U.S. Olympic Team Uniforms Made In China. So What?

Congress is in full outrage mode because of a report that the uniforms that United States Olympians will wear at the London Olympics were made in China:

WASHINGTON — Uniforms for U.S. Olympic athletes are American red, white and blue — but made in China. That has members of Congress fuming.

Republicans and Democrats railed Thursday about the U.S. Olympic Committee’s decision to dress the U.S. team in Chinese manufactured berets, blazers and pants while the American textile industry struggles economically with many U.S. workers desperate for jobs.

“I am so upset. I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference on taxes.

“If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, then that’s what they should wear,” he said, referring to an athletic jersey.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference that she’s proud of the nation’s Olympic athletes, but “they should be wearing uniforms that are made in America.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said simply of the USOC, “You’d think they’d know better.”

In a statement, the U.S. Olympic Committee defended the choice of designer Ralph Lauren for the clothing at the London Games, which begin later this month.

“Unlike most Olympic teams around the world, the U.S. Olympic Team is privately funded and we’re grateful for the support of our sponsors,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement. “We’re proud of our partnership with Ralph Lauren, an iconic American company, and excited to watch America’s finest athletes compete at the upcoming Games in London.”

Ralph Lauren also is dressing the Olympic and Paralympic teams for the closing ceremony and providing casual clothes to be worn around the Olympic Village. Nike has made many of the competition uniforms for the U.S. and outfits for the medal stand.

On Twitter, Sandusky called the outrage over the made-in-China uniforms nonsense. The designer, Sandusky wrote, “financially supports our team. An American company that supports American athletes.”

This strikes me as much ado about nothing. Does it really matter where the uniforms were made, or even who made them? As the USOC says, they are completely privately funded and rely on sponsors and donors for everything. Ralph Lauren is one of America’s premier fashion companies, and they won the bid to supply the uniforms. Seriously, who cares where they were made. In all honesty, I’m more concerned with the question of who thought the design in the above photograph was a good idea.

Nonetheless, it’s a great opportunity for politicians to pontificate, which is what they do best.

On an unrelated note, the spokesman for the USOC certainly does have an unfortunate last name.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Economics and Business, Quick Takes, Sports, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. bluepen9uin says:

    The stupid hurts.




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  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    No good deed possibly can go unpunished.




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  3. Herb says:

    A bigger scandal is the broke athletes living like paupers. Part of that is the consequences of personal choices, but it just seems like a misallocation of resources that shouldn’t happen. If I were them, I’d sit out….dream or no dream…and get a job.




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  4. Ron Beasley says:

    I doubt there as anyone left in the US who could do it.




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  5. There are American clothing manufacturers. The question is whether they could get the job done in the time needed. Remember that many of the members of the Olympic team were not finalized until just a week or two ago. You need measurements for all these people.




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  6. al-Ameda says:

    What else is new?
    This is low level grandstanding and Kabuki – it’s of leech field quality.




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  7. USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement.

    He then took a leave of absence to go get his last name changed.




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  8. Just Me says:

    This is stupid.

    Also, pretty sure a Canadian company made the Winter Olympic uniforms.

    I also wonder just how many American clothing manufacturers could supply them and if they would be donating them.




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  9. Franklin says:

    Considering the quality of stuff made in China, it’s a good thing they’ll only need the uniforms for about two weeks.




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  10. labman57 says:

    Much ado about nothing.

    Perhaps the US Olympic Team should have opted to have their uniforms manufactured by a U.S-based company such as Nike, since obviously they don’t contract foreign assembly plants to manufacture … oh … never mind.




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  11. John Briggs says:

    Are you serious? Yeah I think Brooks Brothers, Hart Schafner Marx and a few other American apparel firms could make the uniforms in America. Especially given the prices Ralph Lauren charged for these uniforms. I am sure that Ralph Lauren made a bundle on these things.




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  12. A more serious consideration of American manufacturing jobs is here, by Felix Salmon and Michael Kinsley.




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  13. ann hodgkins says:

    It does matter where the uniforms were made.It should have been dscussed prior to the deal with Mr. Lauren. This is not rocket science.




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  14. Boyd says:

    When I heard Brian Williams tease the US Olympic Team uniform controversy going into a commercial on NBC’s news yesterday evening, I was certain it was because they look awful, or maybe because they have Ralph Lauren’s logo taking up an equivalent area to Rhode Island on the jacket.

    When I heard it was Harry Reid et al getting all huffy over where they were manufactured, it just reinforced for me how out-of-touch Congress still is.

    Edited to add: Really? Berets?




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  15. Gromitt Gunn says:

    They look like flight attendants working for some military dictatorship’s national airline. Aside from the flag, of course.




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  16. Bob says:

    Congress has bigger issues to worry about than the fashion issues of a sporting event. This is one of the reasons why congress has become more of a joke and less of a governing body. So what they were made in china? The only reason why jobs are sent to china is to keep retail items cheap because our lazy asses sure wouldn’t make them for that cheap. Albeit the amount of jobs being exported is a tad excessive, it’s not all for the wrong reasons. It has it’s ups and downs.




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  17. Derek says:

    This is really much ado about nothing. The Chinese are not freaking out about the fact that their national Olympic team is wearing Nike, an American brand, instead of the home-grown Li-Ning brand… At the end of the day, the medal count is what matters at the Olympics. I remember watching the 1992 Olympics, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union… The gymnasts from Team Russia and Team Ukraine were wearing generic workout gear, some with the national emblem simply safety-pinned onto the front of the uniform… Didn’t detract one bit from their ability to dominate the podium in several events. I am sure what uniform they were wearing was the least of their concerns.




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