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Field, Court Or Runway? Sports Uniform Fashion Has Gone Too Far

Britain Covey #18 of the Utah Utes celebrates celebrates a Armand Shyne touchdown against the Colorado Buffaloes in the third quarter at Folsom Field on November 17, 2018 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The old (and offensive) joke about women sports fans is they pick their teams based on the colors or the mascot. From my experience, men  – with all their talk about stats, play breakdowns or game perspective – care far more about the look or the “fashion” of the team.

Sports is a male-dominated industry, though that is changing, so I find it comical that the same people who protect their masculinity so carefully get so heated about the fashion statement their team makes with their uniform.

BYU fans argue about Royal or Blue while one of the most anticipated announcements for Utah fans is the hand-painted helmets.

What about Jazz fans? They go berserk when the team announces the special edition jerseys. Each version even has its own name – City Edition (yellow & orange), Classic Edition (throwback purple), Statement (yellow), Earned (gold for Christmas), Icon (blue) and Association (white).

How do fans even keep it all straight?

I spend less time thinking about what I wear over the course of an entire year than many Jazz fans think about what the team is wearing.

Is this a basketball court or a runway?

Sports fans have become fashion critics who obsess, talk and tweet about the uniforms their teams are wearing.

Utah Unveils ‘State Pride’ Helmet

The Utah Football team equipment account unveiled a new helmet Tuesday night. They’ll don the caps against Idaho State Saturday. Twitter exploded with some positive, but also many negative opinions.

Ute fans, is it really worth your time to dog the uniform on Twitter?

As I dug into the tweets about the new helmets (and I don’t recommend ever digging too deep into Twitter), most of the commenters frankly didn’t seem to have much fashion sense of their own. Sorry guys. Khaki shorts, Oakley gas-can sunglasses and bright white New Balance sneakers aren’t exactly trendy, unless you’re my 13-year-old sister or one of her middle school friends who proudly rock the chunky, white sneakers – but that’s a different story.

Former Ute punter Tom Hackett said it best.

“Funny how grown a** men, whose wife/mother/guardian buys clothes for them have such strong fashion opinions,” he tweeted.

Utah Football equipment will soon unveil this season’s hand-painted helmets. I’ll try to stay off Twitter and keep my headphones in that day.

BYU Royal vs Navy

Cougar faithful have spent years arguing about the shade of blue  – royal blue or navy blue – that fans and the team should wear.

It’s not only the fans on this one, former Cougar defensive end Jason Buck often gripes that the school should “go back to royal blue only.”

Some Cougar fans may hate me for bringing this up, but who could forget the infamous “bib” uniforms from 1999. These two-tone gold and navy uniforms came from a Nike rebrand and only lasted one season after an outcry from fans.

Fans were so blown away by these uniforms I was able to find plenty of conversation about them on Twitter and Twitter wasn’t even created until seven years after the Cougs wore the bibs.

All Black Everything

Every year fans get amped up for Utah Football’s blackout game. For the annual event fans and the team wear all black. I remember this being the most talked about and anticipated game of the year among my fellow MUSS (Mighty Utah Student Section) members.

Schools across the nation have similar traditions. This year Utah State is joining the blackout party. The team announced via Twitter the theme for their game against BYU is blackout.

While BYU usually has a whiteout game, fans have pined for a blackout game. They got a taste of the blackout tradition when the team wore all-black uniforms in 2012 and 2014. Per usual, sports Twitter had plenty to say.

Real Salt Lake Parley Jerseys

It’s not just football and basketball, soccer fans get opinionated about jersey color and style as well. Real Salt Lake Fans will remember when the club wore powder blue jerseys last season.

Do you remember the purpose of these jerseys? I would venture a guess people were more concerned with what the jerseys looked like rather than what they stood for.

The blue jerseys were formally named the “Parley Jerseys.” They were made of recycled plastic that was discarded into the ocean. On each uniform was the message “For the Oceans” on the inside of the collar.

‘We Like Our Swag’

When teams unveil new uniforms or even just components of uniforms it is immediately a hot topic on our website and an even bigger conversation among my co-workers. New gear is usually my cue to put my headphones in and bury myself in work.

“We like our swag,” says Mitch Harper, KSL Sports’ BYU insider and host of the Cougar Tracks podcast.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my teams – but I’m much more concerned with how they put up a win than how they look while doing it.

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