As you may have found out yesterday in Ben Miller’s Improving the Heart and Sol Kit article, it is Jersey Week here at the SBNation family of websites. We at The Mane Land are happy to be a part of this celebration of all things jersey, so let’s look at what makes a good soccer jersey.
Jersey or Billboard?
Art is often subjective, and soccer jerseys can be considered pieces of art. Some are good, some are bad, some are ugly, and some are just plain weird. The thing they all have in common is advertising.
Sponsors abound in the world of sports, but almost none more so than in soccer. Can you imagine the Chicago Bulls with a corporate logo dead center? How about a New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, or Florida Panthers jersey with a business logo? Of course not, but there are good reasons for that. All those sports are able to make money on commercials, because they aren’t running for 45 minutes straight. In soccer the ads have to be on the jerseys or along the baseboards, otherwise there wouldn’t be funding. The only major sports uniforms with more logos are those worn in NASCAR.
That’s not to say that there aren’t good and bad examples of corporate logos on soccer jerseys. Keeping it close to home, I rather like that Orlando City has Orlando Health as the primary sponsor. The word Orlando is right there on the front, and they also are able to contribute in a sports medicine capacity. It makes sense even without the cents.
On the other hand, there are sponsors that it seems quite obvious that the money is better than the logo.
That’s not to say that Bimbo Bakeries is a bad company or a bad partner with the Philadelphia Union. They are the parent company of Sara Lee, Entenmann’s, and Thomas’ English Muffins. I love Thomas’ English Muffins, and have one nearly every day for breakfast, but that doesn’t mean I would want the word bimbo on my club’s jersey. It makes it a little too easy to make fun of the kit, doesn’t it?
Color Your World
There are only so many colors available to choose as a club, and sometimes the combos chosen are pleasing. I do like the purple and gold of Orlando City quite a bit, but there are other clubs that have some nice color combinations as well. I’m fond of the Colorado Rapids’ burgundy and blue, and Minnesota United’s grey with light blue.
Then there are those that are a bit out there but work. For example, Seattle’s light green and blue, or Los Angeles FC’s black and gold. I think it’s quite brave of them to wear black in a state with that much sunshine, but who am I to judge? You also have the clubs that wear some sort of normal blue or red like the New York Red Bulls, the New England Revolution, or Toronto FC. There is nothing wrong with such standard colors, but they don’t necessarily stand out either.
Finally, there are the not-so-great colors and combos. Nothing against the Columbus Crew, but not every fan has the complexion to pull off yellow. I was raised a Baltimore Orioles fan, so I know about orange and black, but I’m not at all sure what Houston is doing.
Ring Around the Collar
Across the decades, soccer jerseys have had collars with buttons, collars without buttons, no collar, and faux collars. As with other aspects of a jersey, a lot of what is good or bad is up to personal preference. For example, if the jersey has a collar with buttons, normal people can make a case for wearing it to work on match days and still being somewhat professional.
There’s also the case to be made that no collar is superior when it comes to actual performance of the kit for those actually playing the matches. The one thing I think we must all agree upon is that faux collars need to be banished to the far reaches of this galaxy. I’m looking at you 2016 Orlando City away kit.
So what have we learned? Colors are important, you need some luck when it comes to who sponsors your club, and faux collars should never, ever be used. What else goes into a good jersey? Let me know in the comments below.