Gentlemen, Remove Your Hats

Before the national anthem is played, public address announcers at Pittsburgh sporting events say, "Please stand, and gentlemen, please remove your hats."

Why are only men asked to remove their hats?

I've been to sports events up and down the West Coast, and on the East Coast from DC to Boston. I've been to professional games, college games, and high school games, and I've heard the national anthem hundreds of times. I've heard requests to remove hats. Usually, there is an announcement that people should stand, but no reference to hats. But I've never heard a PA announcer speak to *men's* hats only -- except in Pittsburgh.

Hats don't always have to come off as a sign of respect. Traditionally, women didn't remove hats in church. Women often wore hats that were secured to their hair, so removing their hats was a big deal. Even today, members of the military don't remove their hats while the Star Spangled Banner is played. And members of the band usually don't take off their hats, either. But women -- and service members -- and the band -- know the rules, and they know how to follow them.

So why can't men (and women) at Pittsburgh sporting events be trusted to do the right thing? The gender-specific hat request strikes me as a bizarre anachronism. Is it, instead, a quaint historical relic? Am I missing some important feature of Pittsburgh culture?


7 Responses to "Gentlemen, Remove Your Hats"

Maria said... 10/17/2005 6:41 PM

"Traditionally, women didn't remove hats in church. Women often wore hats that were secured to their hair, so removing their hats was a big deal."

Actually in the not so distant past women HAD to have their heads covered when going to Catholic mass.

Anonymous said... 10/18/2005 11:33 AM

Just curious, but what sporting event were you at where they said this? I know that they do not address hats nor gender at Steeler games. But that does sound like something some old 'feller' would say at a HS football game.

Mike Madison said... 10/18/2005 11:39 AM

I've heard it at every Pirates game I've been to over the last seven years.

I have heard it at high school football games (though the PA announcer is usually not so old) and at Riverhounds games.


C. Briem said... 10/18/2005 4:30 PM

The National Flag Foundation is in Pittsburgh.. right next to Civic Arena. So there are probably more people around pointing out flag etiquette and related.

See their note at the bottom of this page regarding the national anthem:

Mike Madison said... 10/19/2005 8:57 AM

The NFF guidelines restate my question; they don't answer it. The point that men are supposed to take off their hats, but women are not, strikes me as anachronistic. Even sexist. If women are wearing hats in venues where the anthem is being played, why shouldn't women (be asked to) take their hats off?

Anonymous said... 10/19/2005 9:43 AM

I honestly can't tell if you're joking sometimes with these why-are-they-so-backwards-in-Pittsburgh questions.

Anonymous said... 9/23/2007 7:39 PM

i usually remove my hat and put my hair in a ponytail holder until the song is over. i do this for the simple fact that it's just curtious. but why is it if i go into a courtroom or church i am asked to remove it? so i have just come to the conclusion, if it's a baseball hat, trucker hat, or a cap, just remove it even though i do feel that women should not have to since we do have awful looking hair due to it being matted down in a hat!

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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