COMMENTARY | The debate over Team USA uniforms in this year’s summer Olympics is gathering a lot of controversy in the world of politics, not just among sports fans. How the American team is dressed, and where the uniforms are made are routinely making headlines.
Where American Uniforms Were Made
THE GOOD: Revelations that American uniforms were made in China should put the debate over how much we’ve allowed our jobs and purchasing habits to be outsourced overseas. Americans have tolerated buying more abroad, but when it comes to what America stands for should open the discussion about what is too much.
THE BAD: The decision to purchase them abroad seems to be a conscious one by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The USOC, which has typically been an insular body, needs to be opened up to more public input.
THE UGLY: “I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again,” said Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. Whoa, wait a minute! It isn’t as though China is forcing us to have them make these uniforms. The USOC ordered them from China. I know there’s a tendency to bash China in an election year, but the comments about burning them by the Senate Majority Leader clearly crossed the line as inappropriate. A polite “no thanks” and returning them would be better, especially as sensitive negotiations over cooperation a variety of political and economic issues continues.
What American Uniforms Look Like
THE GOOD: The uniforms were designed to resemble what Americans wore in the last London Olympics, in 1948. A cue to a historical reference is a good thing.
THE BAD: I don’t care when they were fashionable. Those jackets, pants and berets make us resemble soldiers of some fictional fascist state.
THE UGLY: “Knowing that we were going back to England, there was a feeling of ‘Chariots of Fire,'” said David Lauren, the designer’s son. Err…that was not the 1948 Olympics. Nor was it set on British soil. The movie “Chariots of Fire” (a favorite of mine, as I am a runner) is based on a pair of British sprinters competing in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. If you’re going to make a historical reference, get it right.
Is it too late to save our Olympic uniforms? Paging Mitt Romney, the “Savior of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics” 10 years ago!
John A. Tures is an associate professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.