Sunday, June 7, 2020

Jerseys with Objective: Apparel with purpose.

October 23, 2019 by  
Filed under Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( There are some truly iconic sports jerseys and uniforms. Professional sports uniforms like the New York Yankees, Green Bay Packers, and the Detroit Red Wings are some of the best professionally while Michigan Wolverines football, Alabama Crimson Tide football, and North Carolina basketball are among the classics that can be found in collegiate sports. The team uniforms are as important part of sports as the great players and moments themselves. The new NBA season means plenty of new uniforms but some of the best uniforms in sports are always the “throwback” jerseys and uniforms when teams pay homage to teams of the past. Two football teams recently debuted uniforms that had a social message as well as looking at the past.

The Chicago Bears are one of the classic franchises in the NFL’s history. The NFL is celebrating its 100 season with plenty of fanfare. The Bears themselves decided to wear their 1936 throwback uniforms in their September 29, 2019 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Those uniforms are significant because at that time black players were essentially blackballed and banned from the NFL during that time. According to the Washington Post, “from 1934 to 1946, there was an informal agreement among owners to ban African American players”. The 12 year informal ban was broken in 1946 by running back Kenny Washington of the Los Angeles Rams.

Prior to the game being played, the Chicago Bears addressed the fact that black players were prohibited from playing in the NFL and their team during that time through the team’s social justice committee comprised of players and Bears chairman George H. McCaskey in a two-minute video releasing a statement in a video saying, “This Sunday against the Vikings our players will wear the 1936 classic jersey. That was from a time when unfortunately African-Americans were not included on the Bears or other NFL rosters. Integration of the NFL and the Bears was too long in coming. But we’re proud that this year’s Bears will be the first African-Americans to wear these jerseys.” Clearly, the Chicago Bears are trying to put a positive face on the team’s discriminatory past and there is irony that the Bears’ social justice committee was formed in response to players kneeling and yet Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed not for his race but his political stance.

Another football made a different type of tribute to the past in college football with the Louisville Cardinals. During their October 5, 2019 game, the Louisville Cardinals wore uniforms to pay homage to a legendary figure, Muhammad Ali. Few people are associated with any city like Muhammad Ali is associated with the city of Louisville. Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky and Adidas created a classic look to their football uniforms to honor Ali. It was designed to resemble Ali’s pre-match robe and boxing trunks. It’s in black and white and featured a typography that was modeled after the back of Ali’s robe. Also, each Louisville player wore red football gloves to mimic boxing gloves on the field. It was a great look to represent an athlete who excelled on and outside the ring and was prominent about his beliefs and as an activist. The football team won that game wearing the Ali-inspired uniform as well.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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