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Because sports increasingly choose bright colors

Because sports increasingly choose bright colors

Bright colors dominated the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The dominant color was green Green screenThe hockey field was light blue and the contestants wore fluorescent colored shoes. It wasn't the first matches to shine like this. Those in London were bathed in bright pink. In Beijing, the color red dominated. In the United Kingdom, Premier League footballers regularly wear brightly colored boots, and the white ball they kick has become a fluorescent yellow, pink and blue ball. Tennis has also become hotter. Why are more and more sporting disciplines and events adopting such bright colors?

Brand recognition

A century ago, colors were very dull. Cricket, football and tennis players wear white or muted colours. But the growth of television and commercial sponsorships has sparked a race for exposure. Sports broadcasting on TV had to compete with other shows: Rio's bright colors were easy to see on the TV screen and catch the attention of a lazy viewer flipping between channels. Sportswear brands vying for customers do something similar: Nike advertisers sing endless praises of the company's bright yellow shoes, boasting that its brand color is “the most visible version of yellow in the world.”

Sporting events also need to stand out from the sponsor logos and advertisements that fill them everywhere. Indian TV stations broadcasting local Twenty20 cricket matches air advertisements even during play. This ad bombardment can distract viewers. With bright colours, organizers try to attract spectators' attention to the match.

Another element that guides color selection for sporting events is brand recognition. Researchers (and marketing managers) know that certain colors are associated with certain emotions, and that people respond to these cues faster than words or pictures.

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Therefore, the colors of the sport should be the right colors, as well as bright. Rio's blue hockey field, with its green stripes, white stripes and yellow puck, evokes the Brazilian flag. A new football team uniform, at the start of every new season, makes the old shirt look old-fashioned. Sports clubs that are hesitant about choosing a color can use “color consultants” to predict people’s preferences.

The last factor is uniformity. London Games organizers covered the entire city in bright pink to help spectators orient themselves and identify Olympic sites and routes (and perhaps to tell Londoners which ones to avoid). However, organizers had limited choice due to the range of colors used by London's transport network: some of the less bright shades actually indicate different Tube lines. At the moment the trend in sports seems to be towards increasingly bright colours. But we can expect that this process will have a natural end: when soccer players and Olympic athletes become indistinguishable from railway maintenance workers in fluorescent jackets, it will finally be time to tone down the colors a bit.

(Translated by Federico Ferrone)