Did you know the referee shirt was invented in Ypsilanti, Michigan?  Here's why.

Dr. Lloyd W. Olds is the person responsible for making referees dress like zebras.  To understand why you have to look at Dr. Olds's history at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.   According to the Eastern Michigan University Athletics website, Dr. Olds had a few issues while he refereed basketball games as an undergraduate student at the university in 1914,

The referee often looked very much like a player.  So the lads often threw the ball to me or bounced it off my head. I had a knitting concern make up a special shirt for me. The shirt had broad black and white stripes.

The black and white striped shirts we see referees wear in many sports like basketball and football exist because Dr. Olds found a way to visually separate the referees from the players back in 1914.

Earl Boykins
Getty Images

There's no doubt that over his 42 years with Eastern Michigan University Dr. Lloyd W. Olds made a big impact on the school.  Olds worked as a coach and athletic director among other positions during his long tenure at EMU.  However, he made an even larger impact on sports around the world with his invention of the referee shirt over 100 years ago right here in Michigan.

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