You know college athletic programs have taken it too far when they dress teams up in jerseys more suitable for hippies than athletes.
For the upcoming 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, Adidas has unveiled wild new jerseys for select teams — including Kansas, Notre Dame, Baylor, Louisville, UCLA and Cincinnati — to grace the players’ backs (and arms) during its entirety. These “innovative” and “groundbreaking” jerseys include sleeves and tie-dye — yes tie-dye —shorts that look like they came straight out of the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
And boy, are they awful.
Which brings me to my latest revelation. I’m tired of alternate jerseys. And not just alternate jerseys but weird ones, too. I’m tired of jerseys trying to be strange, ones that have a color in them that aren’t in the school’s colors. I’m tired of the “black for the sake of being black” look, the army camo for no reason, the “special edition” jerseys that turn out to be used multiple times, the chrome helmets, the strangely striped helmets, the bizarre oversized logos, the jerseys where you can barely make out the number or what team it is. It’s all getting really old, really fast.
We can thank the trendsetters up at the University of Oregon, who, because of the university's relationship with Nike, revolutionized the way teams present themselves on the field or court. The Ducks take to the football field each week in a new set of apparel, different from what they wore the previous week. Never mind how expensive this must be— hopefully Oregon still gets enough money donated to keep its school running properly — but this is taking the jersey to the extreme.
Now, I won’t lie. When they first started this, back before it was the cool thing to do, I loved it. I thought it was something that made the school unique. Eventually, it came to define Oregon in all of its sports.
But then everyone started doing it. After a while it went from being special to just flat-out tacky. Schools added colors that weren’t in their university’s palate. They put stripes where they weren’t supposed to be. They made numbers and players’ names impossible to read. We started seeing teams that were supposed to be in purple and gold wearing all black. Why? Because it’s “sinister” right? Not anymore.
We started seeing football teams with strange stripes and logos on their helmets (like Notre Dame’s last year) and an outbreak of shiny chrome helmets. Why? Because it’s futuristic, post-modern and abstract. To me, it just looks ugly.
We started seeing basketball jerseys that didn’t even make sense. Syracuse, whose colors are orange and blue, added grey for no reason. What is this new fascination with the world’s most boring color? Duke, the great all-mighty Duke, proudly dressed in blue and white for most of its storied history, now dons all black jerseys, again just for the sake of it.
And, now, here we are. Tie-dye. I never thought I’d see the day a college program would play a game in tie-dye.
There are a few bones I have to pick with this jersey flux that that has gone too far. First of all, this movement is playing out like a broken record. It’s not fresh and new anymore. Any originality that once appealed to us has been completely thrown out the window. Instead, it’s turned into a cheap ploy to convince us we’re seeing creativity.
Secondly, it takes all the class out of things. These schools are all historical and filled with tradition; the campuses are foundations for beautiful old stone buildings. But the uniforms suggest something out of “Star Trek”, overly modern and overly cheap looking. You’d think Kansas, which prides itself on being the birthplace of basketball, would know better. And yet here it is. And the biggest problem with constantly rotating attire is college teams lose their identities.
Even Mizzou gets to be added to this conversation. I’m sorry, but our road football uniforms are dreadful. Ask anyone on this campus what our school colors are, they’ll proudly tell you “black and gold" — not black, gold and grey. I will say, I do love the helmets.
And for the love of God, please get rid of the tie-dye. James Naismith is rolling over in his grave.