Color Matching is Mostly a Myth

Team Sports Uniforms & Color Matching

A Pigment of Your Imagination (Mostly)

There. I said it. Color matching is mostly a myth. Sometimes the truth hurts.

By this I mean that color matching, as in the exact synchronization (or scientific precision in the “same colored-ness”, if you will) of the apparel worn by players on a team when participating in sport has all the voracity of tales of the sighting of a great white whale. It could happen, but not too often.

That’s not a cop out. Or excuse in advance. It’s just a statement of fact.

The effort to attain “matching” elements (i.e., socks, jerseys, coaches’ shirts, etc.) is always a given. The team apparel experts at TSP always strive to deliver the best possible result in this regard. By universally accepted standards, they always do. But the reality is not so black and white. (If only it was that easy!) Here are a few reasons why.

Different Fabrics

Different sports apparel elements are frequently manufactured using different fabrics (polyester, cotton, etc.). A jersey is almost always going to include a different fabric or fabrics than, say, a visor or cap. And the simple fact is that different fabrics present the same pigment of color differently (however slight). To overstate this fact, imagine that you are painting the drywall in your bathroom. Then, using the exact same paint, try painting the porcelain toilet. This is an extreme example, I grant you, but the underlying facts remain: the properties of polyester and cotton are as different as drywall and porcelain. You can devise a workaround that looks great. But the fact is the fact.

USA Baseball 2017 Team

Different Dye Lots

Fabrics are colored in what are known as dye lots. These are numbered to assure, as best one can, the sameness of coloring. If you imagine a huge vat filled with fabric, pigment and other liquids, that’s a dye lot. It is the closest you can get to color matching. (The results are to dye for!) Knitting enthusiasts are sticklers for using fabrics pulled from the same dye lot. The result is that no manufacturer in the world will ever guarantee precise color matching. Not NIKE, not Under Armour, not anyone. If a dealer claims they can, they are perpetuating the myth. And sports ain’t knitting.

Pantone Is a Company, Not Gospel

Sometimes folks will transpose their experience in printing or advertising and fervently state that their primary team color is Pantone Color PMS 278C, aka UNC's Carolina Blue. (Or Pantone whatever color followed by a number.) This information is helpful as a guideline, but ultimately has as much bearing on the outcome as a viewing of the old movie “How Green Was My Valley”. Pantone is a proprietary system designed to delineate a universe of colors using numbers created (for industry standards) and sold, in various ways, by a company. (Just like Prince's new custom shade of purple, Love Symbol No.2.) It is a good guideline, not Gospel.

You May Be Blind

Not without the ability to see, but color blind. Or what the professionals prefer to call “color deficient”. Fully 8% of all men are just that. (And .5% of women too) That adds up to a lot of coaches. It’s not that they see in black and white. Or that red looks green. But rather, they can not differentiate between shades of colors. One man’s "Power Pink" is another man’s "Purple". (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Color Matching in Team Sports

So color matching is an achievable goal, to a reasonable degree, but always dependent on the eye of the beholder. Like most myths.

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