Colour me shocked. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the primary decide to decide on their uniform mixture for Tremendous Bowl LV at their residence stadium and as an alternative of going with the traditionally extra intimidating pink (or pewter) jerseys, the Bucs have opted for white jerseys and pewter pants subsequent Sunday. Meaning the defending Tremendous Bowl champion Kansas Metropolis Chiefs get to slide into the identical uniforms they have been in final yr after they received Tremendous Bowl LIV—the acquainted pink jerseys and white pants. Do jersey colours actually matter? By the smallest of margins, sure.
Final yr I wrote an extended piece concerning the first-ever pink vs. pink Tremendous Bowl. No Tremendous Bowl earlier than final yr featured two groups with their dominant shade being pink. Now it is taking place for a second consecutive yr. Somewhat than copying and pasting final yr’s story and switching out the 49ers for the Buccaneers — that’d be self-plagiarism! — I am revamping the piece right into a a lot shorter one for this yr’s Huge Sport.
Tremendous Bowl LV is sort of right here, and you may watch it free of charge on the CBS Sports activities App.
The colour pink has been an essential shade for so long as we have understood colours. It means blood, ardour, aggression, exercise, romance and assertiveness, and its which means to us as people might be traced by means of tens of 1000’s of years of human evolution. A examine greater than a decade in the past confirmed judges favor athletes sporting pink, perceiving these athletes as extra dominant.
Final yr, I requested Mark Frank, who authored a examine on the influence of jersey colours on sports activities, and Russell Hill, an evolutionary anthropology professor, whether or not the Chiefs sporting pink would have a bonus over the 49ers in white.
“Let’s examine. How do I phrase this? Sure, nevertheless it’s simply tiny,” Frank stated. “It is acquired a slight benefit, however one ill-timed fumble wipes out that benefit. One ill-timed cross. One arm being hit whereas thrown will in all probability override no matter benefit that will be.”
Hill agrees, and he does so whereas portray an image of Sunday night time.
“The way in which we might in all probability count on it to function anyway just isn’t the buildup to the sport however on the sphere itself … athletes on the road of scrimmage, in opposition of one other. They very a lot are dealing with each other because the ball is snapped,” Hill stated. “I believe in these specific contexts the place it may have an effect on the San Francisco gamers, these athletes all taking a look at athletes wearing pink, every of whom is displaying this shade that has this evolutionary affiliation with energy and dominance.
“It is in that individual context and in these very positive margins that we count on it to have a distinction. If it simply takes one or two p.c off the diploma that these gamers go into influence, the vitality that they put into it, and these video games are positive margins, that may be sufficient to tip the stability between profitable and shedding.”
Certainly Tom Brady, Bruce Arians and Jason Licht learn this story final yr. So why did they determine to go in opposition to this recommendation and put themselves at a drawback?
I’ve a couple of hunches. The primary is that the Bucs wore pink jerseys and pewter pants of their Week 12 loss at residence to the Chiefs (who have been in white jerseys and pink pants.) In brief, they tried it the primary time and it did not work.
Extra globally, the Buccaneers have been way more profitable in white jerseys than their pink or pewter jerseys. Tampa Bay is 9-2 in white tops, 3-2 in pink tops and 2-1 in pewter tops this season.
Particular to this jersey mixture, although, the Buccaneers are undefeated. The Bucs went 5-0 in white jerseys and pewter pants this yr, with victories over the Panthers, Lions, Saints and Packers twice.
In the meantime, the Chiefs have gone 9-2 in pink jerseys (together with 8-2 in pink jerseys and white pants) and 7-0 in white jerseys this yr.
And so now the choice to be in white jerseys is changing into clearer to me. The Bucs have eschewed no matter slight unconscious benefit the pink jerseys could give them and as an alternative have determined to don the uniform they’ve had their most success in all season lengthy. Then they pressured the Chiefs right into a uniform that they’ve had much less success on this season however received a Tremendous Bowl in final yr, thus creating what might be a false sense of comfortability heading into the sport.
Ah, sure. The psychology — and reverse psychology — of Tremendous Bowl uniform combos.