Friday, February 28, 2014

What Wrestlers Think About a Shirtless Uniform Option

A survey was recently conducted by someone from the Wrestling Uniform Options movement about proposed alternatives to the singlet. The results were shared with me and they were quite interesting. 50% of wrestlers said they would have been less hesitant to get into the sport if they had alternative uniform options available, and 27% of non-wrestlers said they would be more likely to participate.

The options that were proposed included compression shorts or loose fit shorts, either with a rash guard or shirtless, in addition to the traditional[1] singlet. When asked which of these they would personally wear if given the choice, by far the most popular choice was compression shorts with no shirt, preferred 2 to 1 over the singlet. Some had suggested that loose fit shorts would make some self-concious guys more comfortable, but that didn't seem to be a big concern in this survey. Only 15% favored the loose fit shorts and even these preferred shirtless 2 to 1 over a rash guard. Overall, 2 out of 3 preferred to wrestle shirtless.

In a different approach, the question was asked what uniform options they would not want to be allowed. The most opposed option was loose fit shorts, with 55% saying they would have this option disallowed. To be fair, the survey did not specify loose fit shorts that are designed for grappling, sturdy shorts with a drawstring and reasonably fitted, so some of that objection may have been directed against baggy shorts with no drawstring that are more likely to get in the way or slide down. Only about 5% wanted to disallow compression shorts and singlet, thus requiring loose fit shorts. Less than 1 in 5 opposed a shirtless option, and almost as many opposed rash guards and singlets saying that all guys should be required to compete shirtless.

One commenter shared his thoughts, “I am in favor of singlets for tradition and utility, though I find tradition the least compelling reason to just keep the current standard. To wit, compression shorts or other gear that maintains the utility of the singlet (giving referees and spectators the best, clearest view of bodies in quick, close motion and reducing opportunities for grabbing) is, in my opinion, just as good.

Overall, the consensus was to allow guys the choice of singlet, compression shorts, and optionally a rash guard (but possibly not loose fit shorts); with most personally choosing to wear compression shorts with no shirt. It seems there is a lot of interest in a shirtless uniform, but are there enough guys who are willing to push for it to make it happen?

This was not a scientific survey (participants were self-selected, not random, which may bias the results), so it would be interesting to see this replicated scientifically and on a larger sample. Perhaps one of the governing bodies of wrestling might conduct a more rigorous survey, or a media outlet or other interested party. Of course, someone could also run a campaign and collect small donations from a number of people who might be interested in seeing the results. If enough readers are interested in contributing, I would consider doing this for the blog, but it would be done through a neutral research firm to get unbiased results.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


While dance is often thought of as a feminine activity, the fact is that it can be great for guys, too. Dancing can be quite masculine and athletic and it actually presents another good opportunity for guys to go shirtless. Going shirtless in intense training can serve the same purposes as in any sport, it helps keep you cool and comfortable. But in performance, it can also serve to highlight the human body as art. Not simply the body, but all of the motion, the skill and athletic prowess of the dancer can be seen more clearly. It is both an athletic event and an art form. The skill, strength, and agility displayed by dancers is truly impressive.

It is certainly not necessary for guys to go shirtless for dance to be enjoyed both as an activity to be performed and as a art to be observed, but it also does not detract from and may even enhance it. If you are a guy who is interested in dance, but afraid it's too girly (or something to that effect), don't worry. Get involved, train hard, and enjoy it! It's as good a sport as any. And if a performance calls for you to go shirtless, you shouldn't feel uncomfortable about it, it can be a positive and freeing experience. If you are organizing a dance group, there is no need to shy away from shirtless performances. It's entirely wholesome and decent, it's art and it is both popular and traditional for guys to perform shirtless.

Males in ballet often train and perform shirtless.

But it's not just ballet, many forms of dance often call for male dancers to perform shirtless. I was a fan of Live to Dance, and some of my favorite acts included White Tree Fine Art, Dance Town Chaos, and Twitch, all of which performed shirtless at some point.

White Tree Fine Art

Dance Town Chaos


When male dancers perform shirtless, it's not some risqué display of flesh, rather it accentuates the art and athleticism in a wholesome way. It encourages a positive body image and can be part of a positive experience for both the performer and the audience. Besides promoting acceptance of shirtlessness, I also want to encourage guys to participate in dance. If it's something you are interested, you shouldn't let what anyone else thinks deter you.