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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Bearded athletes claim enhanced performance

Novembeard is coming. Please prepare your faces.

Yes, it’s almost that time of year again. The month where every able-faced fella feels compelled to carry on the sacred tradition of abandoning razor and shaving cream for an entire month.

Things may get hairy, things may get furry, things may start getting stuck to people’s faces. But the troopers, a select few dedicated to the month, will persevere. No matter how thick things get, they will wear the mountain-man look with pride.

No matter how thick things get, they will wear the mountain-man look with pride.

This trend almost undoubtedly started with sports. Hockey players have long since sported what’s called “playoff beards,” or facial apparatus to try and promote postseason success. Some baseball players have been known to let their facial hair go when they get on a hot streak, and shave it off as soon as it ends.

Just this year, an entire team has taken up the tradition of the sports beard. The Boston Red Sox began its beard-growing during spring training. The beards have lasted as the scraggly Sox reached baseball’s biggest stage, the World Series.

Call it coincidence, call it superstition, call it bad hygiene. Whatever you call it, the Red Sox are winning with their hefty hair.

Individual stars have also raised the profile of the sports beard. Recently, a pair of athletes have brought new popularity to the hair. Houston Rockets guard James Harden resembles a flying beard with his wild mane when elevating to the rim during games.

But the athlete who really sparked this rejuvenation was The Beard himself. Brian Wilson, former San Francisco Giants closer, grew the mother of all beards a few years back.

The beard became an overpowering presence, almost more than the pitcher himself. Allegation over the use of color enhancing materials on the beard rose up, but the Giants faithful were not fazed, Fans latched onto the hair and began showing their devotion in follicle form, adopting the chant “Fear the Beard.”

As a Chico State student and beard-enthusiast myself, I would love to see this kind of hysteria in our sports. The sports beard, when done right, gives athletes the element of craziness.

When a bearded athlete walks onto the field of play, no one knows what’s going to happen. The athlete could shake hands nicely with the opposition, or they could go off the chain and snap equipment with the might of their hair. With a beard, you just can’t tell. The level of intensity added with a sports beard is through the roof in national sports; just think how crazy things would get at the college level.

This is the kind of bearded intensity that could take Wildcat athletics by storm. Fans and athletes alike, growing beards and going crazy for the pure love of sports.

I could see it now: “Fear the Beard” revived in a scruffy Willy Wildcat.

Bearded athletes could literally change the face of Chico State athletics. So, come Novembeard, don’t fear the beard. Embrace it.


Nick Woodard can be reached at [email protected] or @nwoodard25 on Twitter.

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