Special uniforms that Northwestern University's football team will wear on Nov. 16 have sparked controversy because of red streaks across the flag-themed patterns that look like blood to many observers.
The school and the uniform's manufacturer, Under Armour, say the design was inspired by "the appearance of a flag that has flown proudly over a long period of time." The uniforms worn by players are to be auctioned after the team's game against Michigan, with proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project that assists wounded veterans and their families.
"As a father of a U.S. Marine who has shed blood in combat in Afghanistan, I find this absolutely disgusting, insensitive, and disrespectful," writes one, Scott Cooney.
"As a military spouse ... I find your uniforms insensitive, offensive and shameful. There is nothing glamorous about wearing the blood splattered by your injured or fallen comrades," writes another, Stephanie Lavezza Ferguson.
At Inside Northwestern, an independent website that covers the school's athletic programs, columnist Chris Johnson says that beyond the matter of whether the design is distasteful, there's also the issue of how much money will be going to the Wounded Warrior Project.
The university says 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of the game-work jerseys will go to the project. There are estimates that could come to about $100,000. But Johnson writes, "only 10 percent of proceeds from [replica] jerseys sold online will go to the foundation. That number seems a bit small to some people."
CNN reports that Northwestern spokesman Paul Kennedy says the school apologizes "for any misinterpretation" of the intent behind the uniforms. CNN adds that:
"Under Armour's chief spokesman, Matt Mirchin, [said] on Tuesday that the company designed the special uniforms, and both Northwestern and the Wounded Warriors Project were able to see the design and request changes. Neither did."
It's worth noting that Under Armour has been creating special NCAA football uniforms to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project since 2009 and that red splotches have been one of the design features before — on last year's uniforms worn by Boston College and the University of Hawaii, for example. We aren't finding stories from previous years about controversies similar to this year's, though. Point us to them in the comments thread if you do.