From The Notebook of R.B. Ripley: Why College Football Has Become Unwatchable — The Uniforms Jan06

Share This

From The Notebook of R.B. Ripley: Why College Football Has Become Unwatchable — The Uniforms

I sit here during college football’s annual bacchanalian carnival known as “Bowl Week” feeling nostalgic. As a kid, I lived for the bowl games. The game, the band, the fans, school colors. But here in 2011, I’m paying only minimal attention as I clean the house, take down the pine garland, and write my mystery novel.

Why am I not watching?

Is it the über-commercialization of college football? No, though honestly, I can’t get excited about the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Perhaps my enjoyment has waned because of the 35 games, 25 involve teams that lost as many games as they won. I’d like to apply that standard to everything I do: “Yeah, well, I know I’ve only turned in half of my work, but I should still be paid millions of dollars.” Please.

But that’s not why I can’t watch.

I can’t watch games because today’s uniforms are so unbearably ugly. College football has become a visual despoliation, not unlike homemade 1970’s porn. Exacerbating its ugliness is the sport’s philosophy of changing uniforms more often than Charlie Sheen changes his story.  To wit the University of Oregon has 1,280 possible uniform combinations. The Imelda Marcos of sports.

The adoption of increasingly ugly uniforms and frequent changes have destroyed many schools’ identities; the core essence that made them instantly identifiable. Anyone remember The Gap’s branding fiasco last year? Same thing. I urge all collegiate players to rally together and refuse to wear the ill-fitting pajamas festooned with bizarre striping and unnecessary blobs of color. You don’t have to be Heidi Klum or a gay man to have fashion dignity.

A great example – University of Pittsburgh, whose colors were once royal blue and baby-shit yellow. But in 2005 they jumped on the “update bandwagon” and changed to a hideous navy blue and Vegas gold. Before the change, you couldn’t mistake Pitt for any other team. Now, I can watch an entire half before realizing it’s them playing.

Another case study – the Texas Christian University. According their style guide, TCU’s official “school colors are purple and white—purple for royalty, white for a clean game…” Their simple color scheme has been forsaken for the godforsaken:

TCU is a great football team that unfortunately resembles an athletic equivalent of the Venus de Milo with sequin pasties and a thong. It just makes no sense and is offensive to all but the least of us.

Who makes these decisions? Who looks at concept sketches and thinks, “Our 425-pound offensive linemen will look FABulous in this!”?  Even if my ass looked as good as the mannequin’s in the above picture, I still wouldn’t allow it to be swathed in those TCU pants.  Why not?

I have dignity.

Because they’re screwing with their institution’s brand, its history, its identity, these decision-makers should be publicly stoned. I’m not against progress or change, but I am against dumb-assery and these uniforms define dumb-assery. It’s all for profit. And while I’m not against profit, I am against prostituting an entire educational institution to powder the bottoms of only one department. Maybe if TCU’s entire faculty got paid to wear that mess, I’d think differently.

In an era where so much changes at lightning speed, those who more and more frequently stand out are the ones whose beliefs are clear and who keep things simple, letting hard work and dedication define them rather than rely on a thin coat of paint.

Meanwhile, I think I’ll turn off the television until March Madness rolls around and I can marvel at the clown outfits the basketball players are wearing.

featured image credit: Andrew Morrell Photography