Hollywood’s awards season came to a close with the Academy Awards on Sunday. But since we already held the Columbia Athletic Awards in its honor, let’s talk red carpet show instead. One of my sports obsessions is critiquing uniforms, so in honor of the late Joan Rivers, let’s get to it.
When you talk about the Ivy League, tradition and simplicity clearly must be key criteria. I may be biased, but Columbia is right at the top of the conference in fashion. Both the solid Columbia blue and white basketball uniforms—with a subtle dark outline around the lettering—are perfect, uniquely Columbia, and an improvement on past iterations. No wonder there is a solid handful of professional sports teams that have incorporated (or re-incorporated) Columbia blue into their uniforms in recent years.
A small criticism would be to include more of the light blue in other sports’ uniforms and ditch baseball’s gray uniforms—especially at home.
In fact, Columbia uniforms are so integral to the team that they determine game results. Prior to the recent road swing, men’s basketball was undefeated in its light blue uniforms but winless in its white uniforms in conference play. However, Columbia angered the uniform gods at Harvard when senior guard Steve Frankoski had to change his uniform top and wear a different number after blood stained his original. (That was an especially fatal rule to break on Friday the 13th.)
Ever since, it has actually come down to the play on the court—which reached new heights, especially defensively, this weekend. It turns out that—regardless of the uniform—Maodo Lo can take over a game.
Of course, Columbia football’s winless record in both light blue and the white uniforms was not mentioned in Rick Taylor’s report on the state of the football team for some reason. This surely needs to be the first priority for newly appointed head coach Al Bagnoli to address.
I cannot stress enough that the redeeming value of traveling through scenic New Hampshire—and ultimately watching an excruciating loss in a depressingly silent arena—was the Dartmouth look.
The Big Green absolutely get it right, too, by sticking with a basic style of solid green or white. I could do without the distracting design on the side of the jerseys, though.
Yale gets points for keeping it simple with the front and back of the jersey and blue and white scheme. The random stripes on the basketball uniforms hold the Bulldogs back from reaching the top, though.
Cornell’s classic carnelian scheme also fits the Ivy League, so the Big Red gets a passing grade. Rivals Penn and Princeton both have the challenge of fitting three colors into their uniforms. The Tigers execute it very well—the trio of orange, black, and white accent each other nicely on both their home and away jerseys.
On the other hand, the Quakers cannot reconcile their red, white, and blue, and thus fall very low on the Ancient Eight fashion scale. Penn boasts three different uniform combinations. Most notably, the white uniform features colors that do not complement each other with a hideous red backdrop against its lettering.
Penn also committed the biggest fashion faux pas of the season when its football team wore black uniforms against Columbia. Without a doubt, they are the only current rendition of Ivy League uniforms that I will outright call ugly.
I actually approve of most black uniforms—even Harvard’s to a certain degree. I think the black uniforms the Crimson has worn over the past few seasons are pretty sharp, and it is a shrewd decision given that black uniforms are now associated with success on a big-time stage (and disgust for many Harvard-haters).
This is similar to how the Tampa Bay Rays rebranded themselves in 2007 (which included introducing Columbia blue into their uniforms) and promptly made the World Series. However, Harvard is a college, not a professional sports team, and therefore does not garner a high Ivy fashion ranking.
But above all, the biggest atrocity in Ivy fashion is Brown’s red uniform. I am distracted every time I cover a Bears game! Brown is a tough enough color to pull off, but sharing the same uniform with “cardinal red”—to varying degrees of subtlety depending on the sport—just does not work. It’s confusing enough that the Big Red’s mascot is a brown bear.
The Oscar for best costume design clearly goes to Columbia’s pink uniforms that the Lions wore for breast cancer awareness two weeks ago. Great look and great cause.
Ryan Young is a Columbia College senior majoring in economics-statistics. He is the sports director for WKCR. Roar Ryan Roar runs biweekly.