Sports Law • Risk Management

University Football Player Violates Airline Dress Code

DeShon Marman, a 20 year old University of New Mexico football player refused to pull up his pants, which were below his buttocks and revealing his boxer shorts, upon the request of a US Airways employee. This led to Marman’s being escorted off the plane and arrested. Adding to his troubles, Marman allegedly injured the arresting officer. US Airways, like many other airlines, has a dress code. If your team’s athletes travel to and from games by airplane, they should be instructed to adhere to applicable dress requirements.

Generally, airlines require that travelers dress in business casual wear. It was surprising to me that jeans, athletic shoes, open toed shoes, shorts and short skirts are technically not permitted. I’ve worn jeans, athletic shoes and open toed shoes on many occasions and was never questioned. I’ve also seen many people wear the same gear on every plane that I’ve flown on for many years. It is very common for people traveling to and from Hawaii to wear shorts and flip flops.

I don’t think it is unreasonable for athletes to wear tracksuits and athletic shoes that are in good shape. Wearing sweaty clothes or items that do not cover one’s body are more risky. Certainly, short skirts, saggy pants, exposed underwear, and sexy tops could lead to airline intervention. If in doubt, it is probably a good idea for athletes to bring more conservative clothing in their carryon bags for quick change, if necessary. If team members want to be sure that they will have no problems, collared polo shirts, khaki pants and dress shoes are a good option for men and women.

The high cost of airline travel in money and time is a big challenge for athletic programs. Making sure that athletes arrive safely, on time and without problems should be part of risk management planning.