Questions and Answers: Modesty in Sports


“I take modesty seriously, but some sports teams require us to wear short shorts or shirts without sleeves. Is this OK?”

For the Strength of Youth teaches that we “should choose appropriately modest apparel when participating in sports” ([2011], 7). Think about why your uniform is the way it is. Is it designed for specific safety reasons or to allow for necessary movement? How do you feel wearing it?

Consider what options you have for modifying or requesting changes to the uniform. In politely speaking up, you may be surprised to find that others agree with you. Look for athletes—both within Church membership and those of other faiths—who have found ways to pursue their athletic ambitions while maintaining a certain standard of dress.

As you strive to be modest in all aspects of your life, the Spirit will help you know what to do, and Heavenly Father will bless you for caring for the body He has given you.

Cover Up When You Can

I do Irish dance, and the special attire we wear requires short shorts. I always try to wear longer shorts when I’m practicing on my own at home, and I always wear spandex or something to go under my uniform shorts at practice. When I attend competitions, I put pants over my uniform when I’m not dancing.

Miranda O., 14, Wyoming, USA

Set Standards within the Sport

Modesty is very important and can send a strong message about who you are. I am involved in ballet and dance, and when I’ve talked to my coach about my modesty standards, the costumes have been modified for me. I don’t wear costumes and other clothing where my belly would show, and this is very important to me and my dancing. Certain clothing is required for each sport, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have standards.

Meghan Z., 16, California, USA

Prayerfully Decide

The gospel counsels us to “consider [our] ways” (Haggai 1:7) and ensure that our actions don’t detract from our relationship with God. The standards of the Church are meant to edify us, or build us up, as opposed to restricting us by sets of rules. Consider how the uniform affects your sport, your relationship with the Holy Ghost, and your ability to maintain virtue, and then prayerfully decide which factors outweigh the others.

Alex B., 18, Utah, USA

Don’t Make Exceptions

I think that in these circumstances it’s OK as long as you wear the uniform only while playing the game and don’t make exceptions for other events. Ultimately it’s up to you, and praying for guidance is always a good way to go.

Liesl K., 17, Washington, USA

Talk to Your Coach

See if you can wear something underneath. If it’s a school team, then talk to the coach and the principal. There should be guidelines in the school rule book. If they refuse, tell a parent or guardian that you feel uncomfortable and see if he or she can talk to them. Your body is a temple, and you shouldn’t be forced to wear immodest clothing.

Molly J., 14, Illinois, USA

Consider the Purpose

As long as it’s appropriate for the activity, it also depends on the uniform and the kind of message it gives. It should not be used to bring attention to our bodies. If shorter shorts and sleeves are there simply for looks, then oftentimes it’s inappropriate. But if the lack of length and sleeves are used to make the sport easier to play, then it may have a purpose that makes it appropriate.

Rhiannon A., 17, California, USA

Do Everything You Can

Talk to your coach. You never know what will happen when you “dare to stand alone,” as President Monson taught (“Dare to Stand Alone,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 61). When you take action for what you believe to be right, others may follow. Our bodies are a gift from God, and we need to respect them. This includes dressing modestly. If your first course of action doesn’t work, then try another route. Good things happen when you do everything you can to keep your standards.

April H., 18, Utah, USA

Responses are intended for help and perspective, not as official pronouncements of Church doctrine.

Be Committed, Be Confident

Elder Quentin L. Cook

“Members of the Church need to be involved in the world in a positive way. How then do we balance the need to positively contribute to the world and to not succumb to the sins of the world? (See D&C 25:10; 59:9.) Two principles will make a significant difference.

“1. Let people know you are a committed Latter-day Saint. …

“2. Be confident about and live your beliefs.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Lessons from the Old Testament: In the World but Not of the World,” Ensign, Feb. 2006, 54–55.

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