Sunday, March 3, 2013

When Black Comes Home....

Apparently, black is the new black.  I've never totally understood when people declare that a certain color e.g. "pink" is the new black.  And I've never understood why teams that have respectable, handsome colors opt for the all black uniform.  And no, I'm not talk about the Kiwi Rugby team, the "All-Blacks."  NB: that has one of the coolest team names.  This trend is near and far--from Stanford to the University of Oregon, the Seahawks to the Saints.  Black looks sharp and fierce; it can make a fast athlete appear that much faster.  But to me, it lacks spirit.  It feels disconnected.
I was often critical of teams that wore it--perhaps they were compensating for a lack of history and tradition?  For example, I can't imagine that the University of Michigan would co-opt in their beloved maize and blue for black.  My goodness, fans yell "Let's go Blue!"

And then, black came home.  On November 29, 2012 the Notre Dame Men's basketball team unveiled black uniforms as they took on the University of Kentucky.  Who knows if that black fueled the team to their 64-50 rout over the eighth ranked team in the country.

I was however confused and mildly disgusted.  Why were we selling out?  I thought, Is this another marketing ploy?  A small part of me felt betrayed--I have spent a lot of air time clarifying to the non-Notre Dame faithful what our colors are.  Because our mascot is the Fighting Irish, it's natural to think we are represented by green and gold.  And on special occasions we are.  But according to, the Athletics Department's web source, 
The origin of school colors can be traced back to the founding of the University. At the time of its founding in 1842, Notre Dame's original school colors were yellow and blue; yellow symbolized the light and blue the truth. However, sometime after the Dome and Statue of Mary atop the Main Building was gilded, gold and blue became the official colors of the University.
So why the black? I don't know.  Perhaps like the "Shamrock Shake" series that you will see for 2013 post-season play "the team and recruits love them" is the answer.  

Regardless, I write this post because well over half the time I hold a strong and judgmental stance, something unexpected affects my view.  The Notre Dame black uniform was no exception.  The Notre Dame men's basketball website reports:
As relief efforts continue for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and most notably for those in the state of New Jersey, the Fighting Irish basketball team is getting involved in the cause. 
A special online auction will be held from Jan. 7-17, 2013 on Notre Dame's official web site as fans have the opportunity to bid on several unique items. Proceeds from the auction will be presented to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie, a longtime friend of Irish head coach Mike Brey, is scheduled to be in attendance at the Notre Dame-Rutgers game at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 8:00 pm (ET). 
The top and highest bidding items were the special black uniforms designed by adidas and worn by the Irish during Notre Dame's 64-50 win on Nov. 29 against eighth-ranked Kentucky. The uniforms in the auction will be those of starters Eric Atkins (#0), Scott Martin (#14),Jerian Grant (#22), Pat Connaughton (#24) and Jack Cooley (#45).
When I read this, I suddenly saw those uniforms with new eyes.  They looked so sharp!  I wanted one to hang in my hypothetical office? game room? Notre Dame wall of fame?!  I ate my (black) crow and put in my bid.
I won't go so far to say that Notre Dame took lemons to make lemonade.  Rather, I will let this lesson be an example by which to remind myself that a healthy suspicion toward marketing might be justified, never underestimate that it can also be put toward something good.  Black came home, but we did with it what I hope Notre Dame would do.

What are your thoughts on black uniforms?  Not exactly a moral issue...but a fun one.

Photo Credits
Shamrock Shake

Black out
Big Win

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