Throwaway, Not Throwback Uniforms

November 18, 2013

Watching the very end of the Michigan-Northwestern football game Saturday, I was tempted to update my post concerning the wearing of obscenely dreadful looking uniforms by both college and professional teams in both football and basketball, but decided against it, as it was only just a few weeks ago that I had previously done so.  Northwestern players were wearing some sort of variation of the stars and stripes, I assume out of respect of this past Monday’s Veterans Day celebration.  I am not sure if being color-blind had anything to do with it, however, the uniforms did not look all that red, white and blue to me, looking nothing like the colors of this nation’s flag.

That all changed yesterday afternoon while getting ready to watch the Battle of Ohio as the Cleveland Browns took on the Cincinnati Bengals, who themselves always wear somewhat revolting looking tiger-striped uniforms.  Granted, as a life-long Browns fan, I must admit that I hate the Bengals, no matter what they wear, and have a very biased opinion regarding their uniforms. During the final minutes of the Fox network’s pregame show, the station showed the Pittsburgh Steelers preparing to take the field wearing their throwback uniforms.  Prison stripes was the first thought that came to mind when watching quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lead his team onto the field.  Seeing those ridiculous looking uniforms made me decide to update this post.

Why is it this nation’s sports teams take great pride in wearing hideous looking throwback uniforms?  We all know the answer, that being money.  Uniform makers, such as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour make millions of dollars selling team jerseys, and by having more than just the typical home and away jerseys means much more revenue.  Granted, there are several pro teams whose throwback uniforms look better than what they currently wear, as the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers come to mind.  I believe the Bills have decided to switch back to their throwback uniforms as the official team uniform.  What sets these three teams apart from all other teams is that they came into existence in 1960 during the creation of the American Football League, which later merged with the National Football League in 1970.  I have yet to see a throwback uniform dating back much longer than 1960 that does not look repulsive.

Another thing many teams are doing is wearing black uniforms, even though the official team colors are anything but that.  Again, the reason is money, as athletic apparel makers know all to well that black jerseys sell.  While channel surfing in search of a good game to watch; now days you never can tell what teams are playing because of all the different uniforms being worn.  Call me old-fashioned, or just plain old, however, when I watch a game I like to be able to recognize the teams playing by their uniforms.  Not being able to do so, I might as well be watching a game between the Muncie Flyers and the Canton Bulldogs, two original NFL teams instead of two current Super Bowl contenders.

Thankfully, when the Browns, 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, we are told, is that the players like them.  However, we all know the real reasoning for the old-time uniforms.  Authentic team apparel is big business.  That is the sole reason for throwback jerseys rapid rise in popularity in recent years.

As a nation, America long ago lost any sense of pride we have in our appearance.  It always amazes me when I see photos from the Great Depression, where men stood in soup lines wearing suits and ties.  These days, in our anything goes culture, young men proudly wear their pants down around their knees, arrogantly displaying their underwear for all to see.  One need only walk throughout a shopping mall or grocery store to see that now days, the less clothing the better.  People no longer get dressed up to go to church.

As proof to my claim that people just don’t care about their appearance anymore, one need only view the website People Of WalMart.  The first and only time I did so, my thought was this just has to be some sort of Halloween prank.  Surely, these people did not appear in public thinking they looked respectable.  However, it turns out that the photos posted were actual Wal-Mart customers.  Unbelievable is the word that comes to mind.

Steven H. Spring

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