An Iowa football helmet on the sideline during a game against Purdue University on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. The Boilermakers defeated the Hawkeyes 24 to 15. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Making the case for throwback uniforms


When it comes to uniforms, Iowa hasn’t been one program to showcase the past, begging the question: should the Hawkeyes wear throwback uniforms?

By James Geerdes and Anna Kayser


For nearly my entire life, I’ve lived by the following phrase: Look good, feel good, feel good, play good.

That phrase — believe it or not — is more correct than it grammatically suggests, and very few things can stand out and look good in college athletics like a good ole’ throwback uniform.

Iowa athletics has a finite amount of money at its disposal. The department could use this money to pursue functional interests such as facilities, tutoring, equipment, etc. Or it could pursue cosmetic interests, and please the entirety of the fan base, as well as its athletes.

It is simply in the best interest of both the fans and the players to invest in throwback uniforms. Athletes will look good, which will make them “play good.” In the bleachers, fans will admire these courageous and bold outfits. This draws in more more spectators, and thus draws in more money.

Unique jerseys in college athletics also produces unique outcomes. As every Iowa fan could tell you, Iowa was in its bold blackout uniform the evening it toppled Ohio State. The entire week leading up to the spectacle, fans, players, media, and fans alike were itching to see the blackout uniforms on Kinnick’s gridiron. That evening, Iowa football put on a show.

To conclude, if the athletic department wants more of these unique outcomes, it should pursue unique uniforms — throwback uniforms. If Iowa wants more Ohio State-like outcomes, it should invest in throwback uniforms. It’s simple math: look good, feel good, feel good, play good.

-James Geerdes


Well, Jim took the easy side to this debate, but I’ll do my best to represent the anti-throwback uniform crowd.

First and foremost, I think it’s important to address the 2016 White Sox scandal: Chris Sale notoriously cutting up his throwback uniform because they were “uncomfortable”. While I believe that no student-athlete would risk their reputation in such a ridiculous stunt, there’s no reason to take the chance on a PR nightmare.

Last week I actually brought up the Sale incident during a presentation – once it happens no one will forget it, and the idea of throwback uniforms will forever be trashed.

Secondly, some throwback uniforms are absolutely horrendous looking. While, again, I think that University of Iowa Athletics would hold pride in showcasing the past uniforms and go to great lengths to make it a positive conversation, the risk of bad press just isn’t worth it (even though it would make great material for media outlets).

Lastly, individual sports have gone to great lengths to build a culture surrounding the modern nature of the team. Specifically, in football, Hayden Fry wanted a new design for the uniforms to first create a winning look, before instilling a winning culture. Looking back to the past means looking back on maybe a not-so-great history.

Let’s just skip a potential shredding of throwback uniforms and stick to what we know, beating up on Iowa State in any sport you can think of. Plus this brings a great reminder, at least Iowa’s colors aren’t red and yellow.

-Anna Kayser

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