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Uniform Design: You have to look good first, play well second

Uniform design has gotten out of control
Uniform design has gotten out of control
Tracy family photo

It's everywhere

Like a virus that spreads through the body, it is rearing its ugly head from not only the professional ranks, but also colleges and high schools. Even summer league basketball and baseball teams seem to have fallen prey to this disease. It's a runaway train that seems to be throttling along with no end in sight.

Please, please put an end to this uniform madness

If teams put as much time in practicing the fundamentals of their game as they do in trying to come up with a uniform concept, they would never make an error, throw to the wrong base, turn the ball over, miss a tackle or block, or miss a free throw.

I certainly understand that professional and college teams sign contracts with certain apparel companies such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour. I get that. The question I have is: Who hires these designers, and why hasn't the person from the pro team or university been fired for their choices? (not literally fired, but at least their mental awareness should be tested). Did anyone with half a brain at Maryland check these uniforms before putting them on their players?

Putting uniforms on kids shouldn't be as difficult as proving Fermat's Last Theorem

As someone who has been through the uniform choosing process, it IS maddening, as kids now-a-days want to REALLY look good. You you are lucky enough to already have team colors, half the job is done, but you are nowhere near out of the woods just yet. There are many, many more questions to be answered. Below is an example of the choices one might have, with the primary colors being blue and red, with white being the "accent" color:

Jerseys.... Which jersey is our home jersey, and which one is our away jersey? What about an alternate jersey? (alternate for what?) Should we go with blue and red as the main jerseys? What sort of lettering should we have? Should we go with red lettering trimmed in white or white lettering trimmed in red? Should we have the name of our team on the front or just our logo? Should we have a number on the front? Do we want button down jerseys or pullovers? Quick-Dry type shirts or just tee shirts? What sort of font do we want? Do we want the name or logo to be sewn on, or ironed on? Last names on the back or not? Wait....I have it......our alternates should be CAMO

Pants.... Now that the jerseys are settled, what kind of pants do we want? White or gray? Do we want just the plain color, or do we want a stripe down the side? Should the stripe be a blue-red-blue, or red-blue-red? Do we just want a single stripe, and what color should it be? We have three choices of pants style we can choose. Should we go with the open bottoms that go down past the ankle (the pajama look), the elastic bottoms that can be rolled up (the 1920's look), or the new "knickers" style that come down just past the knee (the high socks look)? Should the pants be pinstriped? If so, what color?

Socks.... You might think that this is the easy one. Either blue or red socks, right? Not so fast. We can also get stirrups. Do we want the old-fashioned stirrups worn over sanitary socks? If we do, what color do we want? Can we get camo stirrups? What about socks that look like stirrups? What color should they be? Should they have stripes? If so, what sort of color combination should they be? Does it really matter if we are getting the open bottom pants?

Cleats.... Blue, red, white, or gray? What if my school team in the spring have different colors? Then I need a new pair. What pair of cleats would look good with whatever combination of uniform we are wearing? Should we get team cleats, or is everyone on their own?

Hats.... Blue, red or white? What color should the bill be? What kind of logo should we go with on the front? What colors should that logo be? Numbers on the back? Should we have alternate hats also? (Nooooo! please noooo!)

Ok, that wasn't that hard was it? Wait, our job isn't quite over yet. Like any good fashionista, we must accessorize. We need to pick the right color batting helmet (red, blue, or white), and no doubt that we need to get batting gloves (red, blue, white, or gray). Outfielders need sunglasses, but should we get a pair where the frame matches the uniform we are wearing? It's hot during the summer, so we probably need a set or two of wristbands, matching the lettering on the jersey, or should we match it to the accent color?

Finally, we are done. Well, almost. We need to make sure that both our infielders and outfielders have eye black on in case the sun is out, and seeds, we need seeds. We can't get enough seeds. Once our catcher gets his shin guards, chest protector, and mask color coordinated, we are ready to take the field.

Of course we could have gone to the numerous baseball uniform design websites. These companies offer dozens of styles of shirts and pants, along with hundreds of different font and color combinations. Being on some of those sites can be mind numbing

Baseball probably isn't even the worst offender. THAT would go to college football. These new uniforms some of the teams are wearing for the upcoming season are straight out of science fiction. The University of Oregon has a different color combination every game they play. When did "chrome" become a school color? College football teams have home jerseys, away jerseys, alternate jerseys, accent color jerseys, and throwback jerseys. Teams are even putting the school nickname on the BACK of the jersey instead of the player's last name, which leads to the obvious response from a fan :

Wow, Miami sure has a lot of players named "Canes" on their team

These apparel companies are actually making gloves for the wide receivers to wear, where as they put their hands together, the name of the school is formed. Really? Seems a far cry from former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who once petitioned the NCAA to take numbers off of the jersey, and instead wanted the players position on the jerseys. Can you imagine that? Getting your jersey and it having "TE" or QB" on it instead of a number?

We have all heard the term "If you look good, you feel good". I would agree that it helps in the business world, not in sports. I have yet to see something that says "If you look good, you will PLAY good"

It's trend that isn't coming to halt anytime soon. As these high school and middle school players see what the NCAA players are wearing, they want some of that action themselves. They are impressionable, and want to "look good" first.

If only it led to victories...

What's next? Throwback high school jerseys? Please, please let me be dead by then.

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