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A basketball fashion trendsetter

Allan Joseph | Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An open letter to Irish basketball coach Mike Brey:

Dear Coach Brey,

Thank you so very much. No, not for constructing winning teams despite academic standards far, far higher than anywhere else in the Big East. No, not for carrying on for the third-longest tenure in the conference despite an obvious lack of attention to your program at what is and always will be a football school.

Thank you for standing up against the tyranny of the tie.

As anyone who has ever attended or watched a basketball game knows, basketball coaches are expected to dress up like high schoolers attending their first homecoming. A dark suit, a white shirt, and a tie with one of their team’s colors are simply expected. This isn’t just in the college or professional ranks, however. This past break I returned to the small, sweaty gym at my high school to watch the Cardinals take on the hated Stallions. Standing on the sidelines next to a squad of awkwardly pubescent boys, there was the head coach, dressed up in a pinstriped suit and a tie that looked like it was about to choke him. And even the Stallions’ coach (whom I assume is a scumbag for coaching that squad) wore a matching outfit.

This is ridiculous. Look, I’m a huge fan of a tie in the right situation. An interview, maybe, or a wedding. Perhaps even the world-famous Yacht Dance. But a basketball game? Are you kidding me? You’re running up and down the sideline, trying to make your voice heard over those of 10,000 fans (or more), trying to coach a sport that requires athleticism … and you’re expected to wear something that chokes you? No, that’s not right.

Just look at NFL coaches or soccer coaches or baseball managers. They wear track suits — or even a uniform. Besides the obvious comfort benefits of a easy-breathing athletic attire, we all know that it’s easiest to be at the top of your game when you’re wearing a pair of tearaways — just in case you’re called into action and you need to get into shorts right away.

But in basketball, coaches still wear suits. You have begun to fight the brave fight by switching to the mock turtleneck. It’s too much to ask you to ditch the suit jacket, I’m sure. The day when basketball coaches can roam the sideline in sartorial freedom is far away. With your efforts, however, you have begun what I hope will be a vibrant movement against the iron grip of the half-Windsor. You, sir, are a true American, standing up for the constitutionally guaranteed right to a free and unrestricted neck. I know why we beat UConn earlier this year — it’s because Jim Calhoun had to gameplan for both our players and our coach, who has attained a level of comfort never before seen on the sidelines.

You, sir, are a true hero.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Allan Joseph at ajoseph2@nd.edu