When you think about the infamous purple and gold, you can only imagine the University of Washington’s team uniforms and crowds chanting their pride with the school’s colors painted on their faces and bodies.
Team uniforms are essential to the college sports nation — it’s their identity on the field. They have changed throughout the years in categories like material, fashion appeal and safety.
When talking about material, concerns like comfortability come into the conversation. When looking at uniforms, there are considerations that have to be taken, like whether the outfit is accessible for quick changes and if weight has to be accommodated for.
Irene Bibian, a first-year on the Western tennis team, said that her preference would be to have Dri-FIT uniforms. She said that her uniform is a little tighter than she likes.
“The skirts, honestly I have had no issue with,” Bibian said. “It's just the jerseys.”
The moisture-wicking material of Dri-FIT is notable especially in today’s performing colleges because it’s easily adaptable to the performer’s high-intensity workout. Gear Up Sports’ website breaks down what Dri-FIT actually does in terms of adaptability.
With the strength of silk and similar durability, Dri-FIT is a reliable material.
Another aspect of college uniforms is fashion appeal, which involve what’s trending, size appropriation and how one is able to personalize it.
Fourth-year student and Western women’s rugby player Megan Stark said that she likes the fact that new uniform rules are based on the comfortability of the person. She listed examples from golf where performers can wear slacks or shorts instead of skirts during game day.
“In the future I'd like to see the uniforms more customized to specific players,” Stark said. “I'd also love to be able to buy a Western jersey of some sort.”
Western, along with other schools, have uniforms that are only for loan and personalization would come out-of-pocket.
First-year track & field sprinter Mallory Harder said although she has only seen the practice gear on the track & field team, she does see some new incorporations to the fits.
“I know my team and I think some others have incorporated light blue into the uniforms and I like that,” Harder said. “For newer uniforms I guess I'd just like to see continued improvement of the quality as new styles in the sports fashion industry continue to come out.”
Fashion appeal is not just for looks, but also comfort and interchangeability with size and type of gear. According to SimpliFaster, a website that explains technology in athletic development, stated in their blog that fashion appeal was favored over the safety of the uniforms.
Times have changed and players have external factors to worry about other than appeal. Funding can also be a factor because when equipment aren’t replaced within the recommended time frame, the risk of injury is higher.
“Because part of the funding for the sports club uniforms is out-of-pocket, there are limitations to how often we can replace them,” said first-year women’s rugby player Alex Gardner.
Replacement is important for uniforms because they tend to wear out and the safety level will decrease. The Spokesman-Review, went in depth with this more in talking about having multiple football helmets for one player.
The article addressed their concerns about the helmets fitting when teams switch them often. Helmets are fitted individually by the equipment staffers and can vary between size, style, and manufacturer.
The Spokesman-Review explains that they have detachable things like padding and straps for the helmets lookwise.
Alternatives to sports uniforms are important because students have different comfortability levels. This is important to acknowledge because students want to be unique when in sports in the way they ask for their name on varsity gear.
Uniforms in college come at a price when you have to talk about things like the design or look, how sustainable the material is and what safety precautions there are with the uniforms.