Olympics Report: Roots Stir

If you do not yet have a Roots(TM)-brand beret that says “USA” on it, then you are completely devoid of Olympic spirit and are not fit to call yourself an American who follows every single stupid trend that comes along. The bandwagon is here, America. GET ON IT!

Roots(TM) is a Canadian (?!) company and the “official outfitter” of the 2002 U.S. Olympic team. Any Olympic hats you see the athletes wearing, they were probably made by Roots(TM). But Roots(TM) has been kind enough to make some of this stuff available to the general public, too, which is why if you walk through downtown Salt Lake City, you will see a Roots(TM) “USA” beret on the head of every living creature, including birds and French people.

What is it about the Roots(TM) beret that makes it such a hot commodity? For one thing, if you wear one, it’s sort of like being on the U.S. Olympic team, regardless of how fat or uncoordinated you might be.

For another thing, the hat is hard to get. There are two Roots(TM) stores at The Gateway plaza in Salt Lake, and there is a perpetual four-hour wait just to get INSIDE one of the stores, let alone to buy something. I’m not exaggerating on this point: The stores open at 10 a.m., and at 9:50 on a recent morning, the people at the front of the line — which at that point contained well over 200 people — said they had been waiting since 6. These appeared to be ordinary people with no serious defects, and yet they were waiting in the pre-dawn hours to purchase headwear.

I cannot imagine needing a hat so bad that I would be willing to wait four hours to get one. In every possible scenario I can think of, there is a way for my hat needs to be met in under an hour. In most scenarios, it’s under 15 minutes. (Go to Wal-Mart; buy a hat.)

But, I thought, maybe I’m missing something about the Roots(TM) hats. Maybe I should stand in line and buy one and see what–

Ah, screw it. I can’t even wait 10 minutes for a table at a restaurant. There’s no way I’m waiting four hours to buy a hat. Instead, let’s look at Olympic fashion through the ages:

776 B.C.: The first Olympic Games, held in Athens. Predominant fashion: nudity.

774 B.C.: The first Olympic Winter Games, held in the mountains of Athens: Predominant fashion: nudity and frostbite.

1896: The first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens again. Predominant fashion for female athletes: corset, slip, brassiere, under-corset, top-corset, secondary brassiere, skirt, top-skirt, dress, overcoat. American Myrtle Gammey won a gold medal for running the mile in just under 7 hours.

Put this under the "I just HAD to write about it, but I couldn't think of much to say" category. And I suppose if you haven't been hanging around the Olympics, you might not have seen the hats at all, which makes the column even less relevant. Maybe we should have marked this one "Locals Only."