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Why Do Men Put on Basketball Shorts After Sex?

A Racked investigation.

Four basketball players stand with their backs to the camera on a basketball court. We only see them from the waist down. They are wearing basketball shorts, sneakers, and socks. Photo: Getty Images
Rebecca Jennings is a senior correspondent covering social platforms and the creator economy. Since joining Vox in 2018, her work has explored the rise of TikTok, internet aesthetics, and the pursuit of money and fame online. You can sign up for her biweekly Vox Culture newsletter here.

There exists a certain unspoken heterosexual mating ritual that has persisted for the past decade or so, possibly longer. It is this: A twentysomething adult man, immediately after having sex, throws on a pair of enormous, egregiously shiny basketball shorts.

Often procured from the mysterious chasm between his bed and the wall, the garment usually appears to have not been washed since said gentleman’s sheets last were, which is likely never. The shorts are, as a rule, two to three sizes too large and almost always include an elastic waistband with a looped, fraying white string hanging crotchily adjacent. The man will put them on in the span of roughly 1.5 seconds, as if by magic, and when you suddenly look over to him, you are deeply confused as to whether they were, in fact, on the whole time.

Like all of my most important realizations, this one came to me at the medium-bad Mexican restaurant across from my apartment. While one of my roommates was lamenting the post-coitus attire of a man she was seeing, my other roommate and I both realized we’d witnessed the very same phenomenon a combined not-insignificant amount of times. It was, we determined, A Thing.

And so, inspired by last summer’s brilliant Jezebel investigation “Why Do So Many Men Whisper ‘Hey.’ After Fucking You?” I interrogated the worldly, grown-up sex-havers in my life, and by that I mean I sent a highly presumptuous and possibly inappropriate email to my coworkers and friends asking only this: Why do men put on basketball shorts after sex?

Here are the resulting theories about post-sex basketball shorts — or, as Racked’s senior editor Alanna Okun coined them, Warby Porkers.

Basketball player grabs his shorts in his hand on the basketball court Photo: Getty Images

They’re just there

“They appear as if from nowhere, post-bone — you never see them get pulled out of a drawer. Do dudes store them between the mattress and bed frame? Do they have a special pocket made for their sheets? Do the shorts just materialize when they know they're needed? I wish there was a lady version of this, besides, say, those shorty robes you get when you're a bridesmaid. Like, whoops, sex is over, just pulling on this one piece bathing suit. That's my dream.” —a woman

“There is always a pair next to my bed, same with most guys. You wear them before going to sleep, so they just stay there. Also, you should call these Just Done Its. I’m pretty proud of that.” —a man

“The bagginess and clear lack of washing makes them feel especially gross, as does the fact that they always seem to be pulled from the floor.” —a woman

They serve an important physical function

“When a man leaves the bone zone, he never truly leaves. A boner can stay woke for many minutes after. Taking this into account, we don't want restrictive boxers or briefs or jeans. A boner needs freedom to go down of his own accord — it can't be restricted by some tight underwear. It can actually cause pain!” —a man

“The prospect of a little bit of goop exiting as your dick returns to its normal state means that the choice of clothing needs to be non-irritable and, preferably, something that doesn't let stains soak in so easy. We aren't going to pick our nicest pair of sweats that will just attract a sticky mess and ruin them. We just want something old and comforting.” —a man

“They want their balls and dick to rest after a job well done (but was it really?). I hate dudes. Also maybe they want to feel sporty because boning's a lot of work and most of them are out of shape.” —a woman

They protect men’s fragile egos

“The only reason it is really necessary to put anything on is because it’s a bit weird walking around with your dick just sticking straight out.” —a man

“Looking down and seeing a slowly shrinking, slightly dribbly, pink thing can be a frightening moment. So we just need something to cover up. So what if they’re basketball shorts?” —a man

Basketball team in basketball shorts on the court Photo: Getty Images

They remind them of their childhood

“My hypothesis is that they've been wearing this truly hideous type of gym short to bed since they were kids, and never thought to GROW THE FUCK UP or interrogate their ~bedroom style~. These are certainly pieces of clothing they've owned since college, possibly high school. They think they're comfortable, and perhaps less vulnerable-feeling than a boxer, in the presence of a new sex friend. But the boxer is the clear answer here — not boxer brief, I'm talking some sort of plaid boxer short that shows an appealing amount of man thigh. This is sexy! As for why they're so shiny, I guess: sports?? I've worn them exactly once, in college, within the confines of an apartment. The guy who owned them was not a sports-loving bro as a 21-year-old, which further confirms my hypothesis that this is a holdover from childhood.” —a woman

“The basketball short thing is really bizarre, especially since these are never new basketball shorts — they're usually from college, or worse, high school. They're also never like, a normal color. They're red, or orange, or silver. Navy would be kind of okay, but bright red or yellow are just too bizarre.” —a woman

“You think you're fucking a grown man, until he rolls over and mysteriously slinks into shiny college-era shorts that do not fit correctly.” —a woman

“I have never had this happen in my life. But also I've been married for a long time and lots of worse things happen then. However, I'm really afraid that I'm training the next generation of men to do this! Ever since my two boys outgrew kiddie pajamas, they wear old T-shirts and basketball shorts to bed. That I buy for them! They're not the super shiny kind though. More the meshy kind. But they love them because they're comfortable. Oh my god.” —a woman

Men are terrible at athleisure

“I assume men — GROWN MEN — do this because for them shiny basketball shorts qualify as ‘loungewear,’ and they just haven't bothered to update their ‘loungewear’ selection since age 16. My real theory, however, is that having had sex triggers a regression to being 16 and being really pleased with themselves for having had sex, and hence, the stupid teenager shorts. Alternately, maybe they are shorts-shaming us into buying them expensive sweatpants.” —a woman

“If your man is wearing Russell Athletic gear or Modell's store brand, it's probably about time you had that conversation.” —a man

“Boys are so bad at loungewear. I’ve had to buy all my boyfriends fancy sweats and then they’re like, ‘Ooooooh no more basketball shorts.’” —a woman

A basketball player in red basketball shorts during a game Photo: Getty Images

They’re lingerie for dudes

“One time I bought a pair of Champion basketball shorts on Amazon. After purchasing the shorts, I noticed the seller was a company called NY Lingerie. At first, discovering that my athletic shorts came from a lingerie store hurt my masculine ego. But I haven't really thought about it since. Now looking back, there must be a good reason NY Lingerie sells basketball shorts? I will say that, as a dude, I feel at my most confident wearing these shorts. Especially when I'm shirtless; there's something about the subtle bagginess and the elastic waist that flatters my physique. So maybe guys wear these shorts for the same reason girls wears lingerie? It makes them feel sexy. TL;DR, basketball shorts are the male equivalent of lingerie.” —a man

It’s not just straight guys that do this

“After a date with this guy, we ended up going back to his apartment. When we went into the bedroom, where I assumed we were about to hook up, he asked me if I wanted to borrow a pair of basketball shorts! It felt kind of wrong to deny them since he was in the middle of putting a pair on himself, so I took them. We got in bed, and even though at first he said he “just felt like cuddling,” after about five minutes we ended up hooking up, and off came the basketball shorts. Not to go into too much detail, but about 15 seconds later they were back on again. I think he had some body issues.” —a man

And finally, an admittedly well-argued counterpoint:

They’re actually good?????

“You know that line where Beyoncé goes, ‘If he fuck me good, I'll take his ass to Red Lobster?’ When I fuck a guy good, he puts on basketball shorts. It's a symbol that we'll probably have round two later, but for now we’re chilling. Appropriate shorts-wearing activities are binge-watching The Office, ordering Seamless, and snuggling. Also, I'm always wearing the T-shirt he wore that day in this scenario. It symbolizes we've both committed to a night of hardcore hanging and banging. I think if they want to be cozy around me, then they're comfortable around me. I don't like guys who act nervous after we bang; that makes me leave immediately. Shorts also make their butts easier to scope. Flat butts are a deal breaker for me. They're gross.” —a woman

In conclusion, men are complicated animals, and their reasons for immediately putting on basketball shorts after sex are vast and varied. Who knew!

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