Charlie's Sneaker FAQ and Glossary - B

This FAQ and Glossary defines a number of terms used in regards to athletic shoesCharlie, or sneakers.


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Baby Boomer

Now, they've gotten old many of them need stuff like Celebrex and Mobic... too much wear and tear!

Bad Sneakers
Some thoughts about Bad Sneakers:
  1. A 1975 song by Steely Dan.
  2. If you have a pair of BAD sneakers because some commission-hungry sales clerk sold you something that didn't fit, it's your own stupid fault! The Salvation Army will be happy to take them off your hands and give you a receipt for tax time.
  3. But, if they fell apart prematurely, the following will help:
 
Barkley, Charles
Nike Air Super CB basketball shoeRetired basketball player for the Houston Rockets and former Nike endorser. Nicknames that can be repeated in proper company include "Round Mound of Rebound" and "Sir Charles."
 
Baseball
1931 baseball cleats from Montgomery WardYet another sporting event with its own type of athletic shoes. Here's what they wore to play baseball back in 1931. The metal cleats haven't changed a great deal since 1931... but everything in the design above that has kept pace with technical innovation.
 
 
Baseball Boots
A term used for Chucks by some residents of the United Kingdom. I (Charlie) always thought of baseball being a sport that required cleats of some type.
 
Baseball Keds
White "Baseball Keds" sneakersA style from Keds, designed rather much like a boat shoe, but with stitching like a baseball. They were first produced in the late 1990's, then went out of production... to return to the Keds lineup in 2002 and early 2004 (under the name "Pennant").
 
Basements
Another sneaker slang term for takkies or trainers; around Cape Town, South Africa.
 
Basket shoes
A term sometimes used for basketball shoes. This should be differentiated from the Puma model named "Basket", which was very similar to the Puma Clyde except being made from smooth leather instead of suede.
 
Basketball
Baby Boomers playing hot and heavy basketball in ChucksA game that uses a round orange ball and circular nets mounted underneath hoops; compare to volleyball. Typically played outside in nice weather, or in overheated gymnasiums in the winter. Players typically wear tank tops, shorts, and sneakers. For Baby Boomer basketball before 1970, the players invariably wore Chucks, as in the example to the left. My old school buddy Randy demonstrates how the Baby Boomers played basketball; usually, but not always, in high-tops. They also wore real shorts back then, not a male version of bloomers like Michael Jordan wore. Serious market competition, first from adidas and then Puma Clydes, came along in the late 1960's and early 1970's.
 
Basketball boots
In Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and a number of other countries: sneakers for playing basketball. (See "boot.")
 
Basketball Sneakers, Charlie's Law of Teenage
Charlie's Law of Teenage Basketball Sneakers states: "There is a negative correlation between height and sneaker price: the shortest teenagers wear the most expensive basketball sneakers." I (Charlie) decided this after observing actual teenagers play basketball.
 
Bata
Bata Bullets white high-topMajor international shoe manufacturer; formally known as the Bata Shoe Organization. During the 1960's and 1970's, they marketed their sneakers under the Bata name. The Bata Shoe Organization now uses the brand name POWER for their athletic shoes. One of their best remembered models is the Bullet.
 
 
Beach Feet
An alternative to the sport sandal, beach feet combine a rubber outsole with a stretch mesh upper. Nike calls their version of beach feet the "Aqua Sock."
 
Beaverizing
A derogatory term used to describe when Nike acquires a company and makes them too Nike-like. For example, when Nike bought what is now Nike Bauer Hockey and brought out a line of SWOOSH-equipped hockey skates. On the other hand, so far, they've resisted the temptation with Converse.
 
Beaverton
A suburb of Portland, Oregon, USA. Beaverton is sometimes thought to be the center of the sneaker universe; but the states of  California and Massachusetts also have legitimate claim to that title. Headquarters city of Nike and adidas USA. Also the center of the high-class instrumentation universe, as it is also the home of Tektronix.
 
Beverly Hills, 90210
Jennie Garth, on-stage and off-stage Nike Girl, working out in 'Beverly Hills, 90210'A popular television show formerly on the FOX TV Network that lost its basic plot about the time Brandon's 1990 Nike Air Flight basketball sneakers wore out. Based around California teenagers who seem to wear only Nike sneakers, with the exception of Dylan. He's a misfit, not simply because he wears black high-top Chucks and the rest of the cast doesn't.
 
FACT ABOUT THE SHOW: Jennie Garth (the cute actress in the picture) also did an aerobics video entitled "Body Under Construction." Despite the title, it had nothing to do with nose jobs or plastic surgery.
 
 
Blue Ribbon Sports
The original name of the company now known as Nike. Sometimes abbreviated as "BRS" and embedded in Nike shoe terminology (such as the "BRS 1000" outsole).
 
Blue Tips
White Jack Purcell canvas sneaker1970's slang in New York for Converse Jack Purcell sneakers. Also see "Jacks."
 
 
Brain-damaged
  1. A term used by software weenies to explain the speed of certain computer architectures: "If the machine instruction set is brain-damaged, the computer can go faster."
  2. May describe why runners enjoy their sport so much.
  3. A danger in using one's head to deflect a soccer ball.
 
Board Last
A shoe construction technique where a stiffening board runs the length of the shoe. Results in a shoe with greater stability but lesser flexibility. Many hiking boots use board lasting. Most running shoes use either a combination last or a slip last.
 
Bobos
  1. In Boston, a term used by some for boat shoes or an insulting term for cheap generic tennis shoes
    • (Some Boston natives deny being familiar with the term, but they were women... I know several men who use the term.)
  2. In New Jersey, a derogatory term used for cheap generic tennis shoes.
 
Boat shoes
Sperry Top-Sider navy canvas deck sneakerCanvas CVOs. Called "Bobos" by some in Boston. Also known as "deck shoes."
 
Boot
Nike Air Mada II hiking bootsFootwear, typically brown leather, that a resident of the United States would wear for outdoor activities such as hiking or just to dress casually at work. However, residents of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and other countries sometimes use this term to refer to their sneakers, or the trunk end of a Ford.
 
Bottoming
The process of fastening the upper, midsole, and outsole together during the assembly process. Performed either by stitching or direct injection.
 
Bowerman, William J. ("Bill") - (1911-1999)
  1. Track coach at the University of Oregon from 1949 to 1972.
  2. Co-founder (with Philip Knight) of Blue Ribbon Sports, later renamed Nike, Inc.
  3. His doctors determined (when they thought that Bill was coming down with multiple sclerosis) that certain now-banned sneaker glue compounds (particularly n-hexane) were causing his neurological damage.
  4. The Nike World Headquarters is located on Bowerman Drive in Beaverton, Oregon.
 
Bowerman Series
Nike "Bowerman Series" logoA marketing plan at Nike to keep the runners happy. Shoe designs in the Bowerman Series reportedly will remain unchanged for 12 to 18 months. However, Nike has warned they may periodically change colorways using the Sneak of the Week philosophy.
BRS
Abbreviation for "Blue Ribbon Sports," the original name of the company co-founded by Bill Bowerman and Philip Knight and now known as Nike.
 
Bruin
Nike Bruin in white leather with blue SWOOSHThe original Nike low-top basketball sneaker.
 
Brooks
An athletic shoe company headquartered in Washington State, best known for making shoes for runners.
 
BTS
Shoe industry abbreviation for "Back To School." Many need new sneakers for gym class or just for kicks.
 
Bubblegums
California 1970s slang for cheap no-name sneakers.
 
Buick Portholes
adidas Nizza high-tops in blue with white stripes and Buick portholesA styling feature found on Buick automobiles for many years; ventilation portholes at the back of the engine compartment, ostensibly intended to keep the engine cool. By extension, the ventilation eyelets on Chucks and some other sneakers. I (Charlie) am not sure whether either set of Buick portholes ever worked as intended.
 
Bullets
Vintage Bata Bullets "Made in USA" heel patchA canvas sneaker sold by Bata in the United States in the days that Baby Boomer Boys were buying their sneakers; apparently still in production overseas. I (Charlie) remember that Bata Bullets had their devoted fans.
 
 
Bum
Bumper Boots
A term occasionally used by residents of the United Kingdom to refer to sneakers like Chucks.
 
Buying sneakers
To find a sneaker that is unavailable locally, try mail order.

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Last Updated: 18 April 2012 11:32


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Charlie's Sneaker Pages copyright 1995-2012 by Charles L. Perrin.

READERS PLEASE NOTE: Names of athletic shoe manufacturers, shoe styles, and technologies may be trademarked by the manufacturers. Charlie's Sneaker Pages uses these names solely to describe the shoes with the same familiar nomenclature used by the manufacturer and recognized by the reader.