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Voyageur's Best Generally Speaking of 2005


Putting your best foot forward
The confusing issue of foot wear all began with cross trainers
by Jerome Little  |  February 15, 2005

I just heard the term, “Cross Trainer” and wondered if it referred to an angry gym instructor. Just kidding. But the term did catch my attention. We’re talking shoes here, right? I’m not up on the latest developments in shoe wear, but I assume that these are some sort of sport shoe that can be worn for two, maybe more, types of activity. That’s great, isn’t it? Just think, you don’t have to purchase a separate shoe for each interest in your life. I was somewhat concerned that I wasn’t supposed to be walking in jogging shoes, and certainly not jogging in running shoes. It seems some shoes were speed specific. And could you really play volleyball in basketball shoes? I knew you couldn’t wear baseball cleats on the gym floor, at least after the first time I did it.  

Now having cross trainers or multipurpose shoes means a huge saving when you have children involved in different activities in school. Heaven knows how much it costs to equip an elementary or high school athlete these days. Just knowing that I may be able to purchase one set of foot wear for all purposes gives me a sense of relief to no end. Maybe we could take this a little further.

Up to now the footwear has been determined by the sport, or vice versa. Mostly the bottom of the shoe is the issue. Cleats for baseball and football, a smoother surface for basketball and say, volleyball. You see the problem that existed before cross trainers. Now that we have a common shoe, let’s standardize the uniforms. After all, it wouldn’t take a lot. If we could get the football players to wear shorts, this could combine that sport with basketball and hockey. After all, the European football players wear shorts. We could let the hockey players keep the long underwear they put on under the shorts. I guess those guys call the shorts breezers. Speaking of winter type sports, I just read an article in the paper on the cost of outfitting a high school Nordic skier and it left me breathless. I’m glad my kids find it hard to chew gum and walk at the same time.

I realize that using the same uniform for every sport poses some problems, such as the swimming teams having to wear somewhat baggy clothing. This may result in some longer heats and slower times, but then the playing field is level for all comers. Of course, there would be some advantage as they wouldn’t necessarily have to wear the cross trainers. Now gymnastics shouldn’t be affected too much. The guys wear kind of baggy pants and shirts anyway; just the girls would have to give up those skimpy things they wear. I’ve often wondered why the guys and girls had to wear different gymnast gear anyway; they both seemed to do everything equally well. Of course the guys would have looked a little ridiculous in those tight leotards. But all in all I think a standard look would save us a lot of cash in the long run.

I’m not sure how this new cross trainer shoe should look though. In some instances, a casual boot look would do. Or maybe something on the line of an oxford, but with a soft sole. Grip is so important in sports; one doesn’t want to be looking like they are doing a floor tumbling exercise in the middle of a basketball game. Maintaining one’s equilibrium is all important.

Wait a minute. I just remembered something from my past. It seems when I came home from school and needed athletic shoes, my parents went out and purchased tennis shoes. Not shoes for tennis, but tennis shoes. In fact, nobody I knew that wore tennis shoes actually played tennis. It was a generic name for shoes you wore when you involved yourself in some sort of physical exercise. There were two types to be had, high tops and low tops. That was it. We just put them on and played. They lasted a long time too, the whole school year, usually. And they mostly made it through the summer season until they needed replacing the next school year. They came in black or white. The black high tops had a big white circle on the ankle. Remember? See you around.

This article first appeared in the February 15, 2005 issue of the Voyageur Press.