Team sports pride themselves on their uniformity. It’s how you tell one team from the other and it allows the players to bond within a certain sameness. Which, when you think about it, isn’t so different from what the Soviets attempted to do. Treat everyone the same, make them wear the same clothes and assume that this will create a sense of community out of thin air. How’d that work out?
Is it any surprise, then, that those who play organized team sports back here in the US chafe against these strictures? We grow up hearing about how unique we are and how we can do anything. Then we go out to play a game and we’re put in matching uniforms and tied into a system.
The worst offender by far is NFL football. Just try wearing an unauthorized pair of shoes or the wrong color socks and see what happens. It doesn’t matter for the superstars because their wallets can absorb it but imagine being one of these guys making the league minimum yet wanting to show his individuality. That’s going to cost you.
I guess that’s another reason why I like baseball. Sure, you still have to wear a uniform and you still have to play by the rules but there’s some leeway. You can wear stirrups or the long baseball pants. You can wear a different colored shoe. You can cover your batting helmet in pine tar to the point that the team logo is barely discernible.
It’s one more reason why baseball is America’s pastime and why it’s stuck around through three different centuries. It evolves and it allows the players to show their individuality within the confines of the game in a way that no other sport can. MLB is Kennedy to the NFL’s Kruschev. We all know who came out on top in that one. Well, except that whole assassination thing.