I never thought I would ever not watch a sporting event because of team uniforms, however that all changed this past Saturday night when ABC’s prime time matchup of Big 10/12 traditional powerhouses Nebraska and Wisconsin became a first for me. Each team was wearing some sort of modified throwback uniform from glory days gone by we were led to believe as both team’s jerseys were fronted with an applicable W or N along with a small number on the right shoulder. However, the back of each jersey were their modern self, with huge numbers and names. It is bad enough when one team wears such a hideous looking uniform; however, both teams wearing them were just too damn much.
For it to be truly a throwback uniform, there should only be a couple of numbers and maybe a school name or insignia. And especially no uniform manufacturer’s name or emblem plastered everywhere. Football lost its soul when it started placing the player’s name on the back of the jersey. Identification of each player is the sole reason for a number in the first place. After adding names, football as a game, changed from being about team and instead, certain position players (i.e., quarterback, running back and especially now wide receivers, who for some time have been labeled prima donnas) have become huge stars, many times now overshadowing their team.
Thankfully, when my once beloved Browns of Cleveland, the team of my youth, wear their throwback uniforms, they look almost identical to what they currently wear. The only thing that indicates something different is a small number on the helmets. The reasoning for the popularity of these modified throwback uniforms is that the players like them, we are told. In reality however, what really do 18-20 year old kids know? It is this very same generation who proudly wear their pants down around their knees. We all know the real reasoning for the old-time uniforms. It is so Nike, Adidas and Under Armour can sell its seductive audience many more authentic jerseys at around $200.00 a pop. Authentic team apparel is big business. That is the sole reason for throwback jerseys rapid rise in popularity in recent years.
Steven H. Spring
The Ohio State University, Class of ‘87