Jersey critics need to take a moment
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
I’ve never understood, and likely never will understand, people who criticize sports jerseys. I’m not talking about the common man who simply comments with a, “Not my favourite”; I’m talking about those who completely rag on a design. Tear it to shreds. Say what a terrible disgrace it is for any athletic organization to take to the fight with that abomination on their back. …uh, guys? It’s a jersey.
Jersey critics fall into a funny category for me. They care about sports enough that they’re aware of traditions, history, and past designs, but they place such an overwhelming importance on superficial issues that they can’t possibly be real supporters. Basically, they’re Vancouver Canuck fans (hey, we were all thinking it). Don’t get me wrong, I like a good-looking uniform as much as the next person. But if it’s ugly as sin I’m not going to raise a ruckus like the world is ending.
Case in point: Canada’s Sochi 2014 jerseys. All three—the red, the white, and a black—look fine to me. Anything special? Not really. But again, who really cares? The naysayers were quick to point out the resemblance to the Petro-Canada logo and how Nike totally tanked on the red and white unis, but it was the black that really evoked a reaction. Many have commented or tweeted about how the jersey is a little too Nazi for their tastes.
While it’s usually no laughing matter when such a sensitive issue is brought up, this should evoke a slight grin, or at least humorous cringe, from everyone. It’s the classic overreaction—a rapid escalation—from a tame comment. It’s George Costanza’s, “Yeah? Well I had sex with your wife!” If you’re really trying to find fault with the design you can see where they’re coming from, but it’s still a reach. A red armband on a black jersey. Forgive me if countless atrocities weren’t the first thing that popped into my head when I saw it.
In case it was missed in the kerfuffle, all three jerseys feature armbands. And all three also have some sort of Canadian insignia on them. From my non-critic view, I thought the black was the classiest of the three.
In the end, there will always be oversensitive people who cry bloody murder at the slightest hint of controversy. Likewise, there will always be trailblazers who continually test boundaries. This case is a bit of both, though mostly the former. The jersey very obviously isn’t a tribute to a dark force in the world’s history; however, such concerns were voiced prior to its release when photos were leaked. If Nike and Hockey Canada really wanted to avoid comments such as, “Just saying, Canada, last time a bunch of guys with one armband tried to go deep into Russia, it didn’t work out too well for them,” (@jessespector), they could have.
Go Canada. Or whatever.