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Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job (and vice-versa)

If you can’t view the slideshow, click here

Yesterday most of the uni-verse — and, it seemed, a good chunk of the sports world in general — was talking about the uniform you see above.

My original thought was to leave this news for the Ticker (a particularly tempting option given that one of my new interns was compiling today’s Ticker anyway — more on that later). Then I thought, “No, everyone’s talking about it, so I should say something about it.”

But the more I thought about what I’d say, the more I realized (a) it was mostly stuff I’d said before about other designs and (b) it made my head hurt.

I don’t like it when things make my head hurt, but I especially don’t like it when Uni Watch makes my head hurt. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens, and lately it’s been happening a lot. Yesterday it kinda kicked into overdrive.

I can’t take the stupid.

But the stupid keeps coming — in waves, in oceans. The fact that so much of it is utterly predictable doesn’t make it any less depressing (quite the opposite, actually). I can’t keep up with it; I don’t want to keep up with it.

Covering stuff like this isn’t why I created Uni Watch. Covering stuff like this isn’t why I became a writer.

So instead I’ve decided to talk about The Matrix.

I assume most of you have seen The Matrix. It means many things to many people: Some people see it as a religious allegory, others as philosophical commentary, others as just an action movie, and so on. For me, I’ve always found the story’s basic framework — i.e., that the reality we see is a combination of an illusion and a narcotic, all carefully orchestrated to keep us complacent and distract us from seeing the bastards who are pulling the strings — to be a pretty good metaphor for modern life. TV is the matrix; celebrity gossip is the matrix; technology is the matrix; the stock market is the matrix; religion is the matrix; advertising and consumer culture are the matrix; politics is the matrix; wealth is the matrix; sex (or at least the way sex is packaged and commodified) is the matrix; property is the matrix; academia is the matrix; fashion is the matrix; and so on.

And yes, the sports world is definitely the matrix too — all the more so as it’s gotten more tightly enmeshed with the media and entertainment industries.

As you may recall, early in the movie Laurence Fishbourne offers Keanu Reeves two pills: a blue pill, which will return him to the blissful narcotic of the matrix, and a red pill, which will lead him “down the rabbit hole” to reality as it actually exists. In the 14-plus years that I’ve been doing Uni Watch, I have tried as much as possible to have Uni Watch be the red pill, whether by showing nuances that might otherwise go overlooked, by telling backstories that might otherwise go untold, or by pushing back against fanciful illusions and mythmaking that I think are bullshit. Most of you have been happy to go down that rabbit hole with me, and many of you have explored and uncovered further aspects of that rabbit hole that I never would have found on my own.

But there’s still so much stupid. There are days when the stupid is so huge that I can almost literally feel my brain cells dying off as a result. Yesterday was one of those days. It’s not so much that the uniform everyone was talking about yesterday is so awful (although it certainly is) — it’s more that its awfulness is predicated on so many totally bogus notions that have become so firmly entrenched in the uni-verse and in America at large.

Or to put it another way, the uniform everyone was talking about yesterday is a perfect manifestation of the matrix.

And that’s all I want to say about it today. Thanks for listening.

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On a happier note: Last night I received a remarkable email from longtime reader Clint Wrede, which speaks for itself:

Last June in a “Question Time” entry, you mentioned the influence Nicholson Baker’s novel The Mezzanine had on your own writing. I was familiar with Baker but had never read him, and your description of this book was definitely intriguing. Unfortunately, none of my local libraries — including the one where I’m a librarian myself — had a copy of this book (though they had many of Baker’s others). I picked up a cheap copy on Amazon and thoroughly enjoyed it. Like you, I identified with the narrator’s obsession with detail.

Anyway, having read it and feeling the need to keep my personal book collection to a minimum, I decided to donate it to my library, where I am the bibliographer for English language and literature. In the tiniest of gestures on my part in thanks for all you do in the field of athletics aesthetics and your other writing, I made the donation in your name, a designation semi-immortalized in the library’s catalog record for the book. Sorry for all the purple there, but what can you do about school colors?

For what it’s worth, and with my admiration,

Clint Wrede
Cedar Falls, Iowa

How amazing is that? Thanks so much, Clint — I’m humbled, seriously. And as for the purple-centric design, I’d say it’s more than counterbalanced by the school’s acronym.

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Collector’s Corner

By Brinke Guthrie

It’s not often that we kick off with a CFL item, but that’s the case with this 1971 Winnipeg Blue Bombers poster. The same seller also had an Ottawa Rough Riders poster, but that one already sold.

Here’s the rest of this week’s eBay haul:

• Check out this 1969 Rawlings NFL ad. You have to BE a pro, before you can BECOME one. Er, what?

• Ooo, an NFL gumball helmet kit in nearly perfect condition.

• Charlie Brown bobbles in SF Giants colors go for a fortune. This Chuck in Yankees pinstripes is a little more affordable, at least for the time being.

• Here are some helmet plaques for the Falcons, Brownies, and Colts.

• Nice classic look to this 1970s California Angels satin dugout jacket — made by Shain as opposed to Starter. [Kinda looks like a big space between the “g” and the “e,” no? ”” PL]

• Coupla Reds items of note: I had this Big Red Machine print by Willard Mullin. And check this photo of Gene Tenace and Pete Rose. That has to be from the 1972 World Series (which I attended!). And speaking of Rose, that’s a nice “The Battler” shirt there, Pete.

Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.

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Another new addition to the Uni Watch family: Last week I introduced you to one of my two new Ticker interns, Mike Chamernik. Today I’m happy to introduce the second one, Garrett McGrath, who’s shown above. I’m extremely happy to have him on board.

Garrett is 25, lives in Westchester (so he was able to come down for last Saturday’s Uni Watch party here in Brooklyn), and works in book publishing. He roots for the Yankees and Islanders, but I like him anyway. He’s written a few stories for the long-form journalism/essay site Narratively, and he’s also been the singer in a few punk bands. He’s probably the first applicant for any vaguely professional work gig to reference GG Allin in his cover note (and I’m probably the first prospective boss to respond positively to such a reference).

My plan is to have Garrett handle Tuesday Tickers (including the one you’re about to read), while Mike will handle Thursday Tickers (including the one that will run two days from now), and I’ll continue to handle Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, although those arrangements are flexible and subject to change. I also hope Garrett and Mike will both assume larger roles on the site as time goes on.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, please welcome Garrett to the Uni Watch family and enjoy his first Ticker.

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Baseball News: Oliver Kodner shared his Cardinals rally towel that he got at Busch Stadium during the World Series and noticed how the lettering doesn’t exactly match the cap logo. … Brad Eckensberger attended the Black Lips concert last night where the band showed their Braves devotion.

NFL News: The Grater Heads were happy with the Bears’ victory last night. … The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that the Bears wouldn’t be wearing their orange jersey on MNF (from Robert Kleisch). … ’Skins owner Dan Snyder has a customized ’Skins basketball court at his house. … The Indianapolis Colts kept Reggie Wayne’s seat on the team plane to Houston open by putting his jersey over it (from Brinke Guthrie).

College Football News: The Minnesota Gophers will be wearing a stars and stripes helmet decal this weekend. Seems pretty tame compared to what Northwestern has going on. … The Wyoming Cowboys are wearing all white for their game on Saturday. … ASU will go maroon/white/white vs. Utah. … Jake Wallace pointed out that the Georgia Southern Eagles are wearing seriously old-school throwbacks this weekend. … Stanford will retire John Elway’s number on Thursday. … Student Ryan Rittenhouse will receive a reward from Purdue for his black helmet design that was used this past Saturday.

Hockey News: Leo Strawn sent us a first Uni Watch look at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game logo. … POTUS Obama hosted the Blackhawks at the White House yesterday and got an outdated jersey with the Reebok logo instead of the wordmark. … The WMU hockey team will go camo this weekend.

Soccer News: Patrick Fleming pointed out that neither team wore a home kit in the Football Association of Ireland Challenge Cup championship game on Sunday. Winners Sligo wore their white away kit and Drogheda debuted a new design. After the match, Drogheda’s Philip Hand tweeted a picture of his runner-up medal that had Sligo spelled incorrectly as Silgo. … In the 2013 Japanese League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Final against Kashiwa Reysol, the Urawa Red Diamonds put the game details on the front of their red shirt (from Thomas Fiers).

Basketball News: Paulie Sumner found that Duke players will be wearing custom LeBron 11 and KD VI shoes this season. … Michigan State will introduce two new uniforms for this season. … Both David Petroff and Mike Eidelbes sent in pictures of the Sanford Sports Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Wisconsin and St. John’s open the Division 1 season at the retro arena on Friday.

Grab Bag: My fellow Americans, have you ever wondered what the most popular brand from your state is? … Interesting article about how Carhartt became fashionable (from Tommy Turner). … Adam Herbst sent in this NPR piece about Sportvision, the company who adds those colorful, on-screen graphics to live sports events. I wonder if the company will ever bring FoxTrax back.

Comments (135)

    Much larger map:


    I still can’t make out Rhode Island and Delaware, and I don’t recognize Hawaii’s brand. Saks for Alabama? I associate it with New York City.

    Saks for Alabama? I associate it with New York City.

    That one’s a puzzler, but I think it’s just a simple mistake.

    Saks Fifth Avenue was bought by the Birmingham-based Proffitt’s Inc. in 1998. That’s probably what the mapmakers were thinking about, but they moved their corporate headquarters to NYC in 2007. They do have one Saks Fifth Avenue store in Alabama, but surely there’s a better fit for this map.

    If only I would read further:

    A few of the states are hard to make out. New Jersey is Campbell’s, New Hampshire is Timberland, Vermont is Ben & Jerry’s, Rhode Island is Hasbro, Delaware is DuPont, and Hawaii is Hawaiian Airlines.

    (Sorry for the double post. I thought of this just as I hit the submit button, of course!)

    No sports leagues represented? You’d think the NFL logo would fit pretty well inside of Ohio.

    Or Smithfield Ham? But I can imagine all sorts of metrics by which AOL might indeed trump NG.

    However, surely on all of those metrics, the NRA would trump any for-profit brand in terms of national popularity or brand identification. Heck, probably in terms of revenue too!

    I’ve been following link for years, so it’s great to see something like it get a nod here.

    PS GE is headquartered in CT. I don’t know that it’s associated with the state so much, like Ben & Jerry’s or LLBean, which are really from their New England state. (Or Gillette, which is on a big and popular stadium).

    The Bears uni article isn’t entirely accurate.

    Since the Bears have designated the blue throwback as their third jersey, that means the orange alt cannot be worn at any time this season. Also, it’s apparently permanently mothballed, which is good news for traditionalists.

    Update on the FAI cup medal typo: The missplelling was on every one of both the winners and runners up medals. Apparently they’re going to replace all the medals with ones with the correct spelling although if I had one I think I would rather keep the defective one.


    Personally I would prefer the analogy to “Ghost in the Shell”, the inspiration for the Wachowski siblings opus to societys dystopia. But you are correct (as if you cared if anyone told you that) in your assessment.

    What we are seeing now and in the college game specifically is an “anything goes program” when it comes to perceived patriotism and obvious causes. Marketing programs targeted around a youth market are shamelessly (a marketers wet dream) driven by uniform companies whose subtle message is… why wear one set of “traditional” team uniforms when you can wear ten at ten times the price.

    I have spent most of my career in marketing… I don’t have too big a problem with bad designs, commercials et al. – we see it everyday in our culture. Same for good intentions gone bad – Hey I work in D.C. we call that concept – tuesdays.

    However I must admit I cannot abide companies, cities, people, sports teams that wrap themselves up in the flag under the pretext of “caring” for our soldiers, fighting cancer, or standing up for texting in traffic with your toenails.

    A small donation goes to them (sorta) whilst an even larger donation goes into the coffers of the manufacturer, just another revenue stream created for your entertainment by Underweararmour and Nika revolution.

    A PR stunt is a PR stunt.

    Good point. But for me, the worst thing about the NW uni is that it shows the colors of the flag literally running. Remember all those “These Colors Don’t Run” bumper stickers after 9/11? Apparently, NW is celebrating Al-Qaeda’s victory.

    It definitely looked like a blood-spatter effect, until I looked closer at the blue side. Now it just looks like someone tried to play a game in the uniform before the ink was dry.

    I can’t imagine any service people feeling honored to have a mid-level football school honor them by wearing ugly uniforms. Wouldn’t Under Armor cutting a huge check to that foundation do more for it?

    Wouldn’t that best show of patriotism be something in the way of the displays of the flag and volunteer service shown, such as what happened following the attacks on 9/11? No one wore stupid, one time uniforms, the players just allowed someone to run out on the field with a flag, the television broadcasts showed the playing of the national anthem and everyone yelled a whole hell of a lot louder after it was done?

    In short, no, wouldn’t Under Armor cutting a huge check to that foundation would not do more for it.

    In defense of the ugliness, these aesthetic atrocities do allow broadcaster and the news media to plug organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project, which a check and a press release from Under Armour wouldn’t.

    Also, from the organization’s point of view, while big checks from corporations are extremely helpful, smaller, but steadier contributions from individuals are more important to the organization’s sustainability.

    I meant to add, these awful, awful jerseys will be auctioned off after the game. As people with fundraising experience can tell you, people are more likely to donate when they can see tangible value (or the chance for a tangible value, like a raffle).

    Ah, the old “awareness” trick. Which, as Komen at al demonstrate, is inexhaustible. If the question is, Are our servicemembers, veterans, and their families adequately cared for? The answer will, at some point, be “yes,” and we could move on to supporting other, more needful issues. But if the question is, Has “awareness” of the issue been maximized? Then the answer is always no, there is undoubtedly some person who is not at this very moment thinking about the troops, so we need more money to try to reach him.

    It’s a racket, and the thing is, ends don’t justify means. Rather, means are inherent in ends – ends dictate the means to them – and so the use of improper means indicates that one is pursuing an improper end.

    Or, to get off the philosophical high horse, if the point really is to raise “awareness” of the Wounded Warrior Project, why isn’t the group’s link featured instead of all the generic flag imagery? The WWP logo is featured only on the one element of the uniform least likely to be seen by the public – the undershirt. Which pretty conclusively demonstrates that raising public awareness of WWP is not an intended purpose of the uni design.

    why isn’t the group’s excellent, distinctive logo featured instead of all the generic flag imagery?

    Not to be glib, but there’s no such thing as altruism. We tend to do the most good when we can get something of value out beyond simply doing good. For people who donate to their NPR stations, it’s a chance to feel like they’re helping sustain their favorite shows AND a Kojo Nnamdi Show lunch tote. For Under Armour, it’s the chance to raise money through an auction AND putting their own touch on the Northwestern uniform.

    Again, with the glibness, but that’s just how we raise money in this country – create a balance between personal gains and self-congratulations.

    Do not mock link link!

    If we assume that NW’s intent was to wrap itself in the flag, not to promote any actual charitable third party, then the fact that it literally wrapped itself in the flag while not including any promotion of a charitable third party makes rational sense. The design decisions evident in the uniform are nonsensical if we assume that charitable promotion of a third party was an intended purpose of the uniform.

    Either NW really intended to create awareness of and public investment in WWP, and these uniforms are complete failures – betrayals, even, of their purpose – of NW simply didn’t have the noble motives suggested.

    For Under Armour, it’s the chance to raise money through an auction

    But aren’t we presuming that these uniforms will somehow raise an especially large amount of money via an auction, larger than regular game-worn uniforms? Do we know that to be the case?

    But aren’t we presuming that these uniforms will somehow raise an especially large amount of money via an auction, larger than regular game-worn uniforms? Do we know that to be the case?

    We don’t, and we really don’t have any controls to make a good case either way. But again, nobody does anything good out of the pure goodness of the heart – the best we can hope for is good done out of greed or branding with minimal bullshit.

    Paul’s disdain for the tributes/colors being plastered on the uniforms is well documented and for the most part, is right on. But I think Paul can do better reporting the other side of the story, namely the organizations that allow their name/symbol/color to be portrayed on the team uniforms. I think it’s pretty obvious breast cancer groups are all in favor of the NFL doing the pink movement so I don’t think we need to ask them for their opinion if there’s “too much pink” in the NFL. The whole Skins watch is a good example of Paul doing a nice job of reporting both sides and trying to find facts.

    But what about the camouflage movement for November? Can we get word from military leaders in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines on their thoughts and feelings on this? Can we get word from White House on their thoughts for the misuse of the flag (if Obama can comment on the Redskins issue, he can comment on the use of flags). I know we have a lot of veterans here who say they don’t like the use of camo since it’s their entity but we also have a lot of veterans who say they don’t mind or even support that teams dress up like GI soldiers.

    I’m not in the military (simply a civilian in a military workplace) and I don’t really like the use of camo on the uniforms simply for aesthetic reasons. But if a sport league has the government’s blessing or each branch of the military’s blessing to use their specially designed camo, then that’s that. I can now only criticize the government/military leaders for allowing them to have football players dress up like soldiers and not saying “Stop this uniform shenanigans! This is flag desecration and your uniforms are besmirching all that the military represents!”

    I’m suggesting that the criticism be spread evenly between uniform manufacturers/the league/organization sponsoring the uniform shenanigans. Basically, why isn’t the military getting any flak for this GI Joevember month as well? I’d direct the criticism to the military leadership that allows this to happen instead of the actual veterans, whose opinions are so widely varied anyway.

    But what about the camouflage movement for November? Can we get word from military leaders in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines on their thoughts and feelings on this?

    Not “leaders,” I’ll grant you, but:

    Yeah, a lot of varied responses there. I think it takes one political figure (maybe someone from the Joint Chiefs of Staff) to issue a message to the biggest offender (NCAA) and say something along the lines of “While I appreciate your enthusiasm for showing your support for the military, we feel covering up your uniforms with our camouflage patterns is not the best approach. Please consider advertisements around the stadium and on television to be military-oriented and offer websites/phone numbers that people can donate to in honor of our veterans who have returned from the front line and are looking to make a living in our country.”

    But nobody is saying that and the military leadership is staying silent on this issue. This silence on their part seems to me they consent to sports leagues using camo on their uniforms. If that’s the case, then they deserve to be criticized on the same level as the uniform/merch manufacturers.

    Obama made some comments about the use of the American flag. For one such example, see this link about wearing the miniature American flag lapel pin:

    And yet, what is that on link?

    Interesting to survey the lapels in link of the five living presidents from 2009. Note that the two presidents who are wartime veterans don’t feel obliged to wear the flag on their chests.

    Also, note President Bush’s link. That morning is the, forgive me, ground zero of today’s culture of look-at-me patriotic symbolism. That day is the dividing line between a time when patriotism was a measure of actions – like serving in uniform or in elected office – and today, when patriotism is a measure of how prominently one displays certain symbols or how often one recites certain words.

    Lapel pins are okay according to the US Flag Code (4 USC § 8j), but “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.”.

    I’m no lawyer, but my basic US Government classes have me believing that US Code is the the fancy way of saying “Law”. So are all of these manufacturers and, by extension the schools, breaking the law?

    US Code for Respect of the Flag: link

    The U.S. Code is a specific statutory scheme promulgated by Congress. It is, technically speaking, one part of “the law.”

    However, the Flag Code is really more of a suggestion/set of rules for decorum as it flies directly in the face of the First Amendment.

    I believe Paul has explored this in the past, although I don’t have any links.

    Interestingly enough, Paul, it appears as if the ‘innocent, little’ segment of the sporting world that you chose, years ago, to dedicate your time and energies on… has become an industry.

    And that’s not an indictment on you at all. What was somewhat ‘innocent’ for all of us growing up has now become ‘business.’

    For me, it was noticing the tequila sunrise Astros’ uniforms and immediately becoming a fan. Or, being completely enthralled when Rod Woodson-led Purdue came out after warmups in the ’86 Old Oaken Bucket game with OLD GOLD jerseys**! All the while, appreciating the Lakers, or Celtics, et al, for their uniform traditions … as well as noticing how the ABA, or USFL did the little things much different and on a grand scale.

    I think we can all feel your pain to some degree. That innocent, little hobby that we all know and love … not only has been discovered, but soiled in the process. As a PR/Marketing professional, the wool isn’t pulled over my eyes. Let’s just hope this trend passes and the marketing clowns move onto their next rodeo.

    **Interesting fact, a few weeks before the Bucket game, Purdue coach Leon Burtnett asked his players for $12 each to do something ‘special.’ How about that?! The players PAID for their jerseys, so they could keep them afterwards! Fast forward to today …

    Compelling analysis. I’d argue that it’s more than the simple “it became an industry” thing. I think it’s more about the intersection – the matrix, if you will – of at least three larger trends.

    First is the merchandising of player uniforms to the general public. Uniforms used to be meant for players to wear. Now they’re meant for fans to buy; the players wear them essentially to advertise the merchandise for sale. The purpose of uniforms has changed, and since design is about serving a thing’s purpose, so has uni design.

    Second is post-industrial consolidation of commerce. In sector after sector, monopolies, duopolies, or tight oligarchies have come to dominate branded distribution at a national or even global level. Turns out that uniform manufacture is no different in this regard than cell-phone manufacture. Not only has supply consolidated, but on the demand side, leagues have adopted monopoly contract models where one manufacturer supplies all teams under a single contract, rather than each team contracting for its own uniforms. Again, a model we see across the economy.

    Third is the radical materialism of our culture generally. Vast areas of life that used to be subject to standards of morality or communitarian obligation are now unmoored from any ethic beyond individual preference or monetary value. Seventy years ago, if a team wanted to signal its patriotism, it might done a red-white-and-blue sleeve patch, or a black armband, or pass the hat to raise money. Anything more ostentatious was gauche, undecorous, even anti-patriotic. Restraint and modesty being, at the time, values that governed behavior. Today, anything less than dressing up in pretend soldier clothes or a flag-themed clown suit doesn’t go far enough and signals insufficient love of country.

    What’s interesting to me is that on all three trends, Paul stands on the culturally and economically conservative side of the issue. Small-c philosophical conservative, that is.

    Mother Jones or some other like-minded periodical had a cartoon on the cover a few years ago showing the crowd at a ball game standing and singing, and in their midst was a lone dissenter: Uncle Sam.

    Wow. Great lede item today. Not sure if I want to call it a rant, but whatever it was, it was beautiful. There is so much bad/stupid/look at us there, it is impossible to start. So I will give the reason why I hate these unis the most. I hate them because of the mentality they induce. That fucking ‘Mercia mentality where you have to love them because, hey, look, ‘Merica! If I say I hate these jerseys in some public place, internet based or not, I will without question get the “What? You hate soldiers?” or “You don’t support the Wounded Warrior project?”. It all feels so forced and contrived. Don’t even get me started on those fucking phrases and words all over the uni either.

    I appreciate the military and soldiers and the whole deal. For the most part, these guys are bad-asses. But can’t we take this military dick out of our mouths? Or at least just suck on the tip, not take the whole shaft and choke ourselves on it?

    Why does everything come back to supporting the military? It’s all we do now. Can’t I just buy a war bond anymore? I wish I could just buy a fucking war bond and show my support that way, so when I say I hate these rags these “i’m like a warrior because I play football” kids are wearing, and someone says I’m a commie because I hate a uniform that is shitting on my county’s flag, I can take out my war bond and shove it in his face so fast he will spill his Naty Ice all over himself.

    There are so many other professions that also go in to shaping and supporting this country. Teachers, police, fire, doctors, engineers, community volunteers, the guy who sells me my Jack Daniels at the state store, fucking garbage men. Our society can’t run without these people either. I understand that the military members sacrifice so much. Their families sacrifice just as much as well. I know, I have family and friends in the military. I also know that some of these guys are cunts. But you know what, I’ll still but them a beer if we are in the same bar, but can’t I watch a football game without all the ‘Merica over everything? Not all soldiers are heros, Not all heros are soldiers.

    Hah! War bonds. How quaint. I mean, the whole notion of asking the public to pay for a war. Anyway, reminds me of a true story from WWI, back when there was a huge public panic about the presence of German-Americans in America. (German being the most common ancestry among Americans, but never mind.) Anyway, somewhere in the Midwest, a politically ambitious prosecutor gets a tip that a number of German immigrant farmers have pictures of the Kaiser and his family hanging in their homes. So the prosecutor rounds up police and a posse, busts down doors in the middle of the night, and hauls all the men to county lockup. Next morning, the prosecutor takes the men en masse to the courthouse to press all kinds of charges for disloyalty to make an example (and make his own name as a defender of Americanism in time of war, natch). The men protest that their families honor the Kaiser because he’s the one who changed German law to permit them to leave and come to America, but that they’re all fully behind the war effort. Several name their own sons who enlisted and were right then on their way to Europe to fight. Another fishes into his pocket and pulls out a book of stamps indicating his weekly purchase of war bonds. Turns out he’s put every spare penny he has into war bonds; his life savings have gone to support America’s war effort. The other men also pull their stamp books out of their pockets to show their own war bond purchases.

    So the judge asks the prosecutor to show everyone how many war bonds he’s purchased. The prosecutor sputters about improper procedure and whatnot, because of course he hasn’t invested a single penny to support the war effort.

    The judge summarily dismissed all charges, released the men with an apology, and enjoined the prosecutor against any further action against the local German-American farmers.

    You know, some people complain that this site both considers sports uniforms and uses sports uniforms as a point of departure for cultural and political observations. Or rants. Me, I love it. Greta, Mike V, Scotty, Arr Scott, Eltee, Terrible Hum and many others have made today’s Uni-Watch comments section a marvelous place to visit. Happens lots of other days, too.

    In this particular space, Mike V and Scott have nailed it as far as this former professor of military history is concerned. I do think that Scott is uncharacteristically incorrect when he says that Germany has been the home source of more immigrants to the US than any other country. I believe Great Britain — England, Scotland, Wales — owns that distinction. As a loyal Fenian, I don’t calculate Ulster “Scots-Irish” emigrants within the Great Britain category.

    According to the Census (link), 15.2% claim predominantly German ancestry, 11.9% claim UK (English, Scottish, Welsh, and, to be generous, Scots-Irish), 10.8 claim Irish (or 12.3% if we give Scots-Irish to Ireland), and 8.8% claim African roots. Twice as many American Indians as Scottish, Dutch, Norwegian, or Scots-Irish Americans. English-Americans like my dad’s side of the family like to think of themselves as America’s silent ethnic plurality, but really it’s the Germans.

    FWIW. I was surprised to learn this about German-Americans a couple of years ago. Who knew?

    Quick question… On Monday nights and Wednesday nights, are we directing ticker entries to Mike or Garrett, or are they going to the same uniwatching account?

    I actually like the Bears’ orange tops and don’t get the uproar over it. However, I’m not a fan of Northwestern’s new alternate uni. Unless I saw those pics, I wouldn’t have known it was Northwestern! No purple anywhere!

    What about Boston College wearing the same uniforms in white last year? Was the grey in Northwestern’s the sraw that broke the camel’s back?


    I used to have a theory that teams/schools with no real legacy in their particular sport were the ones that fell victim to uniform madness. Teams that were percieved as having long periods of domination never felt the need to trick everything up. Now, it seems, no one is above ruining their uniforms. When Nebraska went BFBS that about did it for me. All that is a long way of saying I’ve never been truly offended by a uniform until now. Before it was just sadness, now I’ve finally seen a uniform that just crosses the line for me. Northwestern should be ashamed.

    …and seriously, what does Northwestern have to do with the wounded warrior project?

    According to, “Northwestern is selling the jersey for $75, but then only donating 10% of the money, which means that $7.50 will actually make it to the Wounded Warrior foundation.”

    West Point and Annapolis should march on Evanston and kick the AD’s ass.

    Great story about the Nicholson Baker book.

    I bought it as well after it was recommended here (on the Kindle store so I can’t pass it along except to my wife). Very unconventional story but a great read.

    Both of my shoelaces broke the day after I read it and I had to go to the drugstore two buildings over to replace them. Totally freaked me out.

    Wow – what an entry today! We got a reference to The Matrix, G.G. Allin (oof), a new intern intro, and an awesome book donation!

    I’m 100% with you, Mr. Lukas. Now that these “special” uniforms are everywhere, what’s so special about them? I suppose it’s somewhat appropriate, considering the generation wearing the uniforms. Sadly, this will likely be the way of the uni-world from now on. The pursuit of the dirty dollar trumps tradition. At least my college football rooting interest (USC) hasn’t caved to the pressure, and I think that makes them “special.” Anyway, that’s not the main point of my comment. I just wanted to say that posts like today’s are what keep me coming back to uni-watch on a (mostly) daily basis. America is kinda F’d up right now, at least Uni Watch is still awesome.

    Semi-random thought: What if the growth of Uni Watch has facilitated the proliferation of Uni travesties? i.e. If we drew more attention to uniforms, have the manufacturers responded, looking for another niche to exploit? Or would all these terrible “special” unis have happened on their own? Not talking shit, just asking an honest question..

    What if the growth of Uni Watch has facilitated the proliferation of Uni travesties?

    While I wouldn’t want to claim credit/blame/etc. exclusively for Uni Watch, I do think that the greater awareness of the uni-verse, which has been heightened by media projects like Uni Watch, has definitely led to the expansion of the stupid.

    Basically, the whole pie has gotten bigger, including the slice that I like and the many slices I don’t like. And yeah, Uni Watch has had a role in that.

    You can’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. As a creative professional in promotional marketing and advertising, it was all leading to this anyway. Just like the Christmas season creeping up earlier and earlier each year, it’s a way to get folks to buy more stuff. The United States creates content now. We don’t really build or make anything anymore. The only way to keep the economy afloat is for consumers to keep on buying stuff. (even bad uniforms, or pink helmets designed to help worthy causes instead of just donating the money used to create that crap in the first place)

    Burghfan, the next day’s strip was a panel-for-panel repeat — except that in the end, Charlie Brown wondered why McCovey couldn’t have hit the (62 Series-ending line drive) two feet higher.

    Yes, Charlie Brown is a Giants fan.

    As a Northwestern fan and season ticket holder for football I am ashamed. These are indeed clown costumes. UA and NU (I am looking right at you Jim Phillips and Pat Fitzgerald) have completely crossed the line into the realm of the patently fucking absurd. What’s next? Supporting the “troops” and pushing back against the “War on Christmas” by having the team wear Santa Claus inspired uni’s? Why not? It seems like that wouldn’t be a stretch now. How about supporting Breast Cancer awareness by forgoing pink ribbons and having “boobies” on the uni’s instead? Wow! What 18 year old wouldn’t like that? Perhaps UA and Hooters can get together to “support” American Breasts! We heart boobs! Team America and all of that shit. Can we combine this uni and tits? Add some apple pie as well. Fuck yeah! Seriously, if Pat Ryan raised his voice this shit would stop in a heartbeat. And so, we now have the clown costumes.

    There are a lot of ways to support a worthy cause without become a laughingstock (the NU stars and stripes logo they use once is a year around Labor Day is just fine). NU – you’ve done yourself proud. You’re now the most notable uni “don’t” in the history of Chicago sports. The ’76 White Sox with their shorts? Double-knit polyester and sansabelt pants? Move over, baby, because you can put this one the board…YES!


    Hang in there Paul.

    If the pink helmets worn by Oregon didn’t jump the shark, these uniforms did and perhaps, just perhaps, athletic directors will finally come to the realization that it’s impossible to bend the spoon and just simply think, “there is no spoon” and get back to putting a team on the field and not a fashion show.

    So the Reggie Wayne jersey holding the seat on the team plane is neat, but one question: The article says, and he was, there at the game in Houston for the coin toss. So he still went to Houston, but he didn’t fly on the team plane? Did they make him fly on his own dime since he is on IR?

    Since Wayne had no reason to be with the team for any of the pregame meetings or walkthroughs, I imagine it was his choice to fly into Houston on his own.

    Given the uniform silliness out there, and some of the other issues Paul has been dealing with lately (legal threats, snooping, etc.), I was kind of waiting for the day Paul would kind of snap. Apparently today was that day.

    Anyhow, here’s something I’ve been ruminating on, in a similar vein: Smart People vs. Successful People.

    It’s a cliché that “‘C’ students run the world.” As a guy who was a 4.0 student with a 33 on the ACTs, I hate that, but I’ve found it to be true. Lately, I’ve been trying to take the time to understand why.

    I’ve come to a conclusion that there’s a pretty clear delineation between Smart People and Successful People. Some Smart People are very successful and some Successful People are very smart. But a lot of the time, they don’t mix.

    The problem is, Smart People want to be correct. Successful People, however, don’t necessarily care about being correct, they just want to be successful.

    Smart People believe in things like truth, fairness and justice. Successful People believe in winning, being popular, what works best and the bottom line.

    I work with databases for a living. In the two primary “day” jobs I’ve had since 2007, I’ve very much had to be a Smart Person. I like being a Smart Person — “being wrong” is one of the worst feelings I can have, but to get the database stuff right, I have to be close to 100 percent correct all the time.

    Unfortunately, my services are/were often either sold by salespeople or utilized by fundraisers, for whom 30 percent success, like in baseball, is pretty good. These people are used to being wrong and are to the point where they don’t necessarily care about being correct. They’re not Smart People. They’re Successful People, though.

    Pretty consistently, I’ve found that these are people who have trouble writing coherent sentences, using any form of technology or understanding in the least what I do. And what’s interesting is, the more successful they are, the less smart they seem.

    Yet, in both organizations, I’ve found that the majority of the executive leadership, including the “top dog,” was a salesperson, and usually one who is/was the most successful. They’re not Smart People. They’re Successful People.

    It’s worth noting that Successful People aren’t even always lowercase-‘s’ successful. They are often so blind to what’s right and wrong in the pursuit of success that they rely more on confidence and feeling than knowledge, and the results are sometimes problematic and predictably poor to those of us who think analytically. But one thing I’ve found out about Successful People: They don’t necessarily care about being right or wrong, and sometimes they’ll even purposely make things more wrong. What they care about is being successful, and if “more wrong” leads to greater success, they don’t care – they’ll do it.

    Sometimes, it’s not even success that matters to Successful People. It’s just looking Successful, at whatever cost to others’ and what’s right. Of course, that drives us Smart People nuts.

    Clearly, this is what we deal with here at UniWatch. A lot of these uniforms, like Northwestern’s, are very wrong for a lot of reasons. They cause Smart People like you, Paul, to snap. But the companies don’t care. Do they sell? Yes. Successful People then say, “Make ’em and make more like ’em.”

    I’ve decided I’m OK with being a Smart Person and not necessarily a Successful Person. And Paul, you’re one of the smartest Smart People I know. Let the Successful People run off and enjoy their success. We Smart People can take enjoyment in saying, “We know better, we ‘get it’, and you’ll never have the smarts we have. So wear your loud costume that proclaims how ‘not smart’ you are and we’ll be able to laugh at how you’ll never have what we have.”

    Hope that helps.

    I think big, thought-through thoughts aren’t easy to express, “simple” or easy, nor are they made without some proof. So yeah, long posts are kind of my forte.

    But, tying it back to above, ever notice how the adjective “Executive,” as in “Executive Summary,” is often applied to things that are shorter than the full, thought-out version? It’s supposedly because “executives” are busy and have a lot to think about … but maybe it’s also, in part, because they need to be spoken to in shorter, easier-to-understand ways? And again, I’m probably not the Executive type, so … yeah.

    In all honesty, this will probably help me sleep at night. I’ve long thought along the same lines, but have never been able to properly put it into words as you have.

    Thank you.

    Wow…what a perfect description! Not only does it apply to this discussion, but it also perfectly sums up my own professional situation. I won’t get into it here, as it’s nowhere near on topic, but thank you for excellent insight.

    Paul has often made the comparison between uniforms (especially in football) and super hero costumes. Every time I see that Northwestern thing, I can’t help but think of 90s Marvel character Citizen V.


    It really is headed that way, isn’t it?

    Back to the rabbit hole.

    I’m currently in the deathly hallows that the demographic of the college student, but I’ve been reading Uni Watch since I was a sophomore in high school, taking in a fair amount of the “red pill,” which always seemed to make more sense to me. Upon seeing the images of the Northwestern uniform, one of my roommates showed everyone in the room, repeating “dude this uni is soooooo dope” more times than I would like to recall. I wanted to tell him why that uniform is not “soooooo dope,” but I instead happily decided to abstain from the conversation because, well, what’s the point?

    No no, the uniforms are, indeed, soooooooo dope. At least as far as a part of their constituents are concerned.

    The thing is, there are two types of college football fans – older fans who use college football to connect to their own youth, and younger fans who need to be hooked so that they will later use college football to connect to their own youth. So much of sports is about nostalgia. Yet you can’t sell nostalgia without getting people interested while they’re still young.

    So it’s vital that the game’s aesthetics remain relevant to kids who dress in those horrible Affliction t-shirts. But then, that’s going to piss off the people who pay for the executive suites and donate money to the university and ask their doctors if they’re right for Cialis – they’re the people who make college football so profitable, and those people tend to believe things were perfect when they were exactly 18 years old.

    I don’t know if either side is right or wrong, but there will always be a constant struggle between the short term “soooo dope” and the long term desire for things to stay constant and recognizable.

    This is precisely why I can understand why teams love alternate jerseys, BFBS, whiteouts, etc., etc.

    People may say it’s all about Nike or the other big companies making a quick buck (and it certainly is a huge part), but fans like them, too. Definitely not all fans, but there are a lot of kids, teens, and yes, even adults, who like alternates, too.

    I think the other part is that colleges have apparently decided that there’s no brand value with with their younger demographic and older fans don’t jump to other colleges. What have we said before, that pro teams are less likely to do this, because they have plenty invested in their identities.

    Not to intrude on the spirited debate/discussion on flag desecration (which as a Army officer I really am over at this point. It has jumped the shark and as many have said looks like crap most of the time anyways.) But also as a sneakerhead I wanted to point out that the top right shoe in the Duke basketball picture is actually the Lebron X Elite and the bottom one is the Lebron 11.


    I’ve been reading Uni-Watch for what seems like forever and have been a member for probably 3 years now. As one of your biggest supporters it upsets me immensely when the “uni-verse” is covered on the by someone else. What gives? Why is Rovell allowed to cover your subject area? And if it’s free reign would they let you write a piece in his wheelhouse like business and sports. I’d much rather read your perspective on some of the overlapping business matters than his payola pieces that he writes.

    I appreciate the response Paul. I whole heartedly agree with everything you wrote in the lede and the College Football Uni Arms race has gotten out of control to the point where, even as a uni news junkie I cant bring myself to care. I support you and your work and I’d hate to see you undercut by someone like Darren if you had a real interest in writing on the topic. I don’t know anything about Darren other than his work but I don’t like the way the guy does business.

    Toronto mayor Rob Ford shows up for his press conference today (the one where he apologizes for smoking crack without saying it specifically) wearing an NFL tie.

    One that has the Houston Oilers logo on it.

    The brewers announced via Facebook that on 6/29 they will be giving away bobbleheads of Aoki in a Japanese brewers uniform. In the past, foreign language bobble giveaways have always coincided with the team wearing the same uniform that day.

    I’ve never been a part of my team re-locating, so here is a quick question for Garrett McGrath.
    Paul stated you are a Islanders fan. Will you still cheer for them when they move to Brooklyn?

    I decided to reply after the game, and I couldn’t be in a better mood after the bad beating at the hands of the Caps.

    I am excited about the move for the franchise simply because of the change of scenery.

    As for the Barclays Center itself, it wasn’t designed for hockey. I went to the preseason Isles game there and I wasn’t impressed. My friend wrote a piece for the Classical about our visit: link. It sums up the experience pretty well. It is a shame that Charles Wang (the owner) couldn’t work out a deal to keep them on the island, but his efforts have been in vain.

    I am already cringing at the thought of what they are going to do to the Isles logo (we discussed this at the Uni Watch gathering on Saturday).

    I will still cheer for them after the move but I will miss the Coliseum. It is a great atmosphere to watch hockey in and I can’t wait to go as many times as I can before it closes.

    As a veteran of the military, I don’t typically care much about the camo/flag uniforms. In fact, I’ve always kinda figured most folks realized they were lame. But, I’ve never outright hated them. Until now.

    The first thing that stood out to me on the NW uniform is that it appears there is blood running down the stripes of the flag. I was very fortunate not to be wounded or killed during my tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I was personal friends with many that weren’t so lucky. I was literally infuriated when I saw the blood streaming on the uniforms.

    Maybe UA didn’t intend for it to look like blood, but it does. At least to me. I think about the men, the good men, I served with that suffered injuries, and then I think about some asshole in an office somewhere deciding that would look “cool” on a football uniform. It really, really pisses me off.

    I will never purchase an Under Armour product as long as I live. I know they donate to the Wounded Warrior Project, but approving a design like that is ridiculous and hypocritical. All in the name of making a buck.

    As I said, I’ve never really paid much attention to the camo/flag uniforms, but this crossed a line with me. I didn’t think I could ever feel disrespected from looking at a uniform. I was wrong.

    Didn’t see this posted yet, and I’m trying to find the address for ticker submissions – although I have to believe somebody’s gotten to it before me. The Baltimore Sun weighs in on the Northwestern uniform:


    I’ve been w/o a computer & out of it in general, therefore I’ve no idea if you mentioned it. So, just in the event YOU missed it-Nicholson Baker did a great phoner on NPR w/Michael Feldman on Whad’Ya Know? air date 10.27.13

    Not sure if this will get checked a day later but I noticed the Reggie Wayne “jersey” isn’t his authentic/game jersey. You’d think the Colts would have one laying around instead of a “replica” or whatever level of jersey that is.

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