Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Lots Of Unnecessary

After running down some Russian news stories yesterday, this Canadian hockey blog turns its attention to our neighbours to the south... and northwest. Team USA rolled out their updated uniforms created by Nike at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Washington, DC and the reaction was, well, lukewarm at best. I've always been a fan of the historical Team USA jerseys for their classy and understated look, and it appears that Nike wanted to use the team's history to create a memorable uniform for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. If there's one thing that Nike ensured, they will be memorable. Perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Here is what the men's hockey team representing the USA will wear in Sochi.
Nike deemed these uniforms to be based on "decades of design". I guess you can claim that when you base your design on the 1932 Team USA sweater, but it gets garbled when you mix 1976 Team USA elements in. If you're like me when you saw these uniforms, immediately your eye was drawn towards the shiny stars plastered all over the shoulders. I'm not saying it's bad, but I find them to be entirely unnecessary. For a team that prides itself on the red-white-and-blue, the latter two colours are represented well. While I get that the logo adds more red, it's almost as if Nike wanted to use as little red as possible. Could they have not added a red hem stripe?

Apparently not. According to Nike, there were a pile of new design elements and ideas used in creating this uniform. Nike employed "reduced seaming" to eliminate weight and create "a more traditional blocked look". Except that hem stripe that's missing IS a traditional hockey look. It helps to give a blocked look to the uniform. I'm not sure how much extra weight the uniform would have had with the additional stripe, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have made the difference between gold and silver. Oh, and "[l]ightweight premium letters and numbers shave off unnecessary weight"? Whoopty-freaking-doo.

One cool feature? Nike used "recycled polyester" as it "embraces sustainable innovation without compromising performance. Each jersey is made from about seventeen plastic bottles and the socks use approximately five plastic bottles." I'm totally a fan of this idea. Well done on being green, Nike. The only question I have is how the uniforms will stand up to wear and tear. Time will tell, I suppose.

And just to top off the rhetoric about how scientifically fantastic these uniforms are, Nike added "[z]oned ventilation and articulated sleeves for ventilation and maximum range of motion" and "[s]tretch open hole mesh under arm for added ventilation." In other words, the players won't be too warm on the ice. This isn't science. These are holes. Holes are not scientific.

Honestly, though, if the players like them and feel comfortable in them, does it really matter what I think? David Backes gave us his thoughts today when he said, "I like it. I think they're very snazzy. Anything with USA on it is fine by me. Someone put a lot of thought into it and designed a pretty nice jersey," he said. When asked about the fake laces on the neckline, he replied, "That's maybe suspect." So not everything gets a pass by the players either.

The one thing that Nike added was a message inside the neckline of the uniform. The patriotic message "Land of the Free, Home of the Brave" is written along the neckline on the inside of the uniform, continuing a trend that was started in the NHL and one that I particularly hate. What purpose does this message serve? Are the players who are suiting up for America unaware of this motto? Is this the first time any of them have heard those words spoken about their birth country? WHY DO TEAMS INSIST ON DOING THIS?!?

And just for good measure and to annoy me even further, Nike also paid homage to the 1960 and 1980 USA gold medal winners by putting a reminder of these two teams inside the right sleeve. While my writing doesn't convey it, I am enraged right now. STOP PUTTING USELESS CRAP ON THE INSIDE OF THE UNIFORMS! Although, it appears that the references to the gold medal-winning American squads are actually along the neckline. So which is it, Nike? Two images with two different messages - something fishy is going on here.

While the uniform is historic in its empirical form, all the extraneous garbage found on this uniform brings it down. I appreciate Nike's homage to the history of Team USA and I'll even credit them for using the recycled plastic bottles in making these uniforms, but the lack of a distinctive American colour, the lack of traditional hockey sweater elements, and the extremely unnecessary "features" of this uniform will have the Americans in the middle of the pack in Sochi when it comes to their look.

Let's just hope the American women look better in their uniforms.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At least we don't have the Nazi SS uniform like Team Canada does..