Below is an actual photo of the 1902 Tempe Normal Football team (now the Arizona State University Sun Devils). The students are obviously posed, making sure to show the year on the football so that 113 years later, you and I knew who they were. What isn’t staged are their official uniforms.
1902 Football practice at Tempe Normal School (ASU), Tempe, Arizona
Yes, you’re looking at some turn of the 20th Century swag. The N on their jerseys stood for “Normals.” That might sound a bit uncool today, but it served as the identity of the school in Tempe which was a teachers college. “Norms” were the required standards by which students would earn a certificate to teach.
In the early 1900’s, active sports like football and baseball were becoming more popular. Soon enough, people figured out they needed more flexible clothing in which to play.
The Normals dressed in style. They were up to speed with the recent trend in football uniforms which had become turtle necks or pullovers with knickers, long socks, and sports shoes.
Football styles when Wisconsin played Michigan in the 1902 Season
Modern uniforms on display. Arizona State University vs USC in 2011. Photo- Peter Vander Stoep for DHD
At the time when Teddy Roosevelt became our 26th President, the only padding on American Football uniforms could be found at the thighs and knees, though some players also wore leather shin protectors. Finally, the helmets, while they may look plastic in the photo, were leather. Plastic wouldn’t be invented for decades.
Now let’s step ahead a century. Football uniforms have taken on a life of their own, and there is a constant need to stay relevant. Innovations in both style and performance has become a part of the game.
Case in point– Adidas, Sun Devil Athletics’s new apparel sponsor to the tune of $33M over 8 years, describes some of their newest uniforms here:
“Made with a cutting-edge, proprietary yarn blend that increases durability and abrasion resistance, Primeknit is the newest generation of the adidas TECHFIT football uniform system. Primeknit keeps players cool and increases range of motion, giving athletes an unrivaled level of comfort and allowing them to perform at their highest levels. The jersey’s redesigned padlock system improves tension over the shoulder pads, while the compression fit adheres to the player, making it difficult for opponents to grab, hold or tackle.”
#PhotoLeak – The next installment of ASU’s Desert Fuel uniforms? We think so!
As Todd Graham and the Sun Devils push to become a football powerhouse and consistent top-20, dare we say top-10, football program, it’s important that we continue to do it in style. Nike catapulted the Sun Devil look into one of the most recognizable and progressive brands in the sport, and despite the justifiable concern of many fans about what’s on the horizon, we believe that adidas will come through. Perhaps it will be a work in progress.
New uniforms are expected to be revealed within a month, likely sooner. While we can expect both enthusiasm and healthy push-back as with any change, our evolving brand should be in good hands and move forward.
In 1902, football players were called “Leather heads,” and the uniquely American sport was just beginning. Today college football is wildly popular and is one of, if not the most lucrative sport in America.
We’re confident that Sun Devil style will remain in tact. Ideally, we will remain the envy of many universities who will be playing a never-ending game of catch-up with the guys in Tempe. Forks Up.
Check out some of the newest Sun Devil Lifestyle gear at DieHard-Apparel