Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nebraska's Black Uniforms: A Jaded Sellout Or Merely an Evolving Tradition?

When adidas unveiled the new TechFit uniforms that the Huskers will wear against UCLA in September, the reactions were predictable.  At each extreme, the reactions were strong:  they're awful, or they're unbelievably cool.  Some people embrace change, some people resist change. But that's cliched for the most part because I think most people actually are in the middle in this discussion.

Courtesy adidas
My take:  these uniforms are OK.  I wouldn't call them great, though I can see why players like them. The pictures that adidas released on Twitter don't do these justice.  When you look at them closely, the fabric has a subtle pattern that is cool.  But nobody watching in Memorial Stadium will be able to notice...neither will most people watching on ABC, except during close ups.

And the most important thing about these uniforms is that the players like them. After all, they are wearing them.  It's not about the fans.  It's not about the alumni.  And these uniforms are fine.  I can read the numbers on both the front and the back, and the jersey features a unique font.  So I don't have the issues that I had with the 2012 "version 0.1" of the "Unrivaled" uniform.  Those were ridiculed as "pajama-like" for good reason... many people found them ugly, but most importantly, the small jersey numbers on the front were illegible.  Even the players commented after the game that this style didn't work.

Those were bad alternate uniforms.  These are good alternate uniforms.  Alternate uniforms aren't inherently good or bad.  And it's not an adidas-is-bad, Nike-is-good situation either.  Nike dominates most lists of ugly uniforms, and adidas has released some decent uniforms as well. 

On the other hand, a lot of the criticism of these uniforms is that they are black, and Nebraska is known as the "Big Red".  Well, all white uniforms (hideous as they may be) never stopped a Husker fan from unleashing a GBR cheer.  Black won't either.

But it's breaking tradition, they claim.

Courtesy N'Sider Blog
Sorry, but uniforms are constantly changing and evolving.  In the early 90's, a patch was added to the side of the uniform and stripes were removed from the legs.  In the 80's, the N on the sleeve was removed and stripes were added.  The facemask went from grey to red.  In the 70's, jerseys were cut off with players sporting bare midriffs.  That's not a good look on football players.

And let's be honest. Black has become an official Nebraska football team color over the years with the the "Blackshirt" tradition.  School color?  Maybe not.  But the color is definitely a part of Nebraska football.

Last year's pajamas were actually based on 100 year old uniform styles when players wore the "N" on the front of the uniform...that was back before someone decided helmets were a good idea.  So even those are traditional.

For most fans, I think it comes down to taste.  Some people like rap music.  Some people like rock.  Some people like country.  Some people like classical.

Some people like these uniforms.  Some don't.  Welcome to America, where we all have the freedom to love or hate these uniforms...and tell everybody about it.

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