demographic. While it definitely could be seen as not wanting NFL players to promote do-rags, it is still a culturally stifling move by them. Thus, I must take this news with a grain of salt.

  6. This is a thought-provoking post. It seems like to me that this action/ban by the NFL can be seen as racial profiling. It does seem a bit racist considering that the majority of the players who previously wore do-rags were African American. At what point does the employer have the right to decide this? It seems quite unethical to me. Were the do-rags hurting anyone? Why is it necessary to ban them? I think it was just a "cop-out" or an excuse when the NFL said it was merely a professional uniform policy.

  7. It was a racist move, plain and simple.