Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Walk Through Sports Uniform History

Today's posting is only merely inspired by our Old Friend Larry Brooks as just six weeks after ripping the Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby for having the audacity to be willing to work with Reebok on the new NHL Uniform systems; today in true Larry Brooks style he's offering praise to Cindy for apparently bringing down the new form fitting Reebok jerseys.

On a side note here, a Dictionary lesson is giving people the definition of a word, a Thesaurus lesson is providing synonyms and antonyms. Please make a note of that Larry.

Of course Ol' Lar much like the haughty-high-and-mighty-holier-than-thou self appointed "hockey purists" (most of whom never saw a game before 1982) drones on about the "classic" and "sacrosanct" look of NHL uniforms (which of course includes the ironclad rule that the home team ALWAYS wears white) that did not need an update or a change.

I mean, "hockey tradition" has been such a boon for the NHL in the first place. The much ballyhooed golden days of the 1970's and 1980's saw the NHL fourth among the four professional sports leagues. Lose their U.S. Network TV contract and was capped off with their banishment from ESPN to a conglomeration of local cable sports networks.

Yeah, the NHL "tradition" was such an unmitigated success in the past that only the biggest of fools would dare attempt to change it and grow the game beyond the tens of thousands of people who come out to watch the game and the million or so who bother to tune in on TV.

But, we've been down this road before so without much further ado, here's a history of various uniforms worn by professional athletes (pictures credited where possible):

Here's old "Slingn' Sammy" Baugh. Not a whole lot of extra fabric there. Though I wonder if he approved of:

Joe Theismann's single bar facemask? Look at the extra jersey hanging off the shoulder pads and hanging over the pants here.
Courtesy of the Washington (Com)Post

Not only does Jason Campbell have a full facemask, his jersey is rather tighter than Theismann's. I'm sure Baugh however thinks both of these guys are wimps not only because of the plastic protective helmets they're wearing, but because they also only play one position as opposed to the four he played.

If you thought the "Classic" NHL jerseys were baggy, here Ty Cobb and Shoeless Joe Jackson show you just what a baggy uniform is.

Babe Ruth however needed all the extra fabric to hide his beer gut in the later years of his career...

Of course Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* might have appreciated the extra fabric because it would have helped hide his transformation into this...

from this...

If you look closely, you see Bob Cousy wearing a belt.

Dr. J however didn't wear a belt in his day.

I wonder if NBA fans are angrier with Kobe Bryant for his antics on and off the court or the fact that his uniform is a direct affront to "NBA Tradition"????

Courtesy of the Boston Herald

Here's the most famous picture in NHL history. You realize that this picture was taken in the Boston Garden right? Look at all the extra jersey flapping in the breeze...

Is it me or does Wayne Gretzky here seem to have close to the same cut as Bobby Orr does in the picture right above this one only with more equipment?


Do you think A.O.'s All-Star Uniform (which is where the Reebok system first debuted) look more like the "modern jersey" or:

Maurice "Rocket" Richard?

Of course these uniform rants are rather odd if you ask me. Gary Bettman is vilified because the self appointed "hockey purists" believe he's trying to turn the NHL into the NBA. There's some rational logic behind this because Bettman was an understudy for the current NBA Commissioner David Stern before taking over the NHL. Of course, before David Stern took over the NBA, the NBA had tight, form fitting uniforms. The NBA's uniforms didn't "expand" until after Stern took over. Now the NHL's jerseys were "expanding" by the time that Bettman took over but the "baggy" look wasn't considered "cool" until Bettman was in charge. Now Bettman is trying to take the NHL back to its roots and the self appointed "hockey purists" demand the NBA look in the NHL in the name of tradition.

I know, I know ... makes total sense doesn't it???



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