It is my responsibility, as a baseball columnist, to stay alert to major shifts in culture which will affect our sport of choice. Surely you’ve noticed that players have begun changing uniforms every at-bat, rather than maintaining the same old boring design or logo or even uniform colors game to game. Our attention spans deserve better.

For a shining example in using uniform design to hold the loving embrace of fans’ continuous attention beyond five seconds, we must look to the example of speedskating. If you missed the U.S. Olympic trials–and, come on, who did, we were all glued to this national holiday–then allow me to keep you on trend.

Several suit designers, material experts, engineers, coaches, marketing executives, everyone at UnderArmour, USOC committee members, athletes, and the entirety of the US Speedskating infrastructure looked at the following and said: “This is the look we want to go with, here in the one week every four years we have to showcase our sport before the planet.”

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At first I thought this was an issue simply of no women being about. When that happens, you tend to end up with world wars, twelve men on the field penalties, every single Transformer movie, and this apartment I used to live in that featured a gigantic mirror facing the toilet. I did some deep sports analysis research by executing a two-second Google image search and discovered that no, the women’s uniforms are no saner:

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To be fair, even more extensive research—switching to DuckDuckGo—revealed that these uniforms were in place for the last Olympics, which absolutely cannot be true. It has to be some sort of deep-state placement plot. I would have remembered seeing other human beings appearing in public, let alone on worldwide television, looking like this. As a person who watches figure skating even in non-Olympic years, I am a credentialed expert in people on skates looking idiotic, and there is no possible way this would have escaped my notice in Sochi.

I posted my immediate alarm about this on Facebook, and everyone immediately joined me in my deep concern that these athletes are somehow attempting to signal, via their crotches, that they are skating in circles under duress and desperately want out.

What’s going on here?  Is it, perhaps, an aid during relay races? “Brent, man, check between my legs and let me know if there’s anyone behind me.” I don’t expect hardcore fashion at sporting events, but designing uniforms that are just this side of PG-13 isn’t too much to ask.

Someone braver about their search history than I finally pointed out that the shiny material is in fact “ArmourGlide,” which results in faster times, which is still no excuse.  I have to wear pantyhose to make my high heels work properly, and that’s somehow readily available without making me look like I just fell off a float at the Terrible Mime Parade.

ArmourGlide supposedly reduces “thigh friction.” These are two words that should not go together in family-watching contexts, and yet here we are. The first Olympics speedskating event is on February 10 at 6 AM, so I’m just warning you– we are about to have a National Conversation about “thigh friction” whether you want it or not.

Fortunately, pitchers and catchers report on February 13.

Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college teacher who lives in Cincinnati, OH. Her home site, BlondeChampagne.com, has existed in at least some form since 2003, and Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006. She currently teaches college, runs personal wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance.

Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. Wouldn’t it have made more sense just to make the entire suit out of ArmourGlide? And what’s with the guy up there with one white skate on? Is that his Lucky Skate? And could the skaters have “skate-off” music, just like the batters have their walk-up music (yeah, I’m with you – I’d get rid of it actually, but like you said…here we are) – can you imagine a skater WHOOSH-ing across the finish line, and then suddenly “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” starts blasting out the PA system? SO many questions!

    Yeah, that’s right – I just took y’all back to the roller rink – cue the disco ball!

  2. Design.Fail.

    Thanks for the heads up … we in the USA love us some speed skating, so the conversation will happen. Cue the TV ads for “Thigh Master” …

  3. The representation of the 2014 Columbian women’s cycling team may have created a whole new perspective regarding an “acceptable” look in sports fashion. (Not condoning the speed skater look, either, regardless of what it does for the thighs.)

    • Tip: If you are curious as to what he meant (I thought he meant maybe the cyclists were dressed like speed skaters – they aren’t!), do not Google “2014 Columbian women’s cycling team” if you are at work.

      • I for one looking forward to the return of Tongo to the Parade of Nations.

    • I remembered those horrendous uniforms but had conveniently forgotten when and where they were worn. I am not happy that you’ve refreshed my memory and now am having real trouble resisting the urge to do a google search EVEN THOUGH I KNOW WHAT I’LL FIND! Please cancel my subscription to Playboy Mr. Hefner – a line has been crossed that can’t be uncrossed. Oh the horror! So I’m laughing my way through Wednesday morning and even more excited for the Winter Olympics to start. Bring on short track speed skating, 24 hour biathlon, and pitchers and catchers. I love them all!

  4. Effin hilarious. None of the skaters in the pics posted above look very happy to be in the uniform. Can’t say I blame them.

    • And I thought it was undignified to wear Umbros under my high school uniform jumper…

  5. I wish they would put basketball in the winter Olympics. it would give a regular guy like me a reason to go to watch the winter games. plus basketball tends to get overshadowed a little in the summer games.

    • That’s such a a good point—basketball should be only in the Summer Games if they play it outside in someone’s driveway.

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About Mary Beth Ellis

Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college teacher who lives in Cincinnati, OH. Her home site, BlondeChampagne.com, has existed in at least some form since 2003, and Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006. She currently teaches college, runs personal wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance.

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2018 Reds, Baseball Is Life