Purple cleats?! C’Mon Man…

by Ivan Bobanovic | Last updated

For those of you who are NFL fans, you will have watched Chris Berman and the cast of ESPN Primetime this past season covering, and commenting on, many football games.  A portion of their broadcast would often be dedicated to issues and events – on and off the field – that make you say C’Mon Man.  Each cast member would pick an event or a happening that either made them laugh or made them want to hold their head in their hands, show it on air, then finish by saying C’Mon Man.

Here is an example of an episode:

Like the cast of ESPN Primetime, I have something that has me saying C’Mon Man.

With the popularity of fashion on the rise in every area of our world, the way people look and what people wear has become very precious.  There are rules in the fashion world that dictate:

  • What shirt goes with what pant;
  • What shoes go with what purse;
  • What watch goes with what belt; and etc

Slowly but surely, this has leaked into the soccer world.  This process has been accelerated with the colossal popularity of David Beckham and his fashionista wife Victoria Beckham.  Beckham, one of the best soccer players of all time, has arguably spent just as much time creating billboards as he has training.  With this, soccer has become the grounds for a fashion revolution.

This is evident in the designs of tracksuits, training wear, uniforms, cleats and etc.  It reached a pinnacle this year when Nike came out with soccer cleats that are purple.

What you wear, on and off the soccer field is completely and purely up to you.  In fact, it should not matter to anyone what you want to wear.  I am of the mindset: live and let live.  The fact that Nike has come out with purple cleats means nothing; but the mindset it is creating with our youth is a problem.  This is not a bashing of Nike’s cleats – Nike’s cleats are among the best, if not the best, in the world.  This is an issue of how do we get our youth, and soccer players alike, to focus more on their game and less on their look.

What you wear means very little on the soccer field at the end of the day.  The better player/team, or the player/team that worked harder will usually prevail irregardless of look, style, color of cleat and so on.

So why does it matter?

My soccer team was practicing on a field near a few younger teenagers this past month.  These teenagers were 15-17 years old.  Majority of them had colored shoes ranging from yellow to bright green.  In a nutshell, they seemed to cover all the colors of the rainbow.

Again, my issue is not with the cleats, my issue is this: as I glanced over at the drills they were doing and the practice they were holding, many of the teenagers spent time comparing designs or cleaning off their shoes from getting dirty because of a shot or pass.

If a player is worried what they look like, we have major problems.

About 5 years ago I attended a camp held by a professional French soccer coach.  He too noticed younger players with colored shoes and fashion inspired looks.  He said to us that in Europe, players who are trying out but wearing colored shoes are automatically written off by the coach.  Players that have colored shoes, he said, usually worry too much about themselves; not enough worry is placed on their game and on the team.  These are the players that do not have the right mentality in place to be successful.

I am not suggesting this holds true for every player, nor am I suggesting that players should wear plain black cleats; I just want to bring to surface the fact that players need to worry less about their look and more about their skill.

The player makes the shoes; the shoes do not make the player.  Agree?

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