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McCollum's Column: Where a snarling Razorback meets a charging Pumbaa

2014: A uniform odyssey

Posted: April 23, 2014 - 6:54pm

Pumbaa of “The Lion King” is a wart hog. The Razorback mascot is a snarly hog.

Never did I imagine the two would be used in the same sentence. The new Hog has been described as a leaner, meaner Pumbaa or a Razorback with a handlebar moustache.

But when the University of Arkansas released its new secondary logo Tuesday, several folks were calling Pumbaa instead of the Hogs. And most folks were not singing “Hakuna Matata.”

There are worries.

What is happening in this world of color, family of logos and uniform combinations that are as multiple as the offenses?

The week after Easter transformed into “fashion week.”

How a team looks is as controversial a topic as how a team plays.

Gray areas are everywhere, shrouded in anthracite.

The lines are clearly drawn between old-school Razorback purists and new-school, young supporters. The generational line is roughly between those who remember black-and-white TV and those who prefer a text to a phone call.

Sporting goods companies and merchandise folks have discovered that sports is an athletic gold mine.

Why have just two color combination of uniforms — basically dark and light — when you can have seven or eight (or countless if you are in Nike’s neighborhood) with the colors all having numbers like you would choose in a paint store? Why have plain-ole-black when you can have colors with cool names like anthracite or gunmetal? Why does cardinal have to be one certain color when it can be a spectrum of red.

Sports has been lured into the swirling blitz of marketing.

Sporting clothiers can sell several custom-generated sets of uniforms and customize them further for special occasions such as bowl games. Sporting goods manufacturers can paint variations of state flags or camo on helmets. Uniforms can be made that glow in the dark.

Black becomes the new rainbow mix.

It’s all generated toward generations that view color on a different spectrum.

And it’s not the generation that honored no white after Labor Day, no bright before Easter and no dominant pink for men.

Particularly for teams and programs trying to carve a niche in the massive closet of gear, it’s about marketing and branding.

It’s about selling merchandise, outfitting youngsters with cute stuff and cartoon animals. Merchandsing now goes well beyond a gray or white T-shirt with the school name on it.

If women can paint each nail with 10 different colors and designs, the way is cleared for different uniforms, with often-clashing shoe combinations, at every game.

And if you change colors periodically, you have the potential to sell more merchandise. Appliances are almond, then green, then white, then the cycle starts over.

I’m sure at some point — actually UCLA has been a leader for years — that pastels will be in. There could be a Razorback pink and cream outlined in pencil gray. UCA’s purple could turn into “Fantasy Lavender” and Hendrix orange to “Creamsickle Delight.”

Cue “The Lion King” theme. It’s the circle of life in our wonderful world of color.

(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)

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