Tradition should never fade to black
It didn’t take long for the rumor of a possible change in the USC football uniform to spread like a wildfire across Tuesday’s Internet. It was a fire that flamed with resentment and burned with more intensity once images were attached.
We know today that Scott Wolf’s original report wasn’t completely inaccurate, though it was a bit overblown. The athletic department considers subtle changes in the uniform each year, and this one is no different. But the combination of black helmets and cardinal pants doesn’t appear to be among the options, and could hardly be considered a “slight” change, as much as it would be a complete overhaul.
Southern California and its traditionalist fan base can breathe a heavy sigh of relief today, but this is an issue more likely to be revisited in the near future. College football makes the claim of proudly upholding its history and tradition, but over the years, we’ve learned that there is one thing that takes precedence over all, and that is money and the greed for it.
If you search the landscape, it doesn’t take long to find tradition served like a two-dollar whore on a busy street corner. The sport has lost control of itself, as it continues to stack paper and answer to merchandisers and network pimps.
Conferences will realign and swell, with little importance in capturing quality programs to improve its standing and status, but with emphasis placed squarely on television markets to land lucrative deals. Traditional on-field rivalries are disrupted and replaced with a battle between network rivals for Nielsen ratings. In the process, your traditional Saturdays are rolled back, with Friday night lights no longer reserved for acne and braces on low level fields.
A harlot must also dress the part, and there’s no greater way to increase sales than to change the design of the clothing. Throwbacks to the past are easily accepted, since they are sprung from historical roots. But merchandisers are steadily sketching, in an effort to create items to hang new from the rack that will eventually flow to your closet. Nike cleverly disguises its “Pro Combat” collection as items built and worn to better player performance. But you know as well as I that it’s created for the general public, and not the athletes wearing them. First you wean them off tradition, then you market change.
It’s only a matter of time before USC succumbs to the winds of change, but hopefully that is later than sooner. The uniform was last altered in 2002, when the stripes were removed from the sleeve and replaced with a wider mark at the shoulder. That is highly acceptable, unlike a tradition that fades to black. Cardinal is the history that gels legends of yesteryear with those still grinding to establish their own. Just as tradition is continuation, extending decades without severance, and rising with new bricks stacked upon the original foundation.
The timing of the uniform release, as indicated in Wolf’s rumor spreading post, also couldn’t be worse. The NCAA hangman may have tightened the noose around the Trojan neck, but he who dangles on the brink of death shouldn’t oblige by dressing for the funeral.
The chant is “We are SC”. Don’t allow anyone or anything to change that. No matter how mighty the dollar, let us not sell our soul.