Is College Basketball Repeating Fashion History?

JoeSportsFanSenior Analyst IFebruary 3, 2010

Every generation in sports is subject to the changing trends in equipment and uniforms that will inevitably result in fans going back and mocking old photos years after we all agreed it was hip. If they didn’t, would have about 65% less content than it does today. 

Ewing2But while virtually all sports have their share of “fashion” mishaps, there is simply no sport that has had quite as many comical ones as basketball.  The poster child for basketball’s misadventures in gameday attire is and probably always will be the shockingly short shorts that players took the court wearing in the 70’s and 80’s.  The site of that much bare man-leg jogging around the court at one time remains far more jarring than anything cast upon us by the other sports of the era.

Watch a clip of the 1984 Orange Bowl and you’ll be distracted by the half shirts and neck rolls for a few seconds, tops.  Watch a clip of a 1984 Men’s NCAA Title game and you’ll be cowering in fear that Patrick Ewing’s giant dong might pop out and wink at you at any moment.  Let’s just all thank god that high definition television was decades away from being invented. 

But for as ridiculous as the super nut-huggers were, is it possible that we’re seeing the same trend in reverse every time we watch a 2010 college basketball team that features Nike’s “System of Dress” uniforms? 

I’m not exactly skilled at predicting the future, but I have a strong feeling that in 20 years, we’re going to see a photo of John Wall at Kentucky and wonder whether we are looking at a picture from a game or the Body Painting section of the SI swimsuit issue (link probably NSFW).  Realistically, how much different is Wall’s painted on jersey from say, Kurt Rambis’ skin tight shorts? Put the two together and the limbs of the player wearing them might be completely absent of blood flow in under ten minutes. 



And when the nipple-hugging Nike jersey gets coupled with the dryfit undershirt, it creates an effect eerily reminiscent of the white spandex tights era that was born as a revolt in the early 90’s by players whose bare thighs had been exposed for too long. 


We may just be witnessing history repeat itself only this time on the upper half of the body.  If so, we will probably have jerseys that look like slightly modified sports bras within a few years until some team takes the role of the “Fab Five” and comes out intent on making it cool to wear XXXXL jerseys. 

One thing remains certain however – regardless of whether college basketball once again pushes beyond the limits of socially acceptable clothing tightness on a male athlete, it can take solace in the fact that it will never be as stupid as this was…


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