Sports x Arts: Community Through Sports, Uniforms and Food


Jonathan Wang

University of Utah student section, “The MUSS” at the game against USC at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Oct. 15, 2022. (Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Isaac Dunaway and Luke Jackson


What is it that makes a sporting event so exciting? What is it that makes over 50,000 people throw on red shirts and pile into Rice-Eccles Stadium? What is the driving force that inspires comments such as, “You’re a BYU fan? Damn, and I was just starting to like you.”

The Powerful Force of Sports by Luke Jackson

Sports bring like-minded fanatics together while pitting fanbases against each other. Trash talk, middle fingers and screaming matches are so common in the stands that they are essentially a part of the sport-going experience. This phenomenon is exciting and frankly a little frightening.

Growing up in Calgary, Canada, Flames games were a huge part of my upbringing. One of my earliest memories is getting free parking at a local garage, because when asked by the attendant about the Edmonton Oilers, the Flames’ opponent for that evening, I promptly responded, “They suck!”

Even today, almost 20 years later, I still harbor resentment toward the town of Edmonton, Alberta. There is no basis to my hatred outside of the fact that their hockey team is not my hockey team. I’m willing to bet all those who grew up watching sports of any kind have similar feelings of resentment toward a rival team. So, what is it that drives this passion? Certainly, the answer is multi-faceted, but two large factors are the food and the uniforms.

What’s Black and White and Red all Over?

From the University of Utah’s classic red and white color scheme to the Utah Jazz’s iconic mountain jerseys, over the years, colors and uniforms have always been an integral part of the sports identity in Utah. Utah football has brought out numerous uniforms with extra meaning throughout campus and the greater community. From 2014-16, they wore a red, black and white mountain design on the sleeves of their jerseys.

Every season since 2015 with the exception of the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Utah has worn a specific throwback uniform for the homecoming game. These uniforms were worn for the first time at an exciting game against UC Berkeley, a game for which ESPN’s College Gameday show came to town.

The uniform features a vintage script for the jersey numbers and the interlocking U logo on the helmet. This season, Utah announced the uniforms with a promo at The Pie Pizzeria, which has been an iconic food spot at the U for a long time.

Last year, the Utes introduced a road version of these throwbacks. It is an identical design, but with white jerseys instead of red. These uniforms were brought out for the first time at the Los Angeles Coliseum to play USC, and were also worn for the game against Florida this year. Utah wore a slightly modified version of these jerseys at last year’s Rose Bowl game, with a rose added to the interlocking U on the helmet and the Rose Bowl patch on the shoulder of the jerseys.

For the Oregon game last season, a brand new gray design was introduced. The design paid homage to the USS Salt Lake City, a heavy war cruiser used during World War II. Numerous references to the ship were featured throughout the uniform, including the ship being hand-painted onto the helmets.

The USC game this season marked Utah’s annual “blackout” game. The team wears all black uniforms and the fans are encouraged to wear black in the stands. On top of it being a blackout and a memorable Utah victory over the Trojans, the game also marked a tribute to deceased players Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe. Jordan and Lowe who were hand-painted onto the helmets the Utes wore that night.

Jazzin’ it Up

The Utes aren’t the only sports team in the area who have worn uniforms with extra meaning throughout the Utah community. The NBA’s New Orleans Jazz were founded in 1974. Despite the franchise moving to the Salt Lake City area in 1979, the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and yellow have been worn in some variety throughout the franchise’s time here in Utah.

Perhaps the Jazz’s most iconic look are the purple mountain uniforms worn during the latter part of the John Stockton and Karl Malone era. These were the uniforms worn during the franchise’s only two trips to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. This design was brought back as throwback uniforms during both the 2019-20 season and this season that just tipped off.

With a primary color scheme of black, yellow and white this season, the purple mountain look is another example of the Jazz branching out from its primary scheme. From 2017-20, the Jazz brought out a bright orange, red and black gradient uniform. These were inspired by the red rocks and national parks found throughout Southern Utah.

A “dark mode” version of these jerseys was worn from 2020-22 as well. It was a similar look with the bright orange-to-black gradient, but with black as the dominant color instead. Whenever the Jazz wore either of these uniforms, a special court matching the design was used at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

These gradient uniforms were part of the “city edition” uniforms the NBA started during the 2017-18 season for all teams. Jazz officials were unsure how fans would react to such a different look, but it was very popular. The jerseys sold in record numbers. The original gradient uniform was so popular that the Jazz kept it in their rotation for three seasons. Most teams in the NBA moved on to different city uniforms after one, maybe two seasons.

The Taste of Victory

Food is an integral part of any community event. Whether it’s a turkey over Thanksgiving or an overpriced beer at a Jazz game, the food brings us together. Of course, at a Utes or Jazz game, the food is not the primary reason to gather. At the same time however, camaraderie bounds when you look across from you and see someone in the same colors enjoying the same food. The truth is, food makes sports more enjoyable and vice versa.

So, what food makes a Utes game a Utes game? Or a Jazz game a Jazz game? We are lucky to have some pretty solid options for grub at both the Rice-Eccles Stadium and the Vivint Arena. Two establishments, however, stand out above the rest. Not only are they Utah-local, but they are next-level delicious.


Salt Lake staple “Cupbop” is a powerful Korean BBQ experience contained inside a cup. U students are sure to have seen the food truck around campus, either at a Utes game or just after class. Cupbop also sports a location on the third level of the Vivint Arena. The vibrant yellows laid across a black background are a heavenly color scheme beckoning you into their warm embrace.

The menu is simple, the slogan is simpler: “Shhh … just eat.” When the truck first opened, the goal was simply to spread the delicious combination of Korean flavors to the world. Once the food was in their customers’ hands, there was no time for questions. Instead, there was only an encouragement to just eat, and once the flavor hits your taste buds, your worries will melt away.

J. Dawgs

Nothing says sports like a good ol’ beef frank. Hot dogs are as sporty as food comes. This tasty handheld treat is the perfect companion to a foam finger. Such a simple dish is hard to elevate, however, Utah’s J. Dawgs steps up to the plate regardless.

Starting in a small wooden stand in Provo in 2005, J. Dawgs has grown to be a must-try for Utah sports fans. The beauty of J. Dawgs lies in their simplicity. Only two options are presented to potential patrons: a beef or a Polish dog. These wieners are perfectly cooked with a tantalizing crisscrossed pattern charred in to absorb your choice of condiments. Whether you fancy a classic ketchup and mustard, or an extravagant sauerkraut, onion, pickle and banana pepper dog, you are sure to be satisfied. The bow on top of it all is a sweet and tangy special sauce that is sure to keep you drooling each time it pops into your mind.

With stands in both the Vivint Arena and Rice-Eccles Stadium, J. Dawgs is a must-try for fans. These wieners have become a constant craving in my home and I’m sure yours will soon follow suit.

Local food joints like J. Dawgs and Cupbop fill tummies and ground fans within their community. Having such delicious, affordable and personality-filled options creates a deeper pride in our hometown.

Not only are we playing better than the other guys, but we’re eating better too.


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