Last night I was watching Johnny Cueto pitch to Andrew McCutchen in the National League wild card game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds and decided to write today’s column, asking, “Would Usain Bolt Ever Wear Braids?”
Of course, I’m talking about the hairstyle that is all the rage and has been for a while. Braids are way past being a fad. They’ve been popular with high-school athletes, college athletes and the pros for many years.
I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time because I think it is an interesting topic, but I kind of always thought it wasn’t for someone who doesn’t wear them to write.
Braids are obviously a very personal and cultural expression, and one which I like quite a bit. But, I’ve always been inquisitive as to why athletes would want to add so much unnecessary weight to tug from their head, if they are expected to be so quick and agile, especially in sports where 0.01 seconds can make a huge difference.
With some players the hair is so long, it even blocks the name on the back of their jerseys. Aren’t they losing possible endorsement opportunities as a result?
If it’s not braids, it’s just long hair that many athletes are choosing. Long hairstyles are the “in” thing in sports these days. Maybe, for some athletes, it’s their security blanket to provide psychological comfort. Wait, isn’t that what all hairstyles are?
In football, some thick braids can really help deflect a blow to a helmet and protect against a concussion. Then again, braids can also have a very different impact on a game situation. In the past players have been tackled by their long hair. NFL rules state that long hair that extends below the helmet is considered part of the uniform and is completely fair game.
I’ve talked to a few athletes with braids and to a man, they all say, they “can’t feel any difference.” The braids don’t seem to hinder them at all.
OK, fine, but, what about for the fastest man in the world, and, maybe the fastest man ever on planet earth? How would Usain Bolt feel about wearing braids?
I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that he wouldn’t run a competitive race with braids because he would worry too much about the negative effect on his time. However, Bolt might consider wearing them after he retires.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com