Skip to content

Wrapping Up the Costumes of a Sport That’s Not a Sport


By Phil Hecken

Well, the “sport” of Olympic Figure Skating wrapped up yesterday (with a bunch of non-counting exhibitions), and we can all continue the debate on whether it’s an actual “sport” (if you’re unfamiliar with what I’m referring to, please see Paul’s column from this past Wednesday). Or not.

I tried to stay out of the “is a sport/not a sport” debate (in fact, my only comment on the subject asked whether golfers or tennis players played a sport, since they technically didn’t wear uniforms), but you guys had plenty to say. My opinion (not that you wanted it): it’s a “sport” in the loosest sense of the word, but I agree that Olympic skaters should be required to wear uniforms. Period.

Aside from the fact that skaters are the only Olympians who don’t wear uniforms, it’s rife with controversy, due to the fact that scoring is all bullshit completely subjective. Scandals have abounded for years.

But would I want it “out” of the Olympics? No way. Just as long as we can recognize that it basically deserves its own category and none of the rules that apply to other “sports” apply there. If you want to remove some actual sports from the Olympics, how about we get rid of all this “team” (insert discipline) bullshit? There are about 40 medals given out for say, short track speedskating (and regular speedskating). I don’t think we need to add more medals for teams doing it too. Same thing with all the other sports that have individual and team competitions. You get one or the other.

Anyway, now that I’ve said my piece, I’m pleased to bring you our NCAA Football “5 & 1” decider, Catherine Ryan, who I’d originally tapped to do a group of “5 & 1’s” for the Olympic Skating, as Jim Vilk did in 2010 (scroll way down). But Catherine has a bit of a different riff on that. It’s her take on the costumes of the Olympic Figure Skating. So, without anymore of my yakkin’…here’s Miss Ryan:

. . . . .

Figure Skating Wrap-Up
By Catherine Ryan

Hello, Uni-Watchers! I have emerged from hibernation to bring to you a round-up of the best and the worst “uniforms” we saw during the figure skating portion of this year’s Winter Olympics! Now, I have drifted from the typical 5-and-1 format and will just be sharing and commenting on the notable costumes from each category of events.

When I was given this assignment, I enlisted the help of a friend of mine who runs the popular gymnastics blog, Gymnastics Truth Teller. The readership of the blog follows figure skating as well and I thought their input would be both valuable and entertaining. If you are interested in gymnastics or are looking to get into a new sport, I suggest you stop by and enjoy the snark at GTT.

. . .

img004-sm - 200


Actual Podium: (1) Russia, (2) Russia, (3) Germany

Let’s start with the Italian pair. Matteo Guarise looks like a model of a body without skin that you would find in a science lab. The colors clash and I don’t understand why they went with orange and dark brown. Overall, visually gross.

The German pair went in a different direction color-wise. If I told you they skated to Barbie girl, would you believe me? Well, they didn’t. But they could have.

Following in the theme of characters you would find depicted on a slot machine, one of Canada’s pairs went with this little combination. Canada’s second team went with a little burlesque number, that looked pretty cool, but also looked out of place in an ice rink.

The Americans were so non-matching that I began to think we had given up and were allowing NBC contest winners to just come in from the audience.

The event wasn’t an entire bust as the French pair, notably Vanessa James, looked gorgeous. The pair from Israel was looking pretty in purple as well.

. . .

140217121718-02-visions-of-sochi-0217-horizontal-gallery - 200

Ice Dancing

Actual Podium: (1) USA, (2) Canada, (3) Russia

A lot of people are confused about the main difference between pairs and ice dancing. To the untrained eye, they may look identical. Without getting too technical, the main difference is that ice dancing doesn’t have throws or jumps.

The Americans came in as the favorites and left as the gold medalists. Meryl Davis and Charlie White have been training together since childhood and they looked fantastic.

Spain went with a non-matching combination while Azerbaijan went with two solid colors and looked simple and clean. Canada, despite being whiny cry babies, looked gorgeous in a simple combination.

France attempted to evoke images of a fairy tale but looked ridiculous. However, they were quickly outdone by the Australian pair who managed to look even worse.

. . .

Hanyufalls0214 - 200


Actual Podium: (1) Yazuru Hanyu: Japan, (2) Patrick Chan: Canada, (3) Denis Ten: Kazakhstan

Hanyu won gold but had one of the worst costumes I have ever seen on a man. The combination of ruffles and random gems took the costume in too many different directions for me. Jorik Hendrickx of Belgium’s costume was like a bad dance recital outfit. The USA’s Jeremy Abbott had a strong and simple outfit. My favorite of the competition, which surprised me, was Italy’s Florent Amodio. It was silly, cute, fit his music, and wasn’t overdone. While Abbott’s outfit was simple and masculine, Amodio’s shows that you can have a fun/quirky outfit and still look good!

Jason Brown, of the USA, was a fashion lightning rod. His Riverdance-themed outfit gained a lot of attention and he followed it up with a busy purple number. However, it was his hair that got the most attention as he’s the only skater to rock a ponytail.

. . .



Actual Podium: (1) Adelina Sotnikova: Russia, (2) Yuna Kim: South Korea, (3) Carolina Kostner: Italy

Judging controversy aside, this event was pretty boring costume wise. Ashley Wagner, America’s sweetheart, looked the worst of the bunch. She always goes too sexy and looks fake. I hated both of her costumes.

Mao Asada of Japan looked equally as bad in a dress that made her body look deformed. Carolina Kostner, the Bronze medalist, and Yuna Kim, the Silver-but-should’ve-been-Gold medalist, looked classy and beautiful.

My favorite costume came from 15 year old Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia. How cute is this?


The Olympics have been whirlwind for me. The time difference and somewhat spotty media coverage has made following some events very difficult. If I left out any costumes you enjoyed, please leave me a note in the comments! I’d love to hear what you all think!

. . . . .

Thanks, Catherine! OK readers — let’s have it — how’d she do? And, if you still have any thoughts on whether this is a “sport” (or even desreves to be in the Olympics), now’s the time to air them. The Olympics ends today, and so too should any more talk of figure skating.

Olympic Rings line

Title Box

Lewis & Clark Uniform Design Contest

Every Sunday, we’ll have news and updates on the design contest being sponsored by Ross Clites. If you missed the introductory post on this, please click here. Last weekend, we introduced Part II which is the second article here. You can also visit the Lewis & Clark homepage for more information and updates.

I know last weekend I had hoped promised to have the designs for the first team and the voting this week, but trying to catch up with office duties and Grad School (yes, I’m finally doing my last project this semester), following a week with the flu, means those designs and voting will need to wait until next weekend. But those will be on Saturday. So, everyone be ready for those. I’ve received a nice amount of submissions for both teams so far, and today we’ll begin taking the third batch.

Here’s Ross with this week’s updates/information:

. . . . .

Let’s go ‘sploring

First and foremost, I cannot thank you all enough for the outpouring of support the league has received about this contest. It has only been two weeks and my inbox gets flooded with inquisitive minds — eager to participate — that lead with comments such as “this is so awesome what you are doing.” Guys and girls have pitched me their concepts via email and I have been blown away by the attention to detail, the pursuit for historically accuracy, and the depth of talented schemes. I feel like the sports world’s Tim Gunn: “designers… make it work.” For all of this, a million thanks.

Today, we will show you the third installment of the LCBL’s lineup, the Explorers:

uni watch explorers

This is a great time in the contest — early enough but not week one — to showcase the team that won the inaugural Corps of Discovery Cup last season. This gives us a chance to talk a little bit more about our league, beyond the strictly superficial. We feel the LCBL has the coolest trophy in collegiate summer ball; not because of its look, but because of the story it tells.

I bring this up because today’s team presents an opportunity to take your proposal one step further. If you want to come up with some sort of 2013 Champions sleeve patch, go for it. This is not required, but it might be an exciting additional challenge to some.

As for the aesthetics of the Explorers, remember to stick with the graphite. They are not red and black. Turn towards Meriwether Lewis’ famous telescope for inspiration. We have colored it red and incorporated it into a variety of our league’s branded pieces; an obvious place to start any Explorers journey. Good luck to all.

. . .

Thanks, Ross. Again — NEXT SATURDAY we’ll have the showing of the first set of uniforms for The Captains and begin voting. Ross notes:

“The vote on these submissions will run for one week. The top two, as selected by Uni Watch Nation, will continue on to a Lewis & Clark Baseball League executive board decision. These top two looks will be publicized on this site follwing weekend; not 100% sure when the ultimate winner for each team will be announced, yet. I am leaning towards a dramatic reveal of all twelve at the end of April. The two finalists will likely hate me for that.”

So thanks to all who have contributed so far, and we look forward to your continued participation. Remember:

E-mail me your submissions directly – Phil (dot) Hecken (at) Gmail (dot) Com [].

Olympic Rings line

colorize this

Colorize This!

Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.

Haven’t had this segment in a while, and well, it’s because I haven’t received any submissions. So, just one colorization today, and it’s from George Chilvers, a stalwart colorizer.

George, of course, has a story to go with his colorization. Click on image to enlarge.

. . .

tom finney colour - George Chilvers

Hi Phil””

The title “great” or “legend” is given out so readily these days to half-achieving sportsmen and women, that when someone really needs the accolade it is hard to find the correct words.

Last weekend English football lost one of its true legends when Tom Finney passed away aged 91.

He was a great player – but more than that he was a great man. He played his whole career for one club, Preston North End, and was born in a street next to the stadium, and lived his whole life in the neighbourhood. He fought in Montgomery’s Eigth Army in Egypt and later in Italy, after the War he returned to PNE to play football, but like all footballers in those days he supplemented his income by working as a plumber. The irony is that his death occurred the same weekend that it is reported that Wayne Rooney, a good player but not fit to lace Tom Finney’s boots, was being offered an obscene contract of  £300,000 a week.

Tom played 433 times for PNE and 73 times for England. He is imortalised at Preston by the road next to the stadium called Sir Tom Finney Way, one of the stands in the ground being the Tom Finney Stand, and outside the stadium is a statue of an iconic player shown here.

Great Liverpool manager Bill Shankly idolised him – and on one occasion was heard to say about a young player “He’s as good as Tom Finney”. The journalists rushed to get their pencils out. “What, Bill? You really think he’s as good as Tom Finney?” “Aye lad” was the reply. “But Tom is nearly 60 now though”.

A true legend. This is my little colourisation tribute to him. RIP Tom.


. . .

Thanks George. Wonderful colorization, as always — and sorry to hear of the loss of Tom Finney that prompted it. And a beautiful story to accompany it.

Olympic Rings line

all sport uni tweaks

Uni Tweaks Concepts

We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.

So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.

Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.

Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.

And so, lets begin:


We begin today with Taylor Stallings, with a tweak for the dearly departed Sonics:

Sonics - Taylor Stallings

Hey Phil,

My first ever uni concept, for the Sonics! Although I love their triple stripe, I eliminated it for my design. If you look, the yellow on the trims makes an “s” like their logo. Comments?

Taylor Stallings

. . .

Next up is the son of Brandon Munger who has a pretty cool helmet project for a local high school:

Firebirds - Brandon Munger

Firebirds - Brandon Munger

Firebirds - Brandon Munger Firebirds - Brandon Munger


My 9 year old son wanted to tweak the logo and football helmet for our local school—The Phoenix (New York) Firebirds. The school currently uses a “P” similar to Purdue.

He and I worked on sketches and ideas until we came up with this. He was so proud of the logo we created that I had it made into a sticker and re-purposed a NY Jets replica helmet to give him for Christmas.

He likes it so much he thinks the Arizona Cardinals should re-name themselves the Phoenix Firebirds and use this logo.

Hope you like it.

Brandon R. Munger

. . .

And we close today with Greg Shaffer with this “ArchAngels” basketball uni concept (forwarded to me by Paul, so the words are Paul’s):

ArchAngels1 - Greg Shaffer

ArchAngels2 - Greg Shaffer


It’s sort of an all-purpose tweak/concept — he thinks it could be used to rebrand any of several NBA teams.


. . .

And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.

Olympic Rings line

ticker 2

Uni Watch News Ticker:

Another small amount of ticker submissions yesterday, so old school ticker today:

~ ~ ~

We begin with Bruce Menard with this 1925 Cliff Knox Pittsburgh Pirates World Champions Season Game Worn Road Uniform w/original 50th Anniversary Patch. As Bruce says, “It’s a beauty!” … A reader who goes by Welcome Mike writes, “My brother just moved to Jupiter, Florida and found this Marlins hat at the local Target. He wanted me to share it with you.” … Visions of Topps cards from the 70’s: Found at Target yesterday. Submitter Alex Allen says, “I’m not sure what the cards inside look like or who is on them.” … When the St George Dragons played the South Sydney Rabbitoths in the 2014 NRL Charity Shield, they played in an all-red uniform, instead of the their traditional white shorts and jumper with a a red “V” (thanks to Graham Clayton). … Several readers pointed out designs from Mr. Design Junkie were floating around yesterday — I ran that same set (or designs from that set) on Uni Watch back in 2011 (scroll down). … Mitch Barbee reports Jason Heyward is still wearing his facemask. “I don’t think anyone who wore one wore one longer than a month,” he adds. … Brinke says, “See, even in the offseason, same outfit,” referring to the homemade “SF” version Jim Harbaugh is wearing. (SF in the chest not upper right, it was stuck over the Stanford S.) Also note “SF” on the iPad. … “Flag Desecration pants pay off,” notes Jonathan Daniel. … This is pretty cool: a gallery of cigarette pack footy kits (thanks to Sean Walsh). … Oregon baseball wore ‘Black Vapor’ uniforms yesterday. … Here’s a good look at the Baltimore Orioles 60th Anniversary patch (h/t to Chris Creamer). … The NC Tar Heels wore their “1982 Inspired” throwbacks yesterday vs. Wake Forest. … Controversy continue in the Olympics — yesterday a couple loser nations filed a protest against France for making their skicross unis too aerodynamic or something. … Here’s a look at THE Ohio State University’s unis for the 2014 season (via Land Grant Holy Land). … “No screengrab, unfortunately,” writes Jeremy Baker, “but Jimmy Dykes declared that the sleeved, dark gray UMass uniforms (like the ones worn in this picture against LSU) were the coolest in the nation. I guess reading player numbers isn’t cool.” … Northwestern has put their twitter handles on their shooting shirts. … UW Pacific Northwest correspondent Jeremy Brahm checks in with the following: The J-League has their annual media kickoff with each of the team’s participating in their home uniforms. This is the first year of J3, the third division and it has its own logo in this shot. The uniform that you see is for a J-League wide under-22 team that will play in J3 this year. Here are the home uniforms for the 11 regular teams. Here are the slogans of all of the teams in J1 & J2. … Bradley University has a new mascot. It’s named ‘Kaboom’ (h/t Ryan Anderson). … Auburn’s Allen Payne had to wear a NNOB blood jersey yesterday (and 2 pairs of pants), h/t to Clint Richardson. … Chelsea has introduced its away kit for next season and holy shit is it bright (h/t Conrad Burry). … Pretty sure we’ve seen this before, but check out this Cubs 1962 National League program. … They also revised it in 1969 (thanks Mike). … New Mexico hoops has a red stripe on one side of their unis. … Seton Hall wore their Astro tops Saturday vs Richmond (thanks, Alexander Tsipis). … Ooohhh. Check out the sweet stirrups on Notre Dame (nice spot by Warren Junium). Also from Warren: ND Hockey wears green against BU. “Wonder why the greens are adidas and when ND hockey usually wears Reebok sweaters,” and Helmets on bench … If you watched the end of the Duke/’cuse game yesterday, there was a bit of a kerfuffle at the end of the game involving Coach Jim Boeheim. Luckily we now know who he was necromancing. … And finally, from Jim Vilk, we have this article critiquing Olympic fashions. Says Jim, “NO WAY the Norwegian (curlers) should be on there.” I wholeheartedly agree.

Olympic Rings line

And that’s going to do it for this fine last Sunday in February (can you believe it?). Good news on the “How’d Paul do during Grand Jury Duty” front — he’s outta there, so we’ll continue with the usual schedule of Paul doing weekdays and me doing weekends. I’m sure tomorrow he’ll tell you about his “experience.”

Big thanks to Catherine and Ross. Next Saturday will be the first set of contestants for the “Captains” in the Lewis & Clark league, with voting, so be sure you check back in then — and don’t forget to submit for the third round of uniforms (the “Explorers”). Send all those directly to my e-mail. OK? OK!

The Olympics are over, and spring (meaning baseball and March Madness) is just around the corner. So all is good in the world again.

Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.


.. … ..

“My guess is that a flappier uniform would create a sort of flying squirrel effect. I think in general it’s more important to be floaty than speedy in ski jumping.”

Comments (39)

    Here’s more details on Kaboom! link

    Props to Bradley for dropping Native American imagery years ago, but when you keep the name Braves, there really aren’t any good mascot options.

    My opinion (not that you wanted it): it’s a “sport” in the loosest sense of the word, but I agree that Olympic skaters should be required to wear uniforms. Period.

    Or they could go nude, like the ancient Greeks who originally created the Olympics did.

    A sport is a sport because they wear uniforms isn’t a good argument, so I will offer up my own equally not good argument.

    Gymnasts wear uniforms, so that’s a sport, but gymnastics on ice, because they don’t wear uniforms, is not a sport…. Do they even wear shoes in gymnastics?! What about beach volleyball?! They wear practically nothing!

    The picture with the link title “Azerbaijan” is a more athletic and technical moment than….than… a lot of other stuff, ok?!

    It’s not that uniforms make it a sport, it’s that if it’s a sport Paul/Phil think they should wear uniforms.

    Goths & Metalheads typically wear black, but wearing black doesn’t make someone a Goth or Metalhead. It’s basically the same thing, really.

    OK, I’ve been busy in general lately with work (and when I haven’t, I’ve been sick), but as far as the whole “is skating a sport?” debate goes, and I’m a few days late (but I guess I could still comment on that page), but neither is the sport Paul’s guest editor highlighted link: NASCAR. Auto racing in general isn’t a sport, yet people treat it like a sport, especially redneck motorsports NASCAR. I’m as much of a car person as I am into sports, but the two just don’t mix. Additionally, if motorsports were outlawed in this country, do you know how much cheaper gas prices would be?

    ND only wears the greens for Senior Night (the last home game of the regular season); perhaps Adidas didn’t see the need to bother making a Reebok-branded green set for an annual one-off. They’ll all be Under Armour next year anyway.

    As for the baseball stirrups, they’ve worn them the last two seasons.

    She always goes too sexy and looks fake.

    Now if she came out like link…nah, I’d still disagree, but at least I’d understand where you’re coming from.

    If she came out wearing link then I’d put her in “worst of the bunch” territory.

    But even Phil would make the podium in link

    reebok is owned by adidas and adidas doesn’t make hockey gear outside of sweaters so that would be why ND wears reebok equipment. Similar as to how nike outfitted teams wear bauer, although nike no longer owns bauer the hockey equipment agreement is in place as bauer supplies nike in that event.

    Skating is the new purple? Is the beef with judged scoring? Surfing is not a sport? Freestyle skiing? Diving? Diving for frickin sake. And ski jumping! Sliding off a ramp higher than the Eiffel tower is pretty darned sporty. Sonja Henie’s Tutu! (When are the Oscars on? Next week?)

    I was late to the party in the last thread, so I’ll post some thoughts here on the “Sport vs. Not a Sport” debate:

    Some people brought up gymnastics and boxing as “sports” that have subjective judging systems an therefore would also need to be thrown out under Paul’s definition. I am not so sure.

    If you look at the scoring systems for gymnastics or boxing, they are actually pretty objective-sounding:


    In gymnastics, certain elements have to be included and are assigned a difficulty rating. Judges then dock points for whatever errors they see in completing the element. There is nothing in the language of the rules for awarding points based on artistic value.


    In boxing, it’s something similar: judges are supposed to grade the number of punches landed (according to objective criteria) and at the end of each round determine which fighter “won” the round. Again, there is still room for subjectivity here, but at least there is an attempt to build an objective standard (and of course a boxer can always take that subjectivity out of the equation by getting a knockout).

    The rules of figure skating scoring are not so objective:


    There are technical elements and degrees of difficulty (similar to gymnastics), but the subjectivity based on artistic values is right there in the language: “Judges also mark the Program Components – Skating Skills, Transitions/Linking Footwork, Performance and Execution, Composition and Choreography and finally, Interpretation and Timing.

    Nothing like that is in the rules of gymnastics or boxing. Judges might still decide to “go rogue” and award points based on their own criteria, but at least subjective artistic value is not built into the rules like it is in figure skating. Based on that I can see someone categorizing the former as legitimate sports and not figure skating (as the rules there seem more akin to competitive cheerleading or ballroom dancing).

    Why is it so important for figure skating to be a sport?
    Isn’t it more of an art form?
    Isn’t that better than sport?
    Forgive me if this has already been stated. Not only am I late, but I haven’t read much of the banter.

    “Isn’t it more of an art form?
    Isn’t that better than sport?”




    Mitch Barbee and others are forgetting about Terry Steinbach. He wore the jaw protection for at least 3 years(probably more) after taking a pitch to the face and breaking his jaw.

    I thought Gary Roenicke also had a mask/ faceguard for multiple seasons, but maybe it just seemed that way.

    Those jumbo packs are Target are what they call “repacks.” Basically just 100 mostly worthless cards from the past 20 years or so.

    I just wanted to say Brandon Munger & his son’s redesign project was the best DIY project I have ever seen on this site! Very well done! And yes, I completely agree, the Arizona Cardinals should be the Phoenix Firebirds.

    Re: UMass uniforms: The numbers are clearly visible from the court and stands, it’s just on TV they’re hard to read. (I would know. I’ve been the one guy in blue in their student section when they wore the grays at home.)

    Actually, you have to be pretty close to the court for the numbers to be visible. Maroon against dark gray don’t show up nearly as well as maroon against white. VCU’s black numbers on yellow jerseys was much easier to see from my vantage point.

    This is the worst uniwatch entry ever. Devoted to figure skating outfits and this bizarre infatuation with creating fake uniforms for made up leagues. Waste of space

    Catherine, why the hate for Ashley Wagner? What, you hate her because she’s more beautiful than you, more talented than you, and going to be much richer than you? Ashley Wagner is out of this world.

    “loser nations”….Didn’t one beat the US twice (men and women)in hockey? And in spite of having less than 1/10th the population, finished with only one medal less?

Comments are closed.