Consider the humble shoelace. Or better yet, let reader John Muir consider it for you:
Look at this picture of Marc Savard in Boston’s home uniform, complete with yellow laces. In the background is Tampa’s Brad Richards, with the standard white laces.
There’s something clean and beautiful about both players’ laces in that photo. Savard had worn white laces in previous stops with Calgary and the Rangers but switched to yellow soon after he was traded to Atlanta (before, after). Ovechkin has been going with the yellow laces, but it looks awkward, because yellow isn’t one of the Capitals’ colors. Jagr did it in Pittsburgh (cool) Washington (see: Ovechkin), and currently in the sewers of Manhattan (ugh). I’ve seen black laces before, but cannot find any sort of documentation. I think someone on Dallas.
What’s my point? Colored laces, with the right team, complete a uniform. I’m surprised more players don’t do it.
So is Muir in favor of, say, the Canadiens wearing blue or red laces, or the Devils wearing red laces? “I think it would look cool if done right,” he says. “Minnesota wouldn’t look too bad with Christmas-colored laces; the Isles could pair the orange third with orange laces and I’d be all for it.”
Intriguing concept (although one that I can’t really get behind). The most interesting thing about shoelaces, it seems to me, is how the protocols vary from sport to sport. In hockey, most players still wearing white laces against their black skates, creating a nice contrast (although there are more and more players wearing gold, including, as Michael Rich recently pointed out to me, Slava Kozlov). But football laces are largely contast-free, with lots of black laces on black shoes and white on white (although there are occasional exceptions, like Joey Porter’s gold laces, Greg Spires’s red, and Jim Maxwell’s orange). Back in the preseason, there were reports that Matt Hasselbeck, who wears black shoes, was actually instructed by the officials to trade in his white shoelaces for black, although I’m a bit skeptical of this, in part because Hasseleck had worn white laces in the past without incident.
MLB cleats and laces usually match, whether the color is black, blue, red, or white. There are some exceptions, however, and there are also situations where the laces match the trim instead of the shoe’s primary color. I also seem to recall some of the Reds wearing red laces a few years back, but I can’t remember the details. Anyone..?
NBA kicks are so elaborately designed these days that there’s no defining shoelace trend. For the most part, though, black sneakers are accessorized with matching black laces, while white shoes sometimes have colored laces and sometimes have white, which sometimes are designed to contrast against a colored tongue.
Getting back to hockey, there’s another kind of lacing to consider: the lace-up collar, which is usually white, as seen in these pics of the Islanders, Rangers (home, road), Coyotes, Oilers, Leafs, Blue Jackets, Avalanche, and Wild. A few teams, however, opt for dark laces, including the Thrashers and Flames.
Meanwhile, here’s a subject for further research: Several years back — maybe in the 1990s, before Uni Watch’s debut — I believe there was a company marketing sports shoelaces made with solid gold aglets (those are the little tips at the ends of laces). They were supposedly “premium” laces for “the athlete who demands the best,” or some bullshit like that. I can’t find any background info on this, though.
And finally, in the unlikely event that you want to know still more about shoelaces, look here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Uni Watch publicist Carrie Klein came back from her family’s Xmas gathering with the following news: “My mom, unbeknownst to me until last night, collects old photos of kids in school (not sports) uniforms. The entire front hall of her condo is decorated with them. It’s nuts. There are striped socks aplenty! … Not quite uni-related, but I judged a pretty hilarious baseball-centric haiku contest a few days ago. Details here. … Take a close look at this photo of Hines Ward from Super Bowl XL. It almost looks like his right-leg stocking has a zipper running through it. … Interesting blog about uni numbers here. … Jesse Spector notes that the NFL Network, which runs lots of old NFL Films footage during the day, is offering a free preview on many cable systems this week (Ch. 199 on Time Warner systems in New York). “Today I watched the season films of the ’69 Chiefs and ’82 Jets,” he writes. “Noticed lots of uniform stuff, like Willie Lanier’s helmet having a big bump in the middle, the huge numbers the Jets had on their shoulder pads in the ’80s, and stuff like the Chiefs having their helmet and the opposing team’s helmet painted together at midfield for home games.” … Check out what Tom Hoffman got for Christmas. … Odd typography at Middle Tennessee State, as observed by Alan Topolski, who writes: “It seems like MTSU has a font size for the nameplate that changes depending on the length of the player’s last name.” The only other team I can think of that did something similar was the bumblebee-era Pirates, as seen on the Lee Lacy jersey shown in this page from Bill Henderson’s indispensable Double Knit Era Collector’s Reference.