Shirts vs Skins
February 18, 2011 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Do people that play pick up basketball in your area do shirts and skins(i.e. one team plays with shirts off, one keeps their shirts on)?

I'm in grad school in NC now and I've never seen a shirts vs. skins game. In college (in VA) almost all the games were shirst vs. skins. I thought this was a generational issue, but apparently this still is done at my VA school. Does this change by region/age?
posted by sandmanwv to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total)
From CA here, plus some time in New England, mid-20s, and I've never seen a shirts vs. skins game in my life... if it was planned ahead of time people would sometimes do light shirts/dark shirts, but mostly people just knew who was on their team.
posted by brainmouse at 10:22 AM on February 18, 2011

Yeah, we did this with basketball and soccer sometimes but that was in VA as well.
posted by ghharr at 10:23 AM on February 18, 2011

At my school we played with girls, so Shirts vs skins would get awkward or just men vs women. So we always played lights vs darks (shirts, not skin color). I used to carry a white t shirt in my bag for such occasion.
posted by Felex at 10:26 AM on February 18, 2011

In Chicago, nope, never seen it. Even with quick turnover (new teams having "next" every game) there never seems to be confusion about who is on which team.
posted by AceRock at 10:43 AM on February 18, 2011

We did all the time when I was a kid, but when I was coaching youth basketball a few years (in VA!) ago I didn't have 5 kids on the team that would take their shirt off. I ended up bringing in some old baseball hats to do hats vs heads.
posted by COD at 10:53 AM on February 18, 2011

When I played basketball as a kid, in youth leagues in Washington DC, we played shirts/skins all the time in practices.

I live in Toronto now. My friends and I will occasionally play shirts/skins, but I haven't seen it often or anything.
posted by smitt at 10:55 AM on February 18, 2011

Yes, absolutely. I played pickup ball for about 20 years in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, and Washington. I have no recollection of doing anything but shirts/skins in those games. Maybe this has changed since I "retired", but I've only been out of the game for about 5 or 6 years.

It was no problem with women playing, and you were generally scorned by everyone on the floor if you made a stupid joke about the woman's team being skins. The general rule was that the team without the woman was skins (it was very rare for there to be more than one woman playing).
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:01 AM on February 18, 2011

...actually thinking about this a little further when I first moved back to Minnesota in 2001 they did not do shirts/skins at the local Y. In contrast to a post up the page, I witnessed this frequently causing a lot of confusion. Man does it look odd when someone purposefully passes to a player on the wrong team. There's a notable split second pause of all 10 players standing there wondering "did that really just happen?"

I played at a local gym after this Y that definitely still was doing shirts/skins, and that was 2001-2004ish. Maybe there's been a sea change since then, but it was completely typical at that time.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:05 AM on February 18, 2011

Another datapoint for shirts vs. skins in VA and also MD. I have not seen it in AK at all (too chilly!)

When girls played, some would play skins but not actually take their shirts off (of course!) but there were usually not that many of us anyway so it worked out.
posted by charmcityblues at 11:41 AM on February 18, 2011

As long as I've been playing, shirts vs. skins was what you did with strangers. If everyone already knew everyone, you didn't bother, because you'd just know that "Timmy, Danny and Steve are on my team."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:46 AM on February 18, 2011

As a kid in Southern California we'd do this all the time, then in Jr. High (late 80s) they had reversible shirts and the boys would flip them appropriately on the field/court for whatever sport we were playing. I don't remember how the girls did it, but I think they just got assigned a color every day in the locker room so that it worked out to roughly 50/50. Since moving to Oregon in the early 90s I've never seen it, but I assumed it was a (cold) weather thing.
posted by togdon at 12:31 PM on February 18, 2011

This was standard when I was growing up in CA in the 80s and 90s. I remember playing for a summer in Israel and they thought the idea was disgusting.
posted by gabrielsamoza at 12:34 PM on February 18, 2011

never seen skin vs shirts in Boston, suburbs of Boston or East Tennessee.

In florida I saw all shirts off a couple of times because it's 6730309 million degrees down there.
posted by KogeLiz at 12:35 PM on February 18, 2011

I think older guys tend to love shirts and skins. Maybe their mental facilities are going downhill and their brains just don't want to have to distinguish flesh from synthetic material. I'd say it's on a whim mostly (whether to just play or go shirts vs skins), but those times where it is a scheduled thing (every tuesday night at 8pm at Johnson's gym) and indoors, you get that shirts skins thing if some old dudes are around. With knee pads on and taped fingers.

Otherwise, I really do think it's just a tossup. Sometimes it gets suggested and people balk, other times people do it. There's no rhyme or reason in it to me. I've played in the NorthEast, NorthWest, Midwest, South and East Coast. Sometimes you do it, sometimes you don't. I can't identify a pattern.

Damn I really want to play some basketball now. We need a metafilter basketball team.
posted by cashman at 12:49 PM on February 18, 2011

I'm in Minneapolis and people play shirts and skins in the park near my apartment all the time. To be honest, that's the only pickup basketball game I've been around. In California for pickup soccer, we'd try to do light/djust or just remember the teams. Sometimes the shirt colours wouldn't work out correctly despite many people bringing two and you could end up with a colour plus skins as a team.
posted by hoyland at 1:22 PM on February 18, 2011

I grew up in Virginia and played soccer and basketball up to about high school. I remember a few times when scrimaging another team (or more rarely, intra-team scrimage) the coach had us go shirts vs. skins. It didn't happen often enough for me to say it was common practice over my life growing up in the Old Dominion. When I played pick up my first semester of school in Virginia, it wasn't common either. Later on, when I was in school in Arkansas, it wasn't used, at least at the student courts.
posted by Atreides at 1:39 PM on February 18, 2011

I have seen shirts versus skins, inside-out versus right-side out, and duct tape used to sort teams.
posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 9:22 PM on February 18, 2011

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