[Editor’s Note: Paul is on his annual August break from site. Deputy editor Phil Hecken is in charge from now through the end of the month, although Paul is still on the clock over at ESPN and may be popping up here occasionally.]
By Phil Hecken, with Michael Schonhoff
OK — we’re down to the last of the Olympics articles (I actually still have one more, but, as you’ll see in the sign-off, Mike will be handling tomorrow’s post). Today’s correspondent is Michael Schonhoff, who will take a look at water polo.
I’m grateful to each and every reader who stepped up and contributed a piece. I realize some were less well received than others, but it was still a great group effort and I’m pleased that so many were willing to contribute their time and efforts to bringing us looks at the uniforms of the Rio Summer Olympics, 2016. Like many, this article was received prior to publication today (I had asked that the readers get their articles in as soon as possible), and for the most part they were run in the order they were received. It was a challenge to get to them all!
After the main article, please make sure to scroll down to PART 2 of the Griffins Alternate Jersey Design Contest, where we’ll take a look at Group C & D today. The plan is still to run the next set (Groups E & F) on Monday, and the final set (Groups G & H) on Tuesday of next week.
You can click on the photos below to enlarge. Without any further ado, here’s Michael with his look at…
Olympic Water Polo
By Michael Schonhoff
Men’s water polo has been a Summer Olympics sport since the second games in 1900, but it took a whole century for women’s water polo to debut at Sydney in 2000. Though it has some pockets of relative popularity (especially California), it’s not a very well-known sport in the States. Water polo is more prominent in Europe, particularly in Eastern European countries. On the men’s side, Hungary is the traditional powerhouse””medaling in 15/25 Olympic tournaments””though Serbia looks poised to take home the gold this year after winning the 2015 World Championships. On the women’s side, the US are heavily favored to repeat as gold medalists, though Australia and Spain both look to challenge the title.
When it comes to water polo uniforms, there are really only two aspects: the cap (identifies team/player & protects the ears) and the suit (speedos for men and one-pieces for women). When watching the sport, it is the cap that is most visible to the spectator, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on in this piece. With a number on each side and the country name on the front, there’s not room for much else on the cap. However, before we look at each country’s “uniform,” there are few regulatory aspects that make water polo unique:
1. As can be seen in the picture above, goalies are required to wear red caps. This means that a team’s primary color cannot be red (which severely limits a country like Spain).
2. Caps are also required to contrast with the ball””primarily yellow””which means you also won’t see any teams with yellow caps (which limits a country like Brazil).
3. Opposing teams’ caps must be contrasting colors; the away team always wears white and the home team traditionally wears blue. Technically, any color that contrasts with white is acceptable for the home team, but most countries stick with blue (think baseball’s white and gray: it’s the norm but not everyone does it).
4. Water polo caps are pretty specialized and expensive, so you won’t see many “alternate” or “one-off” caps.
5. In International play, teams are required to have their three letter country code on the front of the cap.
The above regulations definitely limit what you will see in the pool. All in all, the caps are pretty standard, but that won’t stop us from analyzing each team’s creative choices. We will start with the men’s teams from Group A:
(Note: all of these caps are from the Olympic qualifying tournament in the past year, so while most of the teams will be wearing the same caps, there is the chance that a team updated. There aren’t really press releases for new water polo caps.)
[Editor’s Note: Today’s article was sent to me last week — due to the overwhelming response to my request for Olympic Correspondents, I ran these basically in the order they were received; apologies if the caps have changed — PH]
Serbia’s home and away caps have the same basic design. The flag’s color and crest can be found on the back of the cap amidst a strange triangle design. Nothing extraordinary here: a pretty standard set.
Greece’s white caps are quite plain; there are two blue stripes on each side and the Greek flag decorates the back. The dark caps are similar, though they appear to have two tones of blue with white stripes.
Brazil’s away caps are some of the plainest in the tournament. A larger flag on the back or some splashes of their great color scheme would go a long way on the white caps. The blue and yellow makes for a crisp looking home cap, though it’s a shame they didn’t use any green to differentiate themselves from the many other teams wearing blue.
Finally, we get something a little different. The Aussies added some non-blue colors to liven up their away caps with yellow trim, green ear guards and numbers, and a green & yellow swirling design on the top of the cap (along with the usual flag on the back). Their away caps are a dark green with yellow stripes on the side. The only team in this Olympics with a non-blue home uni, Australia has a great set of iconic caps and is easily the best-looking of Group A. Extra points for non-conformity!
In a recent promotional video, the Australian team can be seen wearing what looks like some very bright, 3-toned green caps. They haven’t worn these in any actual matches yet, so we will have to see if they pull them out for the Olympics.
Japan’s away caps are plain white with dark numbers and lettering. Their home caps are a dark blue with white trim and lighter blue ear guards. The Japanese flag really pops against the dark blue background but, other than that, there’s not much to see here.
Traditional with no frills. Though the caps are undoubtedly boring, Hungary can get away with it because of how often they win.
In general, Group A’s caps are pretty boring compared to Group B. Though all of the Group B countries have the blue/white combo, most of them are able to do something creative to add some flash to their caps. Let’s take a look:
If you look closely enough, you’ll see a sublimated star pattern down the middle stretch of both USA’s home and away caps (look at no. 10 in the 1st picture). The white caps are pretty standard and plain; they could use more red and a brighter blue color to make them pop. The red trim helps set apart USA’s blue caps from those of other countries. These home caps also have two tones of blue, which ends up looking a little busy. Stick with the brighter blue for a crisper look in the water.
Spain’s away unis are some of my favorite white caps in the tournament. The red trim, red and yellow stripes, and Spanish flag all really pop on these caps. My only wish is that the numbers were red instead of blue. The home caps are the same design but blue instead of white. Spain is one of those countries that gets the short end of the cap regulations, seeing as they can’t use their two main colors. It’s strange to see them in royal blue.
France’s away caps feature the flag on the back, dark numbers and lettering, and two stripes down the middle of the cap that feature the three colors of the French flag. A nice idea, but the stripes are so thin that they get lost in the rest of the cap. The home caps are the same design except on a dark blue, which makes it almost impossible to see the blue stripe. The weakest set of caps from Group B.
Montenegro has my favorite set of caps in the Olympics this year. They take advantage of their country’s beautiful coat of arms to create an awesome design. The away caps feature crisp red numbers and trim on white (reminiscent of the KC Chiefs away uniforms), but the highlight is the oversized coat of arms on the back. Here’s a closer look at that (insert Montenegro Detail link here please). The home caps are royal blue with yellow trim and numbers that correspond nicely with the coat of arms. Both sets have a strong color scheme that really pops in the water. Top marks!
Italy’s home and away unis feature a striped flag design across the top of the caps which ends up creating a nice outcome. Unfortunately, Italy’s iconic use of blue for their Olympic uniforms loses its effect when all but one other team use blue for their home caps as well.
If you were paying any attention during the EuroCup about a month ago, then you may recognize Croatia’s home water polo cap. One of the Croatian soccer players donned this cap (without the ears protectors) to hold a bandage in place on the top of his head. This was actually featured on Uni Watch! Anyway, I love Croatia’s use of the red and white checkerboard, and it looks great on both the white and blue caps. The Croatian team also gets bonus points because in the 2008 Olympics, every single player on the team sported a mustache. You can see that picture here (please insert Croatia mustache link here) or at this Washington Post blog post about it.
That wraps up the men’s caps. If I had to rank them, I would probably say:
The women’s tournament consists of 8 teams. However, only 2 of the teams are from countries not represented by the men’s teams. There’s really no difference in caps between men and women, except that the women’s caps take on a different shape because of hair. Here’s a quick look at the women’s caps in Group A:
Same design as men’s team.
With thin stripes in the country’s flag colors, Russia has caps similar to those of France. Russia’s work slightly better (especially the home caps) since the blue is brighter and they have red trim. All in all, a sharp looking home set and a pretty plain away set.
Same design as men’s team.
Same design as men’s team.
And now for Group B:
Same design as men’s team.
It’s strange to see both of China’s caps without any hint of red or yellow (with the exception of the small flag on the back that can’t be see in either picture). The result is the blandest set of caps in the tournament. It’s especially a shame when the white with red trim is such a great combination. I’d also love to see China go with a black home cap with yellow and red accent colors. A missed opportunity.
Same design as men’s team.
Same design as men’s team, though the shot of the blue caps gives a better look at the star pattern. The picture of the white caps also shows off the star pattern on the white caps as well as on the goalie caps.
Ranking the women’s caps:
If you have never seen water polo before, I hope you caught one of the matches in the past couple weeks. It can be confusing and fast-paced, but it is fascinating to watch, especially when they show the underwater cameras. Thanks for reading!
About the Author: I am a high school teacher and water polo coach who has been reading Uni-Watch for about a year- shout out to Joseph Beckerjeck for telling me about the site. In addition to uniforms, I enjoy hiking, playing sports, reading, movies, and hanging out with my fiancÃ©.
Thanks Michael! OK readers, what do you think? I happen to love Croatia (as I do in most sports) and that Montenegro cap is a thing of beauty.
And now, onto the voting for Part 2 of the Griffins Alternate Jersey Contest…
GRIFFINS ALTERNATE JERSEY DESIGN CONTEST, PART II
Welcome to Part II of the Griffins Alternate Jersey Design Contest. Today we’ll look at Groups C & D, and have voting after each of the Groups are displayed. If you missed Part I please click here, where you’ll find a full writeup and the rules on voting. As with yesterday (and every day there is voting held), the TOP THREE VOTE-GETTERS will advance to the “finals” (with the Grand Prize Winner to be ultimately selected by the Griffins).
You can vote on ANY of the jersey designs below (or some, all or none), but you may only submit a ballot once in each section. Please be sure to vote in BOTH sections (there are two in total). If you click on a submitter’s name, the correct box will automatically be selected (so if the check boxes don’t align exactly, just click on the name if you’d like). Review both Groups (Group “C” and Group “D”), write down any and all of the designs you like, click the designers’ names, and hit “VOTE” for each set. That’s all there is to it!
Let’s get started.
Nice job by our second set (Groups C & D) — don’t forget to cast your votes in BOTH polls!
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: This Saturday, the Stockton Ports (A single-A affiliate of the A’s) will be doing a pink jersey thingy (from OT Sports). … Also from OT, the El Paso Chihuahua’s will be doing a Star Wars jersey thingy on August 30th. … After notching his first MLB hit, Jameson Taillon was booed because he couldn’t get his jacket zipper to work (h/t Jerry). … Here’s some video of Senator Rand Paul (in full uni!) taking batting practice with the Lexington Legend (h/t Josh Claywell). … “Attached is a picture of Reggie Jackson during his final season with the A’s in 1987. On the back of his helmet are stickers of Baby Ruth and Butterfinger candy bars,” says Joe Werner. “I remember seeing this picture in Sports Illustrated back in the day, but I don’t recall the backstory behind the candy bar logos (if it was even revealed in the magazine). Perhaps you or one of the readers know the story?” I don’t know the story, but it that was clearly a time before Reggie had his OWN candy bar. … “August 26, come welcome the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Pierogies to town” (h/t Bobby Cannizzaro). … .Lots of players in the 1975 All Star game sporting white shoes (via Charles Fennell).
NFL/Football News: A small high school outside of Pittsburgh has revived its football team after a 5 year hiatus, and the practice jerseys they are using are gold Steeler practice jerseys donated by the team. Adds submitter Joe Werner, “If you look closely in the pictures in the article, you can see the swoosh on the shoulders and the NFL shield on the collar.”
College Football News: The Nebraska Cornhuskers will have an alternate uniform this year — but it hasn’t been revealed yet. Could it possibly be cream? (from Gil Neumann). … Those gorgeous Pitt throwback uniforms that were revealed Tuesday (and were supposed to be just for the homecoming game)? Turns out they may be worn more than once. Sweet! … The Colorado State University Rams unveiled some new jerseys yesterday. Here’s a bit more on that. … “What is this helmet/attachment that Brandon Mahon of Penn State is wearing?” asks Wade Manley. … Those awesome Air Force “sharktooth” helmets? They’re going to wear them September 10th. … Here’s a look at Sparty’s hats for the 2016 season (from Tomboy Chick). … Here are Bemidji State University’s new football Jerseys (via Tony Tengwall).
Olympics News: The president of Romania’s Olympic Committee (COSR) Alin Petrache announced on August 16 he will resign after an embarrassing scandal erupted over the low quality official outfits of the Romanian delegation to the Olympic Games in Rio. Complaints over the quality of Romania’s Olympic uniforms have again highlighted problems with corruption in public procurement in Romania. … As the Games have now almost concluded, various blogs and websites are still asking whether the dress codes for men and women are making enough “progress.” And in a somewhat related story, there has been a lot of pushback (including from the ladies themselves) that the bikins they wear for beach volleyball are practical. … Poland has a “digitized zero” for Handball (from Jeremy Brahm). … “A bit of an oddity in the first of (yester)day’s men’s Olympic soccer semifinals,” writes Marcus Kamp). “Rather than the white socks they normally wear with their primary kit, Brazil wore the socks from their change strip, making for a rather…incongruous kit. The two teams in a match can’t have the same color socks, but typically, the home side (Brazil in this case) picks their kit first, and the visitors have to adjust accordingly. Honduras typically wear blue socks with their change strip, which wouldn’t have clashed with Brazil’s standard white socks, so why the gradated blue socks for Brazil?” … With all the Olympic Correspondents I had volunteer, I was surprised no one wanted to cover track — well, that’s actually sorta covered here, in this article that looks back at 116 years of Olympic track uniforms.
Hockey News: Another day, another “Top Ten” list: This one is the list of the 10 ugliest uniforms in NHL history. … The upcoming World Cup of Hockey jerseys are going to feature ads. Great. That
sponsor advertiser will be SAP (from Ted Arnold). Those jerseys will also have tracking chips. … Check out these “Rare vertically striped hockey sweaters for Cracovia, matching their traditional football jerseys,” (from ursus arctos). … Good spot by Kyle Browne, who notes that some ASU hockey players are wearing CCM jerseys, while others have adidas, and all have adidas socks.
NBA/NCAA Hoops News: The Emirates Group is in preliminary talks to
sponsor put jersey ads on the jerseys of a number of NBA teams; It’s not clear how many of the league’s 30 teams the company is looking to sponsor. … The Charlotte Hornets have announced their arena will be renamed the “Spectrum Center” (h/t Mike Chamernik). … New court design for the Milwaukee Panthers’ Men’s Hoops team (from Ryan Wozniak).
Soccer News: Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The new Everton Third Kit is out (from Casey Hart). … New kits for Estoril. The first alt pays homage to Portugal, home, pink for breast cancer awareness (from Mike D.). … Hull City with an interesting “2019” jersey to announce the signing of a guy to a contract thru that year (from Chris Corbaz). … The Louisiana Tech Women’s Soccer team warmups use their pillars of passion, respect, service, respect as the print (from Josh McDaniel).
Grab Bag: We’ve seen these already, but Bleacher Report has put together a look at 10 new sports uni changes for Fall 2016. … New gear for CMU Women’s Lacrosse (from Marc Gustafson). … “I was watching Spaceballs today with daytime TV being rather horrific outside of the Olympics,” says Teebz. “In watching that movie, I noticed the following scene that features a major comma problem!” … Apparently the newest wedding fashion statement is for brides to wear brightly colored kicks under their gowns (thanks, Paul).
And that’s it for today. Thanks to Michael for his Water Polo review, and of course all those who participated in the Griffins Contest, and good luck to the second 22 entrants. If you haven’t already cast your votes — don’t forget to vote in BOTH sets of polls.
I’ll be basically off the grid for the entire day today (sometimes my real, full-time office job interferes with UW), so Mike Chamernik is going to be handling the Friday UW. Mike and Paul will be keeping an eye on things today too, so everyone behave!
I’ll catch you guys again on Monday (and we’ll have the third set of Griffins concepts then too), so (a day early) everyone have a great weekend.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“I would not wear a Cubs fez.”
— Jimmer Vilk