Wizards Fall for Fools' Gold (and Black)

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Washington Wizards unveiled their new alternate uniforms recently: a shiny gold top and black trunks, with lots of black stars on the sides and shoulders. The new uniforms are, in a word, ugly -- possibly the worst in the league. They look like circus costumes.

The team's new fashion statement got me thinking about sports uniforms. Some uniforms are cool. Some are not so cool. Let's look at the good, the bad and the ugly of sports uniforms.

National Basketball Association uniforms are all starting to look alike, but my favorite is the Phoenix Suns'. Royal purple is a strong color, and the circle around the number on the front of the jersey is a nice touch. Of course, maybe I like the Suns' uniforms because I love the team's run-and-gun style.

The Chicago Bears have the best uniform in the National Football League when they wear their dark helmets with the red "C," dark shirts and white pants. That's when the Bears look like the "Monsters of the Midway." When the Bears wear their orange jerseys, they look like the Chicago Pumpkins.

The Seattle Seahawks have the ugliest NFL uniforms, especially when they wear a single color. By the way, what is that color? Green? Blue? Gray? Or greenish-blueish gray? I can't find the Seahawks' color anywhere in my box of 64 crayons.

Lots of NFL teams have great helmets. I love the look of the helmets worn by the Colts, Falcons, Broncos and Texans. But the Miami Dolphins' helmet is dopey. A dolphin leaping out of the water wearing a helmet doesn't make the team look tough at all.

In college football, the Penn State uniforms are perfect: blue and white with nothing fancy. The University of Oregon's uniforms are a fashion nightmare. The Ducks wear green and yellow with some kind of crisscross pattern on the shoulders and knees .

Hockey uniforms are either terrific or terrible. I love the fiery red "C" on the Calgary Flames' jersey. The Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Minnesota Wild have cool jerseys, too. But I'm not crazy about jerseys with cartoon characters on the front such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes wear .

Of course, uniforms shouldn't matter. They don't help you score points. Still, uniforms are important to kids. Lots of kids have lucky numbers and favorite colors, or colors that they just can't stand.

One season when I was coaching, I was late picking up the shirts for my fourth-grade boys basketball team. The recreation department had only one color left.

"They're pink!" one of my players yelled as I handed out the shirts. "They're light red," I insisted.

The boys weren't so sure. It didn't help when the scorekeeper at our first game asked: "Why are you guys wearing girls' shirts?"

The next day the recreation department found my team new shirts. We played the rest of the season in blue. Just like the Wizards should do.

Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column and is an author of sports novels for kids.


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