Tom Smart, Deseret News
As the clock struck midnight Saturday night, the summer of 2013 faded into autumn, and so did the almost 100-year annual tradition of our BYU-Utah football rivalry.
But I, like so many, will drift to sleep with unsettling after-game thoughts like:
Kyle Van Noy postponed the NFL draft for this?
Die-hard lovers of the red and blue rivalry cried a tear over a two-year hiatus for this?
We stayed up past our bedtime for this?
And finally, how do we put an end to the fashion atrocities on the field?
I know, I know. Cue the eye rolling by all those who have endured the inane comments from superficial spectators who squeak at the most inopportune times, “I don’t like their outfits.”
The truth is, Ute and Cougar football was as disjointed as the spectrum of accessorized uniforms on the field.
We’ll start with the Cougar facemasks: iridescent blue? The same color as my 6-year-old daughter’s sparkling headbands? Flashy, yet distracting and so elementary.
And I don’t understand the new mini-shoulder pads that resemble a Mormon girl’s cap sleeves on her prom dress. How can they protect when they barely cover bulging biceps. (Was I complaining or admiring? I forget).
Anyway, the cap-sleeve uniforms barely covering tiny shoulder pads only aid in introducing myriad undershirt options for the guys on the gridiron: black or white undershirts; one long sleeve; two long sleeves; one or two arm pads; one or 20 arm bands; gray tape wrapped high and low from wrist to elbow as well as gloves of many colors. The variations are as numerous as the players on the team rosters.
And don’t get me started on the shorter football pants. Not only do they now show knees, they also show the make and model of every knee brace ever created. The shorter length also attracts attention to every player’s individual sock assembly: short socks; long socks; black and white socks; socks that show no skin at all; mismatched socks, and new to me, grey socklets that cover the outside of the cleats on one shoe or both.
Under the helmet: hair hangs out to varying degrees on many; the face paint drips in designs to intimidate opponents but unfortunately also scare the children; and the variation in facemask and shield designs is a feat of engineering.
Of all the things that need to be abolished before these teams set foot on the field again is the two-toned fabric on the pants and shirts of both uniforms. For several quarters, I couldn’t tell if those sections of fabric were sweat patterns or sheer nuisances, but it was irritating and unflattering.
If the rivalry game had been more exciting, I might not have been so cognizant of the visual overload, but it was crazy distracting.
Granted, I am no fashion expert and have often rolled my eyes at the simple-minded fans who notice uniforms more than athletic form or focus on color combinations more than the color commentary.
But I, bolstered by the consensus of opinions in the family room full of teens with whom I witnessed the pitiful game, plead with our players to unify in purpose and appearance. Renewed uniform solidarity might make for exciting football where it matters — in playing the game, not dressing up for it.
Sure, I saw the seedlings of all this football individuality earlier in the morning while watching my boy play a Little League game. One mom laced hot pink shoelaces in her son’s cleats to more easily keep track of him on the field. Another boy wore neon orange socks that have nothing to do with team colors as a way to stand out when he flies by opponents.
But I submit, on the well-manicured turfs of college stadiums, it’s time to set aside individualized outerwear and play like a team, work like a team and look like a team.
Save the fashion shenanigans for those who get paid to play where ego seems to be as important as skill in staying in the game another season.
With the arrival of autumn, here’s to many more crisp, sunny weekends where collegiate football stays on the field, not the commercialized runway.
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