From The Editor — July 2009: Programs! You can’t tell the players without a program! But even then…

IN LAST MONTH’S SCREED I went off on the mind-numbing drabness of the U.S.’s international uniforms. I’m glad to see from the Letters To The Editor section (p. 49) that at least some of you agree with me.

While we’re reopening old wounds, allow me to recycle much of a column I wrote for the July ’05 edition which was titled, “Would it be too much to ask to have a uniform uniform-policy?”

The object of my ire was collegiate teams and their ongoing penchant for different-color uniforms. A that point I wrote this (is it a violation of basic journalistic law to quote yourself?):

“It pains me to pick on Kerron Clement, because he was probably the most exciting and enjoyable of all to watch in Sacramento… We thought he was so impressive that we made him our poster boy for the month. But he’s also the poster boy for everything that’s wrong in the (not-so) uniform department.

“In that big center spread (p. 32-33), you’ll find him in a black uniform. Très chic. Turn to p. 18 and there he is in a white uniform. While you’re on that spread, look at p. 19 to catch him in blue. But hey, that’s not all. Go back a page to 17 and check out Clement’s teammate, Josh Walker. Is he in black? No. Is he in white? No. So he must be in blue. No—he’s in… orange! .

“I blame pro ball teams, who started this “third jersey” silliness so they could market even more stuff to their fans. Or simply decided that black made them look “tougher.” Well excuse me, but when I go to a meet I expect to see Florida easily identifiable as the guys in some combination of orange & blue, their official colors.

“The NCAA does mandate that relay teams wear the same uniforms during a race, but other than that, all bets are off… How goofy was it to watch that incredible men’s 200 final, knowing that teammates Wallace Spearmon and Tyson Gay were going to be threatening the 20-second barrier just two lanes apart, and to discover that they weren’t even wearing the same outfits? Spearmon was white over red, Gay was all red. What does that do for fan enjoyment?

“Bottom line—the way it’s going, you can’t even tell the players with a program.”

It gives me no great pleasure to note that a quadrennium down the road the situation hasn’t gotten any better. In announcing the Pac-10 Championships in Eugene this year, I was too often confounded by the site of two runners from the same school in the same race wearing different uniforms. And if it’s tough for a professional mike-dude with topflight spotting help to keep the bodies straight, how is it for the average fan?

The hosts showed up at Hayward with oh-so-chic black on. I’m told that many old-time figures in the proud Men Of Oregon program did not react well to the shocking break with yellow & green tradition.

Don’t get me wrong: it was actually a great look, and there was no chance of confusion as to who it was but there’s more to our sport than just looking good.

One school, two traditional colors max, everybody dressed the same. Please? The fans will thank you for it.