July 25, 2012

The Red, White, and Blue is Going Green!

By now everyone who is keeping up with the latest news on the Olympics is sure to know that team USA’s clothing isn’t very American. News broke recently that the clothing was actually manufactured in China. This deeply upset many Americans due to the fact that the textile industry in the United States continues to struggle, and the Olympic clothing line would have been a great boost to the economy and morale. Ralph Lauren, designer of the uniforms, quickly issued a statement late last week saying that the clothing for the opening and closing ceremonies for the next Olympics, the winter games taking place in Sochi, Russia, will indeed be made in the United States. While it might be too little too late to fix the situation in the mind of Americans, Team USA sponsors are looking for every available opportunity to promote the United States in a positive light.

Regardless of the Olympians casual clothing, there is good news when it comes to the athletic uniforms they will be sporting in the 2012 summer games. With recent advances in technology and the growing desire for everything we produce to be environmentally friendly in some way, the athletic gear for Olympians has undergone revolutionary changes since games past. Nike, designer of the athletic uniforms for many countries in the games, is one sponsor that has especially taken this to heart. In order to boost both Team USA and the United States with positive publicity, they have come up with extremely innovative ways to make sure that the uniforms worn during the games are environmentally friendly in order to distinguish us essentially as our own brand.

Among some of the cool new features Nike has planned for the Olympic athletes is a ground-breaking cleat that promises to deliver lightweight performance and high-speed control for soccer players in game situations. The Nike GS (short for Green Speed) is what Nike is calling its lightest, fastest, and greenest cleat ever. Every single element of the shoe was purposefully designed to reduce weight and waste, making it the lightest shoe Nike has ever created; only 160 grams for a size nine. The shoe features mostly recycled and renewable materials. For example, the sock lining is made of 100% recycled castor beans. “When you can deliver a boot that combines high end performance and a low environmental footprint that’s a winning proposition for players and planet” said Andy Caine, global design director for Nike Soccer. You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of these amazing cleats in action during the Olympics when they will be worn by Nike sponsored athletes from around the world.

The soccer pitch isn’t the only place you’ll be able to spot state-of-the-art equipment however. The United States Men’s basketball team will be wearing uniforms that were specially crafted by Nike to be some of the most revolutionary basketball uniforms ever. Each white jersey is made with 96% recycled polyester and an average of 22 recycled bottles, making it 58% lighter than the basketball uniforms worn in the Beijing Olympics and the lightest national team uniform ever. The difference in weight from past uniforms adds up to roughly a full can of soda! According to Nike, the shoes for the basketball players will also be innovative, being equipped with special new features. The shoes will feature sensors that can measure how high the players jump and transmit the results right to the player’s smart phone. Nike also designed FuelBand, a bracelet designed for all Olympians that measures their different daily activities, including how many steps they take to how many calories they burn each day. It will be interesting to see if all of this new and improved gear will help our Olympians perform better.

While the above mentioned efforts by Nike prove to be extremely fascinating and fun to learn about, it’s easy to forget that the Olympics are not just about finding ways to ensure that our athletes perform better than those from other countries. As one of the biggest events in the world, each country essentially becomes a brand of its own and how they promote it is entirely up to them. Our own country’s image in the Olympics comes down to much more than the clothes and uniforms. Supporting Team USA is about national pride and what we as a country believe is important. By incorporating eco-friendly and technologically advanced themes in many aspects of this year’s games we are showing the rest of the world that being sustainable and green is something that is important to us and is a value that we stand behind collectively as a country. It gives viewers around the world a more personal look into what it means to be American and in turn will make it easier for them to relate to our country as a brand. Environmental enthusiasts and Olympic fans everywhere are sure to agree that green looks good, but that the meaning behind it is what’s most important.

Contributed by Nicole Juliano

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