Aesthetics of Sports Sneakers Decline

Whatever Happened To The Aesthetics Of Sports, Sneakers? [Opinion]

It’s Friday night, and I cannot find a game of any sport that piques my interest. This peculiar dilemma has nothing to do with any particular affinity toward any one specific team, nor do it have to do with any disdain toward another. What this does mean, however, is my aversion toward the aesthetics of today’s sports.

When I say aesthetics, you are probably scratching your head at what I am talking about. If you are of a certain age, you might even think I am referring to the way the games are now played. However, this has nothing do with isolation plays or cherry pickers throwing up Hail Mary three-point attempts. My criticism has nothing to do with the seemingly lost art of complete games, the overuse of Excel spreadsheets, or the utilization of platoons at every position.

Yes, I am talking about laundry.

Over the past decade, various uniform suppliers have all offered the major sports leagues new uniform templates with all sorts of “technology”. The company jargon regarding the new uniforms run the gamut from “lighter, sweat absorbing materials” to “new technology that better contours to the athlete’s body.”

However, while these uniform changes might produce jerseys that are 30 percent lighter, they do so at the sake of aesthetics. The 49ers are now missing a classic sleeve stripe, the Yankees have apparently misplaced some pinstripes, and UCLA still has not seen their iconic shoulder stripe since updating their template in 2010.

Despite the recent influx of statistical analysis throughout all sports, they are still all fundamental forms of art. What LeBron James can do with a basketball is art. What Clayton Kershaw can do with a baseball is art, and what Cam Newton can do on the football field is art. Because it is art, I want the teams to be visually appealing.

The Clippers changed their logo and uniform following the 2014-15 season. To say the logo and uniforms have been mocked and ridiculed during the past two years would be an understatement. They would have been better off utilizing old Microsoft Clippy, the Office Assistant, at center court than the monstrosity they actually paid someone to produce.

Yeah, you might want to talk to someone about getting your money back.

This phenomenon is not just limited to uniforms, however. Equipment and accessories have also gone bay the wayside with respect to aesthetic appeal.

In the 1980s and 1990s, performance basketball sneakers were a whole lot different than those sitting on the shelves today.

The use of the phrase ” sitting on shelves” almost a pun, alluding to the fact that most of the new performance releases sit on shelves for months on end, with an almost certainty that they will end up at the outlet once the season concludes.

Back then the sneakers possessed a certain je ne sais quoi that made them wearable on and off the court.

To give you an example, Air Jordan retros, more specifically silhouettes 1-14, are now all primarily classified as a lifestyle shoe. Yes, some NBA players will still lace them up from time to time, gaining notoriety within the sneaker community for wearing a pair of Black Cement IIIs or Concord XIs on the court.

#FBF to Willie Cauley Stein rocking the Air Jordan 11 "Concord" versus OKC last season! #????????

A post shared by Kings Kicks (@sackingskicks) on

Contrast that with the reaction the newest performance models receive. They’re often ridiculed on social media and laughed at when seen worn by anyone other than the sponsored athlete to which the shoe bears their name.

Maybe I am suddenly turning into one of those crotchety old men who doesn’t want to see the things they love change or evolve to fit a new and younger demographic. Maybe my nostalgia might be a little too high, or just maybe it is I who needs to grow up and change.

[Featured Image by Danny Moloshok/AP Images]

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