Diclaimer: I am very opinionated about what I'm about to write about, but I am going to try and be as impartial as possible.
New uniforms and incorporating new colors are one of the new norms in college football. In attempt to lure 17-18 year-olds to play for your team and not your rival, swag is now a factor in that recruiting. Who doesn't love new stuff?
Another issue in college football is attracting the young fans to go see the sport. With competition from high-def TV plus the rising costs of going to see games among many other factors, getting the fans' interest is paramount.
For Appalachian State Football, both these issues have come together this summer and the result is a debate about tradition, swag and loyalty.
Before we delve into it, let's admit that for this to be the main problem of a program that just went 11-2, win theCamellia Bowl and has gone 17-2 in their last 19 games is a bit trivial and epitome of first world problems.
There could be a lot worse programs, but the fans debate it, so thus, is important.
On May 25th, App State announced their "color days" for the upcoming season. For the home opener on September 10th versus Old Dominion, fans were asked to wear white.
The 2016 home opener versus Old Dominion on Sept. 10 will be a "Whiteout" game with all fans encouraged to wear white to Kidd Brewer Stadium.
The reaction was overwhelmingly negative. It was seen as a tone-deaf attempt to engage the fans because App State's colors are black and gold. To give that up for a home game was seen as blasphemous, akin to Georgia Southern having a blackout.
The next day, the response from the administration was to say it was the player's idea.
Here's what #AppState spokesman Mike Flynn had to say about the whiteout. pic.twitter.com/SM601qvKyN— Brant Wilkerson-New (@BrantGNR) May 26, 2016
Regardless of the validity of the whiteout being the player's idea, a divide was formed on that day. There were those in the camp of "if the players want it, that's fine with me" and those on the other side, saying "white isn't an App State color, no matter who wants it". The different sides
The issue was debated, but it appeared App State was going ahead with the idea despite severe backlash.
This past Monday, the flame was reignited.
Starting out the 2016 season at home in style! Design to come later! #WhiteOut ⚪️⚪️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/BL9jlYy6qM— App State Equipment (@appstequipment) July 18, 2016
The long-rumored App State white helmets look to be happening with the Mountaineers going full Stormtrooper, but for a home game. Going with light-colored uniforms at home requires permission from the visiting team, which was likely obtained before the original announcement was made. Popular or not, it's happening.
Arguments have been made comparing the white away uniforms to basketball and other sports wearing white at home to justify App State wearing white at home. Those arguments don't hold any weight because white is a common football away uniform and football is a culture all to itself, independent of other sports.
For App State fans, wearing black and/or gold to a home game has been a tradition that has lasted the test of time. Through uniform and logo changes, the black and gold (not always the same shade of gold) have remained and is something fans look forward to six times a year at home. To many, App State wears black and/or gold, the poor saps on the other side wear white and helmets crash into each other. Now that dichotomy will be reversed for one week as the Mountaineers will wear white at The Rock and that just doesn't seem right.
Then you have the other side, who are fine with change for the sake of change. It won't kill the traditionalists for one game and it's cool! Then on the same side but not as fervent, you see wearing white at home as a one-time novelty, especially for the new white helmets. And it the players like it and perhaps more importantly, some really good 17-18 year-old football players like it, then all the better!
The core question seems to be swag versus tradition and to a lesser extent, new school versus old school. While the call for fans to wear white have been absent from every press release since May 25th, the uniforms will remain white and the argument will remain until September 10th.