By Morris Levin
“Views from Elysian Fields: What if I take my problem to the United Nations?”
The International Judo Federation and the Saudi Arabia Olympic Committee reached an agreement this past week by which judoka Wojdan Shaherkani, representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, may cover her hair during her Women’s Judo +78kg Olympic match this morning at ExCel London.
Shaherkani is one of two women competing at London as Saudi Arabia’s first-ever female Olympic athletes. The picture above is Shaherkani marching in the Opening Ceremony.
Shaherkani’s presence in London is significant. Saudi Arabia’s ruling House of Sa’ud has long blocked participation of female athletes in the games based upon the monarchy’s understanding of women’s role in civic society, as interpreted through the monarchy’s Salafi branch of Sunni Islam.
At these Games, Qatar and Brunei are joining Saudi Arabia in sending female athletes to compete for the first time. Muslim women have competed in previous games wearing the hijab. Ruqaya Al Ghasara, Shaimaa El Gammal, Homa Hosseini, and Robina Muqimyar were among multiple Muslim women who covered their hair in Beijing in 2008.
The hijab is a public visual signifier and expression for Muslim women, of a more complex philosophy regarding modesty as a paradigm of behaviors, manners, speech, and public appearance. This notion of modesty is a total package, with dress being one part of it, and shares many philosophical similarities with practices and understandings of modesty as an all encompassing mode of living in other traditions.
While Jocelyn Cesari warned on Wednesday that we not misinterpret Shaherkani’s participation as a sign of any liberalizing of Saudi Arabia’s civic disenfranchisement of women, I am glad to see the IOC and IJF come to permit Shaherkani to wear the hijab. I wrote on this site last year, “allowing athletes who wish to cover more of their skin ”“ when it does not serve to improve physical performance ”“ should be allowed.”
Were the Olympics exclusively about the elite athletes, we would not have an under-23 soccer tournament, and we would do away with the host nation being granted automatic qualifiers to every tournament. (I’m thinking of you, 2004 Greece baseball team.) It is in this spirit, that despite my agreement with Cesari’s critique, I see Shaherkani’s presence itself to be significant, and the IJF’s permission of the hijab all the more welcoming.
Morris Levin is an independent small business consultant in Philadelphia. He serves as Esteemed Consigliere to Little Baby’s Ice Cream which opens its World Headquarters in Philadelphia this afternoon at 5pm, with music, beer, and 16% butterfat ice cream. He is a member of Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia, a member of SABR’s Philadelphia-Connie Mack Chapter, a supporter of the Philadelphia Stars West Parkside commemoration project, and editor of William F. Henderson’s “Game Worn MLB Jersey Guide”.
Thanks, Morris. Great follow-up to last week’s (and last year’s) piece. I could really go for a cone right about now. Morris will be back next Friday with more wonderful insights and writings.
Friday Morning Football:
Our resident Brit, uni watcher, and colourizer extraordinaire George Chilvers has prepared for our edification a another review of the
uniforms kits in the third (and final) group games of the men’s soccer football at the Olympics.
And so to the final group of games. I don’t know if you know but in football tournaments the final games in each group are always played at the same time to avoid the same scenario occurring as happened at the badminton. This followed on from a World Cup game many years ago when Germany and Austria, because another group game had already been played, knew that they needed a draw for both to qualify, and spent 90 minutes kicking the ball aimlessly around the middle of the park. Mind you, Wigan do that every week.
GB safely but uninspiringly saw themselves through with a win over Uruguay. GB again wore their blue flag kit, while Uruguay avoided a blue-on-blue by changing to all white with a “celeste” stripe. In the other game Sengal reverted to their first choice all white (sorry Connie), while UAE again wore all red. The official programme confirms that the UAE’s first strip is all white, but they didn’t wear that once.
Mexico and South Korea both qualified. Mexico wore their usual all green against the Swiss who changed to all white At Wembley Korea had red over blue, while Gabon deemed the blue shorts to represent a clash, so changed their whole kit to all white.
Brazil powered on to the quarter finals with a win over the New Zealand “All Whites”. To avoid a clash of socks Brazil wore blue socks. I notice that the men’s and women’s Brazilian teams are wearing differently styled shirts. No reason why they should wear the same ”“ but they don’t. Egypt made their way to a QF at Old Trafford against Japan on Saturday (yes, I’ll be there) with a win over Belarus. Egypt had their regular red shirts and black socks, but changed shorts from white to black. Belarus wore all white as a change kit for the first time in the tournament.
Japan in their usual ensemble of blue with the red stripe (the ladies have a pink stripe ”“ nice!) beat Honduras who changed to all white. Meanwhile in the game I went to, pre-tournament favourites Spain crashed out of the tournament in disgrace without scoring a single goal. They wore their classic red shirts and blue shorts, while Morocco changed to white shirts and shorts with green socks. Some 0-0 games stick in the memory ”“ this one won’t.
So guys, I’m off to OT on Saturday ”“ I’ll be back next week with a report of what the fashionable quarter-finalist is wearing this year.
Thanks (again) George! Bloody good reporting.
This section will feature updates, lesser news, and reader submissions from the XXXth Olympiad — keep the Olympic news coming in! (Usually in the order in which I receive them — think of it as an “Olympics Ticker”.)
More observations from Uni Watch faithful, and more…
* “From your Olympic update Wednesday: ‘Pau has ”˜Gasol’ on his back while bro Marc (who he was traded for, a few years back) is the only one on Espana with FNOB. (Pete Clark)’ — Actually, Spain basketball is more maddening than that:
–> Rudy Fernandez has “Rudy” on the back of his jersey; Felipe Reyes, despite being the only Reyes on the team, has “F. Reyes” on his jersey (from an earlier tournament); Sergio Rodriguez, despite being the only Rodriguez on the team, has “S. Rodriguez” on his jersey; In past tournaments, Ricky Rubio has used “Ricky.” Everyone else seems to be using their last name. How can you have a team with 2 FNOBs, 2 FIOBs (first initial on backs), and 8 LNOBs? Also, and there are many more pictures out there, but Spain has been this inconsistent in name-uniformity for years.” (Jonathan Nussbaum)
* “The swimmers Flag issue is mainly based on the fact that this year’s Olympics rules stated that the flag and name can only be on one side of the cap. (Phelps was not pleased) this has most likely lead to some swimmer putting their cap on “backwards”. The correct way to wear the cap per the Flag Code is to have the flag on the left side.” (Matthew Solly)
* “A slightly one-sided view.” From Team GB’s Elvis outfits to Russia’s psychedelic tracksuits… which countries are the winners and losers in the styl-ympics? (George Chilvers)
* Breaking tweet from Reed Kessler: “Olympic buttons for my red coat and USA patch for my blazer!!!!”
* “To repeat a question I asked yesterday, does anybody know when the ball for volleyball (the indoor kind) change? The last time I played competitive volleyball was in high school in 1982 and we used the all-white ball. It seems to me that the new ball would significantly change the game by helping the receiving team pick up the spin off the serve. With the old ball, when I played if you could disguise the spin you had a HUGE advantage serving. Is this advantage gone now.” (Mike Styczen)
* “Paint it Black! And Red! And Put a Flag on It! An Ode to the Olympic Fencing Mask.” (R. Scott)
* “Have you noticed that the ‘USA’ on the men’s basketball jerseys looks like a stealth bomber outline? It’s the first thing that came to mind for me and I really dislike it. What do you think?” (Andrew Wiesner)
* “Ok here’s my issue — why aren’t all of the USA swimmers wearing at least the same color suits and caps? Surely Speedo, Arena, Mizuno and Tyr have navy blue suits to put the kids in for the Olympics!? And can’t we all also wear the same color cap – white for prelim and semis, navy blue for finals? This is how we did it in college. We shouldn’t have a kaleidoscope of colors – Soni in pink!? Ick.” (Dick Dawson)
“Benchies” first appeared at U-W in 2008, and has been a Saturday & Sunday feature here for the past two years.
Now THIS is maximizing your team’s “Costume Night”…
Click to enlarge
#NoUniAds Campaign…Day 15
This will be a regular feature on Uni Watch until the NBA rescinds its incredibly offensive and stupid proposal to place corporate advertising on uniforms.
And now, a personal note from Paul:
It’s important that we keep making our voices heard: Call the NBA’s publicly listed phone number (212-407-8000), ask for Adam Silver’s and/or David Stern’s office), e-mail deputy commissioner Adam Silver at his his publicly listed address (firstname.lastname@example.org), and tweet to @NBA with the hashtag #NoUniAds. Do it now.
More of your letters to the NBA & rebuttals to their form response:
Thank you for your response, but allow me to rebut.
The concept that has been proposed is not “jersey sponsorship.” Sponsorship implies that the sponsor helps to defray the cost of either the jerseys themselves, or to ensure the continued survival of the sponsored entity. The NBA needs no such sponsorship, and as far as has been reported the money coming to the teams/league from the sale of advertising space on jerseys will be used for profit, not sponsorship. Please refrain from using the misleading term “jersey sponsorship” and kindly stick with “selling of ad space on our players,” as it is much more apropos.
Secondly, you mention that “the NBA also realizes that we, along with the rest of the world, need to change and adapt in order to remain competitive in a global marketplace.” This is fallacy. There has been no indication that the NBA has either failed to remain profitable in the global marketplace it has entered. As such, there is no need to “change and adapt” from what has been phenomenally successful. The urgency to change is entirely fabricated by the league itself as a straw man argument, in order to dupe the public in to accepting the first step down a tasteless road.
Finally, you compare the NBA to other North American sporting entities. Again, this argument is specious at very best. Let us look at the examples. You mention the WNBA and NBA Development League. Clearly these leagues have been used as “trial balloons” by the NBA in this regard, as they are owned by the NBA itself. Further, neither of those subsidiary leagues enjoys the popularity, tradition or fan base of the NBA. In short, they are not in your league. Similar can be said for North American pro soccer. North American pro soccer leagues do not enjoy the strong financial standing of the NBA, nor the sheer volume of fans in this region. Soccer outside of North America is presented commercial free for an extended time frame on television. Advertisements on European soccer jerseys are used in place of the myriad commercial breaks that the NBA enjoys during its games. Finally you mention NASCAR and professional golf. These are individual sports. Yes, I know that NASCAR drivers have a large team supporting them, but fans do not “root” for the crew chief. They are fans of the individual drivers or golfers. I, for example, am a fan of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. When he changed teams, cars, numbers, colors… everything… I continued to be a fan of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. This is in stark contrast to the way fans enjoy the NBA. In the NBA, I am a Cleveland Cavaliers fan… and I think you can see where I am going with this. When Lebron James left the Cavs, I stopped caring about Lebron, the same as with every former player for “my team.” In North American team sports, like the NBA, we root for the shirt. The jersey and its colors are the flag that fans fly to show who they are as NBA fans. Just as you would not sew a Volkswagen logo on the American flag, neither should you consider a Budweiser patch on my Cavs jersey. The jersey IS your brand. It IS your product. Do not dilute your product. Do not sell advertising space on our jerseys.
I am a 31 year old fan and I would like to voice my displeasure with the idea of putting corporate ads on NBA jerseys. I feel that it will ruin the integrity of the game. While there are ads on jerseys around the world, mainly soccer, the difference is that soccer games are commercial free. Does the NBA plan on stopping television commercials if they put ads on their jerseys? Not to mention, as least to myself, ads on jerseys automatically make me think of a struggling league. The MLS, struggles for fans, as does the WNBA, same with some minor league hockey teams. Is the NBA in that much financial trouble? If you continue with this plan, I can promise you that I will no longer follow, watch, or purchase anything NBA. And I have a feeling I am not alone. Thank you for your time.
Steven Puente: (who replied ‘inline’ with their response — NBA’s form reply underlined)
Dear Ms. Chelsea,
Let me spare you the trouble of sending me a reply. I’ve taken your auto-reply message and taken the liberty of making some comments…
Thank you for contacting the National Basketball Association to express your opposition to the idea of placing sponsor logos on jerseys. (You are welcome. I’ve never purchased a Authentic Game Jersey, but now you have me thinking about purchasing a retro Jersey. Is that your hook?)
We understand your strong (definitely – spot on) feelings on this issue and appreciate hearing from you. (You are welcome – glad to oblige) Our fans are extremely important to us (actually, you would not exist without us. May you never forget!), and we value what you have to say. (Is it OK that I don’t believe you? I have my doubts with all the recent labor disputes. We the fans weren’t even invited to the meetings, but I guess its my dollar that talks,right? Retro Jersey?)
The NBA and its teams continue to evaluate the opportunity to add corporate branding to game jerseys. (You mean to say, “The NBA will push to get more revenue by any means necessary”) Jersey sponsorship is a well-established practice in sports leagues around the world. (Don’t care about the rest of the world; you do realize that we’re talking about an American sport created in America. Hot button issue…) It is also not a new concept in American sports. NASCAR (what are the total sales on their leather jackets?), Major League Soccer (not really an American sport?), professional golf (Who cares about what golfers wear as a team? Do they have teams?), the WNBA (Do you remember the Olympics when the ladies wore spandex uniforms? that was bad!), and the NBA Development League all feature sponsored uniforms (good on all of these people ”“ But you’re not following their lead are you? Should we not lead them? Do you like the way the NASCAR uniform looks? Could be a bit more transparent? Why use the word sponsor? I think you mean revenue maker!).
The NBA is a global sports league; fans connect with our game in more than 200 countries and territories (Not sure about your point? People will connect with or without corporate logos on a jersey, don’t be silly!). As much as we value our traditions (again questionable?), the NBA also realizes that we, along with the rest of the world, need to change and adapt in order to remain competitive (don’t understand? Are we worried that we will not win Gold in London?) in a global marketplace.
Thank you again for sharing your feedback (you are welcome). We truly appreciate the passion you demonstrate for the NBA (you forgot the word tradition, NBA tradition or maybe just Retro NBA). Your feedback helps us as we work to enhance all aspects of our league. (Hearing and listening are two different things)
Well, Chelsea that was fun. I look forward to you reply.
Thanks for keeping the faith readers! We can stop the NBA if we can keep up the pressure.
Thanks to Tim E. O’Brien and Chris Giorgio for the image in the upper right of this section!
Uni Watch News Ticker: An event Wednesday offered a peek at what Air Force will be wearing this fall (thanks to Mike McLaughlin). SWEET! More gray!!! … I’m not hopping off the Mets bandwagon (there’s a bandwagon?), but I’m definitely not following them much lately. Case in point: Paul sent me this — “You’ve probably seen this, but just in case.” Nope. … Dwight Ternes writes, “Interesting shot of a bare Mizzou Arena court undergoing refurbishing via @mizzouhoops.” … Yancy Yeater noticed the Penguins showed this shot of one of their draft pics. He is wearing the old yellow color. “I don’t know if that is new for this year or if it designates him in some way. It clashes with the vegas gold, though,” says Yancy. … Jeff Kessinger writes, “These are allegedly Missouri State’s new football jerseys. The school just switched entirely to Adidas, so the Bears no longer wear a silly Nike template. I think they’re a step up, but I’m not entirely thrilled about the claw marks.” … Old news isn’t always bad. Richard Drummand is friends with a player, Dominic Shultz, on the University of Minnesota football team and on his Twitter he posted this. “I know they got new unis, so you might have already seen this, but I thought it was interesting since it’s from an actual player.” … Justin Kline went to high school with a guy who now plays for the Eugene Emeralds, a minor league affiliate of the Padres. “He just Instagrammed a picture of the jersey the Ems were going to wear last night as a tribute to the Grateful Dead.” I love the Jerry bear on the shoulder. Once in a while you can get shone the light. … Don’t make RyCo mad: “Check out the new disgusting form of ad placement,” says Ryan Connelly. “The windshield of celebrity cars ripe for paparazzi pics.” Who the hell is Katy Perry? … Hoosier Daddy Tim E. O’Brien informs us of new B1G logos added on Assembly Hall floor, plus Tom Crean’s justification and even more information on B1G advertising mandates in college sports. In related news, Brent Yarina advises, our readers are very passionate about this new logo that will be on all Big Ten basketball courts.” … “Roger Goodell: NFL not considering advertisements on uniforms” (YES!). Tod “AFL Fan” Hess sends in this an article from the Oakland (MI) Press. Roger Goodell was at Lions training camp today and addressed ads on NFL uniforms. … Robert Scott Rogers notes the Potomac Nationals wearing Alexandria Dukes throwbacks on Aug 10. … Anthony Hernandez apologizes for the “craptacular” pics, but noticed Alex Smith’s practice jersey has THREE FULL STRIPES, not have the usual strange 1 full stripe, followed by 2 inverted stripe thing-y that Reebok started a few years back. “It seems Nike only made the full classic 3 stripe look for only Smith and backup QB-Scott Tolzien. Is this something Nike is pushing to change or will they keep the inverted look for some players and adjusting for players who have their sleeves that go down the arm more?” … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: But will he change their unis? “A partial owner of the hated Pittsburgh Steelers is buying the Browns.” So…we know Nebraska is wearing a special uniform against Wisconsin this fall. Looks like Wisconsin is upping the ante. They’ll unveil new unis August 6th. … New ball for NDFB? (thanks to Warren Junium). Small change for the SEC patch: Dan Wunderlich notes, “The Florida Gators held their media days today, and while they have the same jersey design (same jersey “tech”/cut as well), the SEC patch on the collar has changed from a flag to a circle.” … Mike Sullivan has some Buffalo Bills Training Camp pics. This time from Wednesday Night’s practice, #1, #2, #3, #5, #8 will be of most interest to uniform aficionados. … And a bit of a long one from Terry Duroncelet to close out the ticker today: “I completely forgot to send this in weeks ago, but Nike held their annual event called “The Opening”, a 7-on-7 tournament featuring the nation’s top prospects about three weeks ago. This year in particular was a little different, because the uniforms for this year (usually a fancy muscle shirt and some shorts [best shot I could find. Sorry.]) featured the team colors of some NFL teams. (Try to bear with me on the team names) We have team Alpha Talon (Bears), team Vapor Talon (Ravens), team Super Bad (Broncos), team Alpha Speed (Giants), team Land Sharks (Cowboys), and one that I think even Paul would give a nod to (minus the team name), the Field Generals (Packers). Here’s the green-topped look. Except for the fact that they all featured ridiculous Volt trim on the numbers, I enjoyed these uniforms. Here’s the full Facebook album if you’re interested.”
And that will do it for this week. You guys have a great weekend, and I’ll see you on Monday.
“I’d argue that a national Olympic team qualifies as a ‘patriotic organization,’ which under the Flag Code would permit the wearing of the flag on the uniform. But it is never, ever appropriate to wrap oneself in the flag like a cape, not even if you just won a gold medal.”