photo via Nike
In an attempt to honor the 29 coal miners who tragically died last year at the Upper Big Branch coal mine, the West Virginia University Mountaineers have teamed up with Nike to create new football uniforms that have the mark of coal. The uniforms are white, but have coal dust on the pants and shoulders. The yellow strip on the hemet is said to represent a miner's headlamp. In the photo featuring the new uniform a player appears to be emerging from a strip mine, leaving behind a desolate landscape. Anti-coal activist Jeff Biggers and others have been speaking up about the uniforms. Here's Biggers' blog on Huffington Post explaining the controversy.
Here's the official announcement from the WVU:
The concept for the uniform design was to honor the coal miners of West Virginia and their heritage. Their hard work and dedication are the same characteristics of the Mountaineer football team.
The graphics surrounding the promotion of the uniform which featured 10 teams and an iconic representation of each school were designed by Nike and reviewed by the WVU athletic department. The intent was for the player on the field to be surrounded by coal and not as an endorsement of any one form of mining technology.
We are in discussions with Nike about the graphic.
Given that coal is responsible for about 40 percent of global warming pollution, what do you think: Are the uniforms offensive, a good tribute, or something else? Let us know.