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The ESPY Awards Were Proof That Professional Athletes Have No Style

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Sorry, professional athletes, we love you for your achievements in sports, physical fitness, and entertainment, but you—the collective you—have terrible style. All the money in the world can buy you the help of a professional stylist and your pick from the department store floor, but you’d be better off if you never took off your uniform. Last night’s ESPY Awards were proof.

OK, there were some exceptions. Victor Cruz continued to take smart style risks without going overboard; Kevin Durant proved that it is possible for a 6’9″ guy to find a well-fitting tux; and Jarret Stoll’s classic look was practically refreshing. The women were spared the worst of it, mostly with cutouts and two-pieces that accentuated their physiques—Lolo Jones bared midriff, Maria Sharapova bared her long legs, and Sydney Leroux bared just about everything.

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And then there was everybody else. Fans and media have gone to great lengths to turn today’s athletes into style icons. They get endorsements from fashion brands, front-row seats at runway shows, and glossy magazine editorials, but the truth is, it’s not panning out. It’s impossible to look at the red-carpet images from last night’s ESPY Awards without focusing on the struggle. And it begs the criticism because of the tremendous effort made: Brandon Jennings’ red blazer and what appeared to be sweatpants; Clint Dempsey’s too-tight black jeans and bulky Jordans; Steve Johnson’s saggy cowl-under-blazer situation; Metta World Peace’s untucked, oversize shirt under too-small blazer…The list goes on.

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But let’s be fair, athletes face unique challenges when it comes to dressing. It comes with the territory of being built and trained to physically outperform 99.9 percent of the humans on Earth. They come in odd sizes, often too tall and too wide to buy off the rack. Clothes that would look “normal” on most look forced on, like an outfit pulled onto the wrong action figure by a stubborn kid. Athletes spend most of their time in activewear—their uniforms or the clothes they wear to train and practice—so formal attire has the effect of making an awards show such as this look like an awkward prom for students from different schools who are just meeting for the first time.

But who would want it any other way? Athletes are supposed to stand out. That’s why we love them. The ESPY’s red carpet may have been the playoffs for terrible dressing, but sartorially speaking, it was nearly as entertaining as actual sports.

Photo: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com