It’s ‘Hair,‘Warrior-Style

Susan Page
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Wednesday - December 05, 2007
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I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty Oily, greasy, fleecy Shining, gleaming, streaming Flaxen, waxen Knotted, polka-dotted Twisted, beaded, braided Powdered, flowered, and confettied Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

There ain’t no words For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder Of my ...

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair Flow it, show it Long as God can grow it My hair.

(The song Hair from the Broadway rock musical Hair)

It was a simple query, but one I couldn’t answer.

“What’s with the hair?” my sister, Sara, asked innocently as she first gazed upon our rock-star Warrior football team, lining up against arch-rival Boise State.

“I dunno, I guess I’m used to it,” I said, unconsciously humming the tune from Hair.

My sister lives in Boulder, Colo., where we spent the Thanksgiving holidays. She hadn’t yet experienced the thrill of watching the Warriors play, being that the games aired well past her bedtime. The abundance of Warrior hair stood out to her - literally.

For my sister’s and my generation, long hair seeping out beneath a football helmet is still odd. We can’t help it. We grew up in conservative West Texas in the ‘60s when football players all looked like Marine Corps recruits with either “flat tops” or “buzz cuts.” Back then, long hair on a male implied, well, let’s just say, other than manliness.

Even after the sexual revolution of the ‘60s and ‘70s, when hair was suddenly everywhere in places it never was allowed in the United States - like under women’s armpits and down over men’s shoulders - long hair was still an anathema in football circles. Football was a war game and soldiers just don’t wear long hair. (Back then, there wasn’t much appreciation for the historic notion that fierce warriors in other cultures such as Pacific Island ones used wild hair to intimidate their enemies.)

But somewhere around 1990, boys and men became totally liberated in the hair department.

Evidently, it was then that hair-product companies saw a large, untapped potential in Gen X guys, who were now several decades removed from the long-hair-stigma generation. For my son and his high school friends, messing with their hair length and color wasn’t so much a rebellion as an experiment in one-upmanship. It was more who could come to school with the hair color least found in nature, the weirdest cut or longest ponytail. For a few years during high school and college, my son - now a Marine Corps fighter pilot - sported at various junctures blue, white and jet-black hair. He briefly tried a Mohawk, and spent one whole soccer season in Pearl Jam “grunge” hair. Believe me, it was a bite-your-tongue era for this old-school mom, but how could I argue? Me, who started coloring at 14 and still does?

Around his junior year in college, he explained his sometimes bizarre hair experiments this way, “Mom, I knew I would be going into the military (news to me) when I graduate and have short hair the rest of my life. This is the only chance I’ll have to wear long hair. It’s no big deal.”

But with the Warriors, hair is a big deal. Whether it’s the flowing tresses of linebacker Timo Paepule and offensive lineman Hercules Satele, wide receiver Devone Bess’s half-blond dreds or slotback Ryan Grice-Mullins’ erupting extensions, hair makes them distinctive. Hair flying about looks unpredictable and intimidating. Their Haka chant wouldn’t work without the hair.

Even quarterback Colt Brennon passed into scare-hair territory - the blond zone, if you will - for a bit. First were the haole dread-locks - not so good - then a bleached yellow buzz, with the dyed-black Hawaiian Islands sitting on his skull like moon craters that, no matter the absurdity of it, created its own buzz in ESPN mouths. And that’s important when you’re in an unwatchable time zone. Along with great football play and the Haka, hair is the Warriors’ brand.

From extensions to dreds to sleek blond tresses to black lustrous lengths and Devone Bess’s, the Warriors are ready for a revival of a new and improved island football version of the Broadway musical Hair. They’ve certainly got the players, the dancers, the chanters, the choreographers - but most importantly they’ve got ... the hair.

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