One of my favorite writers is Paul Lukas. He might be my very favorite writer if he stuck to just baseball and neon signs. But instead he mucks about in football and hockey and all those other pointless enterprises. Still, when Lukas writes about something he loves that I also love, there's nobody better.
Wednesday, he took on the phenomenon of camouflage-themed sports uniforms. And man, did he nail it, with a great round-up of the explosion we've seen in the last few years. And it's only getting bigger, with (for example) more baseball teams joining the movement next season.
Oddly, the column that's on the site now isn't what was there earlier in the day. But I did snag Lukas's concluding paragraph before it, along with a few other paragraphs, was (for whatever reason) removed:
For now, the camouflage trend seems unlikely to abate. But Uni Watch reader Jim Gregg, who served in the Navy, captured the camo fatigue that many fans are feeling when he recently posted the following comment on the Uni Watch Blog: "As a veteran, I understand the motivation in wanting to honor the troops. But stop it, sports teams. Just stop it. The whole thing is reaching the point of who can outdo whom, and the real meaning is getting lost in all this nonsense. I am as patriotic as anyone, but I think this sort of stuff diminishes patriotism instead of enhancing it, because it is all so overboard."
Now, I will hasten to mention that Gregg -- or any other like-minded ex-serviceman, including yours truly -- hardly speaks for everyone, and we'll probably never know what the majority of servicepeople think about professional sports' desultory, pandering nods to God and America and our military. But Lukas makes a number of excellent points, and might have made another: the camo- and flag-themed uniforms generally don't look good. They're esthetically unpleasing. Which makes two really excellent reasons to stop doing it.
Or at least doing it so often. I think what bothers me more than anything is how sports, and in particular baseball, have lately used every possible excuse to trot out the flag-waving and the war-glorifying and the jingoism.
There was a time when Memorial Day was a a solemn occasion to mourn our military dead. No longer. There was a time when the 4th of July was an occasion to celebrate the birth of our country. No longer. Veterans Day. Armed Forces Day. Military Appreciation Day. For God's sake, 9/11 more than a dozen years later. The list goes on. Each of these "days" was probably invented by someone in good faith, and each might well seem appropriate when distinctive. But that's not the case in sports. It's just one long uniform pandering, in virtually every ballpark all season long. Sports should make our lives better, but in this case they're only making us dumber.
Even as fewer and fewer Americans are willing to actually serve in the military, sports teams do more and more to make everyone else feel wonderful about sending our young people overseas to fight ... before coming home to face a medical system that is pitiably ill-equipped to take care of them. You want to support the troops? Fantastic. Send fewer of them to fight unwinnable wars, and tell your Congressmen to fight for the requisite care for those who do fight. Or, hey, you can just do the Kate Smith Singalong a few times every summer. Maybe that'll work too.
Anyway, it's nice to know I'm not alone.