Hunter beat me to the headband punch…..but my anger is more specific and thus still relevant
As I tried to think of what was the most objectionable part of Tennessee and their basketball “program”, the obvious choices came up…..we could talk about their fairweather fans (Macon Vol Fan excepted), their obnoxious coach, their empty arena, awful orange color or generally objectionable players. But I am sure the other guys will get into that. What concerns me most is the absolute idiocy of the Yarmulke (or “Yamaka”) Headband that UT has pioneered. It is a natural part of sports that athletes want to be different and want to use their uniforms to express themselves. I am not so old-fashioned that I am like my grandfather, who believed that the t-shirt Patrick Ewing wore under his grey Georgetown uniform “showed too much sweat and is disrespectful.” I give people leeway to wear saggy shorts (even to absurd UK lengths, rock the skin-tight jersey and get tattoos of incomprehensible symbols that will later in life lead them to feel the regret my friend DJ does at the “Detroit Tigers “D”” that he got tattooed on his arm for no discernable reason after a long night at a UFC party at Hooters. We all have to express ourselves, and if players want to do it in ways that I dont understand (aka without bad hair and hooded sweatshirts), so be it.
But the Yarmulke headband is simply ridiculous. Now as I understand, the headband is to be used to keep sweat out of one’s eyes. Call it a “Michael Dukakis eyebrow” for the average player. Until five years or so ago, the only people I ever saw wearing headbands were the guys at the basketball courts who took the game a little too seriously, and always used warmups to run their own personal layup drills before playing 3-on-3. I saw the headband as relic from the 70s, like Chuck Taylors and Indiana basketball, something that was gone and sure to never return to any degree of significance. But then all of a sudden, many black athletes began picking up the headband and rocking it again. I never thought I would see the day that I would see a black guy wearing a sweater vest or a Nascar jacket, but by that time it was so common place that Gerald Fitch would be wearing violet and calling Ernie Irvan his boy and Jamal Magloire was rapping about how he was the Handsome Harry Gant of Kentucky basketball, so the development of the headband trend didnt seem all that ridiculous.
But then along came Tennessee to take what was an admittedly stupid trend and make it incomprehensibly ridiculous. Deciding that having the headband around their entire noggin was too constraining, they channeled their inner Yeshiva boy ways and become walking billboards for the Jewish faith. As far as I know, no Tennessee players have taken after Rod Carew and converted to the Holy religion, so I am assuming that their display is not one of religious conviction but fashion innovation. However being intellectual giants, Tennessee players do not make such a decision lightly. They do it for important reasons that go far beyond the basketball playing court. The players who “rock the Yarmulke” as we like to say in the Highlands, look at the world and say “yes we see your societal conventions that pieces of clothing and paraphenalia should have some beneficial purpose or aesthetic value, but we reject that convention. Instead, we will wear these headbands in a nonsensical fashion, just because we can, and you will deal with it. In so doing we will let the world know that change is coming and the old system of rational thought is over….this is Bruce Pearl’s world and we dont let logic get in the way of our flow. Got that? And oh yeah, buy Bobby Maze’s new rap album that drops April 14.”
Even with that explanation, I still hate the Tennessee headband. Call me a “hater” if you wish, but I long for the days of Steve Hamer’s box cut or Dyron Nix’s jeri curl. Something that we could mock on a Tennessee player without also questioning their overall intellectual capacity. I ask you UT players, would Lang Wiseman wear a Yarmulke Headband? Have you ever seen Don Devoe walking down the street with his bald spot surrounded by elastic white cotton in order to show off his style? Of course not, and you shouldnt either. The time for the Yarmulke headband has passed and I for one, will think better of you when you end its practice.
Although I will still hate Tennessee….nothing you can do can change that.