What does this say about America? The Oregon uniforms might be getting more press today than the actual BCS Championship Game Score, and that's exactly what the university is counting on to court students.
A uniform. To get kids to matriculate. The Ducks followed their tradition of having no tradition when it comes to what the players wear on the field in the football game against Auburn last night. In day-glo green socks and grey helmets with black circles (immortalized in the Nike ad seen here), they certainly stood out on the field despite the loss to Auburn (22-19 in case you're still looking for that score).
That's exactly what they were aiming for (well, that and a championship). They keep changing their uniforms in favor of flash over form because it keeps kids interested. As star running back LaMichael James told ESPN: "If anybody pays a visit to Oregon and sees the facilities and the uniforms and everything as a 17-year-old or 18-year-old kid, who wouldn't want to go to Oregon?"
I don't know about you, but once I'd heard the back story on the University of Oregon's uniform, the shine was off the day-glo for me. The push to sell our kids on glitter and rhinestones alone may work, but that doesn't mean it has to sit well with old fogies like me.
Take the glammed up versions of Bram Stoker's Dracula and William Shakespeare's Hamlet that arrived on my desk in the form of reader copies this week. Stoker's tome features a woman so white she looks dead (think Tilda Swinton as Jadis from the Chronicles of Narnia), her hair askew, blood dripping out of her mouth. Shakespeare's is less gruesome, but a shocking splash of the Ducks-approved day-glo and a handsome teen holding up a skull fail to conjure the demons haunting the prince of Denmark. The covers of the classic novels more closely resemble a Twilight book jacket than anything I read in high school, and the back copy matches:
"The first popular vampire novel, Bram Stoker's masterpiece remains an immortal story about eternal souls."
When in doubt, use the words "vampire" and "immortal," and the teens will come running! As a literacy advocate, I'm encouraged to see publishers' attempts to draw our kids back to the classics. New copies of fine literature doing battle with the schlock on the shelves can only serve our kids well. We need to find a way to make sure quality books hold their own. The content remains unadulterated, and the eye will be drawn to the flash covers; the folks at Puffin did their homework. I can't fault them on that.
But as a parent, I'm just as equally discouraged to see our kids have to be drawn in by false promises. You can jazz up a cover, but if you have to trick the kids to get them there, they're not going to stick around. Whether it's with classic literature or college, they need to want more than pomp and circumstance in order to take full advantage of the offerings.
I'd liken it to a gorgeous pair of shoes in the store window. They're everything you want, and more when you're salivating through the glass. So you plunk down the cash -- no matter the price tag -- only to get them home and find out they're the most painful thing that has ever been on your feet. Driving nails under your toenails sounds like a day at the spa in comparison. You just got what you paid for -- the look, and not much more.
And so I'm torn. There's nothing wrong with gussying up something old and repackaging it for our kids, but then again, it's a sad commentary when everything old has to be made new again to appeal. If they can't appreciate anything as is, how are they going to appreciate life on the other side of the dewy teenage years? Does this trend give you pause?
Images via Nike and Penguin