Oregon Duck Football: What Could Be Done With the Money Spent on Uniforms?

Phil CaldwellCorrespondent IIIDecember 6, 2010

CORVALLIS, OR - DECEMBER 04:  Kenjon Barner #24 of the Oregon Ducks runs for a touchdown against the Oregon State Beavers during the 114th Civil War on December 4, 2010 at the Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

This year I’ve done several articles giving the Oregon Ducks a hard time about various factors. Truth be told I have this disturbing personality disorder that likes to tease people. Just ask my kids.

So when I saw that the Oregon Duck fans were urping up their dinners over my wisecracks earlier this year, well shoot.  That’s like dangling red meat in front of a wild mountain boar (I said boar, not bore!)

Now we all know how insecure the Oregon Ducks are, evidenced by all these knucklehead uniforms they’ve been coming up with over the last several seasons.  For all we know, they may show up against Auburn next month wearing Miami Dolphins throwbacks.

As I’ve explained previously, some of the more successful football programs in the Pac-10 like to think of the Oregon Ducks in the same way a cool older brother might see his geeky little brother who spends his life trying to match up. 

The respect thing is a tough deal.  Even when junior does achieve amazing heights, the older brother still thinks he’s a little dweeb who doesn’t deserve to breath. That’s sorta how USC, UW and some of the others with football tradition see the Oregon Ducks too. 

Perhaps because of the Duck's dismal football accomplishments until recently. During the 1980's, two wins for an Oregon team was enough to save a coach's job!

But there’s a bigger issue here with Oregon that probably applies to many teams in both college and high school sports, especially private baseball teams for teenagers that have six sets of road jerseys for a mere 29 game schedule.

With the Ducks, Oregon prides themselves on wearing a completely different set of colors for every single game.  Including helmets, with patterned metallics never before seen.  And not just the kid-caliber helmets that are fairly inexpensive, but helmets with fairly specialized designs and patterns.

None of these can be cheap.

Since the job of universities in this country is to teach responsibility to youngsters, I wanted to know how much are they spending on this, so I did some research on the SportsAuthority.com website. 

How many kids could be granted scholarships for college if that money were used for tuition?

An unmarked youth football helmet costs $180. An authentic professional helmet runs $284.  But I’ve gotta assume that the new helmets Oregon uses are probably better than what you can buy at Sports Authority, so they must cost more than that, right?

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and speculate that they can buy these new super-helmets for an even $300 each (although TV announcers have claimed that the helmet Matt Hasselbeck of the Seattle Seahawks uses costs over $500!)

Authentic college jerseys, again according to the online Sports Authority website, run $60-$79.  Let’s use the higher number for this, since I’d bet my house that I’m missing unknown expenses for this exercise.

Football pants run $39 for an all-white pant.  Oregon goes with weird colors for each game, lets call it $50.  Belts, socks, undershirts …… let’s call all that $75 per player.

Add all this up and it comes to $594 per college player for a new uniform, not including shoulder pads and other items football players need that none of us particularly want to see.

According to goducks.com, there are about 121 players on the Oregon Duck roster.

All told, doing the math on napkins like I’m doing it, I’m coming up with $71,874 per game for new uniforms for the Oregon Ducks, per game.  Add to that the artwork costs, and custom lay-ups that most uniform manufacturers charge, and delivery, and all that other good stuff required, and I gotta assume that this team is spending at least $100,000 per game for all these snazzy new uniforms in colors that have nothing to do with the school. 

Multiply that times 13 games and it looks like the Oregon Ducks spent $1.3 million on uniforms when they likely could have, and should have, spent a maximum of $200,000 for the year. All told, that’s over a million bucks squandered by the Ducks during an average football season for threads.

Now let’s think about how many needy kids could be educated for the same budget. Kids who could grow up to be leaders in society and productive citizens had they the chance to do that.

According to the Oregon Duck tuition guide, it costs $2,730 for tuition for a full year of 15 credits in 2010-11, which makes it $8,190 per year for a resident student. $1.1 million divided by $8,190 means 146 needy students could go to Oregon for a full year of three quarters (fall, winter & spring) with that much money. 

Lets see now…146 needy students, or nifty new threads for an institution trying to make some sort of weird statement about themselves to the rest of the nation? Boy, that’s a tough call. But not for the Duck athletic department, who opted to go with the snazzy new uniforms!

I can just hear what Oregon school officials will say when reading this. Something like “Well, it’s not an either-or decision.  We can do both.”

Uh-huh. Tell that to the 146 homeless students shivering in the snow outside the gates of your classrooms, starving, hungry, shoeless, with no home to go to. (Add tragic violins here.) All because the Oregon Duck football team wants a new set of uniforms for every single game. 

(Side note for humorless Oregon Duck fans about to mail me pipe bombs: The above paragraph is a JOKE! It's called witty sarcasm. Hilarious isn't it?)

Hey here’s a thought. When all those uneducated people grow up and become felons, they’ll be qualified to be Oregon Duck football members! Maybe it’s a recruiting tool for you?

Okay, that was a cheap shot. But let’s think of this in other terms.

What could an organization like World Concern in Shoreline, Washington, do with $1.1 million?

Reading the Facebook page entry that World Concern sent me yesterday, here’s what it says:

“Your gift multiplies 6 times, to a value of $18,000! Machine-drilled water wells in Kenya and Somalia bring health and hope. When villages lack clean water, women walk miles to collect dirty water from polluted ponds and streams. It takes them away from jobs and children. Providing a machine-drilled well improves the health of an entire community!”

Or how about this one sent on Saturday 12/4, while we were all watching the Ducks play in their never-before-seen new silver helmets and pants vs. Oregon State?

“For many women in arid eastern Chad, finding wood to cook with is an exhausting and dangerous challenge. Solar cooking provides a way to benefit from the abundant, free and safe energy nature supplies so generously in an area with more than 300 sunny days a year. For just $25, you can buy a solar stove kit and provide training on how to use it.”

Lets see now, $1.1 million divided by $25 equals what? Do I really need to do the math?

There was even this one:

“Concern Sri Lanka held several events to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and to remember those who lost their lives to the disease this year. In collaboration with the Jaffna Regional Department of Health Services, World Concern brought attention to the global AIDS crisis through a week-long awareness campaign that included essay competitions. Sixteen contestants received awards during a program on Dec. 1, which included a candle lighting ceremony in remembrance of those who died of AIDS this past year. World Concern also provided nutrition packages with a value of $97 USD for five AIDS patients."

Are you getting my point here?

There are a great many instances where we mis-spend money on really stupid things. Our government, absolutely. David Stern and the NBA come to mind.

If you're not a Duck or NBA fan, don't get judgmental. What about our own sports teams? What about what we fans spend? Instead of whining about what everyone else does, what could we ourselves do with all the money we have?

So I’ll leave it right there for this one, and all you Oregon Duck supporters can think about that the next time the Ducks show up in fluorescent pink jerseys with pearl metallic helmets.

Speaking as the most guilty member of society when it comes to this, just know how much of a hypocrite I am on matters like this.  We can do better with what we have, both in what we give and what we teach our children to do with money. I can do better with what I have!

I’m not sure we’re setting a good example with new uniforms for every single football game, nor with a great many other things we all do with our money! Let’s do better next year!