Trend #1 - Things that are black.
So we're talking pants and shorts mostly but also things that match it best.
Trend #2 - More advanced cards.
Yes, cards. Sounds silly, I know, but data cards and signal cards with more information on them are very hot ticket items this year.
So are white knickers (shorts, too) on the way out? It seems so. Knicker sales are down over 40% and with it are things related to them such as striped football socks and white ball center flags.
On the other extreme, since the NFL introduced black pants, you knew it wouldn't be long before that trickled down to the NCAA and high school levels. They just looked too good to not want a pair. The original motivation for the NFL officials was to offer a way to layer-up in cold weather where you couldn't do that with knickers. Combine the upgraded look with advanced fabrics and treatments, you can now go long pants even in warm weather. The result is that the NCAA and most high school football officials associations have now allowed black pants on the field for this 2011 season.
Now, there is something about a traditional 1" stripe referee shirt with the black pants. They just don't look as good as the 2" stripe. Too much black close together? I'm not sure. So one could say a trend is toward a 2" stripe shirt as well, which it is, but it's all a result of the trend to black pants. More black ball center flags, too.
So here are the top 5 of what's hot this year:
- Smitty Warm Weather Football Pants
What can I say? Each season, there is one item that is THE hot item. This one, constructed of lighter weight polyester, wins hands down. Stock is currently good on these pants that are perfect for early season games or in warmer climates where the alternative Foul Weather Pants would be too heavy for comfort.
- Smitty 2" Stripe Referee Shirts
There was quite a bit of buzz surrounding the 2" stripe for NCAA games with letters and flag patches built-in, but this one has done quite well. Again, the 2" stripe shirt will match the black pants better and those who don't need the letters or officiate different positions are going with the stripped-down 2" stripe version.
- Smitty Comfortech Referee Shorts
- Williams Signal Reference Card
Standard signal cards have been around for a while, but this one has both yardage and loss of down information for each penalty written in red right next to each signal. Why did it take so long to figure that out? At only $1.50 more than the standard, these are flying off the shelf.
- RefSmart Rewritable Referee Information Card
Designed by officials for officials, this four page layout (that's 4 - not a misprint) is the most detailed game information card available that also folds and fits neatly anywhere. It is covered in a high-tech laminate that allows you to record information in pencil and then to erase.