Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time to knock out the whiteouts

Maybe I'm just too old-school, but I've seen enough of the whiteouts, blackouts, gold rushes and every other scheme concocted to get college football fans to dress alike. It's time to deliver a knockout to the fad.

It seems like every nationally televised game has these stupid gimmicks. It was neat when for the first time you saw 100,000 fans at Penn State's Beaver Stadium, pictured, wearing white t-shirts. But after you've seen it 10 or 15 times, the whiteout loses its visual impact. It might impress recruits but it doesn't add anything to the game.

In a recent six-day stretch, college football viewers witnessed a whiteout at Penn State and a gold rush at West Virginia. Then, one day later, Louisville encouraged their fans to shop at the Johnny Cash outlet and dress in all-black for a game against Pitt. It was an attempt to create an intimidating atmosphere. The Panthers were hardly intimidated, though they might have momentarily thought they slipped into a Darth Vader fan convention.

The trend of trying to get a game’s audience unified in a single color is hardly new. Heck, the craze wasn't even started in the United States. The old Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League are credited with starting the whiteout craze back in 1987.

But let's call these gimmicks what they are: a way of getting the fans to buy more school-related merchandise. Have a whiteout, sell more jerseys. You don't even need to have the color be one of your primary uniform colors. Georgia and Florida State each started having blackouts several years ago, though black jerseys were not worn by their football teams until the blackouts started. Jersey sells then skyrocketd at both schools.

When Florida State's Bobby Bowden was asked why the Seminoles were donning black jerseys for the first time, the veteran coach gave an honest answer: "Really, we're doing it for Nike."

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