New monochrome uniforms making it awfully hard to be a referee these days

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

In Texas, teams have complained about New Braunfels (Texas) Canyon High wearing all red uniforms while playing on an all-red turf field. The bright field could cause a legitimate issue seeing players in motion, though those camouflage concerns were eventually dismissed as overwrought.

The Los Angeles Loyola all-white uniforms are just one set that are making it harder for referees — Flickr
The Los Angeles Loyola all-white uniforms are just one set that are making it harder for referees — Flickr

A similar issue is now facing referees in a number of areas around the country, for the simple motivation of uniform design.

Confused about what the officials are struggling with? See if you can distinguish the numbers on the lineman in the all white uniform above, as worn by Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola High. The Los Angeles Times' Eric Sondeimer couldn't when he attended a Loyola game in a recent week, and Prep Rally has a hard time making them out, too.

Of course, Loyola isn't alone. The Regis Philbin "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"-style monochrome look has been infiltrating prep sports across recent years. Now, with the likes of Oregon championing similar outfits in the collegiate ranks (albeit with more distinct and brightly colored outlines to jersey numbers), the number of squads wearing uniforms with indistinguishable digits is almost sure to rise.

That's not a pleasant trend for referees, who have to keep track of who they're calling penalties against. Considering the fact that Loyola's all-white uniforms will be worn in bright sunshine or under nearby floodlights, those numbers could get even harder to read, too.

Will any of this change uniform design? Probably not. The Loyola athletic director, Chris O'Donnell, already told Sondheimer that he was the first to complain about the white numbers on the white jerseys. Still, that doesn't make it right, and officials should have every right to be upset with the additional strain it may be providing on already difficult jobs in pressure-packed cauldrons every Friday night.

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