From - VolumeOne.org
debating the strengths and weaknesses of our local logos and uniforms
words by Luc Anthony
There is a subset of sports fandom: fans that care less about the games played and feats achieved, and concern themselves more with the look of the players and venues where such achievements were made. I am a prominent member of this subset. My regular sports website visits include the Uni Watch Blog, underscored by the motto: “The Obsessive Study Of Athletics Aesthetics.” I get excited by the prospect of powder blue’s creeping return to baseball, and disappointed each time I have to watch my favorite NFL team take the Metrodome turf in a flow-lacking amalgamation of purple, gold, and white stripes. I am a veritable sports fashionista.
You may wonder why any of this matters, since this is the epitome of style-over-substance. Yet you do care; you simply did not realize as much. Sports look good when logos and uniforms look good. You appreciate the oddity of the Packers’ bright yellow pants and helmets, and you would scream if they switched to “Old gold.” Admit it. You admire the classic look of the Oakland Raiders and Penn State football, and you cringe at the Yankees’ pinstripes because of the dominance they symbolize. See? The aesthetics of athletics DOES matter to you.
This being the “Athletic Aesthetic” column, it is only appropriate that I apply a true aesthetic viewpoint to our area teams. Do we have quality logos and colors? Could the uniforms be better? I don’t have room to cover all teams, so I’ll go with what stands out to me.
The UW-Eau Claire Blugolds make clear their two colors in their name, which makes one wonder why they sport three colors in their palette. This dissonance leads to the football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams dressed in “Old gold,” while the women’s basketball & men’s hockey teams go with “Yellow gold.” The school’s website lists “Old gold” as the official shade of gold, yet the main logo on the site is in “Yellow gold.” A key element of branding is consistency, so which gold is it, UWEC? I vote for “Yellow gold” – the yellow contrasts more effectively with the navy blue. Plus, this is the shade of gold I think of when hearing the name “Blugold.”
UW-Eau Claire has a distinct logo: simple, yet creative in its incorporation of “E” and “C.” I would prefer this on the football team’s helmets to the stripped-down version currently used. Then again, I would not mind a variation of the more traditionally striped 1980s-era football uniforms to return, and considering the unlikelihood of this happening, I can settle for a beefed-up helmet logo.
At least the Blugold icon is discernable – not necessarily the case with the Eau Claire Express hat logo. Creativity points go to the incorporation of train tracks, but the “E” and “C” look like two brush strokes. If I didn’t know any better, I would not know what the logo was supposed to say. The full team logo (with the train and “Express” script) is modern and legible, so it is a bit disappointing that the hat logo – an image that should be quickly identifiable – is hard to decipher. The uniforms are good, but a helpful tip: show off your stirrups. The Loggers & Woodchucks do so to good effect. Stirrups are a classic baseball look.
To my high school alma mater, Memorial High School: is black an official color? My recollection is that we were the Purple and White, not the Purple, Black, and White. Sure, black is complimentary to purple, but too often Memorial drifts into what is known as “Black For Black’s Sake” territory: black that seems to take over a uniform merely to present a tougher image. Either officially add black as a color, or lose it. Plus, black is so 90s. Meanwhile, credit goes to Menomonie for their slightly retro football helmet stripes and grey facemasks – a refreshingly old-school high school helmet in our area.
The logos, colors, and uniforms of the Chippewa Valley may be designs or combinations of varying quality and fashion sense – everyone has their own opinion on what can be improved – yet they provide the unique character to our local sporting landscape. This is the Chippewa Valley’s athletic aesthetic.