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Views from the Elysian Fields: The Hubertushirschen of NBA Jersey Sponsorship

eintracht br

By Morris Levin

“The Hubertushirschen of NBA Jersey Sponsorship”

The photograph above is of Bundesliga Eintracht Braunschweig players in 1973. (The team has since been relegated, and plays in the 2. Fußball-Bundesliga.) The players are wearing the team jersey featuring the club crest, changed that year to resemble the brand logo of Jägermeister, the kräuterlikör made by distillery Mast-Jägermeister SE. The company’s headquarters are 11-miles south of the team’s home stadium. This was the first time a European football team sold sponsorship on the front of its jersey.

On July 19, the NBA confirmed its intention to market game jersey sponsorships as a shoulder patch. Paul and many in this Uni Watch community have been active and outspoken critics of the NBA’s decision. Since 2006, the League has sold jersey sponsorship on its WNBA jerseys in a style similar to European professional basketball teams. The NBA knows itself to be a stronger international brand than FIBA, and wants the deals commanded by top football clubs in England, Germany, Spain, and Italy.

We see David Stern laughing maniacally on the morning of July 30, sloshing his civet coffee, as he reads in the Journal that General Motors has agreed to pay Premier League football club Manchester United $559 million to advertise on its jerseys for seven years.

Many want to see soccer jersey advertisements as necessitated by the absence of revenue generating commercial breaks during the uninterrupted 45-minute halves. Therefore, the argument goes, soccer and basketball is apples and oranges.

But the argument here against NBA jersey sponsorship is based on a fear that the advertisements will desecrate the game jersey’s sacred role as totem of team identification and fan loyalty. The problem with that argument is that fan loyalty and passion in European football exceeds that in U.S. pro-sports, the introduction of jersey sponsorships not withstanding.

What I am after is the content of this difference. The 45-minute television half does not explain the devotion of European fans to team and jersey in spite of the widespread commercial sale of the jersey fronts.

Let us look at Europe’s first appearances of sponsorships on jersey fronts. First was Eintracht Braunschweig and Jägermeister. The liquor is manufactured by the Mast-Jägermeister company, founded in 1878 in Wolfenbüttel. The founder’s son, Curt Mast, introduced Jägermeister in 1935 to a Germany brimming with national pride.

The 1970 World Cup attracted a great deal of attention in Germany. It was the first to be broadcast in color, and West Germany had a good team that made it to the semi-finals. Curt Mast’s nephew Günter saw individuals from across German social and economic demographics excited about soccer, gathering around televisions to watch it. The brand had previously advertised in motor sports, and Günter was seeking new ways to advertise the company’s signature product. Mast saw the jersey front as the canvas on which to reach this television audience and approached local club Eintracht Braunschweig.

The club first applied to the German football association for permission to wear the Jägermeister logo and were denied. There was the rule, however, regarding club crests that permitted the wearing of official crests similar in appearance to corporate logos.

The Eintracht Braunschweig football club had been founded in 1895. It adopted the yellow and blue colors of the independent duchy of Braunschweig, established by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The red lion is said to date to 12th century Duke Henry the Lion, who rules the city and in which erected the Cathedral of St. Blasius. With opportunity to generate revenue from Jägermeister and support the club’s performance, team members voted to change the official team crest to the Jägermeister reindeer and Christian cross. Problem solved.

On March 23, 1973, the team made its debut against Schalke in its new uniforms with the team’s new crest in the middle of the jersey. Seven months later, the Bundesliga officially sanctioned jersey sponsorship. By the following season, top German club Bayern Munich had a deal with Adidas and Eintracht had made theirs official.

For those readers comfortable with German, or happy to read through Google translator, Süddeutsche Zeitung spoke with Günter Mast in 2003 and published this piece on the back-story. The current kits are sponsored by Volkswagen Bank, but the sponsorship is still paying royalties and fans can purchase replica 1973 jerseys on the team site for €29.

The first club in the UK to market jersey space was Kettering Town. The Southern League team negotiated a “four-figure” deal with local automobile tire company Kettering Tyres to advertise on their jerseys. Kettering debuted the advertisements in the match against Bath City in January 1976. After one game, the Football Association put the kibosh on the scheme.

Evoking the best in 1970s-Ted Turner promotional creativity, the club removed the “yres” to read “Kettering T” and claimed it now stood for the municipality. The FA insisted it all be removed under penalty of fines, and Kettering Town relented. After the season, Kettering joined with Bolton and other clubs to petition successfully the FA to change its rules.

Liverpool was the first club to negotiate and wear a sponsor logo in 1979. This is an excellent discussion of the 1979-1980 Liverpool kit (and what I imagine Bill Henderson would have done had he been a Liverpool supporter). Note that the team both wore and did not wear the Hitachi logo depending on the rules of partnering media or organizations.

The introduction of such adverts was not without detractors. British television would not broadcast game highlights of clubs wearing jersey sponsorships until 1983. Publicly held club FC Barcelona was the last of the major clubs to hold out until $225 million for a single season became too much to which to say no thank you.

Paul’s opposition to NBA jersey sponsorships is rooted in what he identifies to be “something very special about the bond between a fan and his favorite team’s uniform. It’s an extremely intense form of brand loyalty… That’s a unique bond — one that shouldn’t be cheapened or sullied by the presence of an ad patch for a credit card.” The nature of this bond is sufficiently special as to render any and all jersey advertising to be distasteful by their decomposition of this core relationship and rooted in their motivation in greed.

I think we need to go further in deconstructing the content of this bond between fan and team between Europe and America. And here I come down in the school of thought that see the difference to be existential.

By way of highlighting this significant difference between Europe and America, is the news last week that Jimmy Haslam had purchased the Cleveland Browns. New ownership raises questions of competence the world over, but we have something unique to American professional sports. This is the existential question: Will the team move? This is a question in the U.S. and Canada because under our franchise systems, there a fixed number of franchises. Short of the rare expansion, one fans’ gain is another’s loss. There are Seattle Sonics fans without an object of support.

European soccer fans face no such dilemma. Domestic European professional soccer leagues are organized in pyramid systems. At the end of every season, the bottom clubs from the top league are demoted to the first minor league, and the top teams from the level down are promoted. This is true through the entire pyramid down to what we would call minor leagues, semi-professionals, and adult amateurs.

Team do occasionally go out of business, and European soccer fans deal with plenty of bad teams, and poor decisions, just as we do here. But these fans do not face the existential fan crisis of his or her team absolutely ceasing to exist, and then seeing all its team history carried out to reside on some other team’s site. Tim Wallach does not lead the Washington Nationals in all-time at-bats.

We structure our ownership of teams very differently here in the U.S. than in Europe. Almost every single team in the U.S. is privately owned, and municipalities negotiate with the league regarding franchise placements.

European clubs and leagues are structured inversely from those here in the States. European professional football is an open system. What this means is that teams are not moved because they move down the pyramid until they settle at the revenue level which works for their ownership. No matter the revenue level of the organization, the club exists which cultivates long term supporters who are multi-generational. We see this in U.S. college football.

It is also an open system that one may always start one’s own professional team and start in the system. With sufficient financing and time, a team can grow into a top club and enter the upper levels.

When a group of Manchester United supporters opposed Malcolm Glazer’s 2005 takeover of the club, they started a new club called FC United. The supporters own the club and vote on how the club is run. FC United started at the bottom rung of English football at level ten, and in 2012, has reached the level seven Northern Premier League Premier Division. Want to own shares in FC United? You can do so and support the team here. Company policies might convince many of you to consider it.

Fans have a great deal more agency over team direction in Europe. Professional teams may be publicly owned and shares traded on stock exchanges. (Yes, Green Bay issues public shares but it does not exactly permit activist shareholders.) Many fans in Europe are organized into team supporters clubs which meet with team ownership, and work closely with the team in its promotion.

In this context, fans have deeper security in the lasting presence of the team in their lives, community, and future. A European fan’s relationship to the team may suffer from the team’s poor management or play, but not as a relationship in his or her life. It is the real possibility for the expectation of a lifetime relationship between the fan as consumer and team as provider of for-profit top level basketball.

The jersey is important as an expression of team identification but it is not the content of the relationship because the bond is at its very premise, structurally deeper due to this long-term relationship. Jersey advertisements in Europe may be aesthetically displeasing. This is Manchester United and Man City going without in 2008 for the Munich 1958 tribute match. That looks so good. But team devotion is such for MUFC that it can even promote the best in American multinational insurance corporations and still be valued at $2.3 billion.

The team jersey in Manchester does not have to carry as much weight of fan identification as it does here. At the heart of the question to me regarding the relative virtues of the NBA selling advertising on its game-jerseys is whether it is a smart long term decision.

It is estimated that NBA sponsorship sales will initially generate $1.5 million to $7.5 million per-team beginning with the 2013-2014 season. This is a lot more money than not selling the space. But I suppose I would find it much more interesting to see the NBA retain the brand equity in the jersey asset and instead reinvest in its own brand, by strengthening the value of the underlying product. I might even pay to watch that.

. . . . .

Morris Levin is an independent small business consultant in Philadelphia, a member of Athletic Base Ball of Philadelphia, a supporter of the Philadelphia Stars West Parkside commemoration project, and editor of William F. Henderson’s “Game Worn MLB Jersey Guide”. He would like to place the Little Baby’s Ice Cream logo on the Philadelphia 76ers uniform in 2013.


Thanks, Morris. As always, well thought out and well researched, and certainly food-for-thought. I’m sure our readers will have plenty to say about this.

Morris will be back again next Friday with another View from the Elysian Fields.



More Olympics:

This section will feature updates, lesser news, and reader submissions from the XXXth Olympiad. This may end up being the last “olympics updates,” although I’ll gladly keep accepting submissions — they may just be put in the regular ticker on Monday. We’ll see. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this section — it’s greatly appreciated!

. . . . .

So, now, the final submissions from Uni Watch faithful, and more…

* “Remote control cars (with subversive advertising) on the field at track and field. This was interesting.” (Matthew Wolfram)

* “Since you mentioned beach volleyball, here’s a somewhat-UW-related article. ‘But look at Kerri’s legs. Check out Misty’s arms and take special notice of her feet. There’s no sand anywhere.’ Funny how they didn’t use a men’s team as an example.” (Jim Vilk)

* We covered this a couple days ago (and the link seems to ‘auto-refresh’ so the image may not match up): “What’s up with the field hockey masks? Is that something worn for international competition?” (Kurt Esposito)

* “This article goes into detail on the reasons rowers wear what they wear and how they deal with the consequences of what they wear, in light of the Henrik Rummel Olympic podium photo gone viral.” (David Barndollar)

* This is awesome. Standing ovation for hijab-wearing Saudi woman athlete as she finishes Olympic 800m heat almost a whole lap behind fellow competitors. Good for her. Good for the Olympics. Just good.

* “You probably already seen this by now but the Canadian synchronized swimming team did their first routine yesterday — it was based on soccer and their swim caps were designed to look exactly like soccer balls. A judge had warned them ahead of time to not use the caps but they did anyways. (Ben Sandrowitz)

* “USA. Womens Soccer Nike Championship Shirts. How quickly Nike brought out their “championship” shirts. Wow.” (David Greenwald)

* “I saw the comment the other day about it never being OK to drape a flag around yourself. I don’t have a screen shot, so maybe someone can help me out. At the end of the Decathlon, they showed the USA gold and silver medal winners hugging with flags draped around themselves. It looked like they had special flags that have holes cut in the corners for their thumbs to fit through. Interesting…” (Jake Kessler)

* “During the first week of the Olympics, I caught this screen grab of two soccer players getting “tied” up…literally. Their shoes (both Nike sponsors) got tangled for reason.”



#NoUniAds Campaign…Day 22

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 (, and tweet to @NBA with the hashtag #NoUniAds. Do it now.


Once again, we have more bad news on the #NoUniAds front. I draw your attention to this article (h/t to Mike McLaughlin), with some of the more important points excerpted below:

• Palace Sports & Entertainment president Dennis Mannion said Detroit Pistons jerseys “most probably” will have small sponsorship patches in the future.

• Mannion said. “So I think we are doing an OK job here in the Detroit metro area with the Pistons brand, (but) there are sponsors out there that can take you to a whole new level and other markets, and that’s exciting.”

• The English Premier League has generated $178 million from similar sponsorships…“I think, what we’ve seen, especially with the Premier League and the success they’ve had with the commercialization of the jersey, it’s been very positive for them,” Mannion said. “I love the way the league does business.”

Keep those letters and phone calls and E-mails coming people! This is getting serious.

More of your letters to the NBA:

Matt Snow:

Corporate ads on NBA unis? What a terrible idea. You can rest assured that I will not buy another piece of Celtics merchandise if the NBA goes through with this thoroughly distasteful plan. It’s bad enough that there are already intrusive adidas logos on everything; seriously, I just gave them my money, now they want me to be their walking billboard, too? It’s even more insulting that the league intends to expand upon this corporate thuggery. Kiss my money goodbye.

Dr. Jason Siewert:

Please accept my letter today expressing my disappointment with a recent decision by the NBA to allow corporate sponsorship on jerseys in the coming years. While I could certainly write many pages about why I believe this to be a terrible idea, I will try to be brief and highlight only a few points. I hope you will consider them.

First, while arguments can be made that such an angle has been successful in European soccer and NASCAR, I believe that those sports have historical and anomalous presidents for their ad placements. NASCAR in particular originated from rural bootlegging, and sponsorship was a necessity to advance the sport and frankly, to afford the products necessary to maintain the equipment to participate. Here, sponsorship emerges from a position of weakness and necessity, not strength. While first-tier European soccer does enjoy the benefits of jersey advertising without extreme public backlash, I would also point your attention to European ice hockey, which like the current NBA is a significant, but not dominant sport on the continent. Here, advertising gradually consumed almost every available jersey panel, and again, labels the league as weak and desperate for revenue, not an elite league that need not scrounge for dollars. The size of the ad is immaterial. Its existence suggests you badly need money and I am not sure that’s a message I would personally send.

Secondly, I would point out that corporations are not always the best and most responsible citizens. Imagine for a moment what it might be like if the Houston Astros had Enron logos on their jerseys and not only on stadium signage about a decade ago. With video omnipresent and generally fixed on the players, I can assure you that wiping away this chapter from their history would not have been quite as easy. As it stands, highlights from those years only remind us of Houston’s affiliation with Enron, when we see a rare moon-shot of a home run in which the camera must sharply pan up to the scoreboard. Had this club and league allowed the logo to be emblazoned on the uniforms, pretty much every activity performed by the club during this period (home and away) would be branded with this shameful association forever. Perhaps ironically, the same feature that makes uniform advertising so potentially valuable is the same feature that makes it risky to a team and league’s public image. You will eventually see this when the Celtics’ or Lakers’ uniform gets sullied by a corporation, later found to be involved in horrifying foreign labor practices or the like.

Finally, I would add that products from leagues with massive integrated sponsorship are quite frankly, garish and undesirable as a consumer. If you open my closet, or those of most of my sport-loving friends, you will see the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL well represented. Less frequently, you will see NASCAR products. I would argue that this is because a large volume of people that I know prefer not to walk around supermarkets as billboards for power tools, energy drinks or automobiles, not because they do not watch or appreciate NASCAR. Maybe I have a uniquely strong aesthetic for the clothing I put on my body as a middle-class American, but I don’t think so. I would suggest that jersey advertising may actually undermine sales. True, some people will gladly wear the Volkswagen logo in the form of a 12-inch patch on the back of their jacket, but some people will also wear a matching Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt and sweatpants to the mall on a Saturday.

Lee Traylor:

As a big fan of the NBA, I’m writing to voice my opinion about the proposed addition of advertisements on team jerseys. I fully understand that my individual opinion does not affect the long-term business plans of a mult-billion dollar business such as the NBA, but I feel strongly enough about it to at least send along an email. I love sports. One of my favorite times this year was to simply watch playoff basketball with my sons. I try to teach my sons about life through sports. I tell them that there are no shortcuts in sports; hard work is what gets results on the court. Not freebies. Not gimmicks. Not greed.

Thank you for your time

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!


Screen Shot 2012-06-24 at 10.32.36 PM

“Benchies” first appeared at U-W in 2008, and has been a Saturday & Sunday feature here for the past two years.

. . . . .

Sometimes the scariest things are those unseen…

8-10-12 d-dipping

Click to enlarge


ticker 2

Uni Watch News Ticker: New orange helmets for OSU (because they don’t have enough uni combos)? Erik Autenrieth writes, “I didn’t know if you already saw this.” … Michael Cross noticed this odd adornment below Coco Crisp’s ear on Tuesday night. “On TV, the object in the center of the target appeared to have some sparkle to it, like a diamond. Never seen anything quite like it.” … William Larson writes, “Here is a picture of Alshon Jeffery wearing what looks to be a pair of Reebok sweat pants with a Nike practice jersey.” … Good spot by Adam Triesler, who notes that needs to update their logos. … Caleb Borchers writes, “The stupidly named “Rugby Championship” (annual rugby tournament between NZ, Australia, SA, and Argentina) has a new trophy. They tried to make it clever, but it really just looks generic. Also seems like its driven a bit by branding (sort of like the new NFC and AFC trophies) because it looks a lot like the Super Rugby trophy, which was created by the same governing body.” … UW reported on this earlier this week, but Bowling Green Football gets new winged uniforms (thanks to Chris Mahr). … “South Dakota State University unveiled their new Under Armour uniforms yesterday” says Kyle Petersen. “They used to be with Nike and switched to UA this year. Old ones were a way more classy look, but these could have gotten a lot worse. Still would rather have the old ones.” Here’s a bonus photo gallery. (also sent in by Dr. Daniel Swartos) … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: You think spending $60 million on a football stadium is outrageous at a time when education budgets are being slashed? Apparently, this is not the case in Allen, TX, where ‘Allen raised the money for its new stadium as part of a $119.4 million bond package in May of 2009 that passed with an impressive 63.66 percent of the vote.’ Yeah, that’s not fucked up or anything. … Travis DeMarco spotted Terrell Owens wearing NBA socks in his first Seahawks practice. God those unis are awful. … Raymie Humbert writes, “You might remember that KPHO has used the old NFL logo multiple times lately. Well, this is the Arizona Diamondbacks logo they keep on file … their 2007 primary which was changed for 2008! The image is from July 26, but I have seen it as recently as last night.” … Jeff Ash sends along these wonderful color photos of the Green Bay Packers from picture day in 1961. Many uni details, including Jim Ringo wearing helmet with no G logo. They started using it later that year. … Leo Thornton sends this along: Nike presents AC Sparta Prague collection for 2012/13. … “Colorado State Football has a new uniform set for the year,” says Vincent Hecker. “They ditched the weird mini-logo hologram looking thing and reverted to plain green and gold. No stripes on the uniform or pants at all. Helmet is unchanged.” … Adam Grad says, “Special socks for Notre Dame in Dublin? You might like this one.” … “Predator helmet?” read the subject line of an E-mail from Bill Sour. “The facemask on this Schutt helmet makes me think of the Predator.” … Nice rundown of PSU uniforms, from 1887 to 2011, courtesy of Paul, who says, “This page isn’t new, but it might be worthwhile to Tickerize, in light of this week’s events.” Which is a nice segue into this submission from Scott Marakovits, who adds “Looks like Penn State’s 2012 uniform changes include not only a NOB and blue ribbon, but the Big 10 logo as well. Photo is from the team pictures, which were taken on Thursday.” … Jared Kalmus informs us that UTSA has started to hand out jerseys to football players. “Tracked down some pictures on social media — note the larger roadrunner on the collar as well as the addition of last names to the back of the jersey.” … Bill Schaefer noticed something odd about the Packers’ helmets: “Looks like a small 34 in a football but I cant make out anything underneath.” Rob Holecko thinks “it’s probably the same thing we wondered about in the UW comments before the Giants-Packers playoff game back in January — it turned out to just be ‘Rogers 12’” … “Check out those fangs!” says Kawika Asuncion. “Might have to order my own!” Also from Kawika, “Looks like Ravens RB/FB Vonta Leach left the plastic protective coating on his helmet for the first preseason game. So did LB Sergio Kindle.” … A good reminder from Paul: “The Redskins’ gold pants, which they wore for tonight’s preseason game, aren’t shown in the NFL Style Guide. A good reminder that the Style Guide isn’t always accurate, or the last word, or whatever.” … Ben Fortney checks in with this: “I wasn’t on the boards when the debate really heated up, so this may have been mentioned already. Regardless, I came across the image while searching for racial caricatures for a project and the article/essay itself is pretty amazing as well.”


And that will do it for this Friday — yes I know there were several NFL games last night, but I didn’t get to put this post to bed until after 1:00 am, and, unfortunately I have to be to work early today, so nothing (other than the ticker mentions) on those games. If you want pictures, here are some links: (Chargers v. Packers, Bills v. Redskins, Ravens v. Falcons, Saints v. Patriots, Steelers v. Eagles and Broncos v. Bears — boy do those Nikelaces look like SHIT). It’s still just the *first* week of pre-season — we’ll have plenty of time to dissect those unis real soon. Thanks to Morris for the great lede, and to all the Uni Watch contributors for the Olympics stuff and ticker submissions. You guys have a great weekend and I will catch you all next week. Peace.


“You really haven’t lived until you’ve attended a Texas high school playoff game, and heard hundreds of people chant ‘ghetto school’ at the kids in your school’s marching band.” –Cort McMurray

Comments (149)

    Thanks, Morris, for the very thoughtful essay. Feels like it will reward re-reading later, which I plan to do.

    I would personally have less objection to the uni ad scheme if the NBA were a capitalist enterprise like most European soccer leagues, rather than a monopoly cartel with socialist state ownership of its means of production (arenas) and rent-seeking public subsidies (widespread tax incentives used to lure or keep teams on top of public financing and ownership of arenas).

    Arr Scott,

    I agree, and part of the underlying issue to which I am pointing. Given the bizarre rhetoric of presidential politics here in the U.S., it’s funny that Europe’s leagues are structurally more capitalistic than our socialized leagues.


    This has been a really good week for guest columnists.

    There are a lot of smart people who have a strange, obsessive fascination with uniform ephemera.

    Well done, Morris. Thank you.

    All Big Ten teams are required to wear the patch on football and basketball uniforms this year. Can’t find the article, but I’m pretty sure it says that all sports will be doing this by 2014.

    Two unexpected changes for the Broncos were visible.
    1. As seen link, lots of guys wearing longer pants. This had the effect of making the swoosh look bigger.
    2. This one’s OCD even in this group, but the lettering on nameplates is slightly different, almost like moving from bold to non-bold. Compare link with link.

    Watching the NFL with the new Nike uniforms is becoming more and more of an eye-sore, and painful to watch. Those ridiculous collars on teams such as Redskins, Bills, Saints are ruining otherwise great uniforms. I put the new collar up there with the potential travesty of NBA adding advertisments. Kudos to the Bears and Eagles (and any other team) that didn’t choose to fall victim to the ridiculous collar gimmick.

    I was just about to buy NFL Sunday Ticket because the price is so right this year. Then I watched a bit of the Saints-Cardinals HOF Game and now I’m having second thoughts.

    Not sure I want to watch so many games where identifying the maker of the jersey seems of equal importance to identifying the team wearing it. Maybe I’ll just settle for highlight packages, same as always.

    The observation about our changing from a market-driven economy to a market-drive society becomes more and more valid every season, almost every day.

    Why is the swoosh ruining these collars like this? It can’t be that hard for them to do a full collar of 1 color. They do it in the NCAA so why are they making them look so awful for some of these NFL teams? I hope this is a 1 year thing that will be fixed for next season.

    Blame the teams. Seriously (at least based on the unveiling, as they haven’t played yet) the Texans have a full red collar with the Nikelace included. The teams with fangs apparently wanted fangs.

    True. I haven’t seen my Falcons road look yet. I hope they don’t have it as well. I don’t remember seeing they did when they were unveiled though. That may be a good thing since their look is enough of a train wreck even without the horrible collar.

    The swoosh on the right sleeve is driving me crazy as well.

    the thing on coco crisp’s neck is a subdermal piercing known as a microdermal. according to from the date of this article it looks like hes had it since at least july of last year. link

    I’m pretty sure Paul noted this during last season too. It’s still bizarre to look at.

    Fantastic piece Morris. I personally love all of my European team jerseys, specifically my old Liverpool Carlsberg top and my Juventus top from before they switched over to Jeep for this upcoming season. However, I also equally love my old Bears jersey, my Cubs jersey, and my old Jordan Bulls jersey. Most uniforms have their aesthetically pleasing qualities, and I believe it is interdependent on how society is as well. In a sense, I think large prominent sponsorship’s work on jerseys that don’t have very much going on as in European football teams. You usually have a simply crest and color design, but that’s all you have. However, in the case of NBA jerseys, the names are so prominent and so integral to designs. That in itself would be ruined by sponsors being shown on the jersey. That’s just my humble opinion.

    Words cannot express how much I HATE those collars. It looks like they’re wearing polo shirts under the jerseys.


    Yeah, the numbers are a bit skinnier and the TV numbers are alle the same size for each player. Previously, skill position players wore extra wide TV numbers on their sleeves. One of my favorite nuances of the Skins’ uni.

    Yes, it does. The yellow pants & striped socks were originally from a different uniform and were never designed to be worn with the current white jersey, so they don’t really match.

    Yup, and for all the crap Iowa gets for “ripping off” the Steelers, it’s worth noting that at the time the Redskins went to that uni it was pretty much a given that they were an obvious rework of the Packers, owing to the hiring of Lombardi.

    That’s why a lot of people welcomed the switch to the white-over-burgundy home set (’79, was it?). At least the Redskins had decided to re-establish their own identity.

    Were the 70’s Packers, Redskins, Steelers, Saints (even the Vikings and Oilers kinda?) all just different color variations of the same template?


    The Bears uniforms looked terrible as well… 1) The jersey seems a lighter color and doesn’t match the helmet. 2) The stripes on the pants were too thin. 3) The stripes on the socks were way too big. Well done, Nike.

    What’s lost in the sponsorship discussion is that people who sport European/Central and South American football uniforms with identifiable sponsors … look goofy doing so.

    That’s the bottom line, they’re the equivalent of a US citizen sporting a huge Nike emblazoned shirt, or one with only the adidas or Under Armour logo. Essentially, they’re PAYING to promote the company.

    Which is fine, but goofy at the same time. Yes, I said it. NASCAR fans, as well. It’s goofy behavior.

    Bimbo is a good example. It’s everywhere in Central America. Kinda funny because of its US connotation.

    But when you really think about it, it’s just goofy logic.

    Why don’t we all just wear clothes with huge logos on them? There’s a threshold, for sure. Quirky (a vintage Atari logo, for example) quite easily turns into cheesy if that company becomes popular. Yet, overt consumerism is quite often see as off-putting (an Apple shirt, anyone?). It’s all subjective.

    But, let’s face it, there’s really no other way to put it, sponsor “jerseys” are goofy.

    as goofy as having a popular league but then severely restricting the number of teams to a pathetic level, I’m sure

    *popular league system

    srsly, when you have local authorities spending a FORTUNE in tax money in the hope that one of the teams will move into the area for a few years, there’s something really shady or wrong going on with the organisation

    Have you seen the clothing Nike sells in its outlet stores, as well as at Dick’s and Sports Authority, among numerous other sporting goods stores? And, really, it’s no different from people shopping at Hollister, Aeropostale, A&F, American Eagle, etc. wearing shirts with the companies’ logos on them. I, personally, avoid such shirts, but it’s definitely not uncommon.


    Yep, goofy. Consumerism is odd in that sense.

    I don’t think soccer buffs realize just how goofy they look in wild-colored “Virgin Atlantic” or “Bimbo” striped jerseys.

    It’s most certainly the equivalent of all the 8 year-olds who wear Under Armour polyester/rayon shirts to school.

    The more overt the logo … the goofier it gets.

    I wonder what proportion of people who buy shirts of clubs sponsored by Bimbo Bakeries do so simply for the humor value. I’ll admit I have a couple of Man Utd shirts, with the Vodafone (’02-04) & AIG (’07-09) sponsorships that I wear on occasion.

    And, really, does that look any goofier than this:

    I refuse to but the Chester (because that’s where they play) Union jersey because of the “Bimbo” ad. I bought the two jerseys from their inaugural season (sans advertising) and nothing since. I refuse to promote a slutty bakery.

    “…they’re the equivalent of a US citizen sporting a huge Nike emblazoned shirt, or one with only the adidas or Under Armour logo.”

    If you think that’s goofy, what do you think of this:


    “….spotted Terrell Owens wearing NBA socks in his first Seahawks practice. God those unis are awful.”

    I think those gray pants are very cool, and harken back to the days when they wore the matte gray. Love ’em! In fact, the Seahawks unis are looking a whole lot nicer now that I’m seeing those ridiculous looking fanged disco collars most teams are wearing.

    Agreed. The gray pants are the best part. That helmet “stripe” looks dumb. That style should cover the entire helmet or none of the helmet. So bad.

    And those collars. Those g-damn collars! How in the hell did the NFL approve this?

    Teams who rejected the flywire win.
    The Lions get honorable mention for being the only ones smart enough to just change the collar collar to solid matching the jersey.


    Any idea who the players in the Eintracht Braunschweig photos are? My high school German teacher played for the club before he came to the States–just curious if he’s in any of them (some of those players kind of resemble him…).


    Re: this “The Rugby Championship” – it’s a rubbish name, so I only ever refer to it as The Penguin League; I encourage others to follow

    To Kurt Esposito on the Field Hockey Masks:

    In field hockey, when a foul is committed in the circle by the defending team, the attacking team gets a “Penalty Corner”. The attacking team plays the ball to just outside the circle where it is bumped back inside, and then an attacking player shoots the ball. The ball is pretty much a giant golf ball, and can reach speeds in the men’s game over 80 mph. Players don’t wear any protective equipment except for shin guards and mouth guards, but on Penalty corners are allowed to put on some pads for protection. If I had to face a giant golf ball coming 70 mph at me, I’d wear anything they’d allow me to wear.
    You can’t leave them on, so defenders take them off as soon as the danger clears.

    whats with the NFL refs wearing long pants in the summer? Have they completely dumped the knickers? Weak.

    Pierre Garçon was wearing slightly different socks than everyone else. You can see it in this picture. Robert Griffin III was wearing the same as everyone else. link

    The other thing that I find interesting in this discussion is the connection between youth and adult sports. Paul has said that he doesn’t have a problem with youth rec teams, for example, that get “Joe’s Pizza Parlor” or “Bill’s Auto Body” jerseys. He sees the NBA as a totally different monster. I agree.

    The thing is that this line is less clear in other places. A lot of soccer clubs are running academy and youth programs to develop talent. In my own niche interest (New Zealand rugby) you have everything from the 5 year old rugby league to the All Blacks in one organization. When the ABs sign a gigantic contract with Adidas, that frees up money the NZRU would be spending elsewhere to be given to a provincial union. Those unions are running not only the national comp, but also city and rec leagues. The Adidas cash really does trickle down. In a recent interview the CEO of NZ rugby stated that the All Blacks were the only profitable form of rugby in the whole country and they basically paid everyone else’s bill. As such they needed to maximize revenue for the game at all levels, including youth and grassroots. (I’m sure those in grassroots rugby in NZ would complain about the size of the subsidies.)

    I checked out the video related to the game summary on the Bills website. It’s titled “Bills offense out of sync”. The offense may have been, but other than the collar (awful) the Bills looked SWEET while sucking.


    They’re both silly relics of the past, but the facemask isn’t even a particularly accurate one. If such a thing as “classic white charging buffalo helmet” exists, it has a blue facemask. The Bills switched to the charging logo and wore a gray mask for 2 seasons, then they wore a blue one for 8, before going to the red helmet.

    As far as I’m concerned, their facemask should be blue and their shoes should be some combination of white, blue and red. The only teams that should wear black shoes are teams with black jerseys and/or socks.

    /But of course having everything match is just a silly OCD thing and “traditional”/retro is better. *cough*

    A valid argument could be made that neutralizing the facemask (not treating it, visually, as part of the helmet) focuses on the design and colors of the helmet shell itself.

    Some designers might prefer that.

    More than one way to approach design.

    I’m not so sure that’s really neutral when it’s a different color than the helmet – especially on a darker helmet. I know gray is usually considered a neutral color, but then so are white and black – and there’s no way in hell you can honestly tell me that a black mask on a Colts helmet would be neutral. Within the context of helmet design, wouldn’t neutral actually be when teams use a mask that’s the same color as the helmet, like the Bears, Steelers, Ravens, etc?

    Who said anything about a black facemask?

    Gray emerged as neutral/generic after the early years of facemasks when they also were clear plastic, white, etc., all over the lot. There was a decade or two when virtually EVERY facemask was gray.

    And don’t get so specific. Just meant leaving it “generic’ (you like that word better?) sometimes works.

    Notre Dame, for example.

    With the generic gray facemask “It’s a golden dome.”
    With a gold facemask it would be a golden dome with a golden birdcage hanging off it.
    With a navy facemask it would maybe first be taken as “just using both their colors” rather that getting the “golden dome” thing.

    I’m not saying facemasks SHOULD be gray. Would never say that. Just saying there’s no need to get all twisted up about it when someone chooses gray. For one thing, it’s the team’s call to make, and there ain’t no rule–design concept or otherwise–that makes it wrong. If they prefer the eye to go to helmet shell, that’s valid.

    White looks waaaaay better. Props to Mike Wallace of the Steelers for at least taping his cleats to have that classic 80s white boot appearance. There’s actually a Redskins player wearing white cleats. So clean.

    Just thought I’d let everyone know that we’ve released Episode 4 of the Logocast, where we talked to designer Kris Bazen about his background, his favorite moment as a designer, and what it’s like to be the father of the Buffaslug. link

    OUTSTANDING piece. Perhaps one of the best written ever on this blog. The history of company sponsors on European soccer jerseys is something I have ZERO interest in. I was wrapped into it in just 3 paragraphs. Well researched, and impecably written. Kudos.

    Morris’ piece today is well-composed but perplexing to me.
    The historical background sections are great, but I am struggling with his overall point that what has been justified and has worked in Europe for decades is somehow unjust and won’t work in the US…if that even IS the point?.
    A little clarity would be appreciated…Thanks!
    PS: The St. Hubert reference hits home for me, as my sisters attended a high school dedicated to him:


    I heard him saying that jersey ads cause so much consternation in the USA because the jersey plays a different role in the relationship between team and public. Europeans aren’t as worried about it because their club is tied to their city by something other than the name on the front of the jersey. In the USA, cheapening the jersey is cheapening the strongest tie between an organization and city. Furthermore, the autonomy of the ownership in the USA causes a new wrinkle. Fans in European markets tend to have a greater/more listened to voice via fan clubs and the such. That’s just my understanding of it.


    Caleb reads me accurately. I am against the NBA putting sponsorships on jerseys, and I think it is one manifestation of this deeper structural flaw in the league. Not that I have any illusions that owners enjoying monopoly controls will ever consider changing things up.

    While I also think the white over gold looks good, I wish they would go back & think about how to make everything actual match styles.
    Those shirts do not go with those pants.


    I love the article Morris. A soccer fan/coach/former player myself, it’s always great reading about how the structure of European soccer is. The pyramid, promotion-relegation system, is something that MANY United States soccer supporters would love to see.

    I also would venture to say, a similar structure in other sports would be fun as well. But, that’d mean that the “farm leagues” would have to be dismantled.

    My favorite team ownership is how the German Bundesliga does it. They call it a 49+1 or something like that. Where the community owns the team WITH another person. It controls the team more so there cannot be anyone ruining the club by being too money-hungry or greedy.

    I’ll continue to wear my Columbus Crew Barbasol top…even though I haven’t touched my beard in 5 months! Columbus ‘Til I Die! RIP Captain Kirk.

    I remember I had a conversation with a British tourist once where we were talking about sports in each other’s countries. I noted that a lot of Americans kind of like the idea of promotion/relegation whereas he said a lot of Brits don’t really like it and like our idea of farm systems being the lower leagues. Of course, it helps that his team in soccer was one that is a regular member of the EPL.

    I absolutely LOVE the system of promotion/relegation. It makes the last several weeks of the season so much more important.

    I’ve read that the most valuable game in the entire world, in terms of the financial payout to the winner, is the Championship (that’s English FA’s second division) Playoff. Winner goes to the Premier League and a share of their massive television revenues, plus even if they go back down the following year they receive a series of payments for a couple years afterwards to soften the blow.

    Hundreds of millions of pounds to the winner of that game. Fantastic drama.

    That’s the first I’ve heard of anyone not liking the promotion/relegation system internationally. I do know that there has been some expressing a likening to our “playoffs.”

    The problem with a single-table system, like they have, is midway through the season…there’s A LOT of worthless games. Unlike here, the playoff systems still allow for bottom-dwellers to ruin more than a single table, promotion/relegation system.

    I understand that. No one really enjoys watching the Rams v. Colts (of the 2011 NFL season) or the Astros v. Padres (2011 MLB season). That is, if it were a single table. In a playoff system, the Astros, Padres, Colts, and Rams can now play a role in ruining another team’s chance of making playoffs — which ruin a championship chance.

    I still favor promotion/relegation. I think it could still be done with a playoff as well…it’s done in lower leagues for a last-spot in getting promoted.

    There is nothing not awesome about that hat. Except that it’s not on my head.

    I think I’m going to have to dive in and get that SF Seals 1945 cap with the stars/stripes shield. Gorgeous. I love the “US Tour Of Japan 1934” cap but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that one on sale.

    I’ve never bought an EFF cap, can anybody tell me if the sizes run large/small?

    I’ve them to run a little large.
    But that may have to do with whether the headband is cloth or leather.
    I’d be interested to learn the experiences of others.

    Lemme retract that. I guess maybe they’re pretty true.
    I’m either a 7 1/2 or a 7 3/8, usually the latter.

    Ordered a 7 1/2 to be sure wasn’t too small and ended up doing the rolled-tissue-paper-inside-the-headband thing.

    That was with a cloth headband.

    I’ll echo Ricko. My hat size has been in flux the last couple of years (after I got off the ‘roids, natch). Lately, in New Era 5950 terms I’m either a 7-1/4 or 7-3/8 depending it seems on which day any given run of caps came off the assembly line. But with EFF, I’m reliably a perfect 7-3/8 and have been for years even as my shrinking head and New Era’s declining quality control have thrown that company’s sizing into chaos for me.

    I attribute this both to EFF’s high quality standards and to the fact that EFF makes a relatively low-crown cap. Even with New Era, in low-crown models a 7-3/8 reliably fits me.

    I’m pretty sure that this:


    Is also a 1940-45 St Louis Browns cap. Which makes it at least double the awesome.

    I noticed Eagles the Numbers have black piping in the middle of the number (like the old Grizzlies, Blu Jays).

    Or did they always have the black piping?

    I’m trying to remember: has anyone coined a catchy nickname that makes the Nike flywire sound as stupid/shitty as it actually is?

    I know Paul is big on silver medals being better than gold medals for the way they look, but it seems odd that gold medals ARE silver medals, doesn’t it?

    This year, the gold medal in London consists of 1.34%, or about 6 grams, of gold. The remainder is 93% silver and 6% copper. So it’s technically a silver medal. LOL

    Her career is all but over after crossing the line- not that she would have ever made the NFL anyway. Anyone working these games knew they would never have a shot at the NFL which is why I suppose it’s worth it for them.

    It’s too bad for someone like Sarah Thomas who was knocking on the door- and would actually be qualified.

    There’s no way this lasts past a week or two of the regular season- when people actually care about the outcomes.

    Eastin’s no Saudi Arabian judoka or half-miler. She’s qualified enough to be a pre-season replacement ref (and she was a national judo champion in her younger days too BTW). Though crossing the picket line might not have been the best long-term career move (if being a full time NFL ref is her aspiration), breaking this glass ceiling through merit is praise-worthy.

    “She hardly did it through merit. She took advantage of a labor dispute.”



    no one should be working these games then?

    Why is it “uniform news”? She wore the uniform she was supposed to wear, big deal. I think it’s on a higher plane than just uniforms.

    Last night at the Patriots-Saints game, they ran a contest on Twitter along the lines of “Come to wherever this picture was taken and high five all of the Patriots players in a brand new jersey!” (seen here: link)

    Now today, they tweeted a picture of the winners in their new jerseys…which not only have NNOB…but from what I can make out, there’s no maker’s mark on the sleeves either. (seen here: link)

    Strange, huh? I know the high-fiving is the real bonus here, but at least clean out some old stock of Reebok jerseys or something.

    The finalists to rename the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees have been announced. My submission wasn’t picked as a finalist. I wish I could vote for “none of these”. Each one is horrific in it’s own ways.


    Nah, Fireflies and Porcupines are perfectly fine baseball team names. You or I may not think they’re awesome team names, but they’re real things and really, in a sport where tiny songbirds, socks, and baby animals are common nicknames, Fireflies and Porcupines are actually fiercer and sportier than average. The rest are embarrassing clunkers, though.

    But Fireflies is permissible if and only if the team uses glow-in-the-dark elements on its unis like the old Casper Ghosts. Also, are they really called “fireflies” in SWB, not “lightning bugs”?

    Also, are they really called “fireflies” in SWB, not “lightning bugs”?

    Heh… what’s the line of demarcation on fireflies/lightning bugs? I’m from Alabama and live now in Tennessee, and the majority of my life I have heard “lightning bug”. Always assumed it was a southern thing. Does the usage extend all the way into Pennsylvania?

    Personally I like Fireflies as a nickname. I think it could lead to some bitchin’ unis. And honestly, it’s a good change. I think any minor league team using the name of its parent ballclub is a little lame. Variety being the spice of life, and whatnot.

    They were definitely lightning bugs when I was a little kid in 1970s Iowa, and I think I remember that they were fireflies when we moved to Philly in 1980. Anyway, here’s some data:


    Ah, thanks. Interesting. That map basically shows no correlation to geography. Never would have guessed that.

    My Wisconsin suburb always called them “fireflies”. Our town was named after a past Potawatomi chief who was named after the insect.

    And looking at that data, I want to know who the two assholes in Milwaukee and San Antonio were who said they call them “peenie wallies”.

    Is the creative team running this the same group of masterminds who spearheaded the 76ers’ mascot contest?

    It wouldn’t shock me. Then again the guy they brought in as the new GM grew up in New England as a Red Sox fan so maybe picking these horrible choices for names is his way of getting one last jab in at the Evil Empire.

    Living in the Scranton area all my life I’ve always called them “lightning bugs”. That’s what the majority of people around here call them. So using typical Pa logic that’s probably why the name in the contest is “fireflies”.

    I’m leaning towards Porcupines but cringing at the potential for Iron Pigs vs Black Diamond Bears games. Then again I see more groundhogs than porcupines in this area so Woodchucks or Groundhogs would’ve been better. But as long as the “Yankees” name is gone and “Red Barons” doesn’t come back I’m happy.

    Question: If Black Diamond Bears is picked, would they be the first team to have a three-word nickname?

    I put together that scrapbook, and I wondered whether ths kid’s uni was an early DIY or an early Hutch/Rawlings/Sears youth helmet/jersey combo. Couldn’t really tell.

    Paul, are you saying that Nike deliberately designed the collars to mimic neck rolls? Or that they just happen to look like neck rolls by accident?

    One more thing about the Eagles and it seems pretty obvious:

    EAGLES SHOULD GO BACK TO OLD GREEN AND GRAY! Come on nike do something good

    Pretty sure that’s a rugby scrum cap (or as I like to call them, “future football helmet”) stretched across the plastic shell.

    Chelsea goalkeeper link wore a scrum cap after fracturing his skull during a match, but I’m not aware of how common they actually are in soccer.

    Wow that is hard to defend but as a one off for a minor league team, I’m kind of digging it, after all Buffalo is home to the world’s largest disco.


    South Korea take the men’s football bronze medal, but more importantly for them, it seems they were promised that if they brought back a medal no member of the squad would have to do their national service.

    “Good for her. Good for the Olympics. Just good.”

    I don’t always agree with a former Islanders fan, but when I do, it’s something like this.

    I’m watching the Giants-Jags preseason game right now, and the replacement refs have numbers, but no letters on their shirts. Anyone know if this has also been the case in other games?

    -Dolphins look like they’re wearing more of the true Dolphins aqua, instead of the blueish dark green from year’s past.

    -I don’t really see that much of a difference in the Lions’ unis, blue collar aside. Same for the Browns.

    -I couldn’t tell you how the Giants look (presumably better, now that they’re no longer wearing Reebok’s AdiBodysuit), but the Jaguars look significantly more consistent. Still a shit uniform, but the shit smells less offensive in 2012 compared to 2009-2011.

    -Tampa Bay is the only team IMO that downgraded with THEIR CHOICE of wearing the Flywire collar.

    -Cardinals look meh, as always. The Chiefs look weird with the stripes actually on the sleeve. Because it’s so thin, I think they would’ve been better off keeping the stripes on the cuffs, like Washington. Just MO.

    -Bengals’ roads w/ white pants are a huge upgrade. No more randomly placed stripes on the sleeves/shoulders. Also digging the more tail-like pant stripe, too. Jets look pretty good, too.

    Some great training camp shots of the Rams. This is the first year they have a practice jersey sponsor:


    What a great information it is..!! I just surprised to get huge information about the Hubertushirschen of NBA Jersey Sponsorship. This is really a helpful article. Thanks and keep it up…


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