When It Comes To Sports – I’m Blacked Out
It is a trend that quite frankly has irritated me for quite some time now. I know I shouldn't be that concerned with such trivial matters as the color scheme of a few pro sports teams, especially in light of all the financial and political chaos in this country, but I am. Sports are about tradition and tradition has always been about building something meaningful and being proud of what you are and where you come from.
I did not reach my level of concern without first trying to understand and adapt to the current trend in pro sports apparel. I considered that black may be slimming and, that alone would be a legitimate reason to adopt the color. However this method of reasoning soon left my mind when I gazed upon Warren Sapp looking just as fat in Raider silver and black as he did in Buccaneer red and pewter. We'll discuss pewter later!
I know my disgust will not be enough to cause a sufficient ground swell of emotions to overturn this trend in sports fashion, and I recognize that there may be some who disagree with my viewpoint. So, let me bring some solid factual insight to this matter.
Let's start with the NFL.
Sometime after the 1990's the Philadelphia Eagles began to wear black. At first they began subtly adding it in the form of trim and then openly began wearing a black alternate jersey. The Eagles are a proud and historic franchise that dates back to 1933. Their team colors have always been green and white, sure they added a splash of silver in the 1970's, but it was the disco era and it was understated and tastefully done. Clad in the traditional green and white they played in three consecutive NFL championship games from 1947-1949, winning twice, 1948 and 1949. The colors would lead them to another championship in 1960. Wearing black the Eagles reached the NFC Championship game five times in eight years (2001-2008), losing four times - the one time they were successful they lost the Super Bowl. They were arguably the better team and at home for several of those games - blame the black.
The Detroit Lions entered the NFL in the 1930's sporting the colors Honolulu blue and silver. Why you'd ever want to mess with Honolulu blue is a puzzle, but let's stick with facts and save the commentary for later. Sporting their traditional colors, the Lions won NFL Championships in 1935, 1952, 1953 and 1957. Now I know they've had a little dry spell that has lasted some fifty years now, but adding black has provided them with eight consecutive losing seasons. It's not the answer.
Other examples would include the Baltimore Ravens, Super Bowl Champs in purple. In black, nothing but disappointment. Teams that are also kidding themselves would be the Carolina Panthers; stick with the Carolina blue please. The Atlanta Falcons, sure they made the Super Bowl when they switched to primarily black uniforms, but it resulted in defeat, to the Denver Broncos, who were the worst Super Bowl performing team in history to that point - go back to red and stay true to yourselves boys. Jacksonville, go back to the blue, black will slow you down in the hot Florida sun - I'm just saying.
The only teams that are approved to wear black in the NFL are the Oakland Raiders, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New Orleans Saints. Bengal fans settle down, your team should be thrown out of the league for the tiger striped horror show that appears every Sunday on television screens across America, trumped only by the "creamsicle" orange alternate uniforms adopted a few years ago.
Let's examine our national pastime, Major League Baseball for a moment.
Allowed to wear black are the Chicago White Sox, the Detroit Tigers and the Pittsburgh Pirates - that's it. I acknowledge there is some gray area with the Baltimore Orioles, Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants, but what makes fashion sense in baseball is to be traditional and wear white at home and gray on the road. Some suggestions would be the following; Orioles, I'm fine with black as a third uniform for you, but truth be told in the 1970's when you first opted to have a third uniform you chose orange. Maybe you should be made to live with that decision. Marlins, black has been part of your original color scheme from the beginning, although you look more professional in the blue uniforms. Rockies just wear the purple and Giants you also took the path of the Orioles and chose orange in the 1970's.
Wearing black for no apparent reason, the Toronto Blue Jays, winners of back to back World Series in 1992 and 1993 wearing their traditional sky blue uniforms and in black, nothing but losing.
The Arizona Diamondbacks seemed to have come to their senses as an organization, after having dabbled with many looks over the years, including the dreaded black uniform; they seem to have settled on red as a primary color and it looks sharp. Kudos to the D-backs.
The New York Mets entered the National League in 1962 and pronounced themselves "the team" for all of the former Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants fans, who no longer had a team to call their own. They even made a big deal of announcing that they were adopting the colors blue (in honor of the Dodgers) and orange (in honor of the Giants). Wearing those colors they would win the World Series in 1969 and 1986. Then for whatever reason early in this decade, they adopted black into their color scheme. Perhaps they thought black would make them look tougher! In October of 2000 the Mets found themselves in the World Series again this time against their cross-town rival Yankees, the team probably most responsible for hastening the demise of the Dodgers and Giants in New York during the 1950's. The Mets lost, of course, black in the uniforms to blame and the looking tougher, well that theory went out the window when Roger Clemens fired a piece of Mike Piazza's broken bat at him and Piazza and the Mets did absolutely nothing about it! Perhaps yellow may have been a more appropriate color choice.
The NBA is absolutely ridiculous and I am reluctant to test my blood pressure any more than necessary, so lets leave it at this, the San Antonio Spurs are the only team that should be wearing black in the NBA, period!
The Celtics, Knicks, 76ers and Bulls should know better than to mess with success. The Kings are probably just trying to toughen up after being called the "Queens" for years by Shaquille O'Neal. We know now that doesn't work - see Piazza and the Mets. The Miami Heat should stick to red, the Orlando Magic, blue and the Utah Jazz, purple. The Portland Trail Blazers switched to black from red and now lead the league in arrests - your team colors are red; note your 1977 NBA championship team.
Hockey sadly has many of the same issues.
The Philadelphia Flyers with one of the most distinct uniforms in the league, orange trimmed in black and white, won Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. In this decade they have bowed to the trend and adopted a black uniform. The Flyers of the 1970's certainly didn't bow to trends, in fact they fostered a reputation of going against trends in the NHL and this new generation of Flyers should adopt the same stance.
The Chicago Blackhawks have traditionally sported, what I believe to be the nicest uniform in hockey. They get a pass here though, as originally they wore predominantly more black than red and won Stanley Cups clad in both red and black uniforms. A pass also goes to the Ottawa Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning, though I like them better in red and blue respectively.
The Flames should never have deviated from the red and yellow that brought them a Stanley Cup in 1989. The Washington Capitals are looking better these days in their new federal blue uniforms - nice job. The Dallas Stars, cup winners in 1999 wearing green, have done nothing wearing black. The Anaheim Ducks or Mighty Ducks - forget it, they should be thrown out of the league for ever having been known as the Mighty Ducks.
Approved to wear black in the NHL, the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Of course with everything there is an exception to the rule and the Penguins are it. They originally entered the NHL in 1967 wearing powder blue and black. In 1979 they legitimately adopted the colors black and gold to keep themselves in line with the city's other two sports residents, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Steelers had won four Super Bowl Titles at that point and the Pirates had just won their fifth World Series. The Penguins had suffered through seven losing seasons in their first decade. Since the switch to black and gold they have won three Stanley Cups. Checking the "tale of the tape", teams stated, wearing traditional uniforms have won 15-championships, when switching to black uniforms nothing! The Penguins are excluded, remember I legitimized them. So facts are facts and numbers don't lie. If you want to be successful in professional sports keep your teams operating in the "black" and playing in their traditional colors.
By the way, any of you who read this and said to yourselves, "the Chicago Bears and New York Yankees wear black and he forgot to mention them." They wear blue - and that's a topic for another day!