Welcome to the new age of college sports. It is no longer all about how you play, but how you look. Do athletes really believe the old saying- "if you look good you play good?" Research seems to show that not only is this belief true, but programs have seen great benefits from more flashy and appealing uniforms.
Recruiting is one area that is greatly impacted by this new era of uniforms. Take LaMichael James for example, he was one of the best running backs in the country coming out of high school in 2008. He had the opportunity to go to a number of different schools across the country. What initially attracted him to take his talents to Oregon? According to collegespun.com he is quoted as answering, “I loved the uniforms.” James went on to be an outstanding player at Oregon and easily one of the best running backs in the country. Is it hard to believe it all started with a uniform that caught his eye?
Why is it that a uniform has become such a staple of a team, their image, and recruiting? The answer might be a little more obvious than you think. When someone is searching for a new car what do they look at first before anything else? Do we look at the price, MPG, customer reviews? No, we take a look on what is on the outside. Can I see myself driving that car? Would I feel “cool” in it? If the answer is yes then we are hooked. Car companies have already got their foot in the door. Everything else can be negotiated to an extent, but if all else fails we wouldn’t be caught driving a car we see as ugly. This is the same philosophy that has become a part of American culture, and every business knows it. Make no mistake about it, college football is one of these businesses.
In 1997 Oregon took the uniform world by storm with a set of uniforms that were revolutionary. The bright colors and flashy designs had never been seen before. Ever since then uniforms have turned into a multi-million dollar business. Most deals are upwards of $100 million dollars or more, certainly enough money to attract colleges to the uniform market.
Since the explosion of this business within college football, recruit's opinions about the importance of uniforms have skyrocketed. According to Robby Kalland at CBSsports.com, seventy-two percent of FBS recruits consider uniforms as one of the most important factors in choosing a school. For young men in today’s culture, looking good means playing good. If you look good, then you get more Instagram likes. If you get more Instagram likes you get more fame and recognition. It all goes hand in hand, and colleges understand.
A changing culture, a growing business, and a desire for fame, all of these factors are a part of this new era of college sports. If you like it or not, flashy uniforms are here to stay and a lot of money is being made from them.
Written by Albert Mitchell
General Editor: Macy Marin