Commentary

Advice to future Olympians: Leave the cells, crocs and shorts at home

Updated: August 8, 2008, 4:47 PM ET
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com

BEIJING -- By the time China arrived on the stadium floor during the athlete procession of Friday's Opening Ceremony, we already had seen plenty of high fashion and low comedy from the 203 preceding nations.

I don't write the Uni Watch column for this Web site, but I have plenty to report on the athlete attire and etiquette from the walk-in. Among my findings:

[+] EnlargeCrocs
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesCell phones and bright green crocs need to be banned from the Opening Ceremony dress list.

• Cell phones have taken over the world.

Athletes long have been bringing digital recorders and cameras with them into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony, and that's fine. They deserve the chance to record the proudest moment of their athletic lives, the day when they all are medalists at heart.

But the phone chatter on the walk in is just obnoxious. I counted nine athletes who came in with phones pressed to their ears -- including Spanish basketball star Pau Gasol. Can't we go three hours without talking on the phone, people?

And then there was the Senegalese guy who had his iPod buds in his ears. Dude.

• White is the new black.

Athletes from dozens of countries wore white pants and white shoes. Many of them wore all-white suits, going John Travolta/Colonel Sanders on us. Among them: Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Argentina.

• You can't take some people anywhere.

Like the Austrian who put red and silver glitter all over his bald head. Or the Chilean flag-bearer in chaps and spurs.

Joachim B. Olsen
Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesGray suits, orange ties ... Netherlands is bringin' it!

• The 10 sharpest-dressed teams:

1. Netherlands. Gray suits with orange ties and cool, two-tone shoes.

2. Antigua and Barbuda. Sharp plaid vests and ties with white shirts.

3. Saint Kitts and Nevis women. Sundresses in the flag's colors.

4. Gabon men. Argylish green-and-blue shirts.

5. Italy. Gray suit coats, black ties and snazzy silver shoes. That didn't keep them from marching in total chaos, all over the place, to the consternation of the orderly Chinese folks overseeing the procession.

6. Botswana. Nice powder-blue-and-black suit ensemble.

7. Tunisia. Blue blazers, lavender shirts and ties. Strong.

8. Latvia. White pants, lavender coats. Well done.

9. Ukraine men. Blue-and-yellow ensemble. Women get a demerit for bad yellow ankle socks and iffy shoes.

10. Egypt. Nice suit coats. Gotta be the cotton.

[+] EnlargeJoachim B. Olsen
Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesJean shorts? Jean shorts?! Mr. Forde is just appalled. Where's the lavender, Denmark?

• The 10 worst-dressed teams:

1. Denmark. Jean shorts. JEAN SHORTS?! This isn't Gainesville, Fla.; this is the Olympics.

2. South Africa. Committed the unpardonable offense of outfitting everyone in green crocs.

3. Spain. Bright red suits with bright red shoes. The shoes were criminal.

4. Canada. The Canadians usually are among the best dressed, so the penalty for showing up in bad pseudo-sweat suits is extra.

5. Kazakhstan. The women wore sashes that said "Kazakhstan," like it was a beauty pageant. The guys looked pretty cool. Nice white cowboy hats.

5. Switzerland. I cannot stay neutral on these outfits. BAD shorts with suit coats.

6. Australia. Say it again: sweat jacket-ish things that looked like they were purchased at a yard sale.

7. Belgium. Love your beer, hate your men's outfits. Horrific tan suits with red T-shirts.

8. Ecuador. Looked vaguely like a NASCAR driver's jump suit.

9. British Virgin Islands. One guy in jeans, another in black pants, three others in khakis.

10. Somalia. The men rocked some sweet sky-blue suits -- and then along came one dude in a white T-shirt and shorts, as if he slipped in off the street right before the group walked through the tunnel and onto the stadium floor.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.

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