There is a problem with the U.S. team uniforms for the World Cup. Identity.
As I started to prepare this post, I did a quick search and found an article in the Boston Globe entitled “The problem with America’s World Cup uniform” by Dushko Petrovich. That article identifies the issue as being that the U.S. keeps changing its uniforms for each World Cup.
I have a different concern, although I tend agree with Mr. Petrovich that we need to pick a uniform and stick with it.
My issue is with the content of our uniforms. This year (2014) our home uniform is plain white with the slightest bit of red and blue trim. No stars (plural) and no stripes (plural). And our away jersey looks like an upside-down Nederlands flag.
Red , White & Blue v. “Stars and Stripes”
When I was growing up, references to the “stars and stripes” and “red, white, and blue” were both equally understood to be references to the U.S. flag, and in turn the country itself. I’ve noticed that over the years, the latter reference has become more dominant which is a shame because “stars and stripes” is a more unique way of identifying our flag and our country. As such it would be a better way to identify our team.
The red, white, and blue combination is, as my French friends like to remind me, hardly unique to the U.S. flag. Aside from the “tricolor” flag of France, there are nearly 30 other nations whose flags consist of red, white, and blue.
OK, so what about stars and stripes? Just as a reminder, the U.S. flag has 13 red & white stripes (7 red, 6 white), and 50 white stars on a field of blue.
There are many national flags that have stripes, and there are many that have one or more stars. Even in the red, white, and blue arena, Cuba’s flag is red, white, and blue, has stripes and a single star; as does Puerto Rico’s flag — it is has the same design as Cuba’s flag with the red and blue areas swapped. Liberia’s flag has 11 red and white stripes, along with a single star.
There are only a few national flags that have stripes and more than one star (e.g. Honduras, Tajikistan). But when it comes to red, white, and blue, and multiple stars and stripes — that is distinctly the U.S. flag.*
Thus, for me, any design of a U.S. team uniform should in some way incorporate clearly visible red and white stripes, and two or more white stars on a blue field. Then I, and every person familiar with the U.S. flag, will recognize the U.S. team. And while I’m on the topic–a sponsor logo or lettering should NEVER be larger than the team or player’s name, even though we do seem to representing Nike/Hyundai/Gatorate/Red Bull/etc. these days 🙂
* Unless I have somehow overlooked something–in which case, I’m sure someone will let me know 🙂