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Sports figures take pride in appearances

by Archives February 3, 2009

FREDERICTON (CUP) – His shirt is crisp and clean, his skin well-toned, and his skates smell like Stallion cologne: the metro-sexual athlete. Welcome to the new age.
I remember reading an article in the National Post that caught my attention earlier this summer. It was about Dallas Stars enforcer Sean Avery, who took on a minimum-wage paying summer internship at Vogue magazine.
During the interview, Avery mentioned that on the road, he didn’t sit back and watch sports. Instead, he’d read the Style section of the New York Times.
Wait a minute. Are they speaking to the same Sean Avery we all know and hate? You know, the guy who wreaks havoc on his opponents? The guy who had a brief stint with Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert?
Then there’s David Beckham, the so-called metro-sexual poster boy. In the article, “Meet the metrosexual,” which appeared on Salon.com, writer Mark Simpson said Beckham is one of the world’s biggest metrosexuals because, “he loves being looked at and because so many men and women love to look at him.”
Maybe at the time it was still unusual for a sports icon to act like he wanted to look good on and off the court. But it’s not anymore.
For example, take the NBA dress code that was initiated in late 2005. The rule states players are “required to wear business casual attire whenever they are engaged in team or league business.”
At first, the rule came under a lot of scrutiny. NBA Commissioner David Stern’s new rule was looked upon as “racist,” as many African-America NBA players affected by the new rule preferred the hip-hop style of dress.
But as time went on, the players got used to it. Most even enjoy looking sharp before the game, strutting down the hallway in their new Hugo Boss suits.
Where I grew up, men didn’t groom. Well, maybe for church. You woke up, slapped on your Wrangler jeans, tightened up your Roots boots, pulled on the first ball cap in sight, and headed out the door.
But for some reason, I took a liking to dressing well and acting unconventional.
I easily remember those bus trips: three or four hours on the road with the hockey team to take on your league rivals. I’d work hard, sweat it out, and didn’t show a sign of fear on the ice. But after the game, on my way to the shower, I’d hide my face-wash and hair-gel in my towel so no one could see me with it.
It’s sort of silly now when you think of it – I just enjoyed feeling good. But yet if the guy sitting next to me caught a hint of a decent odor, it would be a long ride home for me.
It’s not like that anymore. You see university athletes dressed to perfection before the big game, and even fixing their teeth when the soccer ball accidentally knocks out one of their pearly whites.
I like this change. I think fashion is fun, and looking your best should be the norm. It’s nice to see that athletes at all levels are doing the same.
I think Sean Avery put it best when he said: “If you feel like teasing this hockey player about an obsession of his that you might think is a little unusual, go right ahead. Just know that you may get your ass kicked by a very expensive pair of shoes – and that they’ll probably match both my belt and my shirt.”

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