Long: Fan’s uniform design exemplifies meaning of fandom

Craig Long

While wasting time online a little while ago, I stumbled on a post on reddit.com. It featured a design for ISU football uniforms, based off of the uniform that our own Jack Trice wore in 1923, before his death. Looking at the comments on the thread, I was pretty surprised. Most were very positive, even from people who have no reason to take an interest in ISU athletics or our uniforms.

I tracked the design down to cyclonefanatic.com and perused the forum to see what actual Cyclone fans had to say about it. Again, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. However, as I progressed through the post, I noticed something interesting. This group of fans, who likely don’t know each other in the real world, collaborated to work on the design together.

Though they did it in the privacy of their home or office, they interacted online in ways most online college courses would die to see on online discussions. Though it was largely one designer who altered the design and reported back to the forum, it was a group effort to influence the design.

I contacted the designer, Shawn Brogden, to see what his reasoning for coming up for the design was. He wasn’t paid for it — he simply did it out of love for the Cyclones, and perhaps a bit of uniform envy of all the throwbacks and alternate uniforms that other teams sometimes wear. He came up with an away version of the uniform and sent it to me.

I used his design and emailed Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, asking him what it would take to see a uniform like this used some Saturday in the near future. He gave me some background into the decision processes that go on for projects like these.

He informed me that a uniform like this has been floated before as a special promotion for a single game, which is something the athletic department may consider. However, the costs for even a one-game change are exorbitant, at nearly $75,000. As such, it wouldn’t be something the department did on a whim, but it would be an internal decision.

But that’s the sublime thing about this whole design. It came about so organically, spreading from one fan to others, the design growing more popular as additional input and changes were made. Maybe this specific design isn’t going to be used, and the idea fell on deaf ears. That isn’t what really matters, though, because there’s something about coming together like that that makes being a fan special.

Think about it. This is the exemplification of what it is to be a fan. It’s no fun to be at a game where there’s no one else there. But when the stadium is packed and you’re standing with thousands of other fans hoping for the same outcome, something feels special.

Though I received no sort of indication that a design like this would be used or considered in the future, it did remind me of the importance of fans to college athletics, especially here at Iowa State. We don’t have the kind of brand recognition — or profitability — as universities such as Texas, USC or Notre Dame.

We do get millions of dollars in TV revenue from the Big 12, but we’ve seen in the past couple years how quickly that may vanish. That’s why Iowa State’s fans are so vital to our program. Without our fans out there supporting our team through tickets and merchandise sales, our athletic department would be nowhere near approaching self-sustainability like it is projected to for the first time next year.

That is also why our athletic department works so hard to get fans to games and supporting the Cyclones. It’s why it runs promotions and giveaways around the clock. It’s why Pollard is so good about addressing concerns brought to him by fans through email.

It’s probably the greatest benefit that we get for being fans of a program that isn’t as nationally recognized as some other programs out there. The athletic department cares about us and our input. So don’t be afraid to give it. Cyclone Nation benefits as a whole when regular fans such as you and me are involved.