|Not Chad Marshall (l), Not Chad Marshall (c), Chad Marshall (r).|
They're really not as bad as you think.
Okay, maybe one of them is really messed up; though, I might surprise you when I say that it's not the one that most people seem to think is awful. The day before the big unveiling, I wrote a long post about the new 2012 home & away Columbus Crew jerseys, in which I gave my take on what I thought was the inspiration for the new away shirt:
...if the description of the 2012 away shirt for the Crew is accurate, and if the drawing [...] that I did from that description is close to the mark, then there's no doubt that the 1996 Crew away shirt was the inspiration for its design. And I like that—for maybe the first time ever—the word "inspiration" can be used in a sentence about a Columbus Crew jersey. Based on the description, it's not a purely retro look, but it refers back strongly to the first kits from 1996-1998, and it lets the fans know that someone is thinking about the arc of Columbus soccer history and the other things that I mentioned above.
So I was happy Monday morning when I read in the Crew's announcement that . . .
The move to white is a nod to the club’s early years, marking the first time since 1999 that white has been significantly incorporated into a jersey design. The retro look will remind longtime fans of the Crew’s three consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals from 1997-99.
All three of which the Crew lost, but that's ancient-f#@%ing-history and we can look back at those days fondly (f#@%ing DCU). It shows that someone's thinking about things that need to be thought about (m*therf#@%ing DCU). And, like I mentioned on Sunday, I'm a fan of that. So, that makes me happy.
That said, I'm not totally thrilled. Not many people are. Twitter and Facebook were awful interesting yesterday. Supporters asked players what they thought, and some of the non-answer responses were outstanding:
Columbus fan-favorite and all-around classy lady Katie Witham gave her opinion, and she seemed to be in agreement with Justin Meram's presumption that the designer was male:
Yeah, you're probably right about that. Sorry?
Crew fan forums, and even the ExtraTime Radio Prairie Home Companion podcast addressed the uniform situation on Monday. Jason Saghini did his best to reassure Crew supporters with one of the better "give it some time" speeches I've heard in a while:
I just have this weird feeling that by the middle of the season next year people are going to be okay with it. People are going to take to it for some reason. [...] The Columbus [shirt's] like that ugly dog, I think. People will take to it, eventually.
You know, someone has an ugly dog, but it's so ugly that people end up liking it.
Hey, that reminds me. Did anyone ask adidas if these uniforms have had all their shots?
The common criticism has been that the away shirt looks cut-off or unfinished. I don't remember seeing much of that sort of criticism of last season's Colorado Rapids away shirt (which I've already said too many times that I like a lot, so I'll stop now), and there are reasons why the Rapids shirt doesn't look as empty as the 2012 Crew away, despite it having more white space. The crest is placed on the left breast below the burgundy shoulder, which rises from the arms toward the neck—ironically, in a way that resembles the 1996 Crew jersey which inspired the 2012 away jersey. The Rapids kit also includes graphic elements along either flank, which slims the shirt (an important thing to remember when you want to sell it to average fans who aren't typically as fit as professional athletes). The new Crew jersey is one solid block of white from front to back. Combine that with the placement of the crest and the high line where field of white meets black and gold stripes, and the result is that the trunk of the shirt overwhelms the shoulders, shrinks the chest, and emphasizes everything else. Put simply, the proportions are just odd.
But, again—on this point I want to be very clear—I do like the idea behind it. With a little more thought, the outcome could've been very good. So, what to think about this profoundly negative reaction? and what can be done? I wrote in the blog on Sunday that I saw a cold reception coming:
If the above design is what we'll be seeing for the next two seasons, I think it will look fine, but I don't know if it will sell. In fact, I'm kind of thinking that it might find a less-than-receptive audience in the beginning.
I still think that it will look okay, just not great. And, in this regard, I agree with Jason Saghini that some people will come around, particularly if the team plays a less mind-numbingly boring style of soccer next year than they did in 2011 with Bobby-Ball 2.0. Ugly dogs do find homes, but they'd better have great personalities, be able to catch frisbees, do basic math problems, or get hits on YouTube, because no one likes a mean, boring, ugly dog with no personality and no talent. All right, this metaphor needs to be put down, already. Pun intended.
And what can be done? I'm sure, very soon, that we'll hear some inspiring corporate-speak from someone in a tie delineating multiple reasons about how it's too late, nothing can be done, and it's no one's fault because it's everyone's fault. But, were this a more resolute and enterprising crew, maybe some front office heavy-hitter would have the guts to call MLS and adidas and say, "Hey chums. Nice going on the new away kit, people loooove it. But, here's the thing. We want to sell a few of these and, well, there's a couple of things that you should've noticed, and that we, being in an altogether less fashionable part of the United States,* just didn't think of before."
I don't know if this is possible to pull off in the time between now and next March. I'm sure it isn't before Christmas. But it's not drastically different than what we have to work with. Move the crest to the center of the chest and below the break. Add numbers to the front, in a basic athletic jersey font. Both of these changes will make the shirt look more like the 1996 shirt, and it will make the shirt look more finished. Honestly, those are two very simple changes that will make a world of difference. They should be done. Since I'm on a corny Project Runway jag . . . Make It Work.
Of course, this would squeeze any future shirt sponsor a bit, but . . . well . . . c'mon.
Oh, and I like the sleeve caps.
*Thank you, Steve Sirk, for keeping that amazing quote alive through the years.