Monday, September 17, 2012

Chartreuse Shoes

The Cowboys lost to the Seahawks yesterday, 27-7.  Not a great game.  My attention wandered.  I noticed the Seahawks uniforms.  Noticed their shoes.  Many Seahawks players wore Chartreuse shoes!  I was shocked.
Seattle Seahawks Chartreuse Shoes.

I switched to the Steelers-Jets game.  Many of the Steelers wore yellow shoes.  Yellow! 

Pittsburgh Steeler with yellow-trimmed shoes.

My favorite team is the Lions. I grew up in Detroit.  They played the Forty-Niners in the late game Sunday.  The Lions uniforms are Honolulu blue and silver.  Many of the Lions wore shoes trimmed in Honolulu blue. 
Detroit Lions Shoes trimmed in Honolulu blue - almost baby blue. 

What in the world is happening?  Football players wearing pastel colored shoes.  How long has this been going on?  What are we doing to what once was the magnificent sport of football?

Before I go on I need to insert a disclaimer.  You know I’m an Outlaws fan.  I love the Outlaws.  I admire the Outlaws.  There are some serious athletes on the team.  They play good hard-hitting football.  They love the game the way I love the game.  They are tough minded individuals, willing to ignore social stereotypes to play a game society says women shouldn’t.  Nothing I say in this blog should suggest anything but the highest regard for the women of football.

I’ve been photographing Outlaws games and practices for years.  I did a featured player thing on their website and now this blog to promote interest in the team and attendance at their games.   

Tiffany's socks - just a few examples.
One of my favorite Outlaws is Tiffany James. In an early interview, Tiffany told me about wanting to wear colorful socks with her uniform. Her story got me noticing socks in women’s professional football and inspired a couple fun blog posts on the subject. 

Deidra Holland in pretty pink shoes with
matching socks.
In the 2012 season I noticed Deidra Holland wearing socks decorated with kitty cats?  And pink shoes.  Pink!  With pink shoelaces. 

Two words you will never see in the same sentence are football and feminine.  When I noticed Tiffany’s socks and Deidra’s shoes, I enjoyed the idea that women can do masculine things while retaining femininity. 
This male/female issue in society intrigues me because I feel strongly both ways.  Women are different from men.  If girls have the strength and athletic ability, should they be allowed to play on the guys football team?  I can think of lots of reasons.  Reasons for, reasons against.  It is the kind of issue that makes life interesting.  It is one reason women’s football interesting.  The novelty of women playing a violent sport, the reality that they play pretty well, thank you. 
The conflict for Tiffany wanting to do something masculine – hitting people and rolling around in the dirt – while doing something feminine – wearing “pretty” socks, struck me as an interesting gender conflict.  Coach Frank said no, you can’t wear those socks.  A natural masculine response. 

Having earlier noticed socks in women’s football, this season I started noticing shoes. 
Pretty red and white.

Pretty red and black.

Pretty blue.

One shoe trimmed in blue, one an odd design...?  I don't
think this photo fits in this discussion but I couldn't resist.

I characterized the pretty shoes and pretty socks as feminine.  It in no way diminished my appreciation of the amazing women who play on the Austin Outlaws full-contact NFL rules football team.  If anything, it strengthened my respect.  People doing what they want in defiance of stereotypes without giving up their real selves. 

Still, I have to admit, I like the down and dirty stuff.  I like seeing the ladies (and the men) with uniforms dirty, shoes dusty.  That’s the essence of the sport.  If you’re going to play football, you’re going to hit the ground, roll in the dirt. You’re going to get your uniform dirty.

Football isn't about fashion or femininity.  It is about getting down in the dirt.
If you play football you're going to get your uniform dirty.  You don't
see any pretty shoes in this photo, do you.  (Somehow Tiffany's pretty
socks got in the photo...)

Dirty is masculine.  Pretty is feminine.  Pretty socks and pretty shoes bring feminine to football.  Kinda cute.  Just fine in a women's professional football league. 

But not in men's football.  Not in the NFL. 

Then I see the Seahawks wearing pretty chartreuse shoes.  And the Steelers wearing pretty yellow shoes. And the Lions wearing Honolulu blues shoes (almost baby-blue.)  What!  What is happening to football?

What is happening to the NFL? 

In one of the games I watched this weekend the runner was out of bounds and the defender gave him a little push.  Two hands, light touch. The runner didn’t even fall down.  But the official threw his pretty yellow flag and assessed a fifteen yard penalty for unnecessary roughness.  Roughness?  Man, that wasn’t rough.   

These are really football shoes.

I played in the years of black shoes, high-top for the linemen, low-cut for runners.  The first face masked were single bars that offered feeble protection against someone stepping on your nose.  But did provide a handy handle for someone who wants to grab you and whip you around a little before dropping you to the ground. 

Pretty?  No way. 

What is this world coming to?

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