Western Herald – WMU’s school colors, brown and gold, should reflect in its athletics and student body
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WMU’s school colors, brown and gold, should reflect in its athletics and student body

Attending the WMU football game against Tennessee Tech this weekend was a fun time for all. Not only is the student section an entertaining experience every game, but this game we also were able to enjoy watching a blowout victory.


Whether its football, basketball, hockey, or any of the other sports that Western Michigan University competes in, it’s great to show up and show your school spirit on the way to victory.

There is, however, one thing that doesn’t seem to make sense when it comes to our teams and our fans. It appears as though we’ve forgotten what our school colors are.

Our fight song clearly states: “Onward for the brown and gold” but you’d be hard pressed to find more than trace amounts of brown on any of our athletes or on more than just a few of the fans in the stands.

It appears as though black has replaced brown as the companion color to gold. Football, basketball and hockey each have primarily black jerseys, and the other sports teams also feature black as a predominate color. Even the marching band has white and black uniforms with gold highlights; not a lick of brown.

How could this happen?

We are the school who changed the name of our mascot from the Hilltoppers to the Broncos to avoid confusion with other schools of the same name, but now we’re promoting confusion by fighting for one color and wearing another.

If you were to look at historical pictures of Bronco athletics you’d see athletes wearing brown. The football team had brown jerseys, so did the hockey team and many others; but at some point that all changed.

That point was probably when administrators realized that brown was an extremely ugly color for athletics.
That much was suggested to me at the football game on Saturday when I brought up the subject to a few people.

I was told things such as “they think brown is an unattractive color, so they don’t wear it.” And that seemed to be the general consensus.

On that same note, we happened to be playing Tennessee Tech, whose mascot is the Golden Eagle, yet their uniforms were white with purple; go figure.

So brown is too ugly a color for teams to be sporting around at the Division I FBS level, that is understandable.

Why then don’t we simply change our colors to black and gold? If you were to attempt to sing our fight song and alma mater while inserting the word black in place of brown you’d find that it makes no difference to the flow of the song. It fits like a glove.

Black and gold undoubtedly is a much more common color scheme for colleges and professional teams; look no further than Purdue amongst many others, so perhaps we’re clinging to the color brown because it makes us more unique.

However, the Cleveland Browns are a fine exception. Nothing screams 70s more than a brown and orange color scheme, but they make it work. Braylon Edwards still looks like an all-pro receiver despite his brown jersey.

So brown can be done, and with gold instead of orange, it’d be slightly less hideous.

Whoever picked the colors for Western Michigan University back in the day may have made a poor decision in choosing brown, but history is history and brown is one of our schools’ colors.

We shouldn’t keep ignoring it like it doesn’t exist. Black does look better, and if we want to keep wearing it then the administration should vote to change our colors to black and gold.

But, if we want to hold true to our history and remain the brown and gold, then we should start embracing it.
So let’s bring back the old brown jerseys that you see in historical pictures. Let’s not be so ashamed of our colors that we need to replace them with something more mainstream

Besides, in the 1970s brown was a popular color. Historically, trends seem to cycle back through decades past — maybe if we wait a long enough brown will return to favor.

Andrew Mell, a Western Herald opinion columnist, is a senior majoring in aviation, and can be reached via e-mail at melltimejr@hotmail.com

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8 Comments to WMU’s school colors, brown and gold, should reflect in its athletics and student body
    • Chris
    • I have to agree… I think the black is more intimidating, and school colors tend to go through phases anyway, I’m sure eventually brown will be more prevalent. But there is nothing better than seeing the hockey games where the student section is blacked out.

    • Tony C
    • I think if you looked at the players unniforms, you will notice that they wore brown jerseys and gold pants.
      The bookstore also has many more brown aand gold items as well as pink and green

    • Richard Kagan
    • The thing about brown is, it is different which is refreshing! So disappointed to see Western Michigan in black – it gives me the impression that they caved in to pressure of contemporary fashion. I don’t understand it.

    • Robert J. Schmidt
    • This was a GREAT observation. I am an Alumni and proud of the “Brown & Gold” that is what makes Western…”WESTERN” We are not like the other schools, we take pride in being different and if that means ugly to some, so be it. The argument about colors and sales, is the discussion of “Is College Footaball a business or an extra-curricular activity?”. If someone thinks Brown & Gold is ugly go back and look at some of the sweet uniforms we had in the ’80’s. We had the “Bomb” uniforms!!!! Remember, “Life w/o Tradition would be as Shakey as a Fiddler on the Roof.” At the very least we need to don throwbacks for specail occasions and Bowl games! Great article and if anyone disagrees they are not a true “Bronco” LOVE THY BROWN AND GOLD” or go north to the cornsuckers and change with the wind, that smells like cow dung…

    • Jack
    • The reason for the color change in uniforms has more to do with the lack of avaialbility of the color brown in uniform material that is why they are using Black in place of the Brown. You can find Brown in T-shirts but not in the fabrics used for uniforms.

    • Deanna
    • I love that our colors are brown and gold. End of story. I agree with what Jack had to say. As far as the athletes’ and marching band uniforms go, have you ever tried to match browns? It is nearly impossible. If a uniform needs to be reordered, it is cheaper and more effective to purchase black. So, we may not see our beloved brown and gold, but do we feel brown and gold? I think that is the real issue.

    • brown + gold fan
    • It is true what Jack and Deanna say about uniform color availability and color matching. So, with this in mind maybe black can just be accepted as a must, and accent with brown through accessorizing/embellishments. This way the school colors can remain the same as history has dictated. Fashion wise, a third color like black could be very striking. Therefore, WMU school
      colors will remain Brown and Gold, with an unspoken black background when necessary!?!

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