Don’t be fooled by Big Sneaker and their March Madness team-spirit-betraying bench shirt bullsh*t.
The other day, in the FanSided March Madness live blog Slack channel — the Slack channel we edit down into some kind of coherency be our FanSided March Madness live blog — one of the crew remarked how cool Stephen F. Austin’s warm-up shirts were. The shirts said, “Unleash Chaos.” Admittedly, a cool slogan, given how it is that March Madness is the most chaotic sports tournament on Earth.
But it’s also the slogan that Under Armour has on literally all of the warm-up and/or bench shirts (and the shirts they sell to fans) of all the teams with whom they partner. That means that Cincinnati, Auburn, Seton Hall, Texas Tech, South Dakota State, Charleston and Georgia State players and fans were all repping “Unleash Chaos” shirts in the tournament. When Cincinnati beat Georgia State on Friday, both teams wore “Unleash Chaos” shirts and, except for briefly in the first half, no chaos was unleashed. Cincinnati, a No. 2 seed, is not unleashing chaos with a victory. Brackets are very much intact. “Unleash Chaos” is a much less cool slogan applied to Cincinnati!
This practice of one slogan fits all is not new, nor is it unique to Under Armour. Adidas schools — Kansas, Arizona State, NC State, Miami, Iona, Rhode Island, Texas A&M, St. Bonaventure’s — all wear “Here to Create” shirts. This is also, unequivocally, bullshit.
(Sidebar: “Unleash Chaos” is a good slogan that should not have been applied unequivocally to all teams. “Here to Create” is not. “Here to Create” sounds like something that belongs in cursive on a sticker on the MacBook Air of an Instagram influencer working out of a coffee shop.)
Nike — specifically Jordan — does develop unique slogans for their NCAA men’s basketball warm-up bench shirts. Or at least, Nike applies the specific and at turns inexplicable (“C.H.E.E.S.E”), silly (“GRITTY NOT PRETTY”) or unnecessarily long (“COMPETE WITH DESPERATION”) phrases of the schools they outfit. Duke, Michigan State, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, Villanova, West Virginia, Florida State, Purdue, Michigan, Tennessee, Arkansas, TCU, Arizona, Buffalo, Butler, Clemson, Creighton, Davidson, Houston, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Providence, San Diego State, Wichita State, Xavier, Gonzaga, Murray State, Radford, Wright State, among even more are all rocking their own custom shirts. Nike, if you couldn’t tell, has the most teams in the tournament and they still give everyone their own shirt.
So you’ll see any number (at least 40, let’s say 40) different shirt styles making it all the more frustrating when schools are wearing the same shirt because why?? How hard is it to add whatever slightly corny expression the school and its fanbase has adopted for the year and print it on a couple thousand t-shirts? Please don’t mention economics. This isn’t economics. This about the sanctity of school pride.
This is, of course, a very small thing in the grand scheme of injustices conducted by and or adjacent to the NCAA, particularly as they relate to Nike, Adidas and Under Armour. But every goddamn tournament, teams rush out and fans fill up the stands in t-shirts that all say the same goddamn thing.
Chaos is this irresponsible disregard for team apparel and it was very much created here, so, good job Under Armour and Adidas.