War Reaches Shores of Big Orange Country

I don't know about you, but March Madness doesn't match the march to Baghdad for genuinely arresting TV drama, and the B-2 Stealth Bomber in flight is more awe inspiring than any Hail Mary touchdown pass I've ever seen.

That's why it's easier to get caught up in the liberation of Iraq than the liabilities of the I-formation, more interesting to follow the overthrow of the Butcher of Baghdad than the overthrows of C.J. Leak, more compelling to watch precision bombing than pinpoint passing. And there's something about witnessing a surgical strike carried out by a squadron of supersonic stealth fighters unleashing laser guided two-ton bombs that puts the term firepower into proper perspective.

Yes, there's nothing like watching live warfare from the comfort of your recliner to make you appreciate sports isn't life and death although, admittedly, it's sometimes difficult to distinguish the difference during times of peace in our ordinary day-to-day lives.

Understandably, watching the most powerful military in world history prosecute a war against the planet's most notorious terrorist isn't everyone's cup of tea. From private surveys I've conducted, it seems to follow lines of gender to some degree, but that's an anecdotal observation.

Still this is a site dedicated to the University of Tennessee athletics and its great fans, and it's purpose is to impart information about their favorite Big Orange teams. In that respect, it provides a place where one can escape the graphic images of war. (In truth, you can read Inside Tennessee and monitor the war at the same time, but at some point you're sure to see maps of battleground maneuvers begin to look like diagramed football plays.)

I've learned from experience that politics and sports don't mix, but it's never stopped me from using political metaphors when the shoe fit. However there are those situations in which college athletics collides with the geopolitical landscape and you simply can't pass up the opportunity to address two areas of intense interest with one opinion.

In a roundabout way that brings me to the point of this opinion piece. It actually dovetails with of subject that sparked considerable debate late last summer when Tennessee's redesigned football uniforms were unveiled to the public.

To put it mildly, there were many Tennessee fans that didn't embrace the look of either uniform, although the new home uni seemed to be met with more derision by both players and fans than the road version.

In fact, by the time Tennessee reached game nine last season against Miami, the Vols abandoned the pants in favor of the solid white sans the wide orange stripe that appeared to bleed at the borders. It's a look linebacker and team captain Eddie Moore described as "a split open pumpkin."

Certainly, if you didn't like Tennessee's new uniforms before the season started there was no reason to like them after the devastating series of injuries and one-sided setbacks the Vols suffered through last season. It was too easy to associate the look with the losses once you saw how the Volunteers played in the uniforms.

Of course most Tennessee fans are aware adidas designed the uniforms. It was adidas that also designed the uniforms worn by the Nebraska Cornhuskers last season. Since both Nebraska and Tennessee had their worst seasons in a combined 42 years, it follows that the uniforms won't be remembered fondly in either Lincoln or Knoxville. It also makes you glad adidas didn't design the uniforms of the U.S. Armed Forces.

There's been no official statement about whether Tennessee will continue to wear the solid white pants next season, or if there's a contractual obligation to return to the adidas design, but if the timing was ever perfect for a change it would be now. You see adidas is a German company and relationships between the United States and Germany are somewhat strained. Not only has Germany opposed the Coalition's efforts to unseat the sadistic regime of Saddam Hussein, there is ample evidence that German companies have done business with Iraq under the table and in violation of U.N. sanctions.

To top it off, there is a coordinated boycott of products from the United States that is currently underway in Germany. This seems to be a strange way of repaying a country that defended Germany from Soviet aggression for the better part of four decades with the U.S.A.'s strong military presence in West Germany. It's also the type of action that apparently ignores how the United States pressured the Soviet Union into economic collapse via years of vast defense spending.

If Tennessee is obligated by contract I can understand the need to maintain a positive relationship with adidas and fulfill responsibilities. But if UT can get out of the contract, there should be a genuine and concerted effort to do so as soon as possible.

If the Vols are going to agreed to a multimillion dollar athletic apparel contract with a foreign country, it should be with Reebok of the United Kingdom.


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