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That’s Mighty White of You

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Shown above: Vanna White, wearing a Miami Heat white-out jersey, eating white bread and white rice, in a blizzard.

Today I want to pose a question. I’m not sure the question has a correct answer, but I think it’s a question that’s at least worth asking and thinking about. (I should also point out up front that while the set-up to the question involves politics, the question itself is not political. So don’t be scared off by the set-up.)

Here’s the deal: Unless you’ve been under a very big rock for the past month, you’ve probably heard people saying that Mitt Romney lost the election in part because his coalition of support consisted primarily of white males, and white males are an aging, decreasing segment of the American population. I read several analyses (and you probably did too) that basically said, “Any enterprise — political, cultural, business, or otherwise — that continues to rely primarily on white males is going to be left behind in today’s America.”

“Hmmm,” I thought to myself after reading that. “I know of an enterprise that’s based primarily on white males: Uni Watch.”

I know some of you aren’t white and/or male, but I’m pretty certain most of you are. Perhaps this isn’t so surprising, since Uni Watch is, at its heart, a very geeky endeavor, and geekitude is an overwhelmingly white, male cultural phenomenon. (The reasons for that are worth discussing too, but that’s another topic for another day.)

Now, not all of us agree on every uni-related topic. But I think it would be fair to say that most of us agree about a few core tenets and standards regarding uniforms. We don’t like “Look at me!” gestures; we don’t like overly showy or flashy designs; we like “classy” designs; we tend to think less is more; we like tradition, at least up to a point; we don’t like baggy basketball shorts or baggy baseball uniforms.

I think all of these preferences — each of which I happen to agree with — are, in their way, very white. Even the word “classy” is derived from notions of social class, which is itself a white-European concept.

But as the election showed, building a movement on the backs of white males may have become a loser’s game. So here’s my question: Is the aesthetic that most of us tend to celebrate here really a white aesthetic? And if so, given the demographic trends in America, does that mean we’re destined to be on the wrong side of aesthetic history?

Before you answer those questions, here are a few other thoughts to consider:

• We often say that tastes in uniform design are generational — the 20-year-olds vs. the 45-year-olds, roughly speaking. But it’s worth noting that today’s 20-year-olds live in a much more racially and culturally integrated world than I did when I was 20. So what we think of as a generational divide may actually have a racial component.

• It’s also worth noting that the demographics have shifted for the players who actually wear the uniforms. Most NBA players are black; most NFL players are black; an increasing percentage of MLB players are Latino and Asian. Perhaps it’s not surprising that many of these young, non-white players have uni-design tastes that don’t match up with mine (or yours).

• You know which groups are still mostly old-ish and white? All of the owners, most of the coaches, most of the GMs, and all of the commissioners — in other words, the people who get the last word on things like uniform design. But as they age out of their positions and are replaced by a younger, more diverse set of people, we may see more changes to the dominant uni aesthetic. (You can already see the stage being set for this in the NBA, where septuagenarian David Stern, who held the line against logo creep and uniform advertising for years, will soon make way for the much younger Adam Silver, who wants to add uniform advertising. Now, Silver is white, but I think it’s fair to say that he doesn’t fit the “crusty old white male” model like Stern does.)

• When I was growing up, sports and pop culture were two fairly distinct realms, rarely intersecting with each other. But now, sports is firmly enmeshed in the pop culture world. And the biggest pop culture influence, without question, is hip-hop — which, of course, is the pre-eminent form of modern black cultural expression. Personally, I’ve never liked hip-hop, either musically or socio-culturally, but all you have to do is watch a game or two to see that it’s a huge influence on many of today’s players and fans. So again, perhaps it’s not surprising that people who are into hip-hop would have uni-design tastes that don’t match up with mine.

• Finally, I think it’s also worth noting that the world of graphic design has always been dominated by white males. So has the world of design criticism (and cultural criticism in general). All of this has had an effect on our aesthetic tastes, whether we realize it or not. I don’t know if companies like Nike and Under Armour have more diverse design staffs than, say, a New York design firm would have had 30 years ago, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

I want to make it clear that I think there’s nothing wrong with having “white tastes” (I put that in quotes because I also realize that the whole notion of “white tastes” is a construct, and an elastic one at that). I’m not accusing anyone of being racist, or of anything else. I’m just asking if our tastes in uniforms are influenced by our status as white males, and if that means we’re on the losing side of the aesthetic argument in an increasingly diverse America. I’m also curious to know what those of you who aren’t white and/or male think of all this.


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Uni Watch News Ticker: All NFL teams are wearing Hall of Fame patches this week and next, beginning with last night’s Raiders/Broncos game. Further details here. ”¦ The Bills will wear throwbacks this weekend. … Love the maple leaf-themed uni number design worn by the 1995 Canadian rugby team (from Eric Bangeman). … A former Under Armour exec has opened a barbecue joint in Joe Hilseberg’s Baltimore neighborhood. “It turned out just like I expected: a perfect combination of meat, awesome sauces, and uniforms,” he says. … The Color Mafia has decreed that my favorite color will be in fashion for 2013 (from Richard Stover). … A new apparel company in Kansas City has come up with a dress shirt inspired by how Negro Leaguers used to dress off the field (from Brian McDavitt). … Contrary to what I reported in yesterday’s Ticker, Utah did not wear this Rick Majerus memorial patch on Wednesday night. Instead, they wore Majerus’s initials on their collars. They also put a Majerus sweater on an empty chair near the bench. Nate Hurst picks up the story from there: “I found it odd that it had a Reebok logo on it (though Utah was a Reebok school back then), as Utah is now an Under Armour school. Why would they bother with logo creep on a faux memorial sweater unless it was an actual sweater of Rick’s? Also, the Reebok logo looked really amateur. Turns out it was a last-minute find by the athletic department and they literally took it off the back of a fan who had made the sweater himself.” … The Heat wore their white-on-white uniforms last night. ”¦ Tom Brady was mixing Pat Patriot and Flying Elvis the other day (from Ben Marciniak). … Ricahrd Stover sent me this early-’50s photo of the Rochester Royals. Note that several of the players have number starting with zero. “The Royals still are the only NBA team to have players wear 03, 07, or 09,” he notes. I asked Rochester expert Terry Proctor about this, but he doesn’t know the story behind it. “I did know the late Les Harrison who owned the Royals,” says Terry. “He was a notorious cheapskate, so it makes you wonder why he’d add a meaningless digit to his uniforms.” … Good piece about open wheel racing champions using No. 1 (from Glenn Heck). … Here’s the patch for the Credit Card with the Really Annoying Ad Campaign Bowl. … Here’s a weird one: During last night’s Broncos/Raiders game, the NFL Network showed a still shot of Peyton Manning in a Broncos uni playing against a Pats player with an “MHK” patch. As you know, that patch was worn last season, when Manning wasn’t yet with the Broncos. In fact, Manning didn’t play at all last season. Very odd choice of Photoshoppery (screen shot by Matt Sampson). ”¦ Interesting Minnesota basketball note buried at the very bottom of this page: “Gophers guard Andre Hollins, who is a teammate of guard Austin Hollins, on why he had ‘Dre Hollins’ put on the back of his basketball jersey: ‘I didn’t want mine to be “An Hollins” because “Au Hollins” sounds the same. “Dre” is just easier'” (from Andy Henderson). ”¦ “Went to the Giants Dugout Store on Thursday to look at all the cool stuff,” says Brinke. “Lady in line wanted to pay with Amex and the person behind the counter said, allinonesentencemonotonelike, “I’m sorry we don’t accept American Express Visa is our promotional partner I do apologize for any inconvenience.”

Comments (223)

    I’m a white male, aged 34, who grew up listening to hip-hop. Always loved it, always will (the good stuff, not the awful stuff that you can barely get away from) but my uniform tastes tend not to have any crossover with it.

    Interesting framework, Paul. I’m curious if the traditional aesthetic is driven more by personality differences (perhaps combined with the stereotype that males tend to be more sports-obsessed) than race or cultural background. I’d be interested in seeing the personality profile demographics for uni-watch readers. For example, my Myers-Briggs personality is ISTJ–which includes having sentiments for uniformity and an appreciation for the traditional. Other personalities have similar sentiments, while others are almost the opposite. I could be wrong, but that’s where my thoughts went in reading your theory. Good stuff, as usual, Paul!

    Good point. This sort of plays into my mention of Uni Watchers having a high geekitude factor, which tends to correlate with white males.

    Great points, Paul, and good questions. I’m remembering how hip-hop culture was a major driver of dark and BFBS uniforms in the early 90s and of brightly colored throwbacks later on. So no, I don’t think that uni design is a primarily white phenomenon.

    Also, Nike’s N7 segment(@NikeN7 on Twitter) has some interesting designs and colors that address the culture and tastes of Native Americans. Some good stuff over there.

    (Relevant disclosure: I’m white, male and 46.)

    The Bills game this weekend against the Rams is in Orchard Park, its next weekend’s game against the Seahawks that is in the “I Still Call It The SkyDome” in Toronto.

    I would like to think aesthetics transcends race and culture, but maybe not. I’m not really a car guy, but I know some folks like to customize their luxury cars (like Mercedes) with dark windows and large chrome rims, whereas I would find that gaudy and not “classy,” and ruining an otherwise nice car. Like you said, the arbiter of aesthetics have been fairly homogenous and as the “establishment” shifts, maybe there will be shifting of norms regarding what constitutes “good” aesthetics.

    I like that commercial (VW? Don’t remember for what) where the adult son is driving his visiting elderly parents from airport and the father says “Ooh! That’s Hippy Talk.” I am the age of the son, but feel more like the father.

    I think the discussion can simply be expressed in terms of “what players like” versus “what fans like.”

    I think these “throwback” and “alternate” and “wounded warrior” unis are mere corporate schemes to make money. The justification for these are that “players like them.” For the most part, I don’t. I must admit though, that out of the flood of new things, some “good uniforms” emerge. Some.

    I am white and male, but I am also 23. I think that Paul’s statement that “today’s 20-year-olds live in a much more racially and culturally integrated world than I did when I was 20” is fairly accurate, and says something about some differences that I have in uni style. I agree that I don’t like baggy shorts/baseball uniforms, but I DO like some flash. I don’t like traditional (at least not for the sake of tradition). For example, I loved Ohio State’s “the Game” unis this year, way better than their normal attire. Ultimately, I think younger people (of all racial demographics) tend to think of “traditional” as stale and bland (unless its a uniform like USC’s that has some cool elements despite being traditional).

    Basing uniform design decisions on white people’s preferences is “a loser’s game” and white people are “destined to be on the wrong side of aesthetic history”? Come on, Paul, this makes it sound like there’s some kind of aesthetic race war going on.

    I think that in a future America where no one race has a majority of the population, white people will only be on the “losing side” if all non-white people voted as a bloc, so to speak, and that’s clearly not something that’s going to happen. Even if there’s a “white style”, with white people still being the most common race, against whom will they be the “losing side”?

    Also, traditionalism is as respected in Asia as it is among white Americans. Japanese sports fans are just as tradition-minded as Americans are, if not link. Nippon Professional Baseball uniforms look just like those of the majors, even importing the exact same style at times (in the 2000s, Hiroshima Carp = Cincinnati; Yakult Swallows = Cleveland; Yomiuri Giants = NY/SF Giants, etc.), and J-League soccer kits would fit right in in any European league.

    These preferences you’re talking about aren’t “white” at all.

    I still think of America as a melting pot. But that’s not a progressive concept, so instead all we hear about is all the racial divisions in society.

    The melting pot is “not a progressive concept”?

    You learn something new (or at least hear some bizarre statements) every day.

    Well, in a general culinary sense for example in the past 30+ years, we’ve gone from old country & regional fare to McDonald’s.

    No, the idea of the melting pot, where all races and religions and heritages are believed to be consumed into the concept of “America,” disappeared a long time ago.

    I couldn’t disagree more, Scott.

    If it seems to take longer for populations to assimilate, then maybe it does. I know a lot of people point to our increasingly-bilingual socierty, but I don’t even see that as such a new concept. I just finished researching Milwaukee newspapers of the early 20th Century, and while it mightn’t surprise you to learn that the city had several German-language newspapers, I was rather shocked to learn they had a larger circulation than the English-language papers.

    I think the definition of “America” has changed somewhat in the past century (for the better), but the melting pot is alive and well.

    In fact private and census surveys of our current Latino immigrant wave show that Spanish-speaking immigrants are actually assimilating faster, culturally and linguistically, than most prior immigrant waves. Including the 19th century Irish that form half of my own ancestry. Today’s Spanish-speaking immigrants are achieving cultural assimilation and English proficiency that historically takes three generations, in two. So the only factually valid complaint about the “melting pot” is that it’s working too fast these days.

    I saw the Heat highlights on the morning news. It looked like they were wearing plain white shirts. Stupid as stupid does.

    I was watching the game and found it unbelievable that they’d allow a team to go out there in uniforms with numbers that couldn’t be seen by the TV viewer at home–or anyone at the game not sitting in the first 10 rows for that matter.

    When the NBA does things like this, it makes it that much less enjoyable. Just like the ads proposal – giving me another reason not to care about the sport.

    Uniforms are supposed to be part functional, not some silly gift shop rags.

    Paul, I think this a great topic. I am a white male, 34 years old. When I look at how uniforms have chafed over the years I tend to like the older more ‘traditional’ designs. However I also like some of the newer stuff as well (don’t like the pajama pants in baseball, do like the longer shorts in the NBA) as long as it has some of the ‘traditional’ design aspects. I do agree that as society is changing socially we will start seeing more uniform designs evolve.
    That is not a bad thing in my opinion. However with that said I would also like to see teams and designers keep history involved with the design changes.

    Same here – 34 year-old white guy, generally favor tradition over cutting-edge, but I do like some of the new stuff as well. I tend to think of my tastes, however, as favoring not merely tradition but those designs that look like a) it has something to do with the source (meaning the black/grey/camo uniform movement does nothing for me) and b) the designers gave a lot of thought into the entire package (truncated stripes, odd “horn” things on the sides of football uniforms, etc. are all examples of incomplete thoughts in my book.) I’m perfectly fine to change it up – I enjoy hip-hop and Frank Sinatra, and lots in between – but it should be a thorough brand reinvention. Too often it seems like designers follow one another rather than design to the source, which (in my opinion at least) is how we’ve ended up with several minor league baseball teams looking like angry, cartoon animals. Throw in “precision” as an important detail as well for me. Nothing bothers me more than a good design rendered ugly by misplacing or over-sizing various pieces.

    One note: class is not solely a white European concept. Other cultures have had notions of classes throughout history. The Bible is rife with references of many societies in Asia and Africa (Egypt) with classes. As another example, India’s caste system – a more formalized and encompassing institution – prevailed for centuries.

    @ Sanjay – true- but the people who have gotten to define what “class” is in any culture, have always been the ones who had more power. Thinking about sports. The sports that are considered “classy” (golf, polo, sailing, etc) are those that rich, white elites competed in. The sports that the poor and immigrants were playing (basketball, boxing, etc) are not “classy”.

    That Peyton Manning segment is amazing! “Ok Peyton, we want you to act like you are dropping back and we are going to put a fake pass rush in behind you. Try and look nervous.” Now I know why all the Star Wars prequels were so poorly acted.

    I’d agree that things are obviously evolving but I don’t know that it deals with race. The prime example would be the Brooklyn Nets. Their new unis are (supposedly) by Jay-Z. The entire team has a hip hop vibe to it, and yet the went with a very traditional look. I’m young (22) and white. I may like some of the less typical uni-watch looks more than some here but I have friends who both love and hate them with the only factor being personal taste.

    This is actually a good thing to bring up. It really is critical to keep in mind that black culture is far from monolithic in tastes and preferences. Jay-Z is a great example. He’s a mature man (age wise not young not old) with tastes which veer towards the more austere and traditional. He’s far from an outlying individual. Bear in mind as well that the time when uniform style was at its most flamboyant and non-traditional in my opinion was the ’70s and ’80s a time period still in demographic terms predominantly white.

    Was going to bring up the Jay-Z/traditional look as well, then a line from one of his songs popped into my head which may explain the mindstate:

    “I don’t wear jerseys, I’m thirty plus / Give me a crisp pair of jeans … button up.”

    Mind you that lyric’s almost a decade old now.

    Re: American Express/Visa. I was down at Mets Spring Training back in 2008 hoping to buy a new Mets cap. I had an AmEx card, but the lady at the store said that they didn’t accept AmEx. Strangely enough, I bought a game uses Kingsport Mets batting helmet at Citi Field with a $25 AmEx gift card two years later. Maybe they changed their sponsor or got lax, because I’ve noticed that The bags that the Mets put your stuff in has a MasterCard logo. Thoughts?

    Lots of places don’t take AmEx, for a variety of reasons. But it’s one thing to say, “We don’t take AmEx”; it’s another to say, “We don’t take AmEx because Visa is our promotional partner.” That’s why I included that in the Ticker — it turned a credit policy into an ad.

    Yeah, it’s like she was thinking she might be being “tested”. Like when your restaurant sells Pepsi instead of Coke and a Pepsi “secret shopper” comes in and orders a Coke–you better say “We have Pepsi”.

    “Cheebuger cheebuger cheebuger, pepsi pepsi pepsi, chip chip chip!”

    True story – I go to a chain steakhouse for a birthday years ago and order Coke. “We have Pepsi, is that OK?”. I responded that I’d just rather have rootbeer then. He brings out a dark soda, tells me he has my Coke and goes away. I call him back, after tasting the Pepsi, and ask if he’d just get me the rootbeer I’d asked for. He returns from the kitchen with a 2 liter of Coke, including the grocery store receipt from 10 minutes before.

    I was humbled that day, and my tip showed it. That waiter got a great deal of my service from that day forward (until the steakhouse was torn down for a bank, anyway).

    Isn’t this the case with the Olympics, where I believe only Visa is accepted at official venues?

    I liked the article about the use of number 1 in IRL and before that, CART. As comparison, Formula 1 numbers are assigned based upon the prior year’s results. The drivers’ champion gets #1 and his teammate #2. Numbers 3-25 are assigned in pairs to the remaining teams in order of constructors’ points. The number 13 is not used.

    And on 1993 and 1994, no one used number 1 due to the champion moving on to CART (Mansell) and another champion retiring (Prost). Good touch though I wonder if anyone will be able to use the 28

    To add to that, this created a situation where for two consecutive years Williams ran a car #0 along with the #2.

    I think if you want to look at how the demographic affects the uniform, all you have to do is go to Eugene, Oregon. These are 17-22 year old kids, both black and white and they have full design power over their unis. I’m surprised that Phil Knight, who is and old white male, is so progressive about this, especially if old white guys are supposed to be conservative and traditional, as your theory states.

    I couldn’t agree more. Oregon is the poster child of new, flashy uniforms that I absolutely hate. From week to week you can’t tell that they are the Oregon Ducks as their is NO continuity in the uniform.

    As more and more colleges have followed Oregon’s lead, I have followed less and less college football. And you what, I don’t miss it. If the NFL follows this lead – see the Seattle Seahawks, I will start to follow it less as well.

    At least baseball has not yet gone the way of college football. I am hopeful that it never will.

    “I’m surprised that Phil Knight, who is and old white male, is so progressive about this, especially if old white guys are supposed to be conservative and traditional, as your theory states.”


    um…is phil knight averse to making a buck? is nike driving uniform design or merely reflecting what his focus groups (no doubt comprised of impressionable 17-22 year olds with tremendous buying power) tell him the people want

    maybe nike is driving design concepts, rather than the inverse

    sorta like how steve jobs gave us products we never knew we needed but can’t live without

    I am 52 yr old White male. I like good old stuff, and I like good new stuff.

    I love USC’s uniforns – both the current/O.J. era jerseys and the Anthony Davis-Keyshon striped sleeves.

    I like the Rams’ transition to Gold after 1998, up until they started wearing Navy Blue pants. From that point on, I want the Chuck Knox unis back to get rid of the Navy pants ….

    I love some of the Oregon Nikeified stuff, and think others are horrible. Three years ago looked great – mostly, this year sucked ….

    I don’t really like the early-1970s NBA/ABA/NCAA short shorts, but hate the 1987 Beach Jams that followed. Someone should have a mediation to decide on a good happy medium.

    Black socks and Black shoes are assinine unless you are wearing a business suit or a tuxedo, unless you are The Fab Four, which after watching their 30-for-30 proves them (and their handlers/apologists – doesn’t ESPN always seem to find these people for the 30-for-30’s) to be incredibly assinine.

    Every Bills uniform since OJ Simpson has been worse than the one that followed, excepting this year’s which is tainted by the Nike collar.

    Every Saints uniform since 1984 has been worse than the one before it.

    Every Baseball uniform in MLB has been horrible since Flannel was discontinued, excepting certain throwback/tbtc games, and the Oakland A’s Yellow jerseys worn with White pants.

    Hockey has gone downhill since the NJ Devils ditched their Red & Green (Ketchup & Pickle) for the Black & Reds. Who are these people, the Atlanta Falcon’s hockey program?

    Everything Nike touches seems to go to crap.

    Teal, Purple, Black and BFBS adopted by seemingly half of all athletic teams since 1988 all are horrible, all are relatively recent, and I would hate them if I were 13 yrs old …

    Vegas Gold. A stone in the shoe of uniform appreciation.

    If I’m folowing your logic on the Bills, you actually liked the Navy Blues/Bledsoe-Edwards era unis more than the Kelly-Flutie Red Helmet/No Blue Pants era? I actually thought the navy/navy look was OK but they over did the amount of piping, didnt like the double striping and the inclusion of royal blue and grey. What really killed it was the bibs on the road uniform.

    Actually, I got my own timeline wrong on the Biollis. They sort of Zig Zagged on being more horrible than the last.

    Pre-1974 Standing Buffalo/Dennis Shaw/OJ – Best

    1974 Streaking Buffalo, two stripes on jersey, Blue pants – not nearly as good.

    Red Helmet – good idea because of too many White helmets in AFC East, stupid look.

    Jim Kelly Red helmet look better(!) than Jim Haslett Red helmet look with Blue pants away.

    Areana Football unis of Navy Bledsoe era sucked, though I liked the Blue yokes with White jerseys.

    Attempts at 1960s-1973 Throwbacks are inaccurate and mostly suck – particular road jerseys.

    current unis better than last, except for Nike collars which are in fact the placed upon both sides of a collar. Totally suck unless on Broncos which had the Swoosh already part of uniform.

    We live in a school district that’s roughly 95% Black (a mix of African immigrants and African-Americans), Latino, and Asian. There is a Balkanization of tastes and cultural cues: African-American kids tend to gravitate toward football and Hip-Hop; African and Latin kids are much more interested in soccer, particularly Premier League soccer. Asian kids all want to be Jeremy Lin (it may not have been the best basketball decision to sign that guy, but man, the Rockets have sold a lot of Lin jerseys in my neighborhood).

    You can’t underestimate the influence of the FIFA video game series, which has introduced and acclimatized kids to distinctly non-American music and uniform styles, including unusual colors and patterns and advertising.

    The “white guy” thing is about control: when there are a million voices, a million influences, one point of view can’t dictate things. And nothing is the way it used to be. That’s one of the reasons so many white voters were nonplussed by Mitt: he looked and talked like one of them, but he came from a religious tradition that was unfamiliar and distasteful to them. Even the white guys aren’t white guys anymore.

    (For the record, I’m 50, Mormon, Democrat, and as white as mayonnaise on Wonder Bread.)

    The “white guy” thing is about control: when there are a million voices, a million influences, one point of view can’t dictate things. And nothing is the way it used to be.

    Beautifully stated. It would probably be fair to say that I came to be a cultural critic in part as a way of trying to exert the kind of control you’re referring to.

    I think there’s also the tendency interwoven into American culture to (for lack of a better word) fetishize the past. I believe this backwards gaze pushes beyond demographic lines and therefore some component of “traditionalism” will probably always be present in american sports uniform aesthetics.

    And though I agree uni-watch is probably a mostly white male institution, I think its insulated (to some degree) against demographic change because it stands as both commentary AND chronicler of uniform style.

    It’s not even 9am yet and this is already a much better discussion than I had anticipated (or feared). Thanks, people — you’re making me proud today.

    Your thoughts to ring true, Paul, at least in that I have been described by friends as the whitest person they know, culturally. Many is the time I’ve had my drink paid for off of telling the story of when, as a teenage movie usher, I had to direct people to the theater showing “Mo Money,” the payoff being my to-this-day inability to sound any less white than Pat Boone when pronouncing the title.

    But I wouldn’t discount the generation issue, because that’s clearly present within our growing minority communities as well. You illustrate this in the ticker with the link to the dress shirt modeled after Negro League-era dress shirts. Those old Negro League players weren’t wearing suits because they wanted to look white; they wore suits to look like men. Such was the standard of the day, across racial and class divides. Heck, my first baseball coach, Mr. Berg, was white, and he didn’t fuss over uniforms at all. Wearing our socks right was entirely a player-driven peer-pressure situation, even at age 6. My first coach who was a stickler for dressing right on the field was Mr. Bailey, and he was black. Back in the 1980s, black men like Mr. Bailey were often more culturally conservative, in terms of dress and manners and expectations of their children’s conduct, than their white peers. If I had tried to worn my little league uniform like many of today’s pro players, my dad would have rolled his eyes, maybe even expressed his disapproval, but no more, whereas Coach Bailey would have benched me until I tucked in my jersey, buttoned the top button, and showed the right amount of stirrup.

    Which is all to say that it seems just as likely to me that racial cultural differences mask a strong generational divide as vice-versa.

    Excellent point. While waiting outside of the Rochester Red Wings’ clubhouse as a teenager for the guys to come out after the games they ALL were wearing a shirt, tie ans suit or sportcoat. Even in the heat of July and August. Ditto for the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

    These players were just minor leaguers and probably were paid peanuts by today’s standards. But they all dressed in their finest duds just to go to work. What an impression this made on a young teenage boy. I also remember a day when my Mother, Aunt and I were shopping for my school clothes in downtown Rochester. While in a men’s store I saw Cal Emery, the Red Wings’ first-baseman shopping there. It was mid-morning but Cal was still dressed in his suit and tie. He was on his own time. But he was still representing the ball club.

    All players of that era felt fortunate to be playing in AAA. They respected themselves, their uniform and the city they played in. It wasn’t about “cool” or being “fly” or anything else. They were just plain proud to be playing a sport they loved and respected.

    Joe Garagiola once said that pro sports is the “toy department of life.” He wondered where else you could act like a kid and get paid for it. Some of today’s “athletes” forget that. And some think it’s all about THEM. Wrong.

    I like your post. I am a black 25yr old male. I only wanted to clarify why most black coaches/ol school men are crisp, clean, and sharp. For the most part, it does have to do with assimilation. We are raised as black men (even now) to dress proper and like our white counterparts. It’s kind of like evening the playing field. We feel we had to work harder for opportunities. So our parents tell us to look like the traditional norm. So, when we succeed they (the majority) can’t diminish our victory with put downs or differences.

    Steve Rushin’s SI column this week about the aesthetic of jersey wearing for fans and when to give up the ghost

    Great question today. Are tastes generational or are they defined by your personal experience and background(This is the question that stuck in my mind as I read through the comments and it’s what i’m going to spout about)……I think it’s both. White kids going to Oregon embrace that weekly uniform change. Black kids going to Notre Dame embrace the tradition.

    Personal taste is built from a collection of personal experiences and I don’t think we can pigeonhole it to one or two deciding factors, even though we can say that generationally people have had similar experiences(rise of hip hop, desegregation, 9/11; big nationally impacting events) and so there are common tastes among them from when these affected them the same way it affected other people.

    Would I be wrong to say that the ultimate question we seek to answer when judging uniforms is, “How does it look?” I feel it is. I like purple and roll my eyes every time Paul brings up his displeasure for uniforms that support it….HOWEVER, I share his feeling that purple is a terribly difficult color to use for a uniform and that most instances it’s used don’t look good. I’m 29 and grew up in Pittsburgh and the Quad Cities, he’s from Brooklyn, and as much as I’ve gotten to know his history I can say that we have very few shared experiences, but we have come to the same conclusion because we feel “It does not look good.”

    I think culture is the main driving force behind attitudes about uniforms. By culture, I mean “Culture Around a Team”, “Culture of a Demographic”, and “Culture of a Fan Base” ect, ect. Oklahoma isn’t going to change their football uniforms. Duke isn’t going to change their basketball uniforms anytime soon. Northern Illinois football might have three new ones in the next four years. Lady GaGa might make a meat jersey that young girls and drag queens sport to real sporting events. Maybe a new music style raises up and creates a new style of dress that’s picked up, a la Michigan in the early 90’s and hip hop culture. The Yankees aren’t going to ever go BFBS.

    Whether or not you get swept up in the wave of culture or turn your nose up to it, I feel that it’s affect on taste is greater than when you were born, what your parents or friends think or what you’re told you’re supposed to feel.

    I feel like I should also add my own taste in uniforms. I like what looks good to me……..I know, don’t we all? What I really LOVE to see is a team to find something works and then they stick with it and let that be a symbol of their identity. I was a little turned off by the Steelers when they rounded their numbers, but enough hadn’t changed that I got over it quickly. However, I’m still not over the Penguins changing from their uniforms when they won back to back cups in the early 90s. I love how Alabama and Oklahoma look the same now as they pretty much did in the 60’s…same with LSU, Penn State. But I also like how Oregon decided to change their uniforms every week, they became successful with it and now that’s what they do. However, I think Maryland is stupid for trying to copy that model….that’s Oregon thing, create your own thing, let that stand for what Maryland is as a school and a program.

    Now, those uniforms looked good that I mentioned above positively….if the Bills had gotten good in those awful uniforms they just went away from, I still would have wanted them to ditch them, because they were ugly as sin.

    re: Raiders jerseys….

    I hate the Raiders as a team (don’t really know why). I hate black as a jersey color.

    But I REALLY hate the Raiders jerseys with all those patches (NFL, Cap’n, HOF) on them. Raiders’ jerseys should be just black.

    Part of the reason that older jerseys look better to many is that they were not cluttered with the crap dislayed today on jerseys. The Raiders are one of the least cluttered and still have too much. In a 32 team league, do we really need team names and wordmarks on jerseys?
    Do chest numerals really have to be centered UCF -style at the belly button?

    It is all money-driven BS. It looks bad.

    Sand Knit/Ripon had it right. It has been all downhill from there.

    Male, 49 yrs old, mixed race Canadian. Since I’m Canadian and played hockey as a kid, you could probably say my taste skews “white.”
    I don’t think aesthetics are about anything but personal style. Yes that may have a racial component but it’s not the most important. We are talking about men’s style and fashion, and that is always determined by trendsetters.
    In sports, trendsetters are winners. Michigan’s Fab Five. Deion, wearing his baseball uni baggy with high socks. I still nod approvingly when I see some young DB take a pick to the house today and bust out a Deion dance in the end zone. Most famously, Jordan. Jordan is not a sports style icon, he’s a men’s fashion icon. Before Jordan NO man wore shorts long, or shaved his head without being considered freaky.
    My point also addresses the issue of uniform design. No matter who puts the things together, the players are the ones who make the real things happen in the way they are worn. Kids today, like mine, I am sure, are all about the RGIII socks.
    It’s the trendsetters who make it happen, same as it’s ever been.

    Great points. Do you remember how every kid skated around with his jersey tucked into his pants, because that’s how Gretzky did it?

    Just because the majority of you readership is white does not mean that your readership is *disproportionately* white. Even the majority of Barack Obama’s voters were white (57% I think). Would be interested to see the actual demographic breakdown of your readership.

    That said, I think the aesthetic preferences of individual racial groups are too heterogeneous for that analytic angle to be useful in any way. We live in an era where LeBron James buttons up his shirts all the way.

    As a corollary I think the personality type (eg geek) angle works a lot better than race for analyzing uni preferences.

    According to,
    –Relative to the general internet population, Males are greatly over-represented at
    –Same for whites.
    –Was surprised that young people (under 34) are actually overrepresented. I would have thought older…

    For the record, I’m a 44 year old Asian, born in the US.

    About the cultural trends…let’s look at history. Consider the Negro Leagues. I think most of us who “get it” agree that their uniforms are generally gorgeous. Many of them looked similar to their major league counterparts, but many were unique:


    However, this does beg the question: who made the uniform decisions for the Negro League teams? I guess that was the owners. Presumably they were predominantly white?


    Great sociological discussion… Gil (2nd post) speaks of being ISTJ on the Myers-Briggs and I am at the opposite end of the spectrum, ENFJ. My 50 years of being white male bring uni-beliefs that “uniforms are not uniform” unless worn the same way by all members of the team, and “consistent identity creates respect” in regards to uni-designs.
    Many of our preferences for team favorites (aside from uber-local fanaticism) were formed early on and greatly influenced by the teams’ uniforms (for me, USC football, the Braves, 49ers, Celtics, and Bruins). I’m fortunate that these teams have remained true, mostly, to their designs.
    I can think of very few uni-design changes of the last couple decades that I consider an improvement. At least once a day I mutter, “If I were uni-king…”.

    Per usual, a provoking column. I’m a 58-year-old white male, and here are a handful of cultural uniform observations:

    – Willie Mays (one of my favorites) started the trend toward tailored uniforms. Good.
    – Frank Robinson, I believe, (also one of my favorites) started the stretched stirrup trend. More good than stupid.)
    – M.J. started the longer short inseam. His was good.
    – Fab 5 took it to ridiculous proportions. Of course it’s stupid.
    – M.J. and/or Fab 5 started black sock trend. Stupid.
    – George Hendricks (I’m OK w/ George, even though he’s a Cardinal) started the long baseball trouser look. Stupid.
    – Charlie Finley started baseball’s peacock movement. Charlie was daffy, but on balance this was good.
    – Devin Hester was the first I noticed who started jazzing up his socks with other socks, wristbands and weird stuff. Stupid.
    – Fred Blietnikoff started splitting his jersey sleeves. (I did it, too, so at the time I though it was good. In hindsight it was stupid.)
    – Dunno who started the flat ballcap bill look. Among the most stupid.

    I could go on, but it does look like one could make the argument that this may be more generational than racial. Still, it’s undeniable that urban looks today are driving trends, so today it may be racial, too. As with society, diversity is setting in across the board and that on balance is a good thing. Still, this is a fascinating topic.

    BTW, loved the lead photo.

    For the “I feel like an idiot” portion of the response, it wasn’t until I just read that you amended the caption did I realize that the picture wasn’t just not loading for me.

    the lead photo isnt working for me as well. i clicked on it, which lead me to Flickr. still no photo. i even right clicked the image to a new tab. no photo. even saving the photo.


    One thing I often wonder about people having tastes that aren’t common for their “culture”… perhaps a lot of black people, for example, DON’T like the hip-hop culture, would rather see color in uniforms other than black, don’t like baggy basketball shorts, etc. But how many of them are afraid to voice these preferences, in fear that they might look or sound “white” to their friends? And the same with white people that like things that are more accepted in black culture. If a white guy comes out with his love for rap music or dressing what we consider “black”, he’s called that word that starts with a W and rhymes with “digger”.

    So, likewise with the uniform issue, perhaps peer pressure keeps a lot of people from voicing their displeasure over uniforms, because they don’t want to look “uncool” or “too white/old/etc.”.

    I’m 29, a conservative white guy that is mostly traditional in his view of uniforms, but every now and then I like new stuff. All through high school I listened to, and liked, rap/hip-hop music. Why can’t we pick and choose what we like and not be limited to things just because of our skin color? And that’s the gist of it. It’s well past time for us to stop classifying things into racial categories. Sadly, we’re probably still a long way from that happening.

    Human nature prevents the world from being a fair place. Peer pressure has always tamped down self-expression. It’s lamentable.

    “It’s well past time for us to stop classifying things into racial categories. Sadly, we’re probably still a long way from that happening.”

    (Male, white, 25) WORD! It is a travesty that non-whites are branded as sellouts by their peers when they show preferences for for things associated with “white culture”

    Don’t like too much what you’re implying here. First, “Hip Hop Culture” and uniforms are not totally synonymous. In that, it’s as if you’re stating that the ‘norm’ for blacks is to like baggy hoops shorts, black uniforms, etc. After this, you equate that to a white kid listening to hip hop and dressing like a black person. That, in itself, is not at all an equal and fair assessment, nor is it correct, but I’ll let that go on principle of this discussion. Then, you follow it up by saying that peer pressure prevents these people from being able to voice those opinions. Uniforms and their elements are far from a topic that would garner someone the ‘white’ label.

    But then you finish your comment by saying “Why can’t we pick and choose what we like and not be limited to things just because of skin color?” I see this as a stark contrast in arguments.

    Yes, I’m black, and yes, I’m 20. Some of the modern elements of uniforms are fine by me (multiple uniform combinations within school colors, hydra effect so long as it doesn’t unnecessarily delve into BFBS, GFGS, or something crazy, and sweatback uniforms aren’t too bad), while others (BFBS, Nikelace, and baggy ass basketball unis) are just terrible. I have no fear of telling my black friends that I read this site, and not once have I been ridiculed as ‘too white’ for my opinions. Those types of comments are 1) said moreso by immature kids in high school than adults, and 2) said in more extreme circumstances, like a black man who has lost touch with his black culture or heritage. But that’s also a different discussion.

    I don’t want to tell you to avoid talking about what you don’t understand, but you should really reconsider talking about these things in a vacuum.

    I appreciate your post, even if we perhaps disagree.

    Maybe I didn’t word my post correctly, but I wasn’t trying to imply that there is a norm for any certain group of people, or that things are strictly “black” or “white” or whatever. I don’t want to use those labels and personally think they are ridiculous. But, those are labels that HAVE already been applied by the collective groupthink. Clothing, for example. There are styles attached to certain ethnicities. That’s a fact we can’t ignore. I personally knew of situations in high school (10+ years ago) where the way you dressed had you labeled as “acting ____”. If this led any of those people to NOT wear something they otherwise would have… I’d say that’s peer pressure exerting its influence pretty heavily. I’m not saying it DID happen, just wouldn’t be a stretch to believe it did. But maybe a lot of that depends on your social environment.

    I think it’s pretty safe to say there are things I’ll never understand, and I’m always happy to hear from someone who has a better viewpoint and can set me straight. I’m just relaying some personal experiences here. I hope that helps understand my opinion a little more (I’ll admit to having a hard time putting some of these thoughts to words).

    Makes sense. I get it now. I respect and mostly agree with that sentiment. I just don’t feel that it pertains to uniforms, as the topic isn’t really as related to that aspect of culture as you might think.

    To clarify some of what you’re talking about, though, I’d say that it might go a bit further now, with some of the racial clothing lines a bit blurred (I wear, and I’ve also seen several black people wearing boat shoes, something that would not have been acceptable in the 90’s)to behaviors. Since there are many different acceptable styles in the black community now, including but not limited to: the so-called ‘hipster’ style, more business casual looks (V-Neck Sweaters, button-up shirts, etc), and the common ‘black’ style (sagging pants, jean jackets, fitted caps/snapbacks, etc), there is more influence on how you SPEAK and behave. If behaviors, dialect, and word choice don’t conform to what the modern day perception of black behavior is, then one is referred to as “acting ____”. If that makes sense.

    Sort of. Kamau Bell put it succinctly on the WTF podcast: “White people need to embrace their whiteness more.” Or something very close to that. The point is, you should embrace your influences, no matter what they are. Growing up white, or black, or any other ethnicity profoundly affects your upbringing and, as a result, the things you like. As long as those influences aren’t attached to hatred, you shouldn’t be ashamed of them. There are a lot of other factors driving participation in internet communities; interest in what people wear is among the smallest of them.

    I am a 24 (soon to be 25) year old white male raised in a fairly racially mixed environment growing up. I am a hip-hop enthusiast and have been for most of my life. I too prefer the more traditional uniforms, but it got me thinking it this has to do with the teams I grew up and still watch.
    My parents went to the University of Michigan (as did I) and my dad is from New York so, the Wolverines and Yankees have been ingrained in me since birth. Michigan, until recently, had been wearing the same home uniform for just about forever with slight variations in road jerseys during my lifetime. The Yanks have been largely unchanged since my birth. And that’s the way I like it. I don’t want to see my favorite teams that have such a rich history change with the current trends. It pains me to see Michigan in anything new (although I liked the Under the Lights jerseys as a one-time affair) or hear them talk about chrome helmets.

    I wonder if this is similar for others my age (or anyone). If you grew up watching a team (or teams) that have been relatively unchanged during your youth or had few alternates/throwbacks does this affect your jersey preferences? I feel that if I was an Oregon fan I wouldn’t mind new jersey’s because they evolved throughout my youth.

    I feel that the younger kids and athletes are so used to jerseys changing ever year or two and fail to recognize the tradition that comes with the “classics.” Kids now, in my experience, don’t know the history of the game like I did growing up. Sure they know the big names (i.e. Jordan, Montana, Gretzky), but not much else. They see LeBron and Kobe and the Ducks in some new variation every year and it becomes the norm to them.

    Just my two cents to add to this discussion. Thanks for brining this up Paul. Never thought about why I preferred some designs over others, but it adds another level to my Uni obsession.

    Mexican 28 years old.

    I don’t think things will change that much. As an example you could take soccer which is ruled by white european males but has a global reach. Yes, the teams experiment every once in a while with the second or third uniform but rarely with the home kit.
    Eventually, the US will be a reflection (in percentages) of the global population so the same thing will apply. You have to think that soccer has been for a couple of generations already with global reach.

    Im a 32 year old mexican american and have been a long time fan of paul’s and this site. I dont always agree with his views but never the less I’m a uniform junkie……also props to the other long time contributers! Keep up the great work fellas

    I am a 43 white male who wears dress shirts with suspenders/braces most days to work (at a high school). I can’t tell you how many kids have commented how they like the look – that it looks “professional.” Our male student athletes are required to wear ties on game days during school. Those who cannot tie a tie have lined up for me to get theirs set and a bunch have worn suspenders, as well. I am honored to be some small part of that influence (although they will NEVER get me to wear tight jeans half way down my backside like most of them do!).

    I think it’s more of a conservative/liberal thing, in the strictest, apolitical, literal sense of what those words mean, rather than a white/non-white, or even a young/old, thing.

    Most of us here like “traditional” uniform design, “classic” designs, “less is more” (as Paul wrote), and so forth. Stripes should be of uniform width and parallel, numerals should be varsity block, helmets should be one color, jerseys should be symmetrical, one home uniform and one road uniform, etc. “Conservative” has always meant at least skepticism about, if not resistance to, anything new or different from How Things Have Always Beenâ„¢.

    The “liberal” approach to uni design, on the other hand, does not so much reject the traditional look as ask, OK, why does it have to be that way? Why do stripes have to be of uniform width and parallel? Why do we have to use varsity block numerals? Why can’t we have multicolored helmets? Why can’t we have an asymmetrical jersey? Why not have five different uniforms?

    Now, of course, a lot of us would answer these questions with some variation of, “Because it doesn’t look good.” But that’s not really an answer; that’s a matter of subjective taste, which is fine but there is, as they say, no accounting for it.

    Again, this has nothing to do with anyone’s political party affiliation or voting preference. No one applies liberal or conservative thought to absolutely everything they see and experience, because most people understand and believe that there are things we should keep as they are and things we should try to change; things we should accept and things we should question. We differ on the what, and the why.

    So anyway, that’s my take. There’s conservative design and liberal design. Each has its merits, and flaws. The difference is between believing that things should be done a certain way, and that there’s really no reason why they have to be done that way.

    It would be interesting to look at all jersey sales over the last 20 years or so and see how strongly design factors into it. My theory is that over time, the biggest factors of jersey sales would 1.) team success 2.) market size. There may be spikes for designs, but I’m guessing the two factors I mention hold up the best over time.

    As you know, I don’t care a whole lot about jersey sales (except insofar as they affect design). But for what it’s worth, I’ve been told that NBA sales have more to do with player identity than team identity. In other words, some players’ jerseys will sell even to fans who don’t root for those particular teams.

    I would tend to leave NBA jersey’s out of a discussion that WFY is suggesting. If only because the NBA is the only league that markets the player over the team. The result is what Paul stated.

    NFL, MLB and NHL would be good leagues to use a test cases.

    Not necessarily on topic, but the geek-as-a-white-institution thought reminded me of this article on CNN about the “blerd” or “black nerd”.


    White, male, 26 – daily reader and I like when I come here and there’s interesting uniform commentary but love when I come here and read something that gets my mind working.


    I was sitting there for a minute waiting for the lede photo to load and I was getting annoyed that it wasn’t loading and after 20 seconds or so I figured it wasn’t going to load and I read the caption. Woe is me.

    “…we’re on the losing side of the aesthetic argument in an increasingly diverse America.”
    I live in an area where 25% of the poplation does not speak English. I am called racist because I’d like my neighbors to be legal residents of this country. The largest violent gang proudly named itself after and wears the gear of our local state University (It’s why I could never support the Fresno State Bulldogs).
    At least you’re only on the losing side of the aesthetic argument.
    50 year old, white male, who’s still screaming at kids to get off my lawn. Only now, they shoot back.

    Agreed the actual players should be comfortable when playing their sport. It’s why I can provisionally accept the evolution of unis.

    However — pants which catch on spikes & jewelry worn during physical activities are dangerous. Only takes one bad move fellas. But hey, it’s your game. Though I will never think over-sized flat brim ball caps are a good look on anybody.

    Blue and yellow are two of the three primary colors. Back in the 70s there were eight teams (two in each sport) that wore blue and yellow: Rams and Chargers, Pacers and Warriors, Sabres and Blues, and Pilots/Brewers and Mariners.

    Up until a few years ago, ALL of those teams went away from that traditional combination. Some went with two blues and a yellow (Chargers, Blues), some went with metallic gold (Brewers, Rams), some went to navy, yellow and SILVER (Sabres and Pacers). Finally, in 2011 the Warriors dropped their orange and went back to blue and yellow.

    Traditional colors used to be one (Celtics, Red Wings, Colts) or two colors. Now it seems a team needs at least three to be cutting edge (Do the Bills and Dolphins really need that navy?) Not to mention BFBS.

    Technology has something to do with it. An extra color meant an extra step. Now with computer stitching and digital printing, a black, red, orange and pewter (putty) Buccaneers logo isn’t a big deal.

    It’s also easier to stitch a curve or a swirl (swoosh) into a sleeve over doing just a straight set of stripes.

    Errr…no time to sum it all up.

    The changing culture does not necessarily change what is considered good taste. The evolution of something like basketball stars wearing baggier pants can be pushed by culture, but good taste always pushed back – which is why we have evolved from John Stockton, but we don’t see too many guys wearing shorts that come down to mid shin. Even the “sagging” culture is fading and you’re just as likely to see black teens in skinny jeans than with their boxers hanging out.

    That being said, there is a big difference in the viability of running a website based on the aesthetics of uniforms with a primarily white male audience and winning a national election with only that same audience.

    Wow! So many good points in the comments but I’m going to refrain from adding my two cents and just answer the questions Paul presented (DISCLOSURE: Black, 29, Southerner, former college football player, streetwear blogger).

    “Is the aesthetic that most of us tend to celebrate here really a white aesthetic?”

    Yes, I tend to think so. And I tend to think so based upon the comments and post that populate this site–created primarily by white dudes. The aesthetic features that are praised/hated on this site SEEM to be “white guy” stuff. Small scale of examples: “Amateur pacifist” Nike unis, stirrups, chain stitching, BFBS, straight brims on fitted caps, the abhorrent behavior toward damn near anything purple–for lack of a better term, that’s some white people shit.


    For starters, Black people are so disinterested in baseball it’s not even funny. So damn near anything baseball related (especially aesthetically speaking) is going to miss us by a mile (see points A, B, & C above). But talk basketball or football jersey’s and you’ll have our full attention!

    BFBS: is it annoying sometimes, yes (see: Standford) but enough for a black person to loose their shit over it like some of y’all on this site? Heck no. Besides “black is beautiful” is not just a phrase in the African-American community, it’s a way of life haha!

    A big selling point on if the differences in taste is race related is Uni-Watch’s overall dislike for the color purple. As a long time reader of Uni-Watch and a professional Black person, this concept is REALLY, REALLY funny to me. For black people purple is ingrained in us to represent power, bravery, and royalty. Especially royalty. This color is almost “unfuckwithable” in our culture. ALL our (stereotypical & not-so-stereotypical) favorite things are purple: The Color Purple movie, grape soda (which I personally hate), Crown Royal bags, Prince, even Samuel L. Jackson asked for a purple light saber in Star Wars (rumor has it). But you get my point. Black people love purple. So seeing it routinely bashed here is a constant reminder that although we all share a love for nerdy uniform quirks, I’m probably one of the few black dudes that subscribe to this blog.

    “And if so, given the demographic trends in America, does that mean we’re destined to be on the wrong side of aesthetic history?”

    No. Because as it was already pointed out, old white guys still make the majority of all uni-related decisions. Until that changes, “white taste” as vague as that term may be, will win out.

    This post is great! I’m 30 and white. I wear stirrups when I play ball. The number one question I hear (from other white guys) is “What are you from, the Negro Leagues?” So clearly, we’re not being white at all. We are all just emulators of a previous generation of black style, and the youth of today has bridged the gap a little.

    The reality is, if the word style is involved, then us white folks have nothing to do with it. The best we can do is finding an era that we enjoy, and dressing as black as we can; but never look quite as good. We are Throwblacks, if you will.

    The point you made about purple in the black community is fascinating and I really hope Paul reads it. I think this is a great example of why I believe that, while the fact that he personally hates purple and expresses that opinion is fine, incorporating purple-bashing as a sort of ingrained editorial position of this site is not very appropriate.

    I know this has been brought up and debated a million times; Paul, I know it’s your site and anyone who can’t stand your purple hatred is free to not read it; but I still stand by the point I’ve always held, that it’s not very thoughtful criticism to out-and-out dismiss a particular stylistic feature that not everyone is sure to feel the same way about.

    I’m pretty sure Paul (and others on this site) would agree they don’t have a problem with purple as it pertains to other things just purely uniform aesthetics (barring certain passes like the Vikings & Lakers)

    Purple doesn’t just mean royalty for black people; it was so in Italy and in imperial Japan, which is why (I think) Fiorentina and Kyoto Sanga wear purple uniforms today.

    I also think it makes a league’s total set of uniforms a little unbalanced when a whole section of the color wheel is ignored, which is what would happen if purple were truly banned.

    You’re right dude. My apologies if I made it seem like ONLY black people concern purple to signify royalty. My point was that unlike most cultures, the African American appreciation for the color has NEVER, EVER waned.

    Interesting topic…for point of reference I am a 35 year old Black male, hip hop fan and a loyal Uni-watch reader (I also have a Masters in History, which kinda explains why I’m here). I think there is something to your point about the “classic, classy” uniform preference being due to a generational/racial divide, especially regarding baggy shorts/baseball uniforms, which have their roots in hip hop culture. On the other hand…ugly is ugly

    I don’t understand you notion that social class is a white, European concept.

    Asia and Africa have,and had, numerous examples of royalty and nobility which disprove your theory.

    Poor wording on my part. What I mean is that class in America — which is where we get the word “classy” — is something we got from the Europeans. We don’t say something is “upper-caste” — we say it’s “classy.”

    The thing that I notice is that design trends of the past are automatically canonized – Paul doesn’t criticize any pre-1980 jersey [say, White Sox shorts-unis] as much as he criticizes common design elements today [especially in football, various pipes and yolk-lines]. While this isn’t explicitly “white”, it’s the same type of thinking engaged in by some right wing types nowadays about “traditional [values/marriage/AMURICA]” and the good ol’ days. But like that one dude says, The Good Old Days Weren’t So Good.

    It’s also a design field – and in my opinion, it’s got to move forward or die. We should be talking about how Oregon always seems to “hit” with their crazy uniforms while the imitators [Maryland, Rutgers, OK State, a few others] look like… cheap imitations; not about how untraditional they are.

    Wait wait wait — I have always said that while certain 1970s and ’80s designs have may have become classics of a certain kitschy sort (White Sox leisure suits, Astros tequila sunrise, etc.), they’re also ridiculous.

    To be sure, you have said that, but I do think MRB has a point–they just got their years a little wrong. I have a hard time remembering any ’60s-or-before design you’ve criticized (only one that comes to mind were those powder blue Eagles throwbacks…maybe the brown Broncos ones?)

    To be fair, there are fewer pre-1970s designs to criticize, since there were fewer teams, nowhere near the number of design changes that there are now, and fewer photographs and images to burn the designs into our brains.

    If Oregon designs something goofy in 2012, everybody knows about it; if they had done it in 1925, we’d have a few grainy black-and-white photographs and not too many people would evenbe thinking about them.

    Great question Paul. Here’s a question for you. Do you think with all the changes we are seeing in uniforms, lets talk college football, that in the end the traditional schools may win out? When Oregon changes its “outfits” every game it used to be “oh, that’s Oregon.” But now with so many other schools doing that, do you think the Michigan helmet, the Gold dome, and the K-State will just keep re-enforcing their brand? I mean when kids or anybody turn on the tv its hard to identify who’s playing because school colors have gone right out the window. I remember Mizzou talking about wanting a recognizable brand, so they ditched the M and got a cool tiger logo. But did they just lose all the past years of work. I say this because of how strict professional leagues are about logos and branding. Thoughts?
    Thanks (31 white male)

    Good question. It’s worth noting, however, that the Gold Dome was only two-thirds gold for one game this season. Unthinkable in the past, right? But it happened.

    I’m a 57 yr old Chinese American. I’m a St Louis Cardinal fan and Arsenal FC supporter. I love the traditional look and am big into throwbacks. On the other hand I also love what Nike has done with the Oregon unis and thought the Pride of Maryland unis were cool. I think the difference lies in team identity vs personal identity. The older more traditional part of me identifies with team and I want my team to show that tradition. I hate what Nike has done with the Arsenal kit. However, with less identification to team, the style of the uni then becomes an appeal to my personal style, hence, I like the Oregon unis. I have no love for the Knicks but I got a Jeremy Lin jersey last year purely out of personal identity and cultural pride.

    btw speaking of personal style, I am wearing Balt Orioles ‘rups today.

    I could see Skip Bayless and Stephen A. screaming strawman arguments at each other on this topic.

    <—-32 yo Hispanic born in Miami.

    I don't have to remind all on how pretty diverse it is down here. White is the minority and I wasn't exposed to, as people love to categorize, "white America" until I joined the Army. I grew up with different influences when it comes to music, classic rock, hip-hop (true school), 80s new wave….etc.., you get the idea. When it comes to uniforms and logos I share the same attitude and sentiment as what I guess you guys consider "white" but how does that apply to me? Aesthetically, I see things a certain way….and while I appreciate outlandish design to a certain degree, the more subtle philosophy of "less is better" just stems from my taste of space in general and nothing to do with race.

    I think that Uni Watch is an excellent example of Groupthink. You really cannot post an opinion that contradicts Paul’s without his minions attacking you.

    I really don’t think that uni watching is specifically a white male activity, but rather Uni Watch is.

    I think that Uni Watch is an excellent example of Groupthink. You really cannot post an opinion that contradicts Paul’s without his minions attacking you.

    What a whiny, boo-fucking-hoo statement. You can post anything you want, but you should be prepared to defend it with strong logic and persuasive ideas.

    We might start by having you defend the assertion that I have “minions.” Perhaps you’d like to explain what you mean by that, or is it just a form of name-calling for people you don’t agree with?

    Ahh yes, there is that welcoming Uni-Watch community spirit, haha.

    Please, there are numerous posters here who parrot your arguments in the comments sections. Whenever I see the tan admin post, I have to check to see if it is You or LI Phil. You both pretty much post the same arguments and positions.

    Uni Watch attracts people who all think the same. It is a community where people of dissenting opinion do not feel welcome or comfortable. Perhaps people don’t like being accused of liking “shiny things” in a derogatory way.

    It’s your blog. I get that. You are free to post whatever you want. I read the site everyday. Still, don’t stick your heels on the ground on your opinions and ridicule those who differ and then ask, “Why is the Uni-Watch community not more diverse?”

    If you’re suggesting that this web site tends to attract people who largely agree with the views of the site’s founder, I’d go along with that. I said as much in today’s entry, when I stated that most of here share a common set of aesthetic underpinnings, which I then went on to enumerate.

    So that’s true, as far as it goes. However:

    1) It doesn’t seem particularly surprising that a web site would attract people who agree with with the views of its founder. Indeed, this is true of many, many web sites covering a broad range of topics. So while you’ve identified a truth, that truth does not strike me as either unique or damning.

    2) Just because people agree with something I state, that does not make them my “minions.” Maybe they simply, you know, sincerely share my views.

    3) Contrarian views are always welcome here as long as they’re well-stated, well-argued, and well-defended. If you find your opinion to be in the minority, that doesn’t mean you’re wrong. But it may mean that you have to work hard to explain it, articulate it, and advocate for it. And if it’s a good argument, you should be happy to do that, instead of whining about how everyone else is ganging up on you.

    I like hockey, and there are a vast number of people on this site who would rather never have me post another comment. Yet Paul, Phil, and a number of other readers have great discussions about hockey despite it falling below MLB, NFL, NCAA, and a vast number of other sports covered on here.

    The sharing of knowledge requires INCLUSION in order for it to be effective. Bring something other than “I think it looks like shit” to the table, Watkins, and you might find that people are willing to listen to WHY a design might be bad as well as discuss your point of view.

    From your posts, though, you seem quite angry towards anyone who has called you out in life, and no one wants to deal with your negativity. As Paul said, present your side calmly and intelligently, and you’ll find an audience.

    Lord knows the Islanders’ Fisherman design takes a beating on here, but I still like it because of how different it was and how it bucked tradition design at the time. People disagree, and I get that. I’m not asking to agree, but just to consider my side of the argument as to why I have the opinion that I do.

    I strongly disagree with everything you’re saying. I’ve never felt ashamed to share my dissenting opinion and if you have, well, that’s you and you probably made some poorly thought out points.

    Also, if you’re going to post an idea in here that conflicts with some of the popular ideals held by those that frequent the message board, don’t act surprised when people disagree with you. The few times I’ve “gone to battle” I prepared myself accordingly, you should as well.

    -From a fan of the site, not a “minion”

    I am a white male, 57 years of age. My son is a white male, 25 years of age. Although he is not “into” uniforms like I am, his tastes are somewhat different than mine. If I say, “that looks like crap”, he will quite often disagree. He tends to think what is going on now is fine, so I think you are right Paul. What my generation likes will go away at some point.

    Great topic for discussion today. One thing I’ve noticed on the board is many have chosen to self identify, though that wasn’t a stated expectation. I have had the opportunity to engage in aome croas cultural training over the last two years, and as a result I think what we are seeing is really cultural. Race and generation may play a factor in the culture or cultures people choose to self identify with, but it is not the sole factor. The cultural model I’ve used with states that people tend to do or want to what is expected, reinforced and rewarded within a particular group. Their actions are usually based on their frame of reference, which is the sum total of their experiences–where they’ve lived, their family situation, education, etc. So it’s based on these factors that one would seek out cultures they tend to feel accepts, reinforces and rewards their perspective.

    As our country has and continues to evolve demographically, we will continue to see shifts. But i think we have always had diferences in our culture. When I was a kid growing up in working class Philadelphia, white people did not self identify as such. They were Irish or Italian or Polish. Many of you may be able to relate to a time when an Irish boy dating a girl from the Italian neighborhood was a cause for alarm in the eyes of many parents. Those days have I believe passed (at least i hope) but show how culture and self identification, not race per se have an influence on what we feel is ‘proper’ or ‘preferred’.

    One other really critical aspect to the debate is the influence of media. We now have access to all sorts of subcultures via cable TV, Internet, etc. that enable us to seek out our preferences. I know I got to know UniWatch from Chris Creamer’s site, and got there from SSUR. So I incrementally took steps until I found others who had a similar passion. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there watching shows like Doomsday Preppers or even Antique Roadshow on cable that now feel they’re a part of something (a culture) too. Media is really the engine driving our cultural evolution.

    When I was a kid growing up in working class Philadelphia, white people did not self identify as such. They were Irish or Italian or Polish. Many of you may be able to relate to a time when an Irish boy dating a girl from the Italian neighborhood was a cause for alarm in the eyes of many parents. Those days have I believe passed (at least i hope)

    Mike, while I agree with you that it’s a great thing that young people of differing backgrounds can now date and marry with little fanfare, I wouldn’t be at all happy if your first observation strengthened and people with Polish or Italian or German or Hungarian ancestry were expected to subsume their cultural identity into a generic “White” that disregards what is special and unique about their families.

    That’s a giant step backwards. (And it would never work for Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans, who all ahve very strong cultural identities and often over-exaggerate the differences between their cultures.)

    I think there’s a technological element along with the cultural part of uni design.

    Look at the Bronco’s pants swooshes. Nike admitted they put them in just to show that it’s possible. Teams use more than two colors on a regular basis because it isn’t expensive to pull that off. The more colors we can put on a polyester jersey (neon green, pewter) and make it match the helmet means more colors go into a uniform.

    Hip Hop artist, Andre 3000’s clothing line was inspired by classic athletic aesthetics …


    Would love to read a Paul Lukas interview with that guy.

    Interesting Topic.
    41 yr old Hispanic Male grew up in NYC. Lived in Westchester and commuted to the BX for HS. College, Married, live in CT.
    Played Hoops and Football. Grew up with Hip Hop (The Real Hip Hop from it’s early beginnings)grew up with tight uniforms, very short shorts (missed out on the Fab 5 by 1 yr). It depends really on how you grew up, if you grew up a follower or a leader. What was your birth order, big or small family, demographics. All of those things influence and dictate how some of us grow up wanting to wear certain uniforms, whether their old school, authentic, vintage, weird company sponsored attire like you love to wear. It’s all about being yourself in the end. I don’t agree all the time with some of your rants on how Nike or Even some of the Colleges are taking it to far on what is being worn on the field. 30 yrs ago the technology wasn’t there. In the end, it doesn’t matter! “WHITE TASTE” in the boardroom or those making the decision on what the “MEATS” will wear next year. Most teams look at the bottom line, and pray that at the end of the year they don’t have overstock in product that ends up at your local Marshalls, TJ MAXX, etc…. Money is the main player, declining stock profits, and top 20 lists of whose Jersey is the #1 seller this month. There are purists like the Yankees that don’t need to go the Mets route, Nike Pro Combat, Under Armour direction.

    I remember being a massive purist of the Sneaker Game and now every month there is a re release of a Air Jordan Shoe that is 50% as authentic as the original.

    Things change, one thing I won’t jump on the bandwagon has to be the New Era Craze of Alternate Colors. I won’t wear a Red Yankees Hat (Patriotic Caps Excluded) to match my attire.

    Paul, Starter began this craze, then it went out to the highest bidder and became an actual business. There are moments I get sick seeing an authentic Puma Buffalo Bills or Knicks Jersey. Puma why?

    Paul you could have just said “The Man” instead of getting into a color or political thing…

    Good Stuff on a Friday Here…

    50-year-old contrarian white male, here. Aspires to certain aspects of hipsterhood, loves the sound of his own voice. Iconoclastic tastes, loves naps. Usually cheerful, until somebody tries to get me to do two things at once. I would be startled if I was a typical .

    I blundered into sports apparel as a way of bonding with “normal” boys my age, in the eight grade. Flamboyant uniforms are fun, but wear out their welcome over time; “conservative” ages better. That said, I’m pretty sure a respect for tradition doesn’t mean every college football team has to wear identical red and white uniforms.

    I should also include that I play with coding language like a 5-year-old who learned a new swear word. That’s why “I would be startled if I was a typical anything.” came out as “I would be startled if I was a typical.”

    My takes on sociology, demographics and cultural identity should always be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve learned the best way to address issues of race is to be frank and truthful, and to let the chips fall. It’s when people are afraid to speak, that misconceptions arise.

    Lots of wonderful comments above. Apologies if i haven’t fully synthesized them into my own thoughts.

    25 year old white male with high geekitude tendancies. Paul starts this conversation through a political lens and then transitions into a broader socio/anthropological point. However, as I churn Paul’s question over in my head, I can’t help but bring it back into a political demographic. I don’t want to generalize the views of the core constituency here, but for those of us that have become acolytes of Paul’s philosophy on athletic aesthetic I don’t think it’s far off base to say there’s a fair streak of anti-corporate and pro-populism running through the site. We like stirrups-Fridays. We hate BFBS and GI Joe uniforms. I may be projecting, but I think what offends us most about Nike et. al. is their naked use of a canvas that we all consider scared (the uniforms, and by extension, public space) to promote their brand. Who can forget the MLB speckeled dot undershirts? It has less to do with the actual aesthetic of the uniforms (although that’s part of it) then what the design choices represent in a broader political and philosophical sense. I would hold up the current Padres uniforms as the worst uniforms in baseball, yet couldn’t we say that they’re the “Whitest” uniforms in sports?
    A lot of what we appreciate (or what I notice Paul appreciate and us tacitly agreeing with) has to do with the rejection of the overly corporate and profit motivated choices made by those who control sports. If we’re fighting a losing battle here I think it has less to do with our being white men and more to do with the fact that as grumpy and contrarian outsiders we don’t have the same purchasing power as the mass market consumer, a mainstream that is decidedly more cosmopolitan and diverse, even if they’re less cognizant of the rich history of the Swinging Friars. Also, and this might be outside the scope of this discussion, but football has always been a pro-corporate construct. College football began as a way for alumni from Harvard and Yale to settle personal scores in the boardrooms of New York. It’s always been fairly corrupt enterprise with a focus on gaining competitive and financial advantages. In that light, it’s not entirely surprising to see football as the vanguard for generic “experimentation” —BFBS, copycats of Oregon — driven by a need to explore all possibilities of market share.

    As a generational thing, I dunno. I don’t share Paul’s hatred of purple (I love me some Rockies uniforms), but I do think stirrups are cool, if only because being old-school marks me as different from some of my peers. I don’t mind personal trademarks as long as they fit within the context of individual expression. I grew up wearing flat brim hats, so Fernando Rodney is awesome. To me he’s representing fashion as I understand it. Same with the young guys in baseball who wear high socks. I like seeing my generation modify the uniforms to their own style, and I’m sure I’ll get mad at the young dudes who start wearing sandals on the basketball court or all have rat-tails, or whatever the next young wave is. Fashion is driven by the purchasing power of young people, and sadly everyone grows up and loses their cool points.

    Or something like that. Thanks for asking hard questions that force self-examination.

    Thanks for asking hard questions that force self-examination.

    This is pretty much the highest compliment you can pay today’s post. Thank you!!

    (And of course the rest of your comment is really great too. Good stuff.)

    I live and work in a racially diverse community. Over the last few years I have noticed that the hip hop fans, black, white, Asian, and Latino wear team hats and shirts without regard to whether or not they are a fan of said team. I see lots of Pirates and Reds hats and I know good and well that these kids don’t like the Pirates and Reds. They just like the colors or make a connection to hip hop artists. I work with a soon to be 50 year old black male. He wears all sorts of different sports apparel. It always matches. The hat, shirt, and shoes are always color coordinated. This is something I see more and more. He doesn’t necessarily have the “I wear this because so and so wears it” mentality. He just likes the way they look.

    No matter how much a sports team apparel appeals to me I would never wear it if it wasn’t representing one of my favorite teams: the Steelers, the Pirates, and Penn State. I would guess that many white males in my age group feel the same.

    I love the simplicity of Penn State’s uniforms. I would hate to see them go AmPac. I hate the Steelers jailbird throwbacks. The Pirates regular home uniform is gorgeous. The black softball tops need to go.

    If I was in charge of all sports. I would require each team to choose two uniforms. Those would be the only two they could wear all year. All of these alternative uniforms are silly. I was watching the top ten plays in NCAA football on ESPN last night and found the uniforms nearly impossible to identify without the graphics that told me so.

    I am a Hispanic male, and quite honestly the only person that I know is infatuated with uniforms. Most are my friends are Hispanic, and they never understand why I know certain things or don’t wear certain things. I practice what Uni watch preaches, and it has become my little secret. Example-black for black sake etc. obviously this website is white male dominated and so are the executive positions in sports. I believe it has to do more with age than race. But regardless of age I think you have to appreciate quality, unique vision, and talent. Ironically sneaker heads would tell you that the young diverse population are the ones creating classic timeless pieces. Sneaker companies basically corrupted uniforms we can all agree. But these same companies are collaborating with the Ronnie fiegs, frank the butcher, Jeff staple, dj Clark kent to create sneakers and apparel that people with taste regardless of age, gender, race can appreciate. I think this much sooner than later will translate over to other aspects of sports. Adidas just collaborated with Ronnie fieg to make a collection for the Brooklyn nets. No mas (which I learned about on this site) collaborated with I have a gut feeling that the uniform community is in good hands because we will be working together. PS- dying to go to one of the uni watch get togethers but I’m not white enough.

    PS- dying to go to one of the uni watch get togethers but I’m not white enough.

    I was thinking about this while writing today’s entry: Out of all the Uni Watch parties that have been held over the years, I think I can count the non-white attendees on two hands. Maybe one.

    You know what I mean lol… I think this site has had a major role in the uniform/fashion community (even though you only point your /OUR influence on articles written)

    Hmmm, I really want to jump in on this, but I’m in kind of a strange situation here. I’m a 21 year-old Black male, but — I hope I don’t hit a hornet’s nest here — I’m about as opposite of the usual perception of a Black man as can be (think of an altered, slightly nutty version of Tom Dubois from The Boondocks). When my Dad let me play his Madden NFL 97 game on the PlayStation in either ’97 or ’98, I stumbled on the legends section that had all of the classic teams (’72 Dolphins, ’85 Patriots, etc.), and it fascinated me, seeing all of the old logos and a two-bar facemask for the first time ever, it totally changed the way that I thought about teams’ identities, because I always thought that teams always had the same exact uniforms and logos that they currently had at the time since the NFL first started up until that day. The rest is history.

    I’ve always been interested and fascinated by throwback uniforms, anniversary patches, etc. And used to have a balance of liking some classic uniforms, and some broiled cabbage costumes like what the Bills wore from 2002-2011. The Hip-Hop connection never came to my head until my Senior year of high school (2008-2009 academic year), when I had Weights class, and there would always be Hip-Hop playing through some speakers (it was mostly football players in that class). Even though I prefer Metal tunes when working out such as anything from Disturbed, Megadeth, System Of A Down, Pantera (this was my usual workout music, before I got into Prog Metal/Djent in 2011), whenever Got Money by Lil’ Wayne came on, it was like a completely different mindset of lifting for me, and anyone else interested. It really did make you feel like a badass that can lift the dark matter out of a Nokia with one finger. To me, it only makes sense to put the music and the warmups in the same facility when in practice or just before a game.

    Whenever I see a commercial for a football product (say, and Nike Pro Combat vid on YouTube), and I see the players doing that arm motion of half-punching the air back-and-forth to loosen up the shoulders, and I see him in a foggy, Friday Night Light-esque setting with what looks to be a black uniform, I instantly think “He’s probably got the newest single from (insert hip-hop artist of choice here) bumping in his head, he’s got a mercenary suit on, he’s ready to fuck shit up, he’s hyped, he’s ready, he’s– … okay, calm down, Terry.”

    This never registered in my head in the 90s (but then again, I was a pretty oblivious kid back then who thought that the Lions logo was a mutated lion who had a strange mouth [which were actually the front legs] until like, ’04 or ’05). Any racial tendencies and/or divides were as present in my head as an intelligent thought is present in Bud Selig’s head. I watched for the enjoyment of the game itself, but I started to think more about how there were so many Black athletes in football and basketball at around 2007.

    As for the influence this has on uniforms? That’s a tough one to answer, but I think it’s a mixed bag. That’s really the only conclusion that I can come to right now. For some teams like the Brooklyn Nets, it’s obvious. In addition to the design being inspired by the straightforward design of the NY Subway signs, the colors are popular within Hip-Hop, with link representing that you’re clean or “flossy”, and link showing that you’re tough, badass, straightforward, and even professional. And in an environment where you can link the two worlds link, what high school or college athlete wouldn’t want that?

    I’ll be honest, I think I’m rambling at this point, and I’m operating on no sleep, so my points may sound inconsistent, but that’s my take on this. Again, the fact that I’m late on this specific subject kinda limits what I think I may know, but I hope this helps.

    Any racial tendencies and/or divides were as present in my head as an intelligent thought is present in Bud Selig’s head.

    We should all be aiming for this level of tolerance and understanding!

    I am a 37 year old black male in Denver Colorado. I like the classics like the Yankees, Penn St, 49ers. But I like what the Fab 5 brought to the game. Also Micheal Jordan and Karl Malone with the baggy shorts. But A.I. and Carmelo took it too far for me with the cocked hats and the chains. But Stern took care of that.
    As I get older I like the classics more than I was 25. So I think its a generational thing more than a race thing Paul. When I started to read your column this morning I was dissapointed that another thing has to have the race card involved. But after reading the comments I still like the community here and will continue to read.

    Go Broncos in all blue!

    When I started to read your column this morning I was dissapointed that another thing has to have the race card involved.

    This is not playing “the race card.” Simply mentioning and acknowledging the existence of race and racial differences is not playing the race card.

    Playing the race card is an attempt to stigmatize and delegitimatize people and/or positions via the use of racial stereotypes. I’m not doing that here, and neither is anyone else.

    Hey, Paul,

    Thanks for the thoughtful turn today’s post is taking. Enjoying it a great deal.

    I’m a 49-year-old white male. It was ‘Ditch The Black’ that got my attention directed here years ago, but ever since I’ve come to really enjoy the variety of directions the topics can veer into. Some I love, a few not so much, but I check in most every day. And I’ve learned here – no higher praise. Thanks for the work you and everybody else put in.

    I’m curious: Have you had a higher-than-usual number of posts today that’ve needed deletion? Because when I was reading the intro, I was thinking ‘uh-oh, some kooks are gonna come out to play.’ What I’ve seen has been quite the opposite. Good stuff.

    I have deleted exactly zero posts today.

    Frankly, I was concerned about what the response might be. In fact, I’ve had this entry written and in the pipeline for over two weeks, but I held back from posting it because I thought it might provoke a shitstorm (not that I can’t deal with a shitstorm, but I’ve been busy, my energy level is lower because of the broken arm, etc., etc.). But then I decided that today was the day. Very pleasantly surprised by the level of discussion. Like I already said a few hours ago, you folks are making me proud today.

    Answer: No. Your blog’s readers’ common opinion of uniforms is not white male-related. If you want to assign one demographic category to differing opinions on uniforms the front-runner has to be age. I think if you took a 40 year-old white male survey in different areas like Eugene OR, Tuscaloosa AL, or even some that have traveled the world most their lives, you would have much different opinions. Nowadays you have more information sharing and travel occurring than before so younger generations see more uniforms and seem to be more accepting of change. But that is just a general assumption and could be wrong. Take a survey of your readers and their opinions on BFBS, Stirrups, etc. Include race, age, gender. Only problem is there are white males that don’t admit to being white males on the census and in other places.

    Male, Asian, 30, Biostatistician. With the exception of one of those traits, I’m the embodiment of what you perceive as your core demographic.

    I have a handful of thoughts myself, most of which all of the other commenters have already brought up, but I’m just going to go ahead and read these very insightful comments to a very interesting question. I think it speaks a lot about your readership that you can bring up a very self-reflecting question that incorporates sensitive topics like race relations, politics, and sociology and have true discourse and actual conversations. Kudos to a great post and cheers to all of us Uni-Watchers.

    And speaking of AmEx (they’re still a green credit card, right?). The color of 2013 is green…emerald to be exact…


    I’m pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to uniforms, with a few exceptions. But, I think there’s somewhat of a distinction between designs that are simply “modern” or “non-traditional” (which I don’t usually like but can tolerate) and designs that are part of this new trend toward the, I guess, experimental, where the designs simply don’t make sense.

    For example, the new Seahawks uniform is an example of the former. It’s new, modern, and I don’t really care for it, but it does make sense in terms of the history and identity of the franchise. By contrast, the all-white Miami Heat uniforms, the rotating colors and designs for Oregon and other college football teams, and those black ND basketball uniforms, are examples of the latter. They’re non-functional in that they don’t connote anything that can be associated with the team they are supposed to represent. The colors aren’t traditional team colors and the designs are so unusual (for that team) that you might not even recognize the team at first.

    In an age that’s placing so much emphasis on branding, identity, and continuity, these nonsensical uniforms seem really off-base. Yes, they are obviously moving retail sales and aiding in recruiting, but at the end of the day, when all these identities and traditions are diluted and every team has an all-white and all-black uniform, what can you hang your hat on to distinguish yourself from any other team?

    “They’re non-functional in that they don’t connote anything that can be associated with the team they are supposed to represent.”

    YES! That’s the phrase I was looking for!

    I guess reading through 100+ comments is what I get for being on the west coast. I am a 32 year old white male engineer, who generally leans toward the more traditional side of uniforms, though I think basketball going back to the Stockton-era of shorts should never happen again.
    I think to the point of the hip-hop influence to sports, there s definitly a correlation, however I believe it has come close to running its course. In the early nineties, hip-hop culture (especially out west) was immersed in the gang culture of Los Angeles, and identified with the, then, Los Angeles Raiders. The BFBS sprang from this, but with some delay.
    One of the next pop hip-hop trends was the flaunting of money, think of Master P rolling out in his gold-plated tank, or rappers “making it rain”. This had a profound influence on athletes themselves, and also influenced te current trend of uniforms for players to want to look flashy and dress in brght colors.
    I believe the (presumed) Jay-Z influence on the simple design of the Nets could be a regression to the mean of sorts. If everyone is doing one thing, the real pioneer will look for something compeltely different, not just a one-up based on the current, and widely overdone, trend. Perhaps as the world of uniforms becomes ever more saturated with neon colors and chrome helmets, the bubble will burst and returning to the classics will be the new ot trend.

    Then there’s hockey, which is about as white as a sport can be and the NHL saying “Some of my best uni designs are black” which, of course, is untrue.

    Willie O’Ree, Jarome Iginla, Grant Fuhr, Freddie Brathwaite, Wayne Simmonds, PK Subban, Malcolm Subban, Eldon “Pokey” Reddick, Ray Neufeld, Georges Laraque, Evander Kane, Joel Ward, Ryan Reaves, Ray Emery, Maxime Fortunas, Donald Brashear, Anson Carter, Mike Grier, Tony McKegney, and Kevin Weekes would beg to differ. I’m sure there are a pile of players I missed, but the NHL is the only sport to not specifically turn players of color away in its history.

    To its historical credit, Teebz. On a uni-related note, the NHL has made recent strides with the other color barrier by featuring more home jerseys that aren’t red, blue or black.

    I am a 23 year old white male. I think the two biggest factors are generational and teams of preference. Those that grow up fans of Alabama will love the tradition, while those from Oregon enjoy the variation. I think taking something you love like a sports team, it helps form your opinions. I know for me, certain shoe styles I have come to like I started liking because a girl I liked loved those shoes on me. So if the team you love is classic and never-changing, you’ll love them for that, and think that is the best way to go.
    I know personally, I think the red/tan of the Diamondbacks (I’m from Arizona) is a much better color scheme than the purple/teal, but I was still bummed when they changed, because I loved the Diamondbacks as they where, not the uniforms themselves. Also, it should be noted I read several places that a major factor for the change was because red jerseys sell better than almost any other color, and certainly better than purple.

    White, male, 30, Milwaukee.

    It seems like there’s a solid, and worthwhile, debate here as to whether it’s age or race that factors in more. I think elements of both play in, but I do think that age may have more of a factor.

    The kid entering college now was born in 1994. That was the first year I’m aware of that the Internet really started to take hold in popular culture. I think that has a big effect — the Internet has a tendency to push history to the side because it’s so easy to put what’s new to the forefront quickly. I don’t think the generation entering college now has a good sense for what’s come before it, even moreso than previous generations, or a feel that there’s a need for anything to be “enduring.” It’s what gets attention now that’s important, and that means new uniforms for every game, things that push the envelope, etc. Google “the attention economy” to find out more.

    As for the race part, I think the commenter above that said it’s a matter of control is onto something, but I do feel that’s more about politics than it is about sports. Who “has control” is becoming a big problem here in America. I think a lot of white people don’t like the idea they may have to deal with people who look and act differently than they do. But, like anything else, that which is best will everyone, no matter the color, will hopefully win out, and hopefully the best aspects of all cultures will eventually merge to form something awesome.

    I think about music and its history. There was a time when jazz and early rock were “black” music. Then some white guys came along, like Bill Haley and Elvis, tweaked it a little to meld it with elements of country and “white” culture and it became popular. Yes, there were many who fought it, but it was too good not to deny in the end.

    Jay-Z is cutting edge with that. Yes, he’s added urban elements to the Nets, but he’s made it pro, stylish and still classy. Hove rocks the suit as well as the Yankee cap, or both sometimes, and makes it work. And that’s cool.

    Like another commenter said about the 60’s and 70’s, I think we’re going through an experimental time — throw stuff up against the wall and see what sticks. But, eventually, I think we’ll see it curl back. Kids will decide they still like having a lot of different uniforms to wear, but different doesn’t have to mean garish all the time and looking sharp will still be looking sharp, so imagine teams with five or six uniforms yet, but strong brand identity cues that span all of them and ones that pop because they cut through the din from being so good (think Blue Jays). I think that’s what’s next and will make everyone happy.

    That kids entering college now were born when I was already halfway done with college makes me feel much older than I did twenty minutes ago.

    Try realizing that your daughter is one of those freshmen. Old? The other day, a stranger asked me how many grand kids I had.

    I guess this is as good a place as any to float my “flat ballcap” theory.

    IMHO, Today’s Youth wear the flat brim to give the impression that their lid was shoplifted just moments earlier, which would also explain why the 5150 decal stays firmly affixed.

    If New Era still had price tags attached to their caps, many in Today’s Youth would resemble Minnie Pearl. (Google her, Youth.)

    I’d venture that the decal stays affixed to show it’s the real deal and not a bootleg, same way hip-hop kids used to keep all the price tags on a hat.

    I’ve heard ryan4fregosi’s theory put forth before, but I just don’t buy it. I’ve never heard anyone say that, except for people who don’t wear their hats with flat bills and stickers on. I’d say your theory is more likely the correct one. I think it connects to sneaker culture that way, too. Brand new and “fresh” out of the box is good. Used, scuffed, broken in… all bad.

    Oh I don’t know about that, but maybe it’s just something about keeping something as pristine as the moment you got it, I know I’ve seen/heard a number of guys getting upset about scuffs on their shoes. For a low-income youth, nice new stuff turns into treasured possessions.

    I am cracking up, Ryan because my friends and I call those folks “Minnie Pearls”…..We actually start calling them Minnie and they are completely dumbfounded. Most have no idea that a southern lady-icon had been doing that for years.

    “I guess this is as good a place as any to float my “flat ballcap” theory.

    IMHO, Today’s Youth wear the flat brim to give the impression that their lid was shoplifted just moments earlier, which would also explain why the 5150 decal stays firmly affixed.”


    forgive me if perhaps i’m missing something, but why would you want to OWN something you’re pretending you just stole?

    (and yeah, someone had to explain to me why you’d want to remove your belt and shoelaces so it made it look like you just got out of prison)…

    whatever culture you’re from, i just can’t seem to understand that

    ^^^ 34, white male who grew up around hip-hop, went to a “majority minority” school, and has been paying attention to uniforms since the mid-80s.

    Love this conversation, wish I had less “real work” to do today. I’m hoping there will be a part II to this post soon since it’s using uniforms to tease out great observations on American culture itself.

    A couple of things to throw out for the discussion in no particular order:

    – NWA adopting Raiders black is rightly credited with kick-starting the whole sports merch movement (and in turn BFBS) but Run DMC were sporting Raiders gear 1985 and already had an Adidas endorsement deal before them.

    – Chi Sox switching to their current logo was spurred by the Raiders, but was also a “throwback” design which is definitely classy. (I’d assume Sox hats are still top of the list in sales 20 years after the switch)

    – Coincidentally the Sox are the first team I remember to really do the full throwback concept during their last year at Comisky. The whole concept caught steam in MLB but it wasn’t until Big Boi of Outkast started wearing Mitchell & Ness that pop-culture caught on to the trend. Now every sport does it (for better or worse)

    – Finally, the whole idea of black/white cultures has been steadily morphing into American “pop culture” for a while now. These days (in DC anyway) black kids on skateboards with tight jeans and flannel are the norm. All of those were “white styles” when I was a youngster. Backwards caps used to be a “black thing” now it’s standard uni for college frat boys.

    There are a lot of great points and nuggets of information. I did however want to bring up some of the new changes in uni’s within the main sports over the past year. I believe there is a new shift with teams that are looking more towards the fan’s cultural demographic. With the new changes, like/dislike, I am seeing more of the decision makers (for uni’s and marketing) go back to the roots of identifying their customer (fan).

    I am a 26 year old White/Hispanic/American Mutt and when I saw the new Miami Marlins uni, I was instantly reminded of the bright telavera colors and trends that my grandmother (Puerto Rican) wore or has in the house. Their main customer (fan) is the South Beach, Latino, Caribbean fan.

    On another side, you have the Seattle Seahawks, crazy style (personally do not like the uni) but look at where they play, in a very progressive Northwest.

    I do agree with you Paul, but we must also understand that traditions do change over time and even if the designers and braintrusts are the white male minority, they can not lose sight of who their fan is within their Cultural Geography. As for uni followers I believe our ideologies shift (I know mine has over time) as well and at times we should open our own pallets and possibly reanalyze styles and trends from time to time.

    Male, white, nearing 24 y/o. I guess I’m pretty easy to please with uniforms, in general. I don’t like designs that are way too template-y, because then uniform design becomes a color-by-number exercise, and that’s not design–that’s lazy. (Calgary Flames in the EDGE, with the black sides? Yuck-o.) But, you know, don’t go too ridiculously batshit insane either, like the Wild Wind Mighty Ducks. Jerseys shouldn’t look like a kid’s t-shirt from Wal-Mart. I kind of dig the LA Burger Kings, I have no problems in principle with oblique lines (Mighty Ducks, Blues, and Capitals), and I don’t even mind gradient jerseys like the Canucks had on two separate occasions. I guess all I ask is this: Don’t make a uniform that I, as a fan, would be ashamed to wear otherwise. Don’t make me wear a coloring book result, don’t make me wear anything too childish, but I’d like to wear something I can see clearly and appreciate on TV and from the stands.

    If you click through this link, you will see the U of Maryland soccer shoes. It showed up on Facebook today. Why would UnderArmour post a picture of shoes someone barfed on? link

    I reckon I am the 4th white male 34 year old to post here today…you might be on to something Paul hehe…

    I think the idea that white male preferences drives sports uniforms is an interesting one, everyone else outside of white males have their fashion scenes and you would think that there are people with their own ideas for uniform designs. the question is whether you spot those influences *in* the unis, or actually *around* the unis?

    The idea of uniforms is that there is a degree of togetherness and dare I say it uniformity about the look. Often the players express themselves with how they wear their unis and the other accessories, such as bandanas etc. The backlash against the uni code in the NBA included views that it was racist and hitting out against black players and hip-hop culture.

    If in the future say most designers continue to be white males, because they are the ones most interested in that area, then I think at least there will be more leeway given to players expressing themselves around the unis and perhaps there will be a less ‘uniform’ appearance to teams.

    As long as teams wear the same colours as their teammates is it really important if the shorts are the same length, the sleeves the same? (already not in NFL) whether the socks are identical etc. I think this may be what we see more of.

    I am a nearly middle aged white guy, and at first I thought “you know, that makes a lot of sense.” But as I thought about it, I think there are factors at play that are a lot more influential than race, age or gender. I do tend to like the same aesthetic things that are espoused on this site, however I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a white male aesthetic.

    I’ll stick to hats, because that’s what I collect and know. Is a loud, wildly designed NASCAR hat any less a white male aesthetic than an Ebbets Field Flannels cap or a 47 Brand Franchise cap is? Is a flat-billed black cap with a giant TapOut or Monster logo askew on it any less a white male clothing item than the plain military style cap we often see Paul pictured in?

    What I’m saying is that while the adherents to the aesthetic we tend towards here are likely mostly white males, I don’t think that it can be described simply as “white male style.” It’s even more niche than that, I think.

    29 year old, white male here. I apparently picked a bad day to be late to the party!

    Amazing, amazing lede today, Paul.

    I didn’t read through the entire comment section, but I read through enough to realize that I share many of the same values, opinions, and influences as many here. Very interesting topic and discussion today. Conversations like this are a big reason I try to make sure I never miss a day of Uni Watch.

    What an interesting and broad topic. I am an early 40s, white male and I am very tradtionally minded when it comes to aesthetics. What came to my mind as I was reading the post and comments was how Miles Davis went into the Andover Shop in Cambridge in 1954 and came out clad in the quintessential Ivy League look that he and other jazz musicians of the era embraced until the late 60s. They wanted to make a statement that they and their art were to be taken seriously so they emulated the style of dressing that was associated with seriousness and power. I think I recall that Malcolm X made a similar sartorial change once he became a Muslim and he stopped dressing like a pimp. What we wear sends a message. In fact, as Marshall McLuhan pointed out, the medium IS the message. So what is the message that teams and players send by wearing the uniforms they do?

    My answer to my question is that most are simply tacky (but that includes most people as well.) Especially Florida fans.

    Great question Paul. My best guess is the answer is, as we say in the behavioral sciences, multi-factorial.

    Riffing on another comment, I would love to see demographics and personality profiles of uni watch fans. I would bet that the majority of us are white, male, 40s-ish, and introverted and artistic in temperament (disclosure – I’m 45, white, INTJ). Like many on here, I remember drawing uniforms as a kid. Remember, we introverts are highly reactive to stimuli and probably get more excited about uniforms than your average extroverted jock type. (BTW, Susan Cain’s recent book Quiet is a great read on introverts, but I digress.)

    Anyhow, I certainly think that the majority of those who are passionate/obsessive about uniforms and their design (uni geeks) and spend a lot of time thinking about it are probably white and our tastes probably do lean “white” (white as in “Stuff White People Like”).

    On the other hand, I think young people respond to new unis more than ever before. That’s why we get so much talk of the college teams using alt unis to attract recruits, motivate the team, etc. And certainly most players are not white.

    Also, ownership in the uni-verse is not all mid-40s white guys. Under Armour’s founder is barely in his 40s and has pushed his vision of uni design, which can be as wild as anything produced out of Nike/Oregon. Jay Z is not white and influenced the Nets new unis, which one could argue are rather conservative. So there are plenty of people out there who care about uniforms and even owners and other major players in the uni-verse who are not white.

    Add to this mix the volume of channels and web sites to choose from, the number of games that can be seen on a weekly basis, all of which are competing for viewers, and it makes for more attention being paid to uniforms by many people, not just white males in their 40s.

    So to summarize, obsession over uni details and aesthetics may be “white” (as well as characterized by certain personality traits) but increased general interest in and attention to uniforms is probably not a “white” thing.

    Here is my twist on this: I am a 38 year old white male living in state (Nebraska) that is 90% white. But I have adopted two children – a black son and a daughter of mixed race. They are both too young for youth sports, but I honestly don’t know how I’ll handle their uniforms – will I show them the “Uni-Watch Standard” way that suits my race and tastes or will I let them wear the unis how they want – allowing them to express themselves and display racial identity?

    Very thought provoking post and great comments.

    I’m a 31 year old female who’s spent time as a sports journalist and I’ve always found it interesting that the readership here is predominantly male. I’ve always wondered if that’s a by-product of sports and internet surfing being predominantly male pursuits. (Or maybe better said, women tend not to spend hours reading/link clicking about sports on the internet).

    My IRL experience is that women tend to be more detail-oriented and that obviously is something that lends itself to UniWatch’s milieu. So I always found it strange that this site doesn’t draw more females. As a generalization, men are watching the game itself and women are seeing a bigger picture. When I have tried to have uniform posts or discussions on the Brewers site I write for, most of the men say “I’ve never seen noticed that before.” That’s obviously the complete opposite to the community here.

    I do think, especially in games like football, many of the men who are watching have played the game before and therefore focus in on specific formations and plays. Women don’t have that back of knowledge to draw from. There is so much down time in a game of football. Men spend that time analyzing those specifics, whereas women don’t have that base of knowledge and so are looking at other details – namely the guys wandering around on the screen in front of them.

    I know this is the race discussion, not the gender one, but I think they’re tangential to each other.

    Loved the topic of today’s blog. Some very interesting points were made. I am a 21 year old who would identify with liking the “classic” looks. I’m playing baseball at the college level and still try my best to rock my stirrups with my pants worn up high, which is hard cause our team issued pants are made to be baggy (so frustrating). However, some times I do fine myself attracted to those cutting edge “hip” uniforms, as long as they aren’t too gawdy and do incorporate some classic touches. I was a huge fan of the new Northwestern uniforms for football, I cant get enough of the stripes. When it comes to teams like Oregon, I think lately they have done the whole cutting edge thing right, and should be a model for other schools in terms of trying to be cutting edge. I am so glad they are starting to move away from that awful neon yellow.

    wow…say the word “race” and you’ve got yourself one helluva conversation…can’t recall the last time i saw so many long comments all at once here…

    interesting about romney…hadn’t looked at it that way or read any articles pertaining to race with regard to the election…my take is that it was the libertarian element (ultra-conservatives) that were pushed back by the rnc, thus alienating us, pushing many to jump over to us in the libertarian party…our vote cost romney the election in 3 or 4 states, (those who supported ron paul as a g.o.p. nominee), i do believe…

    that being said, i’m mostly white (slightly native american, but not enough to bother with claiming it as a minority status) and 52…being a life long artist/designer (and doing it professionally as an adult), i like a mix of the traditional and modern concepts…personally, after grehke of the rams painted horns on leather helmets then the team had them put on plastic shells, i haven’t really seen what i would call “innovation” in football design until recently…i like it…just like i loved the 70s in baseball and basketball…but i also love a lot of the old 20s and 30s nfl looks, turn of the century baseball unis, etc…

    So many loooong posts.
    too long for me to read on a uni site.
    (or most other boards for that matter).

    Yeah, it makes for thorny reading; not the sort of thing you can glance at between trying to look like you’re doing work:)

    Great topic today!! I’ve read through most of the responses, and I’d like to offer my opinion. I’m a 34 year old Black male (no, I’m not African-American, I was born and raised in Baltimore, but that’s a topic for another day on a different blogsite). I think as more participation for the design elements of a uni comes from a younger and more urban element, you will find unis that deviate from the traditional set. I do think it’s mainly about marketing and dollars. There will be a segment of the population that will continue to purchase the Yankees uni because it is indeed a favorite team for many across the country. But what about sales for the Astros? Their fan base is smaller, so what better way to get those fans to continue to purchase merchandise than to continue to make changes??

    A second point – what do I (as an individual black male) like about a uniform? I like many “traditional” (which could be classified as “white” or “classy/classic”) elements – stirrups or the high sock look (Barry Zito and Curtis Granderson, please come to the stage), the city/state name on the away jersey and the nickname on the home jersey (the Texas Texases bother me, and so do the Ray City Rays), and many of the traditional football unis (Hello Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa [as a Ravens fan, I cannot admit that I like the Steelers uni], and the Bears [who are absolutely who we thought they were])/ But I also like what Nike and Under Armor have done with Oregon and Maryland, respectively. If Under Armor would have fixed the helmet/shoulder yoke gaff, those uniforms would be a great ADDITION to their current set, even with the neon lights that adorn their thighs.

    Uniforms can be analogous to neck wear. There will be some who will only wear striped ties and will only use a double windsor knot (traditional). Others will wear paisley, flowers, stripes, solids, thin, extra thick, wool, bolo, half windsor, Kelvin, 4-in-a-hand, Pratt, St. Andrew, etc. (“other-than-traditional”).

    I’m a 19-year old black male, and I’d say generally I just find most of the detailed breakdowns of unis interesting, but can’t say I generally disagree with the posts on this site, with one glaring exception – I think the BFBS and GFGS unis are (usually) REALLY COOL and I LOVE THEM. (I hated the all-white from the heat and the all-black from the Irish, btw)

    33 yr old white male. I run a business in Denver that caters mostly towards collectors of classic sneakers (yes, the evil empire pays a good portion of my bills) and casual street wear. My customer base is all across the board and a lot of customer conversations turn towards sport and uniform related aspects of each sport, like today I have had quite a few conversations on the HOF patch the Broncos and Raiders wore last night. I personally don’t see any particular race who is more interested in uniform related discussions in my day-to-day interactions with people. I think especially today with the college football uni’s, 3rd jerseys and major design overhauls (Miami Marlins) that more people are taking notice of the changes than ever before. All in all I think if you keep posting quality work more people will notice. I seriously bring up things I see on Uni-Watch almost daily to customers. Keep up the good work.

    Almost 50, African African American male, who grew up in the sports business, works in the sports business, have been part of this type of discussion many times.

    I grew up just as hip-hop music was reaching the charts. Has hip-hop touched sports fasion and design? Of course, but the impetus was in place long before that.

    When I was growing up and playing sports, there was a huge battle at all levels. Coaches and organizations were still holding onto strict rules about hair length, how you dressed outside of the lockerroom, and definitely how you wore your uniform. In football, wristbands, towels and sock length were battles. The issue was an offshoot of the Generation Gap. Dad either argued or merely shook his head at your long hair and bell bottoms.

    Eventually, those young people grew up and norms changed. For example, Emmitt Smith’s high school coach didn’t allow his players to wear earrings as part of the way of teaching discipline and teamwork. An adult Emmitt Smith wore an earring, yet he was every bit the team player. If he were coaching a high school team, I sincerely doubt he’d institute such a rule, and coaches who were coaching way back when have come to the realization that it isn’t important.

    How many athletes who have become positive forces would not be involved had they been run out at an early age because of something cosmetic like hair length, earrings or tattoos? Are there discipline problems in sports today? Sure, but there were discipline problems in every era. Romanticizing by saying, “We didn’t have these problems back when we wore suits and ties to school” is simply inaccurate. And there are coaches today who are left to wonder if maybe they could have actually helped the people they ran off.

    And this issue has always crossed racial lines. In my day, white guys wanted Golden Richards hair hanging out of their helmets, and white baseball players had perms and tried to grow beards and mustaches. All this was over the objections of the coaches. White football players wanted to rip the front of the jersey slightly and tape their wrists (or wear wristbands), like Fred Biletnikoff.

    So we have a generational shift:

    — In the old days, coaches and teams sepnt great effort tying to mold players into presented an image that pleased adults. It was about the uniform, and sometimes there was conflict between the uniform and the person wearing it.

    — Now, whether at the youth, high school, college or pro level, the thought is realization that success is dependent upon the people wearing it.

    So below the pro level the uniform is a recruiting tool in a society in which people have choices.

    Now add to that marketing concerns. Purchasers of merchandise skew young. This makes design easier. The people wearing the uniform are young, and teams are marketing to people in their players’ age group.

    Now, let’s take this back to Paul’s statement that started the discussion:

    To say that Romney lost because he depended on white males, who and white males are declining in numbers and influence, is only part of the story. He was dependent upon a subset — older white males. I believe he was destroyed among younger voters.

    Marketers at the college and pro levels, and coaches and managers at all lower levels, realized this long ago. Sure, there is value in tradition. But there’s also a realization that how one wears his socks or whether he has tattoos is totally harmless to the brand.

    I love stirrups. I can remember wearing green stirrups with Northwestern stripes on my first baseball uniform. I absolutely love what I call “NFL socks,” color up top and white below, even though when I was growing up players fought their coaches to wear long, white socks.

    Some of the changes have more to do with function than anything. Teams no longer wear flannel baseball uniforms. Those looked better, but picked up weight in sweat as the games progressed. Having played football before blockers were allowed to extend their arms, I can vouch for the fact that loose sleeves might have offered better striping opportunities but they put a player at a distinct disadvantage. Traditional style will always lose out in cases like that.

    But fashions change, and what I notice is uniform designers seem to want to accommodate those fashion changes and quirks.

    Don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it does give us something to discuss.

    Teebz, I’m with ya: it’ll take a couple of generations before the hoi polloi finally accepts the genius that is the Islanders’ Angry Fisherman sweater.

    Hate the Isles. Love that jersey.

    And on the contrary (but probably for the majority), I *understand* the allure of Mr. Fishsticks, but I just cannot look at the back of that jersey for more than two seconds without getting vertigo and a headache. I appreciate the way it broke many traditional rules of design to show what is possible in modern design, but I like to be able to keep my lunch down. That’s all!

    What Freud said about religion – it represents a longing for an absent father – applies to sports aesthetics. My dad played semipro ball in the 50’s; I have a closet full of Ebbets Field Flannels jerseys, because they remind me of my dad, who died in 1979.

    So much of what we love aesthetically, is rooted in much deeper emotions and mories. That’s why today’s posts gave been so thoughtful, so sincere, and so lengthy.

    Like some of the other posters have said, uniform design is evolving as the intergration and influence of opinions is expanding. This is evident not only the groups that are designing uniforms and sports marketing but in the case of Jay-Z and Michael Jordan and Arte Moreno and Magic Johnson at the executive level of the sports teams themselves.

    I am a 35 year old Black male who has always been into sports but wasn’t as interested in playing sports as I have been being connected to the culture around sports how it impacts the larger culture. I am a web designer so I am kinda geeky and I tend to hang out with more nerdy types in real life, which as Paul mentioned tend to have more white men. But there are some of us out there that are into uniforms and other more quirky aspects to sports who are people of color.

    My tastes in uniforms tended to like sway towards uniforms that were more modern. The Fab 5 ones with the really baggy shorts and black shoes on black socks were a favorite, along with the Apex Arkansas Razorbacks unis back in say ’93 or ’94. (the ones with the ‘triangle’ side panels on the shorts.) As football and basketball became more ‘black’, my interest in them grew as I saw images of people that were role models to some degree and I liked seeing influences of modern, urban culture reflected in how the teams dressed.

    Like in the greater culture, there are more variations on masculinity and in the case of uniform design, more successful integration of traditional themes presented in modern forms.

    The New York Jets (and Giants for that matter) uniforms are traditional, yet up to date and I think that reflects a general trend in society, at least in sports, to honor the past, but have it ‘our’ way. I wouldn’t necessarily call those uniforms ‘white’ or adhering to white sensibilities, although I could see if someone did think that. Those uniforms are traditional and bold without being flashy. (which is usually thought of as a trait of urban culture)

    I don’t have any other friends who are people of color that are into uniform design, so I can’t poll them to gauge their opinions. But like Paul alluded to in the post, people of color tend to gravitate towards progressive or evolution in culture.

    I think as mainstream media and sports in general allows for more diversity in opinions and approaches, trends in uniform design will expand and reflect the presence of differing traits and values that make up the culture of sports.

    Two things:

    1) When Ray Lewis returns to the field, he’ll have a new facemask:

    2) I’ve already said it twice today, but I can’t keep myself from repeating how happy I am about today’s discussion. So many interesting, thoughtful comments! This feels like one of the better days in Uni Watch history.

    I am a 28 year old Asian male who basically goes against everything that this website writes about, i.e. Nike designs, unis stay classic, although some franchises like NY Yankees, St Louis Cardinals, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Penn State, Texas, Alabama, etc, should NEVER EVER be messed with in any way, stirrups, etc but still enjoy the topics, the way Paul breaks down unis in every facet and the discussions, mostly civil, that comes after it. I don’t consider unis to be a white subject at all, as Paul already mentioned, almost every uni that is worn is mostly by black players and the people that rock jerseys in everyday life are of all races. Its an all encompassing subject, although this website does tend to skew toward white.

    Excellent points in the article and in the comments!
    I’m considered a minority in this society (and perhaps, on this but I was also born where I was able to witness a transition in culture, from traditional to hiphop to So I would like to think that I’m open minded on new designs. However I always had a love for old uniforms because they looked like “athletic dresswear”.

    I also think about the AFL football unis and how radical they were and how much people still clamor for them (ie; San Diago Chargers)

    Who designed them? White men. But I can also understand Paul’s point about how the conservatism of the white culture (paraphrasing).can affect design tendencies. For example,Cardinals’ owner Bill DeWitt interview in regards to changing the Cardinals uniform. Every change was so understated that if you weren’t looking hard, who would of noticed besides Paul? :o)

    A lot of people I had talked to would have loved if he reverted to the ’42 jersey of Stan the Man or some variation of past unis. but since DeWitt couldn’t bring himself to make such a radical change, he copped out to make a special occasion jersey. Who would have thought that jerseys from the 30’s or 40’s were so radical?
    So how come he, in my view, copped out? Was being a white man of a certain age a hindrance? I know he is very passion about the uniform and Cardinal history, but what if I was in charge of redesigning the uniform, what would I have done and how much of my background would have affected it.

    Maybe since I’m a 48 year old minority, I would probably swing toward an updated traditional look, but man, I remember how good I felt when I got the Air Jordans No. 1, or wearing the Georgetown grays. I’m getting a headache…lol

    I’m a Canadian female of African descent and I have been a sports fan since I was young mainly because I have a brother and we bonded over it. For me Sports aesthetics is linked to my background in art. I really like clean and simple styles that aren’t over crowded. I’m not a Hip Hop fan either.

    I think my Uni style comes from my preferences as a person and it just so happens to be similar to that of older white males. However, I can’t say that I represent my demographic.

    Hey Paul, and the rest of the Uni-Watch nation,

    I’ve been a long time reader of your site, and found today’s article interesting. I’m outlier to the traditional geeky narrative, as I’m a 24 year old black grad student that takes an interest in uniform aesthetics. I’ve been acclimated to white culture based off my studies, so I’m not the purest representative, but I do have a few thoughts on it. I’d like to go back to your first notion that uniforms are designed to make athletes look like superheroes; I wholeheartedly agree. As there have been advancements in uni fabrics leading to a snugger fit for uniforms, I don’t believe it’s a “white” thing as much as it is a practical endeavor to streamline uniforms. Since I shunned hip hop culture as a means of identity (namely, I couldn’t find comfort in baggy clothes), I’m a fan of the traditional pagentry of uniforms. I’m drawn to soccer and hockey specifically because of the emphasis on hosiery, and I own several pairs of NFL and soccer socks. With respect to tradition, I found the idea of Oregon switching to rumored “uni-tards” intriguing because it would speak more to sports making a logical progression towards functionality, despite the dramatic differences in appearance compared to the past. What puzzles me, particularly in baseball, is the way teams construct identities in sports. I feel each uniform should be more or less “exclusive”; it’s reasonable to have similar colors, such as the Orioles and the Giants, but they can truly differentiate themselves with the use of stirrups, such as the classic Oriole stirrup vs. Sergio Romo’s stirrups. To answer your questions, I don’t truly feel it is a white aesthetic presently as much as it is a practicality aesthetic driven by uniform manufacturers instead of the leagues. Thus, being on the wrong side of aesthetic history is impossible, as Nike proved that they could market their uniforms while still upholding traditional sartorial elements, give or take. Unless it is deemed that all future practical uniforms should be black. Then we are on the wrong side…but proudly so.

    I’m a 25 year white male from Ohio and i really feel that this whole debate is more based on remembering what the person remembers sports as a kid then race or class. For myself, as an Ohio State fan, I really wish that they would go back to the larger sleeve that were sported from the 90’s til either 2005 or 2006. Also, I have no overwhelming objections to the one off unis that Ohio State wears also long as they based on the past. I know it’s against my demo but history, especially in college sports, is such is important part of the game. At the same time, schools that are traditionally also-rans and really lack that uniform identity that OSU,ND, Bama, tsun, etc. have then I donr mind the uniforms as long as they aren’t stupid. My idea Oregon uni is the Joey Harrington era as i felt it wasn’t stupid. Almost all since then have failed that test.

    With the pro sports, I follow mostly the big four. My earlist memory of hating a uniform was the mid 90’s bulls black pin stripe unis. Even 10 year old me hated them. and BFBS kills me now as my old high school has done it too.

    Not sure how germane this is, but in the KHL there’s a difference in uniform/logo designs between conferences. In the West, where people strongly identify as Europeans, the designs are what we’d consider traditional. The East, where people tend to identify with intra-Russian nationalities (in Tatarstan, Bashkorostan, etc.) features more elements from the local cultures.

    For your consideration. Thoughts?

    Poignant. Relevant. To call this article “Insightful” would diminish the meaning of the word – So much truth; should be a revelation to all who read it… Bravo, UniWatch – More like this, please!!

    I am a 42 year old Black man who reads this site everyday. What we have to realize that EVERYONE has an opinion on what they like and don’t like. What bothers me is when someone takes some other persons words and strikes thru them and adds their opinion to that statement. If you don’t agree with it, just say you don’t agree and move on. I will admit to being a bit of an oxymoron….meaning I love some of the all black/multi colored unis some sports teams have worn, but I wont wear a tie with multi colors or designs on it. I love the classic suit looks of the 50’s. It’s all perspective and what your personal style is. I may disagree with what others like and vice versa, but I respect your style.

    IMO most (if not all) of minority culture in the US has derived from a need to diverge and evolve from the dominant (white) culture. Without going into the reasoning behind all that (the want by minorities to be accepted and subsequent denial) I do think that the culture of each minority has a very interesting blend of this need to change and still be able to keep the roots of the culture intact.

    I think that minority fashion (African-American tends to be the most highlighted, so we can run with that) has almost always during my lifetime been based around taking what is almost an average thing to white culture and flipping it into something that is black specific. Think sagging, headbands, unnecessary armbands, etc. These things have been a source of pride and identity for years, both on AND off the court/field.

    It will be interesting to see, as the sport industry realizes and starts to sell, promote and profit off of these changes (Baggy shorts, Bicep straps, highlighter colored shoes) if the black culture starts to skew back towards more traditional on-court/field appearances (Think the a whole ‘Fab-Five”ish crew of freshmen playing for Kentucky in shorts way above the knees!) It’s already happening with the black culture’s adoption of Sperry’s, Khakis, polo button ups, and turtleneck sweaters, which until a couple of years ago were the “social property” of white guys.

    I’m a 22 yr old black male who was born in Philly, graduated high school outside DC, and goes to college in South Carolina. almost as interesting as the race-culture split in sports fashion, is the geographic-culture split. Southern states seem to be behind a little bit in all thing culture (IMO)

    I’m a 39 year-old white, Florida native. I grew up watching baseball. The unis were colorful and synthetic. The logos were often cartoonish. The stirrups were ribbons. And the pants were tight. Those aren’t all good things.

    I read UW almost every day. I’m on Paul’s side on almost everything. I sometimes add a “yeah but” in my own mind. For example. Purple is usually ugly. (Yeah but it works for the Vikings.) Textured patches work. (Yeah but not as thick as Paul likes. That’s a shag rug.)

    I’m late to this thread. It took me a while to gather my thoughts on how this has anything to do with the Grand OLD Party.

    This is about how we remember the past, live in the present and move to the future.

    We remember the good parts of the past and try to forget the bad. The GOP is mostly WASP. They remember the good WASPy parts of our past. Think N. Rockwell. In 2012, many American look at a Rockwell painting and don’t see themselves.

    We sports & uni fans do the same. My “perfect” baseball uni is a conglomerate of my favorite elements…and I forget the drawbacks. Wool is heavy, stinky and scratchy. Road greys are grey because the visitors don’t clean them during road trips. Stirrups had to anchor the knickerbocker pants to the knee-area before we had good elastics. The Yankees, Tigers & Cards are held to an aesthetic higher plane. But we forget the loser teams from long ago. A baseball fan, MAYBE like the GOP, are hanging onto their idealized version of the good stuff.

    I’m a big baseball fan. But I never played the game. I started playing slowpitch softball four years ago. I immediately ordered some grey knickerbocker-ish trou and some stirrups (from Comrade Marshall). I wanted to look a certain way. But guess what? In Florida, a cotton Tshirt, shorts and socks work so much better. I NEVER wear my old grey trousers. I only wear my stirrups to work. I have to go with what works.

    And I appreciate that when I see modern atheletes go the same way. When They Get It that is. Football players don’t want sleeves. It gives the opponent something to grab. I get it.

    Basketball players don’t want little shorts anymore. A 6’10” man looks better in a longer cut. I get it.

    A baseball player doesn’t need the stirrup anymore. I get it. Just don’t make it worse by pulling the cuff below the cleat.

    A hockey player doesn’t really wear a sweater anymore. He doesn’t need to. I get it.

    Let me end with random thoughts to past comments.
    Curling is boring. Meat posts are almost fettish. But I just scroll down. No harm done. Moving on. That doesn’t make all of the other great stuff not great

    Obsessive concern to aesthetics does not = Geekitude. It happens that most of us are 40-50y.o. white guys. Maybe we’re geeks. But it’s not the obsessive concern to aesthetic that makes us so. There are cultures that are just as devoted to hats…to shoes…to car rims…to handguns…to fishing stuff…to gay culture & fashion… same gist just different arenas. There are sites and magazines for them all.

    America is still a melting pot (or stew). “New Americans” are learning English and our culture much faster than the immigrants from the early 1900s did.

    Rap and hip hop is a scary music that spilled into culture.
    So was rock ‘n roll. So was jazz. We still listen to the early rappers who Got It. not the ones who sucked. Same with rock and jazz.

    We have to embrace and go with the ones who get it. The ones who don’t get it will just be forgotten.

    I am a young latino male. I really like the site but I do notice I have a lot of different opinions. I personally like the Baggy shorts and the BFBS uniforms. The grey football and Basketball uniforms? Perfection. I also like the old school fashions though. I love the stirrups and striped socks but I also like the Nike socks. I love the classic retro jerseys but I also love the Pro Combats. I also like the techfit type jerseys because they look sleeker. I am not an old white guy but I still love the site and respect your opinions.

    Just to add to all that I do get caught up in all the new trends like hip hop and all that kind of stuff. I think the big influence for that is growing up in Oakland which is a very diverse city.

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