By Bryan Redemske
Every four years — well, every two, really — we hear multi-millionaires from the NBA and NHL saying how excited they are to wear their country’s colors in the Olympics. You know the speech — it’s the “I’m grateful for the opportunity to wear the flag on my shoulder and try to bring home a gold medal” one. You can insert the sport or country or medal of choice, but it rarely wavers.
And good for them for wanting to do that. What American — other than the completely loco ones — wouldn’t like to represent the Stars and Stripes at the Olympics? You know, pull on the ol’ navy and light blue and hit the track?
What? You thought American colors are red, white, and blue, like the flag? No no, sorry. Your colors are navy, light blue and red now, as detailed in the Nike Swift System of Dress. Deal with it. And the light blue arm-warmer things? Those make you faster because of aerodynamic fabric. Same for the shin-sleeves. And they’re good for swooshes, too. (Gigantic views here and here.)
So goes Nike’s recent chokehold on our national track and field identity — and on our Olympic identity as a whole. The basketball uniforms can be seen here, here, and here, each featuring impossible-to-read letters and numbers atop a graphic called “We The People.”
While this probably seems like another easy case of Nike-bashing, I think it’s more important to ask why Nike, and other companies (blue seems a bit dark, no?), are changing our national colors. England is blue, red, and white. Canada? Red and white. Australia? Green and yellow, sometimes with black. America? Well, that depends on which company makes the uniforms.
So, looking specifically at track and field (no time for team handball, sorry), what are America’s colors anyway? Better take a look:
1984: Made by Kappa, better known for soccer apparel. Mostly red.
1992: Nike joins the party with a pretty tame design. Red, white, and blue — that’s us.
2004: Welcome back, America. Your blue is still too dark, but at least it’s close to the flag.
2008: And … we’re back to the navy-and-light-blue thing. I’m sure you’ve noticed the track and field uniforms also feature the “We The People” graphic on the back.
Look for it to soon be permanently ratified upon our collective consciousness.
Raffle Results: Paul here. My bad for forgetting to announce that David Neuman and Troy Ragsdale are the winners of last week’s Yankee Stadium DVD raffle. Congrats to them, and my repeated thanks to James Craven for donating the DVDs.
Uni Watch News Ticker: CFL news from Dave Delisle, who reports that the Edmonton Eskimos have replaced their helmet logo with a 60th-anniversary mark, as you can see here. “I can’t recall a team replacing their primary logo with an anniversary logo in any sport,” he writes. “Usually those are placed separately on the uniform, like a shoulder patch. The Eskimos are doing this for the full season.” … The Minaya-ized Mr. Met T-shirt is now available in several colors and at a fair price. … Tour de France note from Matt Zegarski, who writes: “In recent years, many riders who wear a leader’s jersey have been wearing matching pants and helmet, but Team CSC-Saxo Bank have been bucking this trend, as seen in these photos of Frank Schleck and Carlos Sastre. I don’t know if it’s because team boss Bjarne Riis put the kibosh on it, or because of their clothing supplier, Craft. Either way, it’s a classic look.” … “I’m the art director of Gator Country magazine in Gainesville,” writes Jason Farmand. “For our football preview issue coming up, we commissioned an artist to paint Tim Tebow for the cover — in a way he’s never been seen before. I thought you’d like to see that.” … Turns out Spider-Man is a Mets fan (or at least he was back when Shea had the great metal exterior panels). Those screen grabs are from this hilarious video, sent my way by James Poisso, who says, “It’s amazing what you can find on YouTube!” … Astros catcher Humberto Quintero is switching to a hockey-style mask (with thanks to Ryan Patrick). … “Mr. Flat Brim himself, Joba Chamberlain, wore a curled brim on his Dunkin’ Donuts cap at a promotional appearance the other day,” notes Tyler Kepner. … MLS All-Star Game observations, courtesy of Kenn Tomasch: “For the first time since a sponsor logo started appearing on the front of the MLS All-Stars shirts in 2004, it was Pepsi and not Sierra Mist this time around. You can’t tell by that photo, but because Landon Donovan (who didn’t start, by the way) had dibs on the #10 shirt (for some reason, seniority, probably), Chicago’s Cuauhtemoc Blanco wore #70. No, that’s not the year of his birth (he was born in 1973), but the odd thing is that MLS’s number fonts are so craptacular this year that #70 looks a lot like #10 (and vice versa). All the 7s on all the shirts look like 1s. (Sorry, no good photo of that.) David Beckham, as always, wore long sleeves — not, as some speculate, because he wants to cover up his ample tattoos, but just because he prefers long sleeves, even when he plays in MLS’s summer heat (he’s never played in Phoenix, though). What’s funny is that West Ham’s Dean Ashton wore long sleeves in the first half but switched to short sleeves in the second half and scored in each jersey (still looking for a photo of that). Meanwhile, Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns, whose hometown is Vancouver, wore a Vancouver Whitecaps 1979 throwback jersey while announcing that he’s part of the ownership group looking to grab one of two MLS expansion teams for 2011.”