By now most everyone has weighed in on the Pittsburgh Steelers “Hamburglar” uniforms the team wore last weekend, prompting sports fans to ponder whether that atrocious uniform display was the tipping point where the alternative sports uniform movement begins to reverse. As increasingly more college and pro football teams break out their alternative uniforms, it seems as though the trend has become a race to develop the most attention-getting, outlandish, and in the case of the Steelers uniforms last weekend — awful — uniforms on the market today. Are these uniforms helping athletes with mental toughness, or making it even that much more difficult to play with intensity?!
How did we get to this point of seemingly every team today searching for the Holy Grail of unique uniforms you might ask? That’s tough to say, but the sports uniform trajectory has been an interesting one to study if you take a quick historical look. In the early days of sports uniforms, fashion was ignored, as were the protective elements that we see in uniforms today. Football players went helmet-less (eventually moving onto leather helmets), and baseball players wore heavy wool uniforms — the last thing a player would reach for today in the middle of summer! Once better protective measures were taken (better helmets, lighter weight uniforms, etc.), teams began turning more to aesthetics by developing their own unique logos and uniform designs (for a real treat peruse the baseball uniforms of the 1970’s). Next came the rush for teams to develop their own alternative black uniform set, with a few teams still using these uniforms today.
Today, it’s anyone’s guess where the uniform designers are going with their thinking. Obviously the idea is to sell more jerseys, but have they gone too far in their pursuit to get your attention (and money) as a fan? Ironically, I had a hard time watching the Steelers – Redskins game Sunday because of the uniforms Pittsburgh wore (they hurt my eyes!). As I watched a few plays I kept thinking to myself what’s going to be next for sports uniforms? Glow-in-the darks? Rubber uniforms?? Hey, why even mess with one of the best uniforms in sports anyway — the Steelers regular uniforms are classic!
What are your thoughts on the way uniforms are changing these days? Do you like the latest fashion line, or are you more a fan of traditional sports uni digs?