Dearly Departed Neons

“Neo lime”, “solar zest”, “fluro peach” and their day-glo cousins have had their time in the football boot spotlight for a while. It was nearly six years ago when Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner put Dinamo Kiev to the pink sword , scoring a crucial, late goal in a pair of flamingo-hued Nikes.

TGSTEL: "What global economic crisis?"

TGSTEL: “What worldwide economic meltdown?”

You would’ve thought that in the wake of a global financial crisis, restraint would’ve been the order of the day. No. Soccer fandom is aspirational. We wanted to see athletes defy conventionalism and tell the world that even though subprime mortgages and sad labor statistics were breaking our backs, nobody was going to take the delight of seeing an overpriced, underachieving Danish footballer nance about in pink boots away from us.  The unwritten code of conduct previously afforded only top players the freedom to wear lavish cleats. Bendtner, or B52, or TGSTEL (The Greatest Striker That Ever Lived) was and is anything but top despite the winner he scored against Kiev. He gave us gasoline and we set that rulebook ablaze.

Here in Brooklyn, roll out of bed on a Sunday morning, head to any field to watch a pickup game and take a look at the boots on show. You can easily see the trickle-down effect TGSTEL (and the countless overweight Brazilians before him) has had on us (full disclosure: in the past few years, I’ve purchased cleats accented with ‘bright mango’, ‘safari’, et al). It doesn’t matter if you’re watching some former college players at Bushwick Inlet Park or a group of older Bulgarians at Cadman Plaza, it’s Carnaval for the feet. Coincidentally, Adidas has recently released its “Carnaval Pack” ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

Some will naturally take longer than the rest to accede, but the color bug will strike down some of your most conservative teammates. The problem now is that when you decide to turn on the Christmas lights, buy your first pair of electric blue kicks and show up to play that first game in them, your typically bland-footed buddy shows up in a “lion dog robot” design.

My advice for this spring is to give the eyes a break, open up your wallet and buy an eggshell white or jet black pair of cleats. You’ll really stand out. Trust me, I just designed and ordered these on NIKEiD:

The author's response to a world of neon.

A response to a world of neon.