Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Modern Football Logos & Uniforms

Or…what not to wear?

More than a year ago Dan asked my professional opinion of NFL logos and helmet designs. My observations are here.

An interesting development now taking place in college football recently caught my attention. It’s the stark visual departure from tradition especially with their football uniforms.

What once began as a visual cue to teammates, coaches and the opposing players and coaches which side an individual was playing for, football uniforms have morphed into a fashion statement and big business.

Pop culture has seeped into every fabric of society and now into traditional college football uni’s.

Have you noticed how everything young folks do and wear now has to be ‘bad-ass’? As an example, how do we explain young men dying their hair and shaving it into odd sculptured designs? What about the sudden proliferation of tattoos and piercing? What was once the realm of drunken sailors, carney workers and prison inmates is now thought of as individual expression? All I can say is that if everyone has a tribal tattoo wrapped around their arm and bolts sticking out of their faces how much individualism does it really represent? It doesn’t matter, it’s just pretending to be a ‘bad-ass’ without actually being bad and doing some hard time.

It’s no secret than urban gang-bangers display their street identity by adopting colors and symbols, many of them spawned from professional athletic uniforms. So what’s a college to do in order to sell their own licensed merchandise to more niche markets? Why not go all ‘bad-ass’ with proprietary school colors and iconography? Screw tradition.

College football has recently responded to new age fashion and visual design by incorporating some radical changes in the way uniforms and team emblems are designed, decorated and above all, translated into and sold as merchandise and apparel such as caps, jerseys, hoodies, etc.. In a never-ending lust for dollars our institutions of higher learning are determined to find more and more creative ways to sell stuff and generate more income.

They are betting that cash-strapped young moderns of all types will throw caution to the wind when it comes time to festoon themselves in the latest fashion and try to look ‘bad-ass’. Price doesn’t seem to be an issue and if you don’t believe me check out the price tags on caps, athletic jerseys and hoodies these days particularly for licensed properties, which almost always are tagged at a premium price.

Below are some examples of where it looks like they want to go with football uniforms, at least at the college level. While they will wear these outfits on a limited basis I don’t think it will take long for them to gradually become the norm and that all depends on how many jerseys, caps and hoodies they sell as gobs of merchandise to the general public fashion suckers.

Case in point, the University of Maryland.

Since they can’t maintain a consistent winning football program they opted for the thoroughbred jockey look to get noticed. Or it could be a retro-psychedelic appeal they were after? Medieval jousting at some hippie renaissance fair anyone?

Whatever their inspiration was, I personally haven’t seen a rush to buy crap that looks like that. Then again, I don’t live on the east coast.

Another case would be the University of Oregon.

This oddity is somewhat pleasing to the eye, if it were an NHRA top fuel or funny car dragster. Maybe. When your team name is The Ducks I guess there isn’t much 'bad-ass' visual interest to borrow from so why not try to look like an eagle on acid?

Tradition is being forgotten as time and culture and the dash for mega cash marches on. Another case in point would be the extremely traditional University of Notre Dame. (Cue the Notre Dame haters in 3…2… )

Last year while playing their opening game in Dublin Ireland against Navy, ND took to the field in a radically (for them) new uniform design. This is what they wore.

Somewhat of a departure for a school steeped in tradition don’t you think? But in a never-ending crusade to remain the wealthiest college football program of all time anything goes when it comes to selling crap. Was it good enough to translate into sales of 'bad-ass' caps and hoodies that appear to be advertising a heavy metal or rap album cover and thus generate a ton of income for them? Maybe not. So try, try again.

How about their new ND entry for this year’s neutral site home game to be played in Soldier Field against the University of Miami in October?

Throw it up against the wall and see what sticks profit-wise. Or just plain throw up. Makes my head hurt to look at it. I can't think of a more fashionable way to suffer a concussion.

What appears to be a semi truck loaded with merchandise crashed into the Golden Dome was captured on a palette by Pablo Picasso’s ghost.

As if they don’t have enough ghosts to worship in South Bend.

In today’s college football, asymmetrical design along with day glow colors and helter-skelter composition seems to be in style while tradition goes into the trash. It shouldn’t be long before more new-age design and fashion seeps into the college football norm.

To be clear, I am not against progress or fashion or generating income. All I ask is why athletic fashion cannot be done with a bit more taste and class with a tip of the hat to tradition?


Dan from Madison said...

Those unis that ND will be wearing while they get pounded by Miami at Soldiers Fields are god awful. Honestly, I don't mind the leprechaun at all, it is the golden q-bert screen on the other 5/8 side that I hate.

Illinois will be re-doing their unis next year and it couldn't come at a better time. Our helmet is arguably one of the worst in football to match the program.

But yes, I agree with you. Tradition is gone. And nobody really seems to care.

Gerry from Valpo said...

I always liked the simple Illinois uni's and their school colors.

Their Chief icon was a real classic, it was timeless. Loved it!

While living in Illinois I wore an Illinois Injun' icon t-shirt just to piss off the PC schmucks. Wore it until it went threadbare.

U of I cowards simply walked away from that classic Injun' icon without a putting up a respectable fight.

Just like their football teams.

Dan from Madison said...

You could see the writing on the wall for the poor chief even when I was in school. The ironic thing is that once you remove Indian names and mascots, that is one less thing that reminds us of their history. I saw a preliminary design of the new Illinois helmet and it is blue with a block orange I - I approve if that is how it ends up - like I have been saying for years.

Once Notre Dame joins the Big Televenty we can commiserate in the cellar together.

Gerry from Valpo said...

Saw this and it is a fine example of new age design with a tip of the hat to tradition. Very well done but don't know if it is concept or reality.


Gerry from Valpo said...

Saw this and it is a fine example of new age design with a tip of the hat to tradition. Very well done but don't know if it is concept or reality.


Dan from Madison said...

WOW that is friecking awesome and I totally approve! Anything is better than our miserable current helmets.

Sk8 said...

Fun post. Did DFM bet you 5$ you couldn't use "festoon" in a post? The. Awesome...