Noting the sports world:
• So it turns out the uniforms for Team USA’s 530-member athlete delegation going to London for the Summer Olympics were made in China.
U.S. Olympic Committee sponsor Ralph Lauren made the duds. And where they were made has turned into quite the political football, with one prominent lawmaker saying all the uniforms should be burned.
Now I understand the benefits of outsourcing and I certainly am not a “Made in America” zealot, having driven foreign cars for the last 25 years. But seriously? The U.S. Olympic team’s uniforms weren’t made in the USA?
Both the USOC and the folks at Ralph Lauren had to be tone deaf not to think this was going to come back and bite them. A USOC spokesman called the controversy “nonsense” on Twitter. I don’t agree. My Dad worked for an American textile company in South Carolina for 24 years before he retired. So much of that textile work has gone overseas now, and the entire industry is struggling.
This was an unintentional slap in the face to the “Buy American” movement, I imagine, but it’s a slap in the face nonetheless. It’s not a new controversy, either. Some parts of the U.S. Olympic uniforms have been made in other countries since at least 2002.
Ralph Lauren should offer to have the uniforms remade in the USA. I understand that the team will use sports equipment made in other countries and so on, and that’s fine. But in the case of the “official” uniform, symbolism matters. It will now be hard for Americans to look at Team USA’s double-breasted uniforms at the Opening Ceremonies July 27th and not say, “Can you believe that was made in China?”
China will likely be America’s biggest competition in the overall medal count at these Olympics. I covered the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, and that was a fantastic experience. It showed me in person how serious the Chinese are about their sports.
The Chinese are a major international athletic force. In London, they will be trying to undress American athletes on the world stage.
They don’t need to be dressing them, too.
• Charlotte’s David Marsh – the SwimMAC Team Elite coach and newly minted U.S. Olympic assistant swim coach – checked in with me from Knoxville this week. His five SwimMAC swimmers joined more than 40 other U.S. Olympic swimmers there for a pre-Olympic training camp.
Marsh has seen about everything in the sport, but even he was stunned that more than 2,000 people lined up in the rain in Knoxville Thursday to watch the U.S. team conduct a public practice. People started lining up at 4 a.m., and many others were turned away when the building reached capacity.
Marsh noted that SwimMAC’s Davis Tarwater – a late addition to the U.S. squad and a Knoxville hometowner – got to unofficially emcee the practice. “Tweets have gone out from the USA team calling for Davis to be voted governor in the near future,” Marsh cracked.
Marsh said the training was going well for all the SwimMAC participants and that former N.C. State standout Cullen Jones – who had a breakout U.S. Trials and will swim three events in London – was “fully back to his explosive strength.” The team will soon leave for more training in France before heading to London, where swimming will be one of the glamour events of the Olympics’ first week.
• It’s interesting and accurate that NFL Films’ Greg Cosell – one of the game’s most astute talent evaluators – has ranked Steve Smith in his Top 5 of all receivers entering the 2012 season. No. 89 was No. 4. Everyone else on Cosell’s list was a “big” receiver – No. 1 Andre Johnson, No. 2 Calvin Johnson, No. 3 Larry Fitzgerald and No. 5 A.J. Green.