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Adidas Gives Birth to a One-Pound Baby Ball


I think it’s no secret at this point that I am largely indifferent and therefore clueless when it comes to the world’s most popular sport. I say this with neither pride nor shame — it’s simply a fact.

But there’s one aspect of soccer that fascinates me: ball design. So I was intrigued when the ball for next year’s World Cup was unveiled (complete with its own Twitter feed) last night.

I read a few articles about the new ball last night and was particularly intrigued by the following passages (yes, I’m mixing text from more than one source, but whatever):

Made up of six interlocking panels (compared to the eight panels of the 2010 World Cup’s Jabulani, or the 32 of the iconic 1970 World Cup Telstar), the [new ball] features a swirling multi-color ribbon design that is intended to evoke the Brazilian tradition of wish bracelets. …

[B]oth the design and the structure of the World Cup ball have been changed with each iteration [since 2002], often prompting debate among players, especially goalkeepers and dead ball specialists, about how the alterations affect the consistency and flight of the ball. …

When designing the ball, [Adidas] wanted to improve on many of the criticisms they faced during the 2010 World Cup, where their Jabulani ball was widely panned. Dickson Etuhu of Nigeria called the Jabulani “the worst ball ever.”

Basically, the Jabulani had very few seams and was really lightweight, so it moved around like a knuckleball. Players didn’t like it. Goalies understandably hated it.

So Adidas basically needed to design a super-light ball … that didn’t fly all over the place. To try and solve the problem, the company shaped the panels much like a series of interconnected boomerangs. This allows them to have only six panels but still have plenty of seams, hopefully ensuring that the ball flies truer.

I find it really interesting that the construction of a soccer ball can vary so widely, and that these variations can have such a big effect on the ball’s performance. I mean, a baseball is basically a baseball, right? There may be minor variations between leagues (Japanese pitchers, e.g., have often said that the seams on the MLB ball are higher — or lower, I forget — than those on a Japanese ball), but it’s still made from two interlocking pieces of horsehide and a familiar seam pattern. Same goes for a football. True, the WNBA and D-League use different balls than the NBA, but those balls aren’t that different from the NBA ball.

But soccer balls are all over the map, especially for the World Cup (that’s a great interactive page, by the way — click around on it). All you soccer folks out there: Why so much variation? Is it because soccer is such an international sport, with each country or region having its own ball-design style? Is it just a matter of corporate branding? Something else?

Hmmmm. I’ve run lots of “Redesign [some team]” contests on ESPN. Should I do a “Redesign the soccer ball”?

When I think of a soccer ball, I still instinctively think of the classic black-and white design based on a truncated icosahedron. I mention this for two reasons: (1) Although the old design is my mental default, I really like all the different designs that have emerged over the years. If I were a soccer fan, maybe I’d think, “Oh, that’s too newfangled” or “That’s not what a soccer ball’s supposed to look like.” But since I have no emotional stake in the sport, I’m free to appreciate the designs on a more abstract level. (2) It’s fun to say, “truncated icosahedron.”

But you know what’s even more fun than that? This video showing the production of the new ball. Fascinating stuff, and totally worth three minutes of your time:

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Uni Watch Exclusive! Big changes possibly afoot for Notre Dame: A little birdie from South Bend, who I happen to trust, checked in last night with some interesting news about potentially big doings in the land of the golden dome. Here’s what the birdie had to say:

I don’t have all the details yet, but it appears that Notre Dame will announce major renovations and changes to Notre Dame Stadium. In May, the University officially announced a study into the feasibility of creating a multi-use stadium facility. The results of the study and the next steps will apparently be announced next month. My contacts who’ve seen some of the possibilities are very impressed. It appears that the stadium will add field turf, a jumbotron of some type, and some luxury seating and student-use areas beyond football.

The Notre Dame old guard are losing their minds over the possibility of a jumbotron and plastic field. The school permanently destroyed the stadium in 1996-97, when they built the modified version around the historic stadium. The modified version is trashy modern and really doesn’t represent the university well. They need to get this right, or else they will lose a ton of support forever.

Also: Notre Dame signed a 10-year deal with Adidas in 2005, and rumors are rampant that school officials met with Adidas on Tuesday to tell them that the university will not be continuing the relationship. I have not confirmed if that means immediate termination or non-renewal. Nike is mentioned as the likely replacement.

None of this is confirmed yet, so take that for what it’s worth.

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NHL Stadium Series, continued: Two more NHL teams unveiled their Stadium Series uniforms yesterday — the Ducks and the Kings. Chris Creamer provided very good coverage here.

The Ducks design seems like a good exemplar of something I’ve thought for some time now: Orange is great — maybe even unparalleled — as an accent color, but it’s too strong to serve as a uniform’s base color.

It might surprise you to hear me say this (I’m a little surprised myself), but I really like the Kings design. The black/gray color scheme with white accents totally works, and the crown crest seems a little less cartoonish in this context. Have a feeling I won’t like the raised hitch in the hip areas of the hemline, but I’ll wait until I see it on the ice before deciding for sure.

Incidentally, once the rest of the Stadium Series designs have been revealed, Phil will be collaborating with some of our most hockey-obsessive readers to provide a fuller assessment of them. Looking forward to that.

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ESPN reminder: In case you missed yesterday, my annual Uni Watch Holiday Gift Guide is up now on ESPN.

Blazers contest reminder: Remember, I’m soliciting entries for a Blazers redesign contest on ESPN. The deadline is Dec. 9, and the results will be published on ESPN soon after that. I look forward to seeing your designs.

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Baseball News: Ian Kinsler will wear No. 3 with the Tigers (from Andrew Cosentino). … Salty and his longest-ever NOB are headed to Miami. Man, his name is gonna look brutal on that orange jersey. … Cort McMurray was recently traveling in London, where he saw an Andy Warhol baseball jersey. “Also, a stranger in Manchester expressed horror at the Dolphins’ ‘poncey’ orange and aqua color scheme,” says Cort. “I tried to explain that there was nothing poncey about it at all, and anyway, the team has pretty much replaced orange with navy blue, but they’d already lost interest. England — it’s quite a place.” … Reprinted from last night’s comments: Last season the Royals used this BP cap, but now they appear to have added a road version with a gray front panel (from Mike O’Neal). … Check out the oddly rotated Orioles cap logo on this photo of Bobby Grich. Was that white panel must sewn on sideways or what? (Good find by Joe Moulden.) … The triple-A Charlotte Knights have a new stadium with a new name, and Tyler Maun isn’t happy about it. “Not only is ‘Ballpark’ a perfectly acceptable word without the capitalized ‘P’ in the middle [This is known as intercapping. ”” PL], but the team’s own site dedicated to the new grounds has it spelled without the extra capitalization. Maybe it’s just a continuation of the MiLB epidemic of pushing two words together and capitalizing both of them. Or maybe it’s because there’s already another BB&T Ballpark.” … Too late for my Uni Watch Gift Guide column, but you could do a lot worse than this merch from the Negro Leagues Museum (thanks, Phil). ”¦ The new summer collegiate Futures League franchise in Worcester, Mass., will be known as the Worcester Bravehearts. Here are the uniforms and logos.

NFL News: This is weird: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was holding his mouthguard during a play on Monday night. “Maybe the snap came earlier than expected,” speculates Scott Morell. I watched that game, and there was a play when the center snapped the ball early, but it’s impossible to know if the photo is from that play. … Here’s the logo for the Super Bowl XLIX host committee. … I think we all know by now that there’s no such thing as a concussion-proof football helmet, but here’s another article emphasizing that point (from Tommy Turner).

College Football News: Ohio State has extended its contract with Nike through 2018 (thanks, Phil). … Missouri fans will get to vote on the team’s bowl game uniform (from Patrick Sokolowski). … Arizona State going gold-maroon-gold this weekend (from Marc Altieri). … Here’s Cincinnati’s helmet for this weekend. … Joe Duider bought one of those game-used NIU GI Joe jerseys from a few weeks ago. “Everything on it is sublimated except the Adidas logo in the collar, which is screened and almost rubbery,” he says. “Even the sizing tag is sublimated. Both the star- and stripe-patterned yokes are made from different materials than the much shinier sleeves, so the sheens don’t match when viewed up close. The jerseys seem double-layered but fully bonded — the inner white side is completely uncolored but can’t move independently at all from the outer layer.”

Hockey News: The ECHL and Orlando Solar Bears are inviting fans to design the 2015 ECHL All-Star jersey (thanks, Phil). … Here’s one guy’s picks for defunct but sorely missed NHL jerseys (Phil again). … The Islanders’ fisherman mascot has been moonlighting with the Hingham (Mass.) Harbormen (from Joe Giza).

Soccer News: How do the 2014 World Cup teams get their nicknames? This article offers up some insights (thanks, Phil). … The new Sacramento Republic FC kit may have leaked (from Kyle Burkholder). … Thomas Fiers tried his hand at making a set of mimimalist logos for the J-League teams. … “Arjen Robben wore tights in Bayern Munich’s win against BTSV, which isn’t that uncommon,” says Tanner Welch. “But when he scored the opening goal, he went in for a knee slide celebration, only to be rebuked by the pitch, leaving him with torn knees.” Additional photos here. … Here’s a commercial for the new Brazil kit. “Not too shabby,” says Yusuke Toyoda.

Basketball News: You know things are out of hand when the night before the NBA All-Star Game has its own sponsor and logo. … Hmmm, did you know you could buy cycling jerseys based on NBA jersey designs? “That company is apparently the only authorized seller of NBA-licensed cycling gear,” says Paul Kos. “Pretty neat!” … Are Duke’s black uniforms cursed? Maybe (thanks, Phil).

Grab Bag: Canada is test-driving a few logos in advance of the country’s 150th anniversary. “All horrible!” says David Kuruc. ”¦ The L.A. Kiss — that’s the arena football team owned by the members of Kiss — unveiled their new jerseys yesterday (from Greg Keklak). ”¦ Several months old but still interesting: “Project Active Armor is working to encourage law enforcement officers to wear ballistic vests at all times during their shifts, not just occasionally,” says James Ashby. “To raise that awareness, some members wear their vests during athletic events, like the Quantico triathlon.” ”¦ Here’s another high school football team with COB, or cross on back. That’s Detroit Loyola High from Michigan. Also, note the old English “D” on the back of the helmet — is that the Tigers’ jersey logo? Close, but not quite (from Chad Hensley).

Comments (126)

    What, you don’t find it odd that a country that’s supposedly celebrating a sesquincentenary as a sovereign nation still treats the queen of another country as its head of state? Not so independent, is it?

    Not at all. We respect the Monarchy for granting us independence from England. We pay our respects, and we’re not ashamed of our origins.

    Until the 1940s, we still had the Queen as our head-of-state with our Governor-General being the Queen’s representative in Canada. However, that position has evolved so that the Queen is no longer the head-of-state. Essentially, if the government collapsed and anarchy ruled in the Great White North, the Queen could intervene to restore order.

    Speaking of odd, you guys have the Illuminati on your bills. Don’cha think it’s time to remove that? The year on the bottom of the pyramid – MDCCLXXVI – actually commemorates the founding of the Illuminati on May 1, 1776, not the country’s founding, and it’s featured on the US Seal. Seems odd, no?

    If you want to talk about unnecessary symbols on money, that might be the first place to start casting stones.

    TH, I once used that line in a newspaper piece I wrote, and I was flooded by letters-to-the-editor from shockingly angry Canadian expats explaining that it’s not the queen of England on Canadian money. That lady on the bills? She’s the queen of Canada:


    Canada has its own monarchy. If tomorrow a republican revolution broke out in Britain and overthrew the House of Windsor, Elizabeth would still be the queen of the Great White North.

    “still treats the queen of another country as its head of state” === No. The Queen is head of state of the UK, AND the head of state of Canada (and various other countries).

    One person – head of state of a number of countries.

    A simple concept.

    Jeez, Canadians have no sense of humor. We should send Lorne Michaels up there to teach them some basic comedy.


    Yeah, the “Queen on your money” thing is a reliable to get my Canadian friends worked up. Also works: knocking the Tragically Hip, pointing out that Thanksgiving is early because the country has less to be thankful for.

    Yeah, apparently telling a Canadian that the Queen of England is on his money has about the same effect as mentioning “President Hamilton” or “President Franklin” has on me. Only, usually it’s Americans who include Hamilton and Franklin among the presidents, most often in advertising for Presidents Day sales, which just goes to show how much dumber Americans are than Canadians.

    Would love to get the Queen of our money. Might as well go for the trifecta and also abolish the Monarchy and the Senate.

    So even the Queen is working more than one job.

    I blame Obamacare.

    (Incidentally, the best thing about a week in England with no data connection? Nary a mention of Obamacare. The worst? All the space the US media spends on Obamacare is filled with stories about something called Peaches Geldoff, and reports on paedophile pop stars.)

    Turns out, the “Thank god it’s them and not you” line *isn’t* the worst thing Bob Geldof produced.

    Well this seems like a great opportunity to point to this article about some possible and radical changes to the UK flag should Scotland’s Independence referendum pass.


    This makes me want to donate a few quid to whoever’s leading the Scottish independence movement, purely because the concept of being alive to see the UK flag change would be so historically cool. It’s been unchanged since, what, 1801?

    Which is also the main reason I’m in favor of statehood for DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, secessionist movements within existing states, Canadian provinces, or really anyone who asks. I just sort of don’t want to die having never seen a star added to the flag.

    arrScott I’m with you I think the idea of one of the most recognizable flags and symbols of a country being changed would be so cool, and knowing the Brits they’d load it up with symbolism. I’ll never forget when I was a kid I went to a Scotish festival and one of the booths had a demonstration where they overlayed the flags of St. Andrew, St. George and St. Pat to create the Union Jack. It was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen, totally blew my mind.

    Either this:


    or this:


    Would seem most plausible. I don’t think you can just replace the blue with green, since (A) it doesn’t reflect the form of the Welsh flag, as the other elements reflect the form of the other countries in the union; and (B) Irish nationalists will freak the heck out over the UK “claiming” green for its entire flag. If Wales is added, though, it has to be green, not black and gold, since the St. David’s flag has been adopted both by proponents of Welsh independence and by unsavory far-right political movements.

    Most likely of all: The UK doesn’t change its flag, because it’s the UK’s “brand” and politicians will be too chickenshit to change something as fundamental as the national flag that their predecessors changed every time any tiny bit was added or removed from the nation in the past.

    I’m a soccer fan and played when I was a kid. (I wish I had played when I was a teen and older.) My default image of a soccer ball is also the truncated icosahedron (yes, I copied and pasted those words). I think it’s generally the default design for toy makers, as well. We have some mini plastic sports balls for my 1-year-old and both of the soccer balls in the set are the truncated icosahedron.

    I don’t really care for the fancy schmancy designs that adidas and Nike have been putting out, especially for the World Cup. Clearly, they are trying to just sell more product and they can drive that by creating cool looking designs. Yes, I also believe that they are trying to create improved technological designs. But, especially with the Jabulani, they should know that the ball can’t be completely round devoid of any seems. Golfers realized ages ago that dimples on the ball improved flight and they didn’t even have the super high tech research and development programs to figure that out.

    The new soccer balls are just silliness to create sales and to put on a spherical fashion show.
    I kind of wish that they could use the truncated icosahedron for a World Cup again someday.

    The thing is, the truncated icosahedron itself was a link back in 1968 before everyone else copied it.

    I agree with your general sentiment, though the link from last year’s European Championships was a great homage to the link, which I’d argue is a better design than the iconic Telstar (MLS uses a link). The Adidas link have been consistently great (and greatly consistent) also.

    Growing up in the UK in the 90s. A fancy ball was something you saved up for and showed off to your friends once purchased. When a new ball came out I assume there was (and still is) great market demand from the legions of soccer playing children all over the world. Funnily, the Telstar design became associated more with cheap balls that were good for playing in the street but would never be used for a serious match.

    Growing up in the 80s, the link, the official ball of the Football League, was the holy grail, though I was really happy to get the link (well, the cheap replica version thereof, anyway).

    After I moved to the States, the link seemed to be the thing to have.

    Oh dear – I’m so old that this is my default image of a football.

    We played with these when I was a kid. Weighed a ton when wet, heading the ball led to concussion and a big round red mark in the centre of your forehead that lasted for days. And if you happened to head the side with the laces —- ouch!


    There was no end of complaints about the 2010 World Cup ball, which apparently had a very small sweet spot, and didn’t kick true.

    Slow, standing hand clap to Jason M (DC) for the number of times he worked the words “truncated icosahedron” into his post.

    I believe the design of a soccer ball may revolve [somewhat] around the “evolving” science behind air pressure on the panels from the inside and outside. The balls go through so much testing to ensure of spherical shape as well as “true” flight path.

    I love the design that George linked. It’s my favorite. The problem is, it is mostly associated with a volleyball in the States.

    To tell of how bad the NCAA is with soccer, Wilson is now the official ball provider for the beautiful game. Garbage.

    You know things are out of hand when the night before the NBA All-Star Game has its own sponsor and logo

    Maybe, but the night before the game is arguably bigger than the game itself, with the slam dunk and 3-point contests and the Rookie Game. The main event has always been secondary to the who made it/who got snubbed debate anyway.

    Orange can work if you have some balance to it. The Flyers have pulled it off pretty well by balansing in some white, creating an iconic look. Whoever assembled the Ducks design failed to take that balance into consideration.

    I think orange can be ok as a base color for a uniform. But it has to be done in the right shade. Unfortunately, some orange teams are not currently doing that. The Orioles and SF Giants are ok when they wear an alternate orange jersey. On the other side, the Marlins and Flyers are not.

    I don’t know what it is about the current Flyers jerseys. Their shade of orange has seemed to be so much brighter than it used to be in the 80s and 90s. Back then, I thought they looked great. Now, they hurt my eyes. I’m glad I’m not a Flyers or Marlins fan.
    That Ducks jersey isn’t all that great, either.

    I like the Dolphins orange and wish they featured it more in their unis. I also really like the Broncos orange, especially when coupled with the lighter blue of their old set. Not so much a fan of the dark blue. Da Bears rock the orange as well.

    Great point. Gotta love the Broncos’ old Orange Crush unis! Their new orange version seems a bit bolder than back in the 80s and early 90s.

    Maybe the advent of HDTV has something to do with the Philadelphia NHL team’ decision to turn up the orange of their sweaters? It certainly looked more muted in the decades before they trotted those uni’s out.

    While the Denver NFL team in orange jerseys at home is ‘right’, the execution seems wrong.
    Maybe it’s the navy blue…maybe it’s the goofy side panels and collar…I can’t say for certain what it is about the set, but it makes me wish they’d go navy-over-white instead and leave the orange as an accent, like PL said.

    Soccer, in a lot of ways is like college football. It is about the feal and personal preference of the ball. In soccer tournements and leagues there is a standard league or tournement ball. For international games the home team chooses the ball and must tell the visiting team and supply them will game balls a few days before the match to elimiate (or help eliminate) gamesmenship. Though it still happens by switching out and using a different ball.

    Is it because soccer is such an international sport, with each country or region having its own ball-design style?

    Nope, corporate giants like Adidas and Nike design their own ways, most likely for trademarking purposes. Growing up it was always the 32 panel Telstar (alternate black and white hexagonal panels) that was used in kickarounds down the park, if you had a Tango style designed ball you were fancy. But those things would get very heavy in the rain. Nowadays it’s all heat sealed waterproof foam interiors so it remains light and retains shape in all conditions. The only rules I believe is the size of the ball, 11-a-side requires a size 5 ball which is a circumference of about 27—28 in

    Evolution I guess…

    I remember in 2010, a great deal of humor came from the makers of the Jabulani (sp) as the roundest ball ever.

    Ball “evolution” is all about branding and merchandising, but you do get the occasional gems like link, which wouldn’t work in any tournament except the African Cup of Nations.

    The guy in the orange Ducks jersey looks like an overstuffed sausage. Maybe need to go a size or two up…

    I have not confirmed if that means immediate termination or non-renewal.

    Notre Dame has already placed their Adidas orders for the 2014-2015 academic year. So if this is true, it’s the latter.

    Bold prediction – Under Armour outbids Nike, immediately launches “Catholic Pride” unis with crucifixes and rosary motifs on helmets and jerseys.

    I’m with you there on being ignorant on soccer Paul.

    As far as the Super Bowl 49 committee–shouldn’t it be IL, and not XLIX? Just sayin’. Might be time to retire the Roman numerals. I know the WWE considered doing that a few years ago with WrestleMania, but have stuck by it at least until next year.

    If I recall, in Roman numerals the subtractive construction is only done with nearby classes of numbers/letters. Thus I can be subtracted from V or X but not L or C. X, however, can be subtracted from L or C. I think that’s how it works.

    On the other hand, this is the numbering system of a dead language that cannot be used for any useful mathematical functions, right down to simple arithmetic, so I’m not convinced we should care what the rules are.

    Then again, I may just be saying this to justify rendering the 99th championship game as Super Bowl ILL.

    Perhaps after Super Bowl L, it will be time to switch to either link or link numerals? I can’t be the only one who thinks Super Bowl Nu Alpha or Ia-U As would be pretty awesome?

    I don’t think the NFL should quit on the Roman numerals. They should keep going with it. For continuity. To edu-ma-cate our society a little bit (even though it is archaic).

    That kings jersey is fantastic. And as a notre dame fan, i say good riddance to adidas. But still scared of the swoosh.

    Eh, Nike knows Notre Dame’s bread is buttered with “tradition” and little else. I predict they won’t mess with ND the same way they don’t mess with Alabama.

    I was told Nike failed to get the contact back in the 90s in part because they were fairly up front about how they would get the swoosh front-and-center in everything, and dictate design and style. Adidas was a bit more modest (and were also amenable to sharing the deal with Champion, who had the Notre Dame contract for close to 50 years).

    The Old School NHL Jerseys page is nice… too bad they used a replica North Stars jersey with serious quality-control issues – namely, a backwards star, and poorly-done numbers. Compare to link.

    Also, disappointed that they picked the 77-78 version of the Barons jersey for an honorable mention, rather than the 76-77 version that had the sleeve numbers link. That’s one element the Blue Jackets really ought to revive.

    Seals uniforms can be found, yes, but the specific version picked – with the original C-version of the logo – is a little harder to track down.

    Way down below several other, later jerseys in my search results – though I used the period-accurate “1967 California Seals” for my search, since they weren’t “Golden” until Charlie O. Finley bought them in 1970.

    My thoughts exactly, quiet seattle, re: the Northstars. And ditto with Rob S. on the Barons jersey. Saw this article yesterday and thought it was awful.


    What is “metallic red” and why do minor league teams feel it’s necessary upon every logo unveiling to tell us that they are the first team to ever use that color?

    For me growing up in Ireland the black and white truncated icosahedron was always a bit of a stupid cliche. No league used them and no sport stores sold them. In some ways it stood for American backwardness to the sport as the only place you would ever see them was in American television and movies. Beyond that, the only people who seemed to make ones that looked like the old Telstar tended to be the really cheap brands.

    ND and Nike?

    why not go with Under Armor?

    Anyway, switching manufacturers reminds me of a rumor I heard 10 years ago when Auburn was looking to switch from Russel Athletic. A buddy told me that Auburn was looking at New Balance? Is there any truth to that? Did my friend mix up Under Armor and New Balance? Has NB ever tried to get in the team sport biz?

    Not only did they look at New Balance, link in 2005! Though that was just for the shoes – they’d worn Russel jerseys with Nike cleats at the time. And while they switched to Under Armour the following season, UA didn’t make shoes then so they kept wearing NB shoes.

    Also, several schools – Central Michigan, Kent State and Wyoming, maybe a couple of others – wore New Balance unis in the 00s, but I’m not aware of any team that does right now.

    Probably because Under Armor supports Maryland which is dumping the ACC which is ND’s new conference for everything but football and hockey for the B1G.
    Not that they couldn’t make a deal but it would be awkward for ND joining the ACC while somewhat associating with a group that has ties to the school that just left.

    It’s all about the money. Under Armor stuff is pretty cool too. ACC is fortunate they are getting ND anyway in my opinion

    In the early days of the O’s white panel hat the bird was often cut off of an old all black hat, and then attached to a white panel hat.


    This hat shows the inside zig zag stitch from a regular sewing machine and not an embroidery machine. I’m sure these logos were hand placed on the hat by people who were clueless about sports and design. That is why the logo angle is different on many of them.

    The North Stars jersey appears to have an inverted 6 masquerading as a 9. The drop shadow effect is inverted. BTW I agree 100% on the beauty of the original California Seals jersey, though I think the green version was great also.

    Your comparison of changing soccer balls vs baseballs is interesting. Just imagine if baseball was a truly international sport, and each nation supplied their own balls? Now, imagine that instead of two-piece cowhide, some used kangaroo, others used pigskin, horsehide, or just a variety of different polymers and synthetics.

    Now, Imagine if the ball could be heat bonded instead of stitched and then imagine if you could put as many panels as you wish.

    And we haven’t even gotten inside the covering yet.

    What a different game we’d have! No-hittes everywhere.

    Yeah yeah, no *hitters*. But if you think there’s a National League / American league stigma around pitchers now, just imagine if each team used their own suppliers – Rawlings vs Wilson vs Champion vs. Mizuno… the metricians would explode.


    Lot of ball kvetching in the last two World Cups. Seemed to me at the time that the problem wasn’t that how balls behaved, but that the new ball designs were introduced so late that teams had very little time to get used to them. Imagine if MLB introduced a new low-seam ball the day before the World Series. The solution ought to be Adidas introduces its new ball design prior to the regional qualifying tournaments, and then just changes colors/deco for the finals. Let the players get used to the ball’s performance in qualifying play, and they’ll have no excuse to complain about the ball in the big show.

    The only problem is, only Adidas teams would use Adidas balls in World Cup Qualifying. You could try to use Adidas balls for training and games but if Nike just gave your federation tens of millions of dollars to outfit you, there’s going to be some nasty repercussions if you don’t.


    Not sure if this was posted before, but Peyton Manning was interviewed by Ron Burgundy on Sportscenter, and he was wearing a screenprinted jersey, with some horrendously shoddy screenprinting.


    nike and adidas have drastically different theories when it comes to balls. nike has sold essentially the same ball since 2000. aside from graphics, the average person wouldnt be able to tell the difference between the geo merlin (2000) and the current incyte – there have only been very minor panel design changes and different coatings on the panels. the geo merlin was ‘sticky’ (which was great for control), the aerow(2004) added a little more pop and unpredictability in flight (but nothing close to the balloon-like fevernova of the same era), and for a player there is no difference among the balls from the omni (2008) era to present, with the tracer having a slightly different feel when held. there is zero material difference among the balls of the past 4 seasons (tracer, seitiro, maxim, incyte).
    nike makes a ball that is consistent and flies true. their strategy to sell them is to sponsor the major world leagues (epl, la liga, serie a and national teams). these are the balls that will be on tv week in and week out. messi is adidas’s golden boy, but he’s scoring his goals (other than ucl) with a nike ball.
    adidas, on the other hand, relies on dramatic design changes to get the novelty effect. everyone wanted to play with the jabulani when it first came out – i believe there was even a segment on the cbs evening news. their balls are unpredictable in flight and end up doing a lot of weird things. they feel lighter and fly like balloons. why? to increase goal scoring. strikers love adidas balls, so television viewers love adidas balls. they made a slight departure with the tango 12, which is a wonderful ball with a retro look that flies true and has a consistent feel. it must not have sold well, so back to the radical design they went.
    it’s important to note that although not every ball adidas sells from now until the introduction of the euro 2016 ball will be the $160 brazuca, the entire range of adidas balls will share the same general graphics for the next three years. adidas needs to push something out on the world cup stage that will drive sales from top to bottom.

    In a situation like that, I think the “P” in Ballpark pretty much has to be capitalized like that. A lower case “P” would drop below the base of the signage. I think that’s the only reason they do it, especially since it’s spelled “Ballpark” on the official site.

    Probably should have done it in all caps then. I can see the sign from my office, and aesthetically, it looks nice, if a little bland.

    Soccer is not the only sport to have a World Cup ball controversy. 2011 Rugby World Cup had quite a stink, particularly because the two best goal kickers in the world performed poorly.


    In the case of RWC, they gave teams access to the ball way ahead of time. I’m suspicious, however, they were lazy and didn’t bother to actually practice with them. It also should be noted that later on Johnny Wilkinson blamed his crap kicking on the wind factors inside a roofed stadium as well, so his credibility is a bit suspect.

    I also remember back when Italy used to use Mitre rugby balls there was a similar fuss. The claim was that they were stubbier than the Gilbert ones and hence not as aerodynamic when kicked out of the hand. Mostly I think it was just a lazy excuse for teams that underperformed against the minnows.

    There was also the infamous luminous yellow Adidas ball used by New Zealand that was described as “a pig and a lemon”.

    Two times in three days we have Upper Peninsula (of Michigan) HS football uniforms, absolutely love it. In the Detroit Loyola photo, the team wearing the blue helmet is Ishpeming (Tom Izzo once coached basketball there, for a season). Their nickname, Hematites. FEAR THE ROCK! Two time defending state champions.

    BTW, Loyola is a private Catholic school, so no problem with the cross.

    Then Monday, we had a photos of the Menominee Maroons (named for the color). The were in the Grand Rapids Christian photos. Photos 5&6.

    U.P. POWER!!!!

    Jerry, glad to see your UP spirit. But let me ask you: Is UP spirit (in your mind) a sub-set of Michigan spirit? Would you be OK with an annexation of the UP by Wisconsin?

    /s/ Dairy State Irredentist Popular Front

    Since I live in Wisconsin. No way. Michigan all the way. There are still many that prefer it becomes the 51st state. And we will keep Iron Mountain, since Tom Izzo is from IM.

    The Ducks and Kings are missing a great opportunity to revive the two most infamous jerseys in NHL history, Darkwing Duck vs. Burger King


    Burger King will be worn by the Manchester Monarchs in the AHL during their Los Angeles Kings night.

    So there’s that. Which would have been infinitely better than the garbage unveiled yesterday.

    Oh noooooo, forgot all about that! HAHAHA Wouldn’t that be quite the eyesore?

    Gotta agree, I surprisingly like the Kings’ gray jersey! Which is saying something considering I’ve hated every Kings jersey since they dropped the old purple/gold colors.


    Interesting – I went looking for photos of the one time they met and found that Fox Sports West is airing that very game TONIGHT!


    “Wednesday December 4, 7:30 p.m.
    -The January 27, 1996 game that featured both teams unveiling their oft-maligned third jerseys. It wasn’t the Kings’ 5-4 win that endured; it was the sight of Wayne Gretzky sporting the “Burger King” look. Gretzky, Dmitri Khristich, Jari Kurri, Marty McSorley and John Slaney scored for L.A. in the win. The game will also air on December 24 at 3:00 p.m. FOX and the teams are asking fans to use the hashtag #JerseyClassic when discussing this game on social media.”

    Paul (et al),

    Please tell me I’m not the only one still mourning the loss of Page 2, any Uni Watch related info/articles is relegated to the depths of “Sportsnation” which is buried under the “Radio & More” tab on the extreme right side of the screen. I thought it was bad enough when Page 2 was on yet another obscure extreme right tab with the unneeded EspnW. THEN Page 2 was mothballed in favor a even less needed X Games section!! WTF?! X Games occur once a fucking year and Page 2 was a living/breathing ever changing site on a daily basis.

    Point being, when clicking on the gift guide tab, I saw the article had 0 Facebook comments, I know the sheer # of comments decreased when Facebook became required, but still. Anyway, Sportsnation is a decent substitute for Page 2 but is almost too hard to dig up on


    After Fandom went away I could never find/follow links to Paul’s work. It’s easier to just type his name in the search bar. Never knew he was under the Sportsnation tab now, but even now looking at it I can’t find anything for Lukas or Uniwatch.

    I’m NOT always under SportsNation. Depends on the piece — if it’s NFL-related, it’s posted on the NFL page. College hoops? Posted on the college hoops page. Cross-sports stuff, and “fun” stuff like the gift guide, end up on SportsNation.

    Bottom line: Follow my RSS feed and/or my Twitter feed — it’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss anything.

    Adidas’ contract with Michigan is up in 2015 as well, if memory serves. Though I wouldn’t put it past our dopey AD to reup, the common consensus seems to be Nike is the preferred option by pretty much everyone else. The Adidas relationship has pretty much been a rollercoaster.

    So if Adidas loses two of its biggest schools in 2015, things could get really interesting.

    So if Adidas loses two of its biggest schools in 2015, things could get really interesting.

    Interesting how? Seriously, what do you mean by that? Or do you just mean “That would really suck for Adidas”?

    I can’t imagine it having a huge affect on Adidas’ bottom line (sure, it would be felt, but not a company killer). Adidas has a huge presence world wide, and I don’t think the loss of their college uniforms would be debilitating. Since I’m sure they would continue to sell collegiate merchandise.

    The latter. It’s a PR hit, that’s for sure. Adidas losing arguably their two biggest college apparel contracts (Michigan’s is particularly lucrative, even if it isn’t a lot in terms of the bigger picture/bottom line) isn’t nothing.

    Frankly, I hope it happens. Adidas’ work for Michigan has been pretty much subpar at best. Not to mention the fact all of their merchandise is far more flimsy and less durable than Nike. All of my old Nike gear from the 90s is still going strong a thousand washes later. The more expensive Adidas stuff from the last few years? Threadbare.

    I can’t imagine Nike will be able to/will want to match the contract, but Adidas hasn’t held up their end of the bargain, top to bottom.

    I don’t see adidas really caring about college athletics much at all. All of their NCAA-legal gear sucks with creativity and simpleness — they suck at both!

    It is nearly impossible to find allowable gear from adidas to wear in any and all sports. Along with that, you get the SAME look for most teams who wear adidas. Maybe the Stripes are too concerned with their other partnerships (NBA, MLS, Germany, World Cup, and major clubs/teams across the world).

    Why should they be concerned with a few minor universities when they can have whole countries that are then bought worldwide?

    I don’t even care about hockey but those defunct team jerseys are all gorgeous. However, I never knew the Nordiques logo was an igloo. 35 years and I’ve always thought it was an elephant.

    As long as we’re talking about Canadian money, I’ll mention the redesign of the $5 bill. The new $5 features a scene from space, which is cool, but from a sports uniform perspective it means we’ve lost the old “kids playing hockey” design featuring an bit of the Roch Carrier “Hockey Sweater” story



    Growing up in the Buffalo area in the 90s in the good old days (for the US not so much Buffalo) we used to call Canadian money “funny money” because of the look and the almost 2-1 conversion rate. Now that I’ve grown up, I think Canadian currency is designed in a fun way. It’s appropriate but doesn’t take itself too seriously and feel stuffy like American currency does. The new 5 looks great, and hell they even made a glow in the dark coin! How cool is that


    Ehh… I miss the Scenes of Canada (1969-79) series. It had just that right amount of funkiness to its design. Though there was always something about the rendering of link that weirded me out.

    I carry a Canadian $5 bill in my wallet, just because it’s nice to see kids playing pond hockey on money.

    Last bit of hockey news: the Calgary Hitmen had their annual Teddy Bear Toss on Sunday, collecting 26000 bears. As is their custom, they wore special Christmas themed jerseys for the event


    From a family in sports good. Talked with the SE regional rep from Adidas and Nd won’t renew Adidas contract. Under armour is making a very strong push coming from top UA reps

    I’ve played football for most of my life, and as some of the previous commentators have already noted, different ball designs are purely branding decisions. With that being said, I really do like Adidas and Nike balls because they fly pretty well and have decent sweet spots. The Jabulani ball was terrible for striking unless you figured out where the sweet spot was and could it every single time. I’m curious to see how well the Brazuca performs in the World Cup and can’t wait to get my hands on one.

    Paul, I’m intrigued by your interest in soccer ball design.

    I’ve long been struck by use of the black-and-white truncated icosahedron as a shorthand for “soccer”, even among leagues and teams that don’t use that style ball. MLS is a particular example of this – the ball link bears no resemblance to the one they use link. It doesn’t even match the one they used back in 1996.

    The first MLS championship game featured the TI on link but not link.

    And to this day, MLS clubs link. Maybe it’s expected at this point, or maybe it’s a hedge against ball design changing.

    MLS probably uses it because it is the “traditional” American thoughts of what a soccer ball looks like.

    Nonetheless, MLS needs a redesign of their logo because it is VERY amateurish and WordArt-ish. Redesign contest Paul?

    Love the R Wilson mouthguard pic. Reminds an old tennis player of when players would serve with 2 or 3 balls in hand and play out the point with the remaining 1 or 2 still in hand.

    Hey – you New York/New Jersey folks – I don’t normally post this type of thing, but there is a need for a foster home for a cat – he’s had surgery and needs special care. This is really the only place I regularly post and interact where there are folks that live in that area. You can read all about the cat on his facebook page. (Not spamming you folks, really….I just feel really badly for the cat.)


    Uni-related: I sure can’t wait to see what the Cubs plan to do with their logos!

    Is there any chance we could get a look at the timeline for the ND stadium renovations? Im a student at ND and Im just curious how I will be affected both from a construction standpoint and from a will I see the first game in the new stadium standpoint. Also these photos have been around for a couple of years now… link

    The renovations would have to be approved by the Board of Trustees, whom I believe meet either this month or next. Once approved, I’m sure they will publish a timeline.

    I’ve been to Notre Dame Stadium twice. As a University of Oklahoma alum, both times where when OU played ND. The most recent visit happening this year. I came away loving ND’s stadium. The lack of a jumbotron and wall to wall advertising was a nice change, and a real throwback to an era that’s gone from the college football landscape. It felt special, and seemed to fit Notre Dame.

    It saddens me to think that the one program in the country, that still has visual roots to their beginning, is going to change and adopt ‘modern’ college football.

    Hey Paul, you don’t give me any credit for providing the Lantern article and graph that showed the benefits of Ohio State extending their contract with Nike? C’mon man

    If you posted in the comments, odds are you won’t get credit in the ticker……just something I’ve noticed……No big whoop.

    God Bless Chicago, and I e-mailed him the link to that article by The Lantern. I’m 99% sure Phil Hecken doesn’t know of the small school newspaper from Ohio State that I shoot photos for.

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