Takin' on Sports: Dress Like Pep

While watching the FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Manchester City a few a weeks ago, I couldn't help but notice the casual nature of City manager Pep Guardiola's outfit. For a man that at most times looks like he stepped off a runway fresh from fashion week, he was surprisingly dressed down in a t-shirt and torn jeans (designer jeans, sure, but nevertheless ripped jeans). The kicker? He still looked great. He looked comfortable, something that very few coaches look like when they're stalking the sidelines.

Last week, ESPN personalities Rece Davis and Jay Bilas had this interaction:

There are no short amount of takes – both hot and cold – within the world of sports, as evidenced by the name of this very column/website. But the one that Davis pushed, that all coaches should "suit up," is without a doubt one of the dumbest sports takes around.

Sure, a well-tailored suit looks and feels great. No one is debating that. But the whole “dress for success” notion is an outdated, archaic philosophy rooted in elitism, patriarchy and, let’s be honest, white supremacy. The only reason a suit is “appropriate” business attire is because a bunch of old white men grew up wearing them, because their father did so, and so on and so forth. There is no agreed standard of dress in society beyond “practice good hygiene and don’t look like a slob.”

The idea that one needs to “dress for the job you want” is utter horseshit. No one needs a suit and tie to be a successful stock broker or businessperson. A chef’s coat does not make a great chef. Truckers do not require hats with mesh backs to make the long haul. So, why in the hell do so many people want their coaches in suits on the sidelines?

To quote friend of The Take David A. Smith: “No coach ever won a game because he wore a suit.”

No lies detected.

Jerry Glanville was a man who knew who he was.

Guardiola has been lauded for his fashion-forward attire while patrolling the sidelines, as well as many other soccer managers. Some wear suits, some wear jumpsuits, some wear some training gear sporting team logos. Regardless of what they wear, it’s a choice made by the individual that expresses a bit of who they are. There are no league-wide mandates on what managers/coaches must wear, like in the NFL.

Former NFL coach Jerry Glanville wore a belt buckle the size of Atlanta when we led the Falcons. He would arrive at the stadium on his motorcycle, with a black cowboy hat that made him look more country music singer than football coach. Glanville also left tickets for Elvis at every game. Jerry was wild as hell, we need more coaches like him.

Coaches throughout history have been known for some sort of fashion style. Bear Bryant and Tom Landry had their famous hats. Steve Spurrier had his visor. Lou Albano had his beard and face piercings.

The point is, each of those things was an extension of the coach himself, and that’s what we need more of in today’s world. I want to see the coaches’ personalities shine through. If they wanna wear sweats, who cares? Besides, we know most would take the conservative route, anyway, so it wouldn’t get that crazy. But the ones who did embrace their inner-fashionista would make for great imagery. There’s probably even an avenue for coaches to get endorsement deals from clothing lines.

I want to see which coaches would just throw on a Hawaiian shirt and call it a day. I want to see which coach has an impressive collection of band t-shirts in his wardrobe. I want Jimbo Fisher in cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat on the sidelines at Kyle Field. I want to see how little fucks Bill Belichick actually gives, and how annoyed Nick Saban would get at literally any question about his attire. Hell, I want to know which coaches have $10,000 three-piece suits in their wardrobe.

An icon, in every sense of the word.

Coaches should be able to express themselves, to let their personalities (or that of their significant others who dress them) shine through. Dress codes are for Nazis and uppity private schools, not sports.

So, when we say "dress like Pep," we don't mean every coach should suddenly become a GQ model. What we are saying is coaches shouldn't be forced into being something they're not. Set them free, let them express themselves and set the Twitterverse on fire.

At the very least, can we at least get baseball managers out of actual baseball uniforms? No one wants to see that.

TD Wood
TD Wood
Editor and host of Takin' On Sports