From Oregon to Maryland, athletic jerseys have been a hot topic lately. Some are "approved" by the media, while others are mocked. Yours truly says everybody seems to be missing a more important point. There's a way to end all this nonsense. Stop paying so much for shoes. I'll get back to that.
It used to be that college football teams had 2 sets of jerseys. One was white and the other featured the predominant color(s) of the school. To boot, they had one set of helmets, one set of pants, one set of socks, and 2 sets of shoes. One for grass and one for turf. Not any more..
These days universities, supposedly places where young people go to obtain higher knowledge, somehow see the wisdom in spending mega-bucks on team wardrobes. Their fiscal policy iis not my idea of what should be taught in Economics 101, let alone graduate school. Of course, many of the players that wear this stuff probably never learn to even spell "graduate", let alone actually do so, but that's a separate matter.
Nowadays, it's all about fashion statements and/or keeping up with the proverbial Jones'es. If the University of Henry trots out new uniforms, you can bet Henry State won't be far behind. There's throw-back uniforms, legacy uniforms, and besides the old home/road uniforms, many schools have seen fit to add a few different colors for "special occasions". In some cases this will include a different set of helmets, socks, etc, as mentioned above. And cleats? I wouldn't be surprised if the larger programs had 8-10 different varieties for various conditions.
With the possible exception of the footwear, none of this stuff really matters on the field of play. Different uniforms and helmets arem't going to make the players any bigger, stronger, faster, or smarter than they were before. All this gear isn't exactly free. Somebody has to pay for it. Guess what? It's you.
I could make an argument about higher ticket prices, concessions, and even student tuition, but it wouldn't hold water. That's because people paying attention would counter with, "You're crazy, Leach. Nike pays big bucks to these universities to put their "swoosh" on everything, and they provide that equipment for free".
Personally, I don't know how that works but, at best, it's a half-truth. While certain athletic apparel companies seem to dominate the landscape, check the labels on the inside of the goods. Chances are, you'll see Made in China. Or Korea. Or Taiwan. Or some other Asian country. Unless these companies want to run afoul of federal regulations, that's the one little detail they can't get around.
It's no longer a big secret that the people actually manufacturing these products typically work in long-hour sweat shops churning out thousands of these products every day. If they're lucky, they make enough money to feed themselves and their families. It beats starving, but that doesn't make it right..
So let's put the pieces of the puzzle together. Our student athletes get the flavor of the month when it comes to athletic wear. Universities get paid big bucks to put a company's logo on all this stuff. Perhaps that company even throws in the goods for free. It's a win-win-win, right?
Not quite. Again, there's a reason these companies are manufacturing overseas. There's no child labor laws, let alone a minimum wage. Between material, labor, and bulk shipping costs, I'm guessing they might have $5 invested in a particular item that you will fork over a couple C-notes for to buy off the shelf. Even if you don't care about foreign kids being cruelly used and abused -- there's profit, and then there's obscene profit..
How do you think these companies can afford to give all this stuff away? It's because you're subsidizing it. Here's a challenge. Go try and buy a pair of tennis shoes that are made in America. Last time I tried a few years back, I looked at a huge display and told the clerk I wanted a brand made in the USA. She didn't know if they had any. So I checked the tag on every single display shoe. There was only one, almost hidden up in the corner. The brand was Saucony, which was located in Maine. I think they've since gone out of business. Guess that'll teach them to pay a decent wage.
At any rate, this all started about jerseys. While the pundits debate the pros and cons of the latest "creations", at it's roots, they don't seem to realize it's just so unnecessary and a colossal waste of money.
And that point I was going to get back to? Sure, everybody needs sneakers/tennis shoes. I get that. None made in America anymore? Sadly, I get that too.
But when you buy them, just get the cheapest ones available. Chances are, you're not a world-class marathon runner or an NBA star. You don't need top-of-the-line stuff. Hell, they're going to wear out in a year anyway.
However, for those of you that insist on having the latest and greatest when it comes to foam, gel, lift, custom stitching, all the other whistles and bells, and don't care about the price, I hear the swooshers have a product coming out soon that should be right up your alley.
For the meager price of about $300 you can own a pair of these beauties.
Not sure, but rumor has it they may be called "Air Heads".
Personally, if anybody out there has a pair of Keds or All-Stars in a size 11 -- call me.
By the way, take another look around. The only state this uniform madness doesn't seem to be happening in is -- yep -- you guessed it -- New Jersey. If you figure that one out, bring along the Keds and a new stylus for my Marantz turntable and we'll do some serious negotiating.