There has been much criticism leveled at our basketball team’s tournament uniforms, some of it at a very high level. I suppose I can’t really blame the President of the United States for lashing out at us – after all, we keep suing him. But his disdain is only a mere fraction of the fulsome scorn heaped upon these vaguely mucosal sports togs by the Almighty Alumni. Yet, this sartorial experimentation should come as no surprise, since the football team dressed in uniforms of highly questionable taste this season. I called that changing back and forth between sets of official game apparel “cross-dressing,” though I have been apprised that the term means something quite different, which I would not fully understand. So I have abandoned it; but our teams seem committed to staying with these alternative uniforms.
As far as I can tell, a Greek shipping tycoon is behind the changes. This Mr. Adidas has evidently donated enough money to be able to demand that his upholsterer design uniforms for special occasions, both football and basketball. While some of these visual effects might be quite fetching in the staterooms of his yacht, I would advise Mr. Adidas that nothing says ‘I haven’t always had money’ like garish clothing. Furthermore, it is highly illogical to talk about different and uniform in the same sentence. So since you all still have to take at least two philosophy course (Deo favente) let’s look at the theoretical nature of uniforms to determine if this cross-dressing style-changing trend is inherently good.
First, the nature of a uniform is that everyone dresses the same. The purpose is as much “identification of” as “identification with.” Particular markings show players who their teammates are amidst the ordered chaos of a game. In football, Michigan players needed to be able to identify each other’s heads above the scrum. Accordingly, the coach turned to a close relative of his – an under-evolved, foul-tempered, garbage-eating cousin of the skunk – and the wolverine helmets were born. With its selection of a team color, Michigan wanted to mark itself out; and so they used the color made visible when a wolverine has marked its territory.
That brings up the second point, which is that team colors are important, and in some cases sacred. We derive this notion from Holy Church, where the team of bishops dresses in purple, the team of cardinals in scarlet, and the team of popes in white (oh yeah, it’s a team now, since we’ve got two of them knocking around). Team colors even apply to religious orders: Dominicans wear white, Capuchins wear brown, and Jesuits wear the blood of sacrificial animals. Indeed, from the very beginnings of this great university, our own Notre Dame colors have been set for us by The BVM Herself, Whose wardrobe has always been blue and gold since time immemorial. And let me tell you, She looks absolutely divine in those colors.
Which leads to a third point: you don’t change your team’s colors. A leopard doesn’t change his spots, and a general doesn’t change horses midstream. As our colors are ordained by heaven, we have never changed them. What about green, you ask. Well, green is the color of envy and fertility – two things The BVM doesn’t do. Green was added first by the football team, and soon came to be associated with our adoption of the Irish as our moniker. The Irish do envy and fertility very well. But the Irish also sing about “Forty Shades of Green,” and that’s where the trouble starts.
Over the years, the football team has tinkered with the particular hues of blue, gold, and green, though never drastically. Most recently, they added a sheen of glitter to their helmets – call it a “sweaty Dome” look. They also added black and white to the uniforms for one game; but I believe that’s to honor me and my fellow CSCs. It is the basketball team and its jarring shade of green that has been troubling to so many. And that’s a shock, because the uniforms have actually offended a group that revels in the loudest of plaids. Our Alumni like to believe themselves swaddled in plaid from birth. In many cases, that’s literally true. And not just any tartan – our skyish-blue and chartreuse pattern is invaded by a rogue orangy-red stripe and set on a black background. Presented with that tartan for his official approval, the Lord Lyon must have thought someone opened the Ark of the Covenant.
Thus, my fourth and final point is this. It’s fun to play dress-up and variety is the spice of life. But like their cooking, the Irish can’t take too much spice in their uniforms. I think it’s fine to introduce some excitement into our sports competitions with the occasional jersey change – but don’t change it too much. For a good example, look at our mascot. We changed from an Irish terrier to a Leprechaun. On the surface that might seem dramatic. Yet, deep down they are very similar: they are both small, hairy, and pugnacious; neither backs down from a fight, both bite, and both have occasional incontinence problems during long football games.
And speaking of long games – whose idea was it to start tonight’s basketball match at 9:45? Have they not been watching the contests this season? If the lads stay true to form, they should clinch victory sometime around 3:00 in the morning. In which case they should wear their glowing-green uniforms – they’ll be safer walking home at that dangerous hour.
Son, in 199 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard, incontrovertible facts: There is a God, and I'm pretty tight with Him.
Now I’m going to tell you a whole lot of things I’ve kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew me. I was along before your time, but you all know what a tradition I am at Notre Dame. And one of the most important things I ever said was, “Friends, sometime when my University is up against it and the breaks are beating the students, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win at everything for Padre. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be then, friends,” I said, “but I’ll be looking right over your shoulder.”