Skip to content

Uni Watch Profiles: Mark Willis


Lots of readers have recently told me how much they like “Soccer Out of Context,” a web project in which designer Mark Willis has been taking MLB jerseys and repurposing them as soccer jerseys. I’ve Ticker-linked to the project several times, but I recently thought it would be fun to interview Willis (shown at right). I normally prefer to do phone interviews, but they’re such a pain in the ass to transcribe, so Mark and I did this one via e-mail. Here’s how it came out:

How old are you, where do you live, and what do you do for a living?
Boston is home — I live in the city and work in Cambridge, at Harvard University, where I oversee web and digital strategy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. And I just turned 35 a couple of weeks ago. (Funny, all of a sudden commercials don’t seem targeted at me any more!)

Have you ever designed an actual uniform (i.e., one that someone has worn, not just a digital mock-up)?
Not yet, no. A few T-shirts here and there, but nothing at the level of uniform apparel. I’d certainly love to. There are considerations beyond graphics (like textile choices, material science and the like) that aren’t my specialties. But I’d be thrilled to collaborate with folks who know that stuff cold.

You obviously like soccer and baseball. Which one do you prefer?
Boy. It was clearly baseball for probably 20”“25 years. That’s why I moved to Boston. (I grew up a Sox fan in upstate New York, and needed to be with my people.) I lived in England for half a year during college and started to fall for club soccer. This was in 1999; I watched that insane Champions League final, with Manchester United scoring twice in stoppage time to beat Bayern, in a student pub with a bunch of English and international kids. Bedlam. There was no turning back after that. Then the ’02 World Cup came, and the U.S. made its run to the quarterfinals. I haven’t been able to get enough soccer in any form, club or international, since then. Of course, during 2003 and 2004 I barely lifted my head from the daily soap opera that was the Red Sox. The two sports have always felt complementary in a lot of ways.

I’ll say this: I was in Kenmore Square when Mientkiewicz squeezed the underhand from Foulke in 2004, and in the stadium in Pretoria when Donovan scored against Algeria in 2010. Those are my two pinnacle sporting highlights, and there’s no way I could choose between them.

How and why did you get the idea to reimagine MLB uniforms as soccer jerseys?
I’ve been working on jersey design for a while as a hobby, which came out of a general desire to write about and discuss American soccer culture. It can be really hard to demonstrate concepts, like team rebrands, or identity tweaks, without a way to illustrate your thoughts. I’ve got some background in design, so I decided to take a shot at working up jersey designs to accompany a few pieces I was writing. I did a series on rebooting the New England Revolution (who still need it!), and one regarding my take on what USA Soccer’s identity could/should look like. Each time, I used kit mockups to illustrate the pieces, and they went over really well. A few months ago, I was looking for a bit of a graphic design diversion to clear my brain one day — I just needed a direction to start off in. With Liverpool/Red Sox drama always swirling around Boston, the soccer/baseball mash-up had probably been percolating in my head for a while. Once I dropped the “hanging Sox’” logo onto the jersey template where a soccer crest would go, the concept just seemed to pop and I wanted to see where it would lead.

At any point did you consider doing it the other way around (i.e., soccer uniforms imposed on a baseball jersey template)?
Not really! There is just so much more room for creativity and interpretation in the world of soccer visuals – though it would be kind of cool to see “Stoke” or “Wigan” in baseball script across the front of a double-knit Majestic jersey. And baseball hats with soccer crest logos is definitely a no-brainer.

One of the biggest differences between baseball and soccer uniforms is the presence (or absence) of corporate sponsors. How did you decide upon the jersey sponsors for each team?
I knew I wanted the jerseys read as “real” soccer shirts — to speak the same design language as well-known, high-end English and Spanish club jerseys. So I made the choice to use corporate sponsors (as well as different manufacturers for each team, which isn’t really how American pro sports work). And that’s been one of the fun and interesting aspects: sifting through information about each club, its locality, which corporations it might have natural ties to, how big their brands are, etc. That’s part of the magic of the project — once I started really getting into it and doing research for each team, connections started leaping out and suggesting themselves. With luck, the choices I’ve made are both justifiable and expressed well in the designs.

love all the little details you included, like the reference to the Yankees’ 27 championships. I’m guessing that those details were among your favorite parts of the project, yes?
Absolutely. One thing soccer’s visual culture does very well is express history and meaning through design. Soccer embraces stars over the crests to indicate championships, and patterns and flourishes in fabric that actually mean something. For instance, I read somewhere that Manchester United’s current kit, which has a suggestion of plaid in it, is a tribute to legendary coach (and legendary Scotsman) Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25th anniversary with the club. That sort of stuff just kills me, I love it. Baseball has so much rich tradition — it’s the only team sport that rivals soccer in that regard — but except for the odd throwback jersey here or sleeve patch there, that tradition is rarely expressed in terms of creative uniform design. So it’s very fertile ground to base design work on.

Another advantage soccer culture has over baseball in terms of expressive design is that soccer teams use alternate looks and different designs and reinterpretations all the time — for a season, or a tournament, or maybe even for a single game. And those looks might use colors and patterns completely disassociated with the teams’ traditions. Chelsea, which will be blue forever, can roll out in a black and orange jersey and nobody will bat an eye; Barcelona, synonymous with blue and red vertical stripes, can wear a neon yellow shirt for a season. These are second or change jerseys, and nobody forgets about the traditional colors, but in general there’s much more room to have fun. American fans — especially baseball fans — are purists and won’t usually go for that stuff (well, maybe it would fly in Oregon). In Soccer Out of Context, I’ve been trying to walk the line between soccer’s expressive, exuberant design culture, and the traditional, conservative sense of design that American pro sports generally have.

All sorts of people on the internet engage in all sorts of sports-oriented design projects, but “Soccer Out of Context” seems to have really struck a chord with people. You’ve gotten some good coverage, and literally dozens of Uni Watch readers have e-mailed me to say, “You’ve gotta see this!” Are you surprised by all the positive response?
Yes, I’ve been really fortunate to get some great coverage. It’s very meaningful to me when fans of individual teams tell me they like the design choices I made for their team — there’s no higher compliment. So hopefully part of the success is solid design work. But I think a good deal of the reaction is also due to soccer, and its visual language, really starting to make headway here in the States. There is a growing appetite for authentic soccer style here. There is something really fascinating to many Americans about a soccer kit — it’s kind of like watching a British TV drama or going out for good tapas or sushi or something. It’s intriguingly different, it’s a little foreign, but it’s pleasing, and we instinctively get it. I think this project has capitalized on a growing trend — namely, that the soccer aesthetic is here to stay in the States. Soccer jerseys are only going to become more common. And now the question is, how can we blend soccer style with our American traditions? The emerging landscape is incredibly interesting to me.

Can you imagine doing this with other sports? Hockey uniforms reimagined as basketball teams, say, or whatever?
I could as a design exercise, definitely. But from a fan’s perspective, I consider the soccer jersey to be the perfect template to receive designs from other sports. It’s not a specialized garment like a hockey jersey or a basketball top. It just looks like a shirt you can wear around town, a like a T-shirt or a polo. And I don’t know about most people but as a 35 year-old dude I’ve mostly stopped rocking my “Garnett 5” Celtics tank top in mixed company. Nobody needs to see that. As a regular fan, soccer shirts are great, and I think most teams should consider translating, and marketing, soccer-style versions of their shirts to the public. Judging by the reaction I’ve gotten, the idea would be successful.

Where do you see the project going next?
If there’s a chance to participate in making any of these designs into something people could actually wear, I’m hoping to seize it. As of now, that remains to be seen. But after finishing up MLB, I’d like to do a series of shirts on national soccer identities — and those will cross definitely over into reality.

While I have you here, I also want to talk a little bit about your gorgeous “Seasons” infographics. What’s the story behind that project?
Thanks! Seasons was born out of some print design experiments I was doing with clubs and colors. I really liked the way they came out, but wanted to take them further, and I coincidentally needed a project to keep my programming and interaction design chops sharp. So from that Seasons, the interactive web app, was born.

I find traditional soccer league tables to be absolutely fascinating. A table is just one long list of everybody in the league, leader at the top, goat at the bottom, and lots of stories in between. In most soccer leagues there are no divisions, no uneven home/away arrangements, and a completely balanced schedule. That means the stories that make the season are right there in front of you when you look at a league table. Despite the simplicity of the model, there are so many things clubs can fight for during a soccer campaign — championships, tournament qualifications, playoff places, relegation or promotion spots — that call for visual treatments. Combine all that with the pageantry and color of international club soccer and it’s just a fun world to design within. I created Seasons with an eye towards absorbing past data — it could theoretically hold hundreds of league seasons, and hopefully it will some day. It’s got about a dozen now. But like every project, I need to circle back to it when I can. I’m following a few “big” leagues in real-time — like the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, etc. — and of course, everyone is invited to check out the site and follow along. Seasons also works as a web app on any smartphone, even offline – and looks great in modern browsers. I’m excited to see where it goes.

If there’s anything you’d like to add about, well, anything, feel free.
Thanks for making Uni Watch exactly the kind of site that inspires projects like this! It’s a real pleasure to speak with you, Paul. If anybody wants to keep up with what I’m designing or making, just find me on Twitter or leave me your e-mail address in the little box the bottom of my site.

+ + + + +

ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my latest ESPN column is about last week’s symposium at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Mike Hersh update: Big shout-out to those of you who contributed to the Mike Hersh memorial fund. Yesterday I bundled all the contributions and made a $165 donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Thanks.

Collections and collectors who collect them: I’m looking for people with eccentric and visually interesting collections who are (a) based in NYC and (b) willing to be interviewed and photographed with their collections for an article I’m writing. Not interested in standard collections like books, records, or stuffed animals, unless there’s something particularly unique about them. Also not interested in hoarders. More interested in unusual collection categories (butter knives, aspirin bottles, discarded umbrellas, etc.). The more acutely curated, the better. If that sounds like you or someone you know, please get in touch. Thanks.

+ + + + +

Uni Watch News Ticker: Nameplates in the Penguins locker room are now corporate-sponsored (from Nicholas Schiavo). … Some good detective work has revealed why Stan Musial briefly wore No. 19. … Some funny photos of fans wearing soccer jerseys (from Eric Bangeman). … Two White Sox items from Clint Wrede: Jake Peavy has “AK” on his cleats in memory of former Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds, and there are some uni number changes. … Okay, so we’ve all seen football players wearing a towel. But it’s usually a hand towel. Check out the guys on the far right and far left of this Bills photo from 1967 — those look like full-size bath towels! (Great spot by Tom Jacobsen.) … I can’t recall if this has come up before, but just in case: Yanks prospect Tyler Austin spent time last year with the Tampa Yankees, whose logo matches his nickname. … Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates is not fond of the latest Gazoo helmet (from Nile Smith). … New baseball cap for SDSU (from Jay Sullivan). … New “Restore the Shore” jerseys for the Lakewood BlueClaws. “I like the touch of TNOB — town names on back,” says Dan Cichalski. “I’m not sure if they’ll have the 20-something different ones necessary to give each player and coach a unique one, but I do like the idea of all these different local place names out there on the field.” … Super-interesting video about a shoemaker and craftsman who spent 30 years working for Nike. Recommended (from Pete Woychick). … Shaun Powell is the latest sportswriter calling for the ’Skins to change their name (from Brayden Ruthart). … On the other hand, an Indian tribe in Michigan is fine with Indian-based team names. … Speaking of sleeved basketball jerseys, as we were a few days ago, check out this awesome 1954 Sand-Knit ad (nice find by James Ryan). … Kentucky hoops will wear alternate unis this Saturday. Odd that the article refers to them as “commemorative,” when in fact they’re not commemorating anything, except maybe Nike’s bottom line (from Benjamin Gordon). … Boise State’s all-blue home football uniforms may get the kibosh from the NCAA. ”¦ Check out Dayton’s new stirrups, ready for action (from Jay Sullivan). ”¦ Also from Jay: New gray basketball uniforms for Texas. ”¦ This is pretty funny: Raptors center Aaron Gray got a technical last night while on the bench. Since he was wearing warm-ups at the time, the ref had him lift his warm-up top to show his number so he could T him up. “Never seen that before,” says Neil Vendetti. Me neither. ”¦ Here’s an article about Jim Leyland talking about his early playing days. Key quote, about his rookie league days: “I was a lettuce-legger for quite a few years. Lettuce-leggers were the guys that wore the green socks. They were usually not too good. In those days, you differentiated your team by the socks you wore. Now all the kids wear the same socks, but that’s not the way it was. You had some blue with orange stripes. You had some plain blue. You had some orange, and green. If you were on that green-sock team, you knew you weren’t a prospect” (Dan Cichalski again). ”¦ Still more about the Redskins naming issue here.

Comments (116)

    Man U’s shirts aren’t plaid–they’re gingham! A reference to Manchester’s previous life as a textile manufacturing hub.

    Of course your actual point–that soccer shirts combine a deep sense of tradition with a refreshing willingness to experiment–is still spot on, my pedantism notwithstanding. Great interview!

    I rather dislike the gingham print, but it will undoubtedly become a classic shirt if the club manages to complete the Double or Treble this season.

    Inspiring video on Mike Friton, the Nike “Innovator.” Makes me really doubt my contributions to humanity.

    Are those Lakewood BlueClaws jerseys BFBS? I don’t remember black being part of the team’s color scheme.

    I think it has more to do with the fact that the “Restore the Shore” movement has used black in t-shirts and other items. So, I would argue that it is not truly BFBS.

    Those Longhorn jerseys aren’t actually new (unless they tweaked them a bit). They’ve had them for awhile now.

    Bills/Towel photo….

    Anyone see the ball in that pic? I’m tyring to figure out what is happening in the photo. All eyes (players’ and fans’) are looking at the same place (on #54 and #15), but I don’t see the ball anywhere. Maybe behind the goalpost?

    Just something.

    The nameplates in the Penguins locker room have had corporate sponsorship at least since the Consol Energy Center opened in Sept. 2010.


    Those Bills wearing the bath towels were both centers (Al Bemiller #50 on the right, Wayne Frazier #53 on the left…maybe one was filling in at guard or tackle?)and wore them not for their own use but for that of their QB?Jack Kemp was a decent QB, but he’d have been a substandard galactic hitchhiker.

    The soccer/baseball mashup thing has been wonderful. There’s so much thought put into each design. I hope a team with a lot of regional soccer fans (like the southern california teams) take a flier on this to see what would happen.

    Three uni-notable things about the proposed NCAA football rule changes:

    1. The rule that either the pants or jersey must be a different color than the field is clearly aimed at Boise (Solid Blue turf) and Eastern Washington (Solid Red) but:
    – What about Central Arkansas (Striped Gray/Purple)? Are they now not allowed to wear purple or gray uniforms at home or are both ok?

    – What about teams wearing green jerseys and pants on a green field? Would they be affected by this rule as well?

    2. Another proposed rule change would require a player who changes numbers during a game to report it to the referee, who would than inform the opposing team,

    3. A third proposed rule change would prohibit doubling up numbers at the same positon. For example, 2 QBs can’t wear #7, but a QB, LB and Kicker all can.

    Re: 1, I know this is probably crazy talk, but… how about a rule requiring the playing surface to be grass-colored? If nothing else, allow those three schools to keep their current designs, but keep anyone else from changing. At least then you only have to deal with three teams’ uniform issues.

    If they’re going to implement a stupid rule about uniforms contrasting with the playing field, then I want to see white uniforms banned for snowy games too.

    Number 2 might have something to do with an incident involving Marquise Lee (USC) last season.

    How I understand it is that solid color unis will be outlawed if they match the playing field. So Baylor will not be allowed to go green over green.

    Yeah, the rule stipulates that either or not be the same color.

    I think Baylor looks decent with that combo but I think they should go with green jerseys and gold pants 95% of the time. Of course they are probably going to start wearing black most of the time (great color combo, plenty of mix an match options and they opt for BFBS).

    I imagine this will be enforced on all teams but I think it only needs to be applied to unnatural colored turfs. This is based purely off my opinion and not hard scientific evidence but I imagine the human eye can better separate green fabric from green grass than it can Blue fabric from blue turf, or red fabric from red turf, etc.

    Frank Cloutier commented on the use of the names Warriors and Braves. But he didn’t say anything about the name Redskins.

    Isn’t selective approval on the same plane as selective outrage, or is that ‘apples and oranges’?

    “I’d like to see schools educate (students) on the true history of our people in the U.S.”

    On that I agree with Cloutier, though his mastery of said history could use improvement as well.

    Wow, this guy is brilliant. I have never been on his site until today and I am in awe of his creativity and attention to detail. Love all of the I intricacies used, from the stars symbolizing championships, to the band he uses on the bottom of the Padres jersey that gives a fun and beautiful visual history lesson. Every jersey he made tells a story and I really wish that teams in all sports would take note of his work and embrace their history by bundling it up into their modern jerseys. I think it would be thoughtful, yet streamline the design process while making young and old fans pleased. Really hope he makes an NL East jersey set so I can see what he would do with my beloved Phillies. Keep up the amazing work Mark!

    Thank you, David! The NL East is coming up next week… I’m already sweating the Mets & Phils, who lots of great fans (including you and Paul) that are generally not shy about “feedback” :) Seriously though, thank you for checking out the project!

    The advertisement in the Penguins players’ stalls isn’t limited only to them. I know that in Montreal the players nameplates are feature Warrior sponsorships.

    I suppose that it will probably be league-wide shortly…if it isn’t already.

    Just in regards to the Redskin name, which there is also an article on ESPN about, I think we should let the American Indian community decide, not a group of white-guilt inspired writers.
    I found this survey of the Native American community from 2004, that says most don’t mind the ‘Redskin’ name.

    1) I have no guilt on this issue, so please don’t put that word in my mouth.

    2) Letting Indians decide is precisely the point of my column from yesterday, in which almost every single person quoted is an Indian. Since you apparently didn’t read it but appear to be interested in what Indians have to say on this issue, here it is:

    So why did the late Russell Means and his compatriots call themselves the “American Indian Movement?”

    Paul – Certainly not trying to create work for anyone but perhaps an interview with the Chippewa representative would provide some insight into those tribes that have little or no problem with Native American imagery. It would be useful and provide you (us) with the opposing views that you noted were lacking at the symposium attended by you and Phil last week. Just a thought.

    Paul, I love ya man, but I think it is important for you to square this with your loyal readers:

    From Hogs Haven:

    “I don’ t know if anyone’s found this yet, but this article on espn says hogs haven has put its support behind changing the Redskins name. I understood the reasoning for the article on here “Four reasons a Redskins name change should not bother you” that was posted here a few days ago. However, I don’t think, at least personally, it was meant as a full endorsement of the change, just presenting reasons why it wouldn’t be so bad. I was wondering if anyone takes issue with the espn article using the hogs haven article as support for their opinion, and if anyone on the site was approached for their approval to state this? I don’t think it’s fair for espn to present this as the blanket opinion of the writers, operators or members of the site. Does anyone have any insight or opinion?”

    They clearly do not support a name change. Hogs Haven is at best ambivalent, and perhaps don’t care a whit.

    Kudos for being fair and balanced with your link to: “Indian Mascots: Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe supports appropriate use of Warriors, Indians, Braves”

    The quote you refer to comes from a “fanpost” on the Hogs Haven website:


    This is the opinion of a Hogs Haven reader, not the site’s manager or contributing staff. I could not find a statement in the comments section of the fanpost from anyone officially affiliated with Hogs Haven in response to the reader’s questions. For that matter, I couldn’t find anything on the site in which the Hogs Haven staff reacted – one way or the other – to Paul’s citation of the site’s opinion piece about renaming the Redskins.

    I understand the point you’re making about whether Paul’s column accurately presented the official position of Hogs Haven. However, it seems to me you’ve come dangerously close to the behavior you’re criticizing by citing reader opinion to support your assertion of what Hogs Haven’s official position is.

    First off I would like to apologize I did not mean to offend you or anyone for that matter, that was poor word choice on my part. Your article presents a new viewpoint which I think helps the dialogue, but I’m still curious about what the Native American demographic as a whole think about the issue.

    I do think there are shades of grey on the issue though.

    Regardless of what one thinks about the merits of the issue, that’s a crap survey. Just look at the methodology. Besides which, reading the results of one-off public-opinion surveys of ethnic minorities is neither a defensible basis for making permanent moral decisions nor how we conduct public policy in the United States of America.

    I would respectfully disagree. Allow me to briefly explain.

    The term “Redskin” enjoys the protection of our First Amendment, notwithstanding the obvious potential to offend. There is nothing prurient or obscene in the word that nudges it outside the boundaries of this protection. Ownership has violated nothing, constitutionally speaking; hence the decision to name their team is completely theirs. Of course the court of public opinion may change this.

    On a previous thread I mentioned that in my line of work I often hear reasons why certain words or materials should be removed. I prefer the term censored. The justifications for censoring are generally couched in the contexts of “protecting our children”, or “community standards”. But the real motivation is rooted in the word or material being morally offensive — which is a subjective threshold.

    So what?

    The kerfuffle here re “Indian” mascots is really a discussion about free speech, and ultimately our own freedoms to see what we wish to see and read what we want to read. Should a library be obliged to remove NFL books with the word “Redskins”, or those with what some may consider calumnious covers depicting a Native American on a burgundy helmet? Is this not “Censorship Creep” to borrow from a familiar term around these parts?

    We are free to cheer for our teams, and hate those we don’t like. It is our choice. I cherish this. Why diminish the joy of being a fan?

    The kerfuffle here re “Indian” mascots is really a discussion about free speech…

    No it’s not. Nobody is saying Dan Snyder can’t call his time whatever he likes. Nobody is proposing legislation to bar the word “Redskins” (or any other team name).

    Free speech is a time-honored tradition. So is countering offensive speech with a critique of that speech, in an attempt to persuade hearts and minds.

    Snyder has the legal right to call his team the Fornicating Assholes if wants to, but there would probably be a protest if he did. (Also, the NFL would probably block such a move, but let’s leave that aside for a moment, because they’re a private league.) Why would there be a protest? Because that name is tasteless and offensive.

    Some of us feel the same thing about the current team name. You may disagree. So we debate. That’s free speech.

    There is always a chilling effect when someone advocates for the banning a word or work. At least for me. Secure in their moral indignation, crusaders (no pun intended) often enjoy popular support — as is evidenced here in this thread. I too may even be “on board” with these crusades with respect to my moral sensibilities.

    But watching the Redskins play football is a choice — not unlike reading a book. Critiques are often made of books, yet they stop there. Removing the book is censorship — not unlike demanding that a name be changed because it is deemed offensive by some. Both attempt to erase, eradicate, remove, something for the protection of others.

    I suggest — respectfully of course — that your desire here is no different.

    You’re using charged language, like “ban.” But that’s a legal term. Nobody is calling for a ban; nobody is calling for legislation to eliminate a team name. We’re trying to persuade people of an idea. If enough people eventually agree, things may change. That’s not a ban; that’s the marketplace of ideas.

    Yes, removing a book is censorship. But nobody here is removing anything. I don’t have the power to remove the ’Skins name. But Dan Snyder does, so I’m trying to convince him to do so. Again, that’s just the marketplace of ideas.

    I have no dog in this Redskins hunt, I really don’t have an opin either way.

    But it would seem to me Snyder will never change the name, purely based on the bucks. He’s a bottom line guy, as all owners are.

    Too much brand equity in a legacy name like the Redskins, an old-line NFL team.

    Nice attempt at appearing constitutional by appropriating Madison and Hamilton’s pseudonym for the Federalist Papers. I thought about signing this posts M. Junius Brutus or A. Lincoln but I like my medieval softball name better.

    We are not disputing Dan Snyder’s right to call his team whatever he wants. This is not a free speech issue since it would only be a violation of the 1st Amendment if the US government forced the Washington Football team to change its nickname. It’s not a violation of the Constitution for individual citizens or private organizations to ask Mr. Snyder or the organization behind him (the NFL) to voluntarily change the name because its the right thing to do. Petitioning openly be they public protests or newspaper articles or blog posts is not a violation of free speech since it is at its heart persuasion not coercion. Persuasion of course being at the center of any just and peaceful Res Publica.

    I see, “voluntarily change”. It would seem Mr. Snyder has rebuffed your suggestion.

    Have we then put this issue to rest? Or will your suggestion to “voluntarily change” continue on a crusade to coerce through public pressure?

    Again with the loaded language — “coerce.”

    There is no coercion here. Just persuasion.

    If you like the current team name, that’s fine — argue your case on the merits. But please stop hiding behind bogus faux-Constitutional arguments that don’t apply to this discussion.

    There’s no angry mob with pitchforks and torches, there’s no physical threat being made, there’s no call for legislation. Is there an attempt to shame and embarrass Snyder? Definitely. That’s part of the marketplace of ideas too. And Snyder (and you) can push back against those ideas with ideas of his (or your) own.

    So let’s do that and stop with the bogus 1st Amendment claims. Thanks.

    Mr. Snyder is free to ignore public complaints at his leisure. He doesn’t have to listen to me or Paul or anyone else. That does not mean we have to stop talking about. We are free to speak our mind for as long as we want about whatever we want.

    Mr. Snyder is free to ignore complaints from the public at his leisure. He doesn’t have to listen to me or Paul or anyone else. That does not mean we have to stop talking. We are free to speak our mind for as long as we want about whatever we want.

    A suggestion:
    Perhaps you’d benefit from consider obtaining a copy of Walter Lippmann’s “Public Opinion” to go along with your “Federalist Papers”?

    Apologies if your remark was not intended for me – but I don’t recall my mentioning the “Federalist Papers”.

    If you are presuming that my handle of Publius is somehow related to the subject of this thread, you’re wrong. I don’t often post my thoughts to UW, but I can assure you all have been under Publius.

    If Paul would like to corroborate this…

    I am a lifelong Redskins fan. The word “redskins” is just a word to me. But if it needs changing because it is deemed offensive by whomever the deemers are, so be it.

    “The word “redskins” is just a word to me.”


    To many, including those who participated on the panel/symposium, “redskin” is as offensive as “nigger” is. I’m sure the N-word is just a “word” to many, but you wouldn’t name a team N-G-RS, would you?

    In this case, the “deemers” happen to be those of Native American descent.

    It’s not just Native Americans, mind you, who find the term offensive. But clearly, many (if not most) do.

    That alone should be enough to stop its usage.

    Hey, I’m going to survive just fine if the Washington team changes its name, but just wondering, if the word “is as offensive”, how dare you or anyone utter or write the “R” word, and why didn’t you type “R-D-KINS” instead of the uncensored version? “That alone should be enough to stop its usage” – except by – hmmm, you?

    Actually, if you’ve read anything I’ve written over the past at least year, the only time I’ve referred to the team by that name is when I “quote” the term. I usually refer to them as the “Washington Football Team.” This includes when I receive tweaks/concepts.

    And I’m completely fine never using it in “print” (interwebs) again, but it is still the legal name of the team (for now).

    Clarification… The word holds no value with me–positive or negative. It’s just a placeholder for the Washington football team. It’s like Jets, or Bears.

    Perhaps it makes me on the lesser side of bigotted, but on the higher side side of ignorant, that it means nothing to ME. I wasn’t ever taught that it was supposed to.

    Sure, I know it’s referring to Native Americans (of which I am partly one), but again, it holds no merit nor demerit with me as I give it no power.

    If others do give it power and are offended by it, I DO understand.

    Any noun (preferably plural) will work for me if they want to change the name.

    (PS: this is by far my longer post ever!) :^)

    not uni related, but sad, shocking sports story…

    blade runner (olympic amputee sprinter) has been arrested and charged with murdering his model girlfriend, according to msnbc…


    Not sure if this has been on the site before, but a certain search engine that rhymes with ‘ping’ has “Popular Now” links at the bottom of its page, and the one that is titled “Pete Rose” brings up the story about Topps erasing his records, but also shows this photo: link under “Images” – what’s up with that?

    When he was a free agent in the winter of 1978-79, SI put a bunch of different teams’ caps on him, just to visualize what it might be like to see him on another team.

    Much like the infamous Derek Jeter photos from a year or so ago, I presume.
    Muchas gracias.
    Any V-Day offerings from Sixpoint?

    Yeah, it was 1974. I have it stuck in my head that it was ’78 or ’79. One of these days I’ll finally remember the real date! But local lore in DC is that the owner who didn’t end up buying and relocating the team (a local grocery magnate, if I recall) made pretty public his intention to call the team the Stars when it landed in Washington.

    Aaron Gray is still in the league?!

    Man, as Skee Lo once said, I wish I was a little bit taller…. be 7 feet tall and pretty much sit on an NBA bench collecting league minimum.

    Yankees number re-assignments: David Phelps apparently back to wearing #41 (had reported to camp with #35). He thinks Michael Pineda wanted the #35 back.


    As an aside to the Washington Football Team debate, I’ve never been to, but the comments there have been much better than any other site that’s touched on the subject.

    Either they’ve got one hell of a mannered readership or the moderator’s been working overtime.

    Nice interview. It sent me down a rabbit hole. I spent the better part of an hour going through Mark’s US Kit project. Thanks, Paul.

    Ditto. I agree 100% with the notion, in part 2, that the red & white hoops should be the first choice shirt. And I like that the white sleeves are gone from the navy shirt. But I can’t help but this of the sashes the Girl Scouts wear with the pale gold. I’m alright with the “heritage white” sash on pale gold shirt for the first throwback (the Gadsden throwback is badass, as well), but it seems unnecessary to pair them with the hoops on the first and change shirts. Given a choice between the two, I’d go with the hoops, as it resembles the stripes on our flag.

    Quite happy to help slow productivity! The brownish sash thing occurred to me too – all I can say there is that hopefully the “pale gold” concept would read better in a three-dimensional, real-world example than I was able to portray it in the mockups.

    Or, the team sells thin mints and a new partnership is born. (If their qualifying form doesn’t improve, they might have the time in 2014.)

    Illinois State wore there throwbacks for the 2nd time this year. It’s a good look but they need to shrink the shorts a little bit.
    Gallery from the local paper:

    …and good on the franchise for clearly explaining what they did and their reasoning for it. Somebody in purple ‘gets it.’

    [ducks and covers]

    Raster images are compromised of pixels, so when you blow up the image, it looks worse and worse the bigger it gets until you can see all the little boxes that make up the image.

    Vector images are made using mathematical codes, so that when blown up, the mat remains the same and that 2% curve right after that 90Ëš angle will always be a 2% curve right after that 90Ëš angle, no matter how much the size is increased.

    Good images for help understanding the concepts:

    Yup, what ^^these guys^^ said.

    One thing to add, because vectors are a mathematical equation, they can be scaled to any size without a loss of quality (just multiply every number in the equation.)

    Vikes sort of allude to that in their statement.

    It’s actually quite nice. If they’re going to stick with a more progressive look for their uniforms, I wish they would have gone a little further in the simplification, but I can’t complain about this one. I should have tweeted them the version I did back when I did it!


    I should also note that I like their approach as well. Laying it out very openly and honestly without much flourish or gross designerspeak.

    Nice. Continues the pattern set by the 2010 Twins of cautious but significant improvement by way of modernizing tweaks. Now if only the Wolves would follow suit and … No, wait, the Timberwolves need to blow up their entire logo/uni identity and start over from scratch.

    Why do I feel that changing the Washington Redskins’ nickname and insignia is probably a good idea, yet changing the Chicago Blackhawks’ name and symbol would be a crime against art?

    For multiple reasons:

    1. Black Hawk was a real person and that was his name and Redskin is a pejorative and racial epithet.

    2. The ‘Hawks were named after an army regiment their first owner served in in WWI that was named after Black Hawk, not directly after the man himself whereas the man who named his team the Redskins was a documented racist.

    3. The Blackhawks have a logo that they have made from an originally borderline racist image (link) into what is now considered by most Native American advocacy groups as a non-stereotypical and beautiful representation of a Native American. The Redskins logo is more like the original hawks logo, stereotypical and insulting.

    4. The Blackhawks have a great relationship with the American Indian Center in Chicago, the oldest Native American center in the country. They provide funding for projects and renovations as well as support N.A. veterans in both gesture and actuality. The Blackhawks as an organization also fiercely protect the Indian Head logo and it’s use going so far as to prevent goalies from using unflattering or stereotypical N.A. imagery:

    “Despite instructions to do something similar to last season, Leroux’s first attempt [at creating Ray Emery’s mask] was a lot more mean looking, with two very aggressive, glowing-eyed skulls inside the feathered Indian headdress on both sides of the mask.

    Unfortunately it was deemed a bit too aggressive for a Blackhawks [organization] that is careful to be safe and respectful in regards to its use of native american symbols.”

    The ‘Hawks even use a black hawk (the bird) as a mascot so as to not mock or belittle Native Americans.

    Whereas the Redskins have no such relationship with any Native American groups and are on bad terms with most N.A. activists.

    The differences are significant, but if the American Indian Center or other Native American advocacy groups were to ask the Blackhawks to remove their logo and perhaps even change their name, it would only be right for the Blackhawks (my favorite and hometown hockey team and my favorite logo in sports) to change immediately. It is not their right to exploit the use of N.A. iconography but so long as their use is not deemed exploitative, I believe it’s use is fair and honorable.

    The Washington team has no such ground to stand on. Their logo is racist, their name is racist and they are exploiting this racist identity for profit.

    The comparison is just not as close as it may seem from a distance.

    As someone firmly against the name, and Chief Wahoo I think one problem in this debate has been lumping every name/logo together into one pot.

    While Cleveland’s logo is laughably racist, I don’t think Washington’s is (I always thought it was modeled after the “indian head” nickle when I was younger.) I think Atlanta’s team name isn’t even in the same boat as their BP cap, or Washington’s name.

    Florida State’s situation is well documented and entirely different from the Seahawks situation, or as Tim points out the Blackhawks situation. The Utes also seem to an outlier as well.

    I think each of these needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis instead of conflating it into a generic “Native American imagery” debate.


    1. Do you contend that the term redskin has always been and can only be a racial epithet? Its’ use by the NFL franchise must be placed in the proper context(as the US Court of Appeals did), that being the name of a sports team. There’s no evidence that the term is a pejoritive or disparaging when used in that specific application…in 1933 or 2013.
    2. There’s decent evidence that Marshall was racist (i.e.: his resistance to integrate). However, does that mean every decision he made fron start to finish must therefore viewed through a prism of race? Where’s the evidence that Marshall named his team in order to disparage Indians (and why’d he choose to insult Indians and not blacks, Orientals, etc…)?
    3. The Redskins’ logo is “stereotypical and insulting”? Howso?
    4. The Redskins as a team and individually (players and owner alike) have provided outreach and charity to a variety of organizations. Does it matter that they choose to associate themselves/align with Indian-centric organizations? Does that discount the ‘good’ they do?

    I’m not as certain as you that the Blackhawks would honor a hypothetical request to drop the name/logo because it would “only be right”; ‘rightful’ (aka legal)ownership of those identity marks is(as it is with the Redskins)part of club ownership and not subject to the wants of an outside advocacy group, and the interest to keep using them may far outweigh the feelings others have to get them to desist.

    These are all stupid arguments. Let’s be clear, I’m not saying you’re stupid, but those arguments are. I assume you’re a DC fan…

    1. If a team were called the blackskins, blackskins would still be offensive. Don’t be dumb.

    2. Someone who you admit is a racist named a team a racist name, probably because he – in his racist mind – thought all ‘redskins’ were tough, bloodthirsty warriors. A great mentality for a tough, bloodthirsty, warrior sport.

    The fact that your argument is, “Sure, he was racist, but that thing you think he did cause he’s racist? Nah, that’s the one thing that clearly isn’t racist,” Is about the dumbest argument I’ve heard in the redskins name debate. Sorry, that’s just the truth.

    3. HOW IS IT RACIST?! The GIANT crooked nose, the burgundy (literally) red skin. It’s a bad knockoff of a Blackhawks logo that the ‘Hawks deemed too racist to use on a throwback. That’s why this link looked like this link and not this link link .

    4. “Does it matter that they choose to associate themselves/align with Indian-centric organizations?”

    YES! Players do good everywhere. Blackhawks players do work for charities for military members, sick children, cancer, all that good shit, but the Blackhawks organization *ALSO* realizes that they have to do right by the people their name and logo are based off of.

    An open dialogue between N.A. groups and the front office exists in Chicago and should exist anywhere where N.A. iconography is used for profit. When there is no such relationship (*-=WASHINGTON=-*), that’s called exploitation for profit.

    And since when does ‘it would be right’ mean ‘I know for a fact that this will happen’? Learn to read thoroughly because you’re creating a false narrative with your inability to decipher what I wish would happen in a hypothetical scenario and what might actually happen. (although, you’re probably actively choosing to argue a point I never made because it’s easier for you to argue against a fictitious stance than any of the actual ones I made…)

    If the Blackhawks are asked to stop using the logo, they SHOULD. I don’t know if they would, but I know I wouldn’t put up a huge stink if they did. Doing right by groups like the American Indian Center is what should matter, and right now the Blackhawks are and Washington isn’t.

    That’s it.

    You’re on the wrong side of this issue. There are some topics where opinions can vary (What cheese is the best?) but there are some that only have one right answer (Was Hitler a good guy?). The question of whether or not Redskins is a racial epithet is the latter.


    I wont be responding to anymore conversation on this topic from you, not if those are your best ‘arguments’.

    If I came off like a bit of a dick:
    1) It’s the internet and tone is hard to emulate through the medium. Know I had much fun writing this.
    2) Good. That’s what I was going for. ;) My cogent, rational post didn’t get through to him so maybe this will haha.

    Well, anything that inconveniences Chicago hockey fans, I’m 100% in favor of.

    Actually, for me, I wish the Redskins would change their logo, because it’s a crappy logo. I wish the Redskins would change their name, because I have personally heard the word “redskin” used as the equivalent of “nigger” by a white NFL hero to Native Americans.

    The Blackhawks, I’m much more ambivalent about. The name really does refer to an individual – ironically, an individual who made his name leading an actual war against the United States of America. If someone wanted to name his sports team the Chicago Bin Ladens or Poughkeepsie Al-Sadrs, and really mean it as a tribute, far be it from me to object. (That is perhaps too glib: Black Hawk was an American who fought to defend his home from foreign invasion. What patriotic Ameircan could object to that?) As for the logo, I see it as one of the really great designs in sports. (Painful as it is to admit this as a non-Chicagoan Midwesterner!) And I’m not aware of Indian cultural mockery being a common part of Blackhawks fan culture.

    So I’d be fine with the Blackhawks keeping both their name and logo. Though we know what Chief Black Hawk actually looked like, and surely a crest of tattooed Pete Postlewaithe with a pink mohawk would be even more awesome than Chicago’s current NHL logo:


    As the guy who lit this fuse, let me say I’m not a booster of either team. I don’t hate, I’m just “meh”. That said, the Blackhawks are one of the better turned-out teams in sports. I’ve admired their look for decades.

    I wish that Eastern Michigan could have done what Central Michigan did to keep their Native American mascot. Being the Hurons would make EMU’s mascot an unique one rather than being a boring old eagle that thousands of teams claim. Heck, if they had to change, why didn’t they just be the Emus (would’ve made sense)! Alas, the Curse of the Huron rolls at EMU where the big draw teams like men’s hoops and football haven’t been too good since the name change and the coaching revolving door keeps turning.

    Vikings logo has always looked good and now looks just a little better.

    This at the end of the article:

    What’s next?
    We are looking forward to many exciting changes for our team and fans in the next few years, leading up to the opening of our new stadium. These logo enhancements arejust the beginning…

    They cannot get rid of their current uniforms fast enough. Their practice jerseys are better than what they wear on Sundays.

    “They cannot get rid of their current uniforms fast enough.”


    While I would agree with you there, the uniform doesn’t need to be completely blown up…although I wouldn’t argue with those who say it does.

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy back in 2009, I did a column with Ricko that included some “tweaks” that might just get the Vikes (scroll down) uni looking somewhat respectable. Some of these probably still apply.

    The Vikes unis just need to rid themselves of the bumperstickers, and they’re well on their way to completing a nice overhaul (new logo, new stadium, new uniforms…)

    McDonald’s All-American uniforms:


    Why so garish? Do they even typically sell those jerseys? Why bother pandering to stupid consumers?

    I think whoever designed those got just a little bit of inspiration from the Rutgers football unis, decided the design wasn’t quite horrendous enough, and came up with something worse.

    Re: The Vikings logo

    A reminder of a white man logo in a predominately African American league. To go along with the Pats, Raiders and sometimes Browns. I know this pales to the other issue, but maybe all logos/names should be of animals, natural forces, random years, colours, or generic names and avoid having a human figure of any kind as a logo.

Comments are closed.