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Some Thoughts About Uni Watch Merchandise

Several readers — some in the comments and others who’ve contacted me via email — have recently noted that I’ve been hawking a lot of Uni Watch merchandise lately. They’ve also said it’s hypocritical for me to complain about merchandising in the sports world, as I often do, when I’m pushing the merch myself.

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I don’t think I’m a hypocrite (at least not about this), but the basic point being raised is a fair one, so we’re going to explore that today. In the interests of transparency, I’ll even tell you how much cash I’ve been raking in on my assorted merch ventures.

Let me start with some quick background: For the past 19-plus years, I’ve worked at home, primarily as a freelancer. (A little over a year ago I became a part-time employee of ESPN, so I’m not technically full-time freelance anymore, although I still work at home and pursue a wide range of projects.) This means I survive by hustling and by making things, both of which I enjoy. “Making things” usually means coming up with concepts for media or performance: long-running magazine columns, zines, websites, a museum exhibit, a book, a “band,” lectures/presentations, a storytelling series, and so on. Sometimes, though, I like to make actual physical products — beverage coasters, bowling shirts, theoretical T-shirts — and try to sell them, because capitalism is fun to fuck around with. So I like to do that too.

I file all of these — the zines, the websites, the physical products, all of it — under the heading of creative projects, because they always begin with some sort of creative urge that I want to express. I would never go so far as to call myself an artist, nor would I quite say I’m an entrepreneur, but there are elements of both in the way I work.

For better or worse (probably a bit of both), I’ve always had a somewhat offbeat sensibility, so these projects tend not to be very mainstream. But they’ve often had a certain niche appeal, so I’ve been able to find people who enjoy working with me and have also found a small but devoted audience (or, really, several different small audiences, although they overlap a bit), all of which has let me carve out a living. The phrase “For people who get it” isn’t just Uni Watch’s slogan — it’s an apt summation of how I’ve managed to have a career.

Uni Watch itself began as a creative project. And that’s still what it is, although it’s also morphed into more of a job — a really good job, as jobs go, but a job nonetheless. And as with any job, there are days when things can be a bit soul-crushing, or just tedious. When I feel like I’m drowning in camouflage jerseys, Nike nonsense, and bad uniform design, or when I just get bored with the standard routines, a good creative side project — like, say, making a fun product and putting it out there — is precisely the thing to rescue me from the doldrums, because making things is fun. A creative side project gets me invigorated, helps me recharge my batteries, and gets me excited like a little kid. That’s a big part of why I pursue these merch projects.

Okay, with that backstory in mind, let’s shift into FAQ mode:

You can talk about side projects all you want, but it’s still hypocritical for you to sell merch when you always criticize it yourself.

But I don’t always criticize it. I’ve written “Hey, check out these cool posters” (or figurines, or whatever) literally hundreds of times in the Ticker, and I showcase all sorts of cool merch in my annual holiday gift guide column on ESPN. I’m not opposed to people buying sports-based stuff — I just think a lot of what’s out there is boring, mass-produced, overpriced crap.

Most of the merch I criticize comes from teams and leagues, which already generate revenue from the sale of tickets (which are usually overpriced), concessions (ditto), parking (ditto), broadcast rights, stadium/arena naming rights, stadium/arena advertising, and plenty more. When viewed in that context, a lot of the merch they put out there just looks like junk motivated by greed. That’s my gripe — I object to the merchandise-industrial complex that just keeps pumping out junk with no apparent regard for creativity or quality.

Uni Watch, on the other hand, gives away its content for free and has none of those other revenue streams except the small amount of money that the site generates via advertising. When viewed in that context, Uni Watch merch — which isn’t overpriced, isn’t mass-produced, isn’t boring, and isn’t crap — looks a lot different than team/league merch. And if you think Uni Watch merch programs are motivated by greed, well, as you’ll see in a minute, I’m not doing a very good job of following through on that motivation.

Oh, I see how it works — anything you sell is cool, and anything anyone else sells is crap. Sure.

As I just noted, I happily showcase a wide variety of cool merchandise all the time, so I don’t think Uni Watch products are unique in that regard. But I’d like to think they’re better than most of what’s pumped out by teams, leagues, and their corporate apparel partners.

It seems mighty convenient for you to call your merch programs “creative projects.” Dude, you’re selling stuff! Own up to it instead of trying to dodge the issue.

Duh, of course I’m selling stuff. But if a sculptor sells some of her sculptures, does she suddenly stop being an artist because she’s sold some her work? Of course not. If your favorite local band sells CDs (good luck) or T-shirts, do they stop being musicians? Of course not. And so on.

As noted earlier, I’m not claiming to be an artist. I’m just pointing out that creativity (or art, or whatever you prefer to call it) and commerce can happily coexist without negating each other. I think a lot of it has to do with intent, and in my case my primary intent with my merch projects is almost always to have fun by expressing some sort of creative impulse. The commerce part comes later. I generally prefer not to lose money, but maxing out the bottom line is never my primary focus.

Or to put it another way, just because a creative project can be sold or monetized, that doesn’t make it any less of a creative project.

Okay, but you’ve been pushing a lot of these “creative projects” lately. It seems like almost every day you’re selling something or asking us to shell out for something.

True enough. A lot of this is because of the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club, which didn’t exist until this year, but I’ve also had lots of other things for sale. To put this in perspective, let’s take a look at the recent/current merchandise projects, including the revenue they’ve generated:

The 15th-anniversary patch: I forget who suggested this one, but it wasn’t my idea. We already had a 15th-anniversary logo and a reader suggested that I turn it into a patch. This seemed like a natural, plus I thought it would be fun for me to learn about dealing with a patch manufacturer, which was definitely an interesting experience. (Among other things, I learned a new term: merrowing.)

After expenses (manufacturing, postage, envelopes), the patches generated a little over $600 — not bad, and a fair payback for the time and work involved. The patches are now sold out and our 15th-anniversary “season” is over, but I’ve been thinking of getting new patches made, based on our standard disc logo. Basically, patches seem like the kind of merch that totally makes sense for Uni Watch, and that I should have been doing all along.

(Oh, and there was also a run of anniversary stickers. My cut on that, after expenses, was about 90 bucks.)


The membership cards: The membership program, which began in 2007 and now has over 1600 enrollees, is enjoyable for three reasons: (1) I’ve always loved membership cards (I even wrote an article about them for a design website); (2) working with the enrollees and with card designer Scott Turner to get the designs just right is a fun creative exercise; and (3) trimming and laminating the cards — or “arts and crafts,” as I like to call it — gives me a rare chance to work with my hands instead of at a keyboard.

After expenses (printing, postage, laminating supplies, X-acto blades, etc.), the membership cards usually generate a little over $2000 per year, a percentage of which goes to Scott. Considering the amount of time and work involved, I’d say Scott and I are working for a very low hourly rate. That’s not a complaint, mind you (nobody’s forcing us to do it, after all), but it’s an indication that we’re doing this because we enjoy it, not because it’s a huge revenue spigot.

The smart phone case: If there’s one project I feel a little iffy about in retrospect, it’s this one, because I don’t give a rat’s keister about phone cases (my own case is just plain black), and phone cases don’t really fit into the collectability-geekiness niche that characterizes most of these other projects. Still, the idea seemed fun: I’d run a design contest, let the readers pick the winning design, and give the winning designer a $100 cash prize and a free case. It felt like a good way to have some creative back-and-forth with the readership, as opposed to one of my usual top-down projects.

The primary pleasure of this project was seeing all the interesting designs that came in and working with winning designer Matt Beahan to refine his design for the final product. Looking back, I probably should have set the sales window at two weeks instead of three, because running three weeks’ worth of reminders on the site was too much. In the end, we sold 58 cases. My cut, after paying Matt his prize and buying him a case, was a smidge over $300.

The T-Shirt Club: The Uni Watch T-Shirt Club began when Teespring designer Bryan Molloy got in touch and offered to design a new Uni Watch shirt. I was like, “Yeah, sure, whatever.” We went back and forth with a few designs, none of which really excited me. Then he said, “A black design would look great,” to which I responded, “Yeah, but come on — I can’t do a black Uni Watch shirt. I’m always complaining about BFBS!” Bryan then said, “Okay, but what if we did this?” That’s when the light bulb went off over my head and I realized we could have an entire program of jersey-based designs and use the NOBs to offer deadpan descriptions and commentary. I proposed that idea to Bryan and he bought in immediately. (I should add that he’s been awesome every step of the way, even though I think he ended up with a lot more work than he initially bargained for. Thanks, Bry!)

It’s been a tremendously satisfying project. I love how meta it is, I love how programmatic it is, I love the sleeve “patch” on each shirt, I love the different iterations of the Uni Watch script, I love the collectability factor, I even love the debate over the “Pandering” NOB, and I especially love working on the designs with Bryan. From the very start, the whole thing has felt Right. I didn’t know how you folks would respond, but that was, frankly, a secondary concern. The main thing was that I knew from the outset that I was making something good, and I still feel that way now.

Happily, you folks have responded very positively, which is a nice bonus. All of the designs have sold well over 100 shirts, with several of them topping 200 and one of them — the Jackie Robinson design — topping 300. (The sales of that one were likely inflated because I announced from the outset that I’d be donating my share of the proceeds to charity, which probably encouraged more orders than we would otherwise have gotten.)

And yes, those sales have generated a nice chunk of change — usually between $1000 and $2000 per month, which is much more than I expected. Woo-hoo! I could make even more if not for the sleeve patches, which add about $300 per month to my costs, but it seems worth it, at least to me. I’ll be spending some of that money on the year-end prizes for the “Collect ’em all”-ers, but in the end I’ll be left with a nice windfall. We might extend the Club into 2016, but it’s hard to see how it can be sustainable beyond that (we’ll run out of designs), so this revenue bump is a temporary bubble.

As is the case with many creative professionals, the projects I like the most don’t always correlate with my biggest paydays (I was paid almost nothing for the Permanent Record articles on Slate, for example, even though I’m sure that’s the best and most important work I’ve ever done), so it’s nice that the T-Shirt Club, which I feel really good about, has been a financial success. But again, that’s just a bonus — I launched this project for the creative satisfaction of it, not as a businessman. As I noted several times during the “Pandering” debate, I could have sold a lot more shirts if I’d gone with a different NOB, but maximizing sales was never the goal.

The Purple Amnesty Day shirt: I did this as a lark, mainly because Bryan, the Teespring designer, had been very keen to do a purple shirt. (At one point he wanted us to do it as an April Fool’s gag, but I vetoed that.) Tying it in with Purple Amnesty Day, which has been an annual feature of the membership program, seemed like a good idea.

The design was 100% Bryan’s concept, with no input from me. We made it available for one day and I figured we’d sell, like, seven or eight of them. To my surprise, we sold 42 (which means a distressing number of you actually like purple — shudder). I readily acknowledge that this was basically zero work for me, so my cut, which came to $335, was basically found money.

The Zazzle stuff: If you click on the “Merchandise” tab at the top of this page, it will take you to the Uni Watch shop on Zazzle, which sells an assortment of T-shirts, coffee mugs, and items of that ilk. How often do I promote this stuff on the site? Answer: Almost never. Why? Because, frankly, the Zazzle merch bores me. There’s no creativity to it — it’s just dropping/dragging our logos into a web interface and selling the same old crap that everyone else sells, whoop-de-whoop. (One Zazzle item that did get me excited recently was the Uni Watch watch, because the name itself is funny, but that’s an exception to the rule. In any case, only two of those have been purchased.)

We don’t sell much of the Zazzle stuff (maybe because I don’t promote it, or maybe because everyone else finds it as boring as I do), and it generates only $200 to $300 per year for me. I’ve often considered just scrapping it, but then someone will get in touch and ask, “Where can I buy my boyfiend a simple Uni Watch T-shirt?,” and I’ll point them toward our Zazzle page, so I guess it serves a small purpose.

I think the disparity between how I promote the Zazzle stuff and how I promote the other projects is a pretty good indicator of my approach to merchandising: I like projects that provide me with a sense of personal involvement and allow me to flex my creative muscles, as opposed to merch that just feels rote. Yes, there’s revenue involved, but the amounts are usually small and the dollars are never my primary motivation.

You can try to rationalize it all you want, but I still think you’re a hypocrite.

That’s a pity, for both our sakes, but I’m comfortable with my positions and my actions on this front. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

I don’t think you’re a hypocrite, but I’m not interested in buying any of this stuff and wish the site didn’t have so many sales pitches.

That’s fair. As I said above, I regret the lengthy “reminder” period for the phone case — sorry about that. I’ll try to be more judicious about such projects in the future. But the nature of the T-Shirt Club kind of demands a one-week promo push each month, so that will continue for now. (And like I said, I love that project, so I like promoting it too!)

Try to think of it this way: When I promote one of these merch programs, to me it’s the same thing as when I tell you about a new PermaRec entry, or a new design article I’ve written, or a new Candela development — it’s just another way of saying, “Look, here’s this other thing I’ve been working on!” I realize not everyone cares about my other projects (merch-related or otherwise), and I certainly don’t mind if you scroll past them. I hope you won’t mind when I keep calling attention to them, because it’s fun for me to share what I’ve been making.

Speaking of which: I have another merch project in the works. It won’t be lucrative (small-ish quantities, low margins, and two collaborators with whom to split the pie), but I’m really excited about it all the same, because it’s clever and fun. I think you’ll like it too. More details soon.

That’s it. Thanks for listening.

•  •  •  •  •

PermaRec update: A Wisconsin couple began dismantling an old building on their property and, as you can see above, found that it had been built around an old trolley! Get the full scoop over on Permanent Record.

• • • • •

Attention BOSTON readers: As some of you may be aware, the Brooklyn Beefsteak is coming to Boston next Saturday, June 20, with two seatings — 1pm and 5pm — at the Cambridge Masonic Hall in Porter Square (further info and tickets here).

I’ll be on hand for the event, and I could use an assistant — you can probably guess what for. My assistant will have to be on hand from about noon through 8pm and will need to be alert, friendly, and helpful during that period. On the plus side, the actual work will be easy, you’ll get a break about halfway through the day, and you’ll get to partake of the beef and beer at no charge. If this sounds appealing, shoot me a note and tell me why I should choose you instead of all the other applicants. Thanks.

In addition, there’ll be a beefsteak here in Brooklyn this Sunday, June 14, at the Bell House (tickets here), and I’ll be on hand for that one as well. No assistant needed for that one. Hope to see lots of you there.

• • • • •

IMPORTANT ”” “Collect ’em all” reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, I’m taking a show of hands to see how many of you have purchased all seven of the UnI Watch T-Shirt Club’s designs so far. Knowing how many people are eligible for the year-end prize will help me determine what the prize will be. So if you’ve collected ’em all so far (and didn’t already check in yesterday), please use this link to shoot me a note. Thanks.

• • • • •

Baseball News: Phillies 1B Ryan Howard’s cleats have Velcro on the back, presumably to help keep his pant legs pulled down (from Jason Ricles). … Jurassic Park jerseys upcoming for the Cedar Rapids Kernels (from Sam Bevins). … Larry Brunt has created a digital collection of his Mike Trout baseball cards. “I included ‘jersey’ as a filter when creating the sortable metadata,” he says. “So using the advanced search, you can narrow the results down to cards showing Trout in his alternate red, home white, and road grey jerseys, plus minor league jerseys, BP jerseys, throwbacks, and ‘other.’ This is what happens when a baseball card collector who loves watching Mike Trout gets a master’s in library and information sciences.” … UCLA has been tweeting faux baseball cards of some of the Bruins who’ve been drafted by MLB teams, showing the player in a UCLA uniform but with the logo of his new MLB team (from Chris Cruz). … Spectacular unis on this 1911 Denver team. Note that the guy in the middle row, second from right, has a dog in his lap! (Big thanks to Tyler Maun.) … Also from Tyler: The Denver Bears had awesome cartoon bear sleeve patches in 1957 and ’69, with the latter year also featuring the baseball centennial patch. I’d forgotten that minor league teams wore that patch in ’69. … In a related item, did you know there was also a minor league centennial patch? Here is it (thanks, Phil). ”¦ After I tweeted those patch photos yesterday, Todd Radom responded with a color close-up photo of the ’69 patch. … The Ogden Raptors will be wearing Hawaiian-themed jerseys for Sunday home games this season (from Sean L). ”¦ Jeff Seager — father of Kyle Seager (who plays for the Mariners), Corey Seager (Dodgers), and Justin Seager (Bakersfield Blaze, a Mariners affiliate) — wore a T-shirt referencing all of his sons’ teams (from Dustin Semore). ”¦ Mets radio play-by-play man Howie Rose is a longtime Uni Watch supporter, so it pains me to report that during last night’s game he said that a home run was hit “right near Gil Hodges’s retired No. 41.” Ouch. ”¦ Speaking of last night’s Mets game, a reader who prefers to remain anonymous was at the game and ended up with a ball that the outfielders were tossing around before an inning. Interesting, it had Bud Selig’s signature and a “Practice” stamp.

NFL News: At the bottom of this page, SI writer Andy Benoit says he thinks adults shouldn’t wear football jerseys unless they’re attending a game. ”¦ Whoa, the numerals on the Eagles’ QB practice jerseys look seriously bloated (from Brandon Tyrrell). … If you’ve been waiting for a comprehensive history of players who’ve worn No. 96 for the Cardinals, today’s your lucky day (thanks, Phil). … Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu is expecting a baby boy and posted a photo of a Bengals jersey in baby blue (from John Alexander).

College Football News: Here are the new ACC patches on the new UNC jerseys. ”¦ New uniforms for LIU Post. … Twin brothers on a 1993 California high school team had double-decker FNOBs (from @SomeEQguy). ”¦ News flash: Oregon’s uniforms have been highly influential. You don’t say. ”¦ One observer’s take on Oklahoma football: “A few more Thursday night games could rejuvenate the fan base. New uniforms certainly didn’t do that.”

Hockey News: I’m not a Rush fan. But if you are, you can have yourself photographed while sitting at Neil Pert’s hockey-themed drum kit in exchange for a donation to his preferred a cancer charity (from Leo Strawn Jr.).

NBA News: Last night’s Cavs/Warriors game was color vs. color. ”¦ Twitter freaked out last night at the sight of Cave G Mike Miller wearing LeBron James’s shooting shirt. Oddly nobody seemed to freak out when he did the same thing prior to Game Two. ”¦ Babies being born in Cleveland this week are being put out in Cavs onesies (thanks, Phil).

College Hoops News: New green court (!) for Manhattan, and a new court for Georgetown too (thanks, Phil). … New uniforms for LIU Post.

Soccer News: New logo for the German national team. ”¦ New home kit for AS Roma (from Conrad Burry). ”¦ Kit preview for Hertha BSC. … After Man U fans complained that the team’s latest retail jerseys were too small, the team is now ofering XXXXL sizes (thanks, Phil). … Several of the USWNT players are wearing padded/protective headbands. Here’s one being worn by one of the Mexican players, too. ”¦ Interesting observation from Gabe Cornwall, who writes: “Spain’s women’s team has used a star atop its crest on its Adidas uniforms (or at least their coach had one on his windbreaker), and Brazil is wearing five stars on their Nike kits. The problem? The stars are there for winning World Cups. And in those cases, the men won the cups. The women didn’t win any of them in either case. Contrast this with the U.S., whose women have won a pair of World Cups and have indicated such on their Nike women’s kits (as opposed to the American men, who have yet to win one and do not put stars on their kits). Germany has two stars correctly displayed on their women’s Adidas kits. I don’t know if the final call on these things is made by the national federation or the manufacturer, but it’d definitely inconsistent.” ”¦ The South Korean women’s players are all wearing FNOB, but with the family name in all-caps followe by the first name in cap/lowercase (from Seth Shaw).

Grab Bag: Once upon a time — not that long ago, in fact — you could go to the supermarket and buy a Sack o’ Sauce in a Can o’ Meat. Would love to have been privy to the product-development and marketing meetings that resulted in that one (big thanks to my old zine pal Tom Lupoff). ”¦ Another old zine pal, the great Lynn Peril, has written a cool piece on how women had to resort to “leg makeup” when nylons were unavailable due to the war effort during WWII. ”¦ We recently talked about the tricky question of how to handle an apostrophe on a vertically lettered sign, but here’s an even thornier issue: how to handle a hyphen, as in the case of a company called Hi-Wire (from John Freeman). ”¦ The McLaren/Rotten social experiment appears to have reached its logical conclusion now that the Sex Pistols logo is being featured on a credit card. ”¦ New rowing uniforms for Drexel (from Kevin Mueller). ”¦ “Tinkoff Saxo Bank is going with a neon/camo look for its Tour de France kit,” says Sean Clancy. “Heavy, heavy sigh.” … Not sure how I missed this, but Herman Zapf, one of the most important typographers and symbol designers of the past century, has passed away (big thanks to James Gilbert for letting me know). ”¦ 1975 throwback can design for Narragansett beer. When I posted that photo on Facebook last night, Scott Davis quickly noted that that design had a prominent moment in Jaws. ”¦ The Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels — those are Australian rugby teams — have some cross-promotion jerseys coming up with DC Comics. Queensland’s is with the Flash and Melbourne’s is with Superman. “I usually have a strong stance against buying $100+ polyester shirts, but, the kid in me is probably going to sell out for that Flash-themed jersey,” says Joe Alvernaz. ”¦ A few years ago I wrote a piece about pizza box lid supports — those little plastic table-like thingies placed at the center of a pizza box. Now Pizza Hut has upped the ante by creating a lid support whose top surface is actually a lens, which can be used to turn the pizza box into a movie projector for your smart phone. Pretty clever. Further info, including a video, here (from Jeff Mayer). ”¦ Due to a manufacturing error, a runner in the SEA Games competed with an upside-down Filipino flag on his uniform. ”¦ Hillary Clinton’s much-discussed campaign logo is looking better as time goes on. … New Rugby World Cup jersey for Australia (thanks, Phil). ”¦

Comments (166)

    You may think it’s a load of bull, but if an initialism for a sport movie related shirt was made I think PTBNL and #8 would be a good choice.

    Another idea is “cheering for laundry” with a logo possibly in the style of a modified red sox or similar logo using uni watch coloured/styled striping on a pair of crumpled up socks.

    I’m pretty sure the Eagles’ practice jerseys always look like that. If you take a regular jersey and just fill the outline and shadow in white, you end up with the practice jersey numbers.

    I was going to say that the bloated white numbers are probably just the “underlayer” of their regular numbers, but the underlayer on both their home and away jerseys is black.

    I guess they have white just for practice jerseys. ????

    Yup. I was at the Patriots/Eagles joint practice last year and the Eagles QBs were wearing the balloon numbers then. link

    Little grammar thing, but there’s a missing ) in the patch section.

    Also, anybody who decides to argue that you’re a hypocrite for making and selling merch clearly hasn’t read your descriptions in the past or just simply doesn’t care and wants to jump in without doing the research.

    I’m in New England, and like many Americans who live with winter, I really enjoy hockey. That said, is there any Canadian rock band which actively, publicly, dislikes hockey?

    And those Tinkoff-Saxo neon-camo cycling uniforms: The topper is (what I take to be the) padded crotch area, important for a hardcore cycling saddle. It’s a big, black triangle and it makes me look at it. That can’t be the design goal, can it?

    Paul – So I am going to ask (and forgive me if it’s been addressed). Where do you stand on the “adult wearing a jersey” thing? I assume you don’t mind it considering the company you associate with. Just curious.

    Actually, the company I associate with never wears jerseys. In fact, almost none of my friends care about sports at all.

    In any case: As I’ve written many times, I think the sale of jerseys is bad for the uni-verse. It leads to bad on-field design, promotes the false notion that one must be a good consumer in order to be a good fan, and often leads to idiotic behavior.

    Bullshit. I’ve never, in over 300 sporting events in my life, felt like less of a fan because I don’t wear a jersey or a hat to the game.
    And idiotic behavior is going to find its home no matter what, I’ve seen plenty with or without merch involved.
    Bad on field design, whatever, that’s your opinion (and usually true), but there is market for it, obviously, just like there is a market for your crap. The rest of your argument is grasping.

    I’ve never, in over 300 sporting events in my life, felt like less of a fan because I don’t wear a jersey or a hat to the game.

    Neither have I. I never claimed that it applies universally to all fans. But many fans do believe that they’re “supposed” to wear jerseys to “support” the team. Many readers on this very website have said that it bugs them when they attend a game and see other fans wearing “normal” clothing instead of jerseys.

    idiotic behavior is going to find its home no matter what, I’ve seen plenty with or without merch involved.

    Faulty logic. A certain level of crime will happen even you lock your doors, but you’ll get more crime if you leave your door wide open. Similarly, fans wearing jerseys are more likely to start arguments and fights with fans wearing opposing jerseys (we’ve all seen those news reports), and now we have teams like the LIghtning and the Diamondbacks banning opposing jerseys from certain parts of their buildings. It’s all embarrassing. Just have everyone wear normal clothing and you solve the problem.

    Bad on field design, whatever, that’s your opinion (and usually true), but there is market for it..

    Market forces are an explanation for things, not a justification for them. It’s empirically obvious: We didn’t have an explosion of miserable alternate jerseys, alternate caps, BFBS, GFBS, etc., until teams could sell that crap. The retailing tail wags the on-field dog. It sucks.

    … just like there is a market for your crap.

    False equivalence, because the sales (or lack of sales) of my crap has exactly zero bearing on Uni Watch’s content. The retail tail does NOT wag the Uni Watch dog.

    You should see Blackhawks home games — about 98% of the arena wears a jersey. It’s crazy but very cool to see in-person.

    Just for clarification, by “the company you associate with” I meant the occasional times you meet up with readers of this site. Of which a fair amount of whom wear jerseys.

    Oh, like at a Uni Watch party? Sure, I pretty much expect people to wear jerseys to those events. It’s a form of show-and-tell. But there are usually one or two people who come dressed in normal non-uni clothing, and I always have a little extra respect for those people for being willing to buck the trend.

    Little did I know of Paul’s respect for guys like me! I was the lone non-Uni’d attendee at the UW party in Cleveland a few years back. Was a good time and I had the pleasure of meeting Paul and his good friend Mike Hersh (RIP).

    While every critisism that you have said about the sale of jerseys is true, I still think that the phenomenon, on the whole, a good one.

    The way I see it, the wearing of gear allows for another way of self-expression. Note that I don’t say “supporting the team”. When I wear my Chelsea cap or my NYCFC cap (I have more than 100 caps, but just a few jerseys), I am not “supporting the team” — I am supporting *myself* by declaring something about myself.

    Of course, this expression is not limited to sports gear; I have hats of things other than sports. I sometimes wear a hat showing the logo of a favourite television show, of my favourite rock band, of my favourite cartoon character, or of my political ideology. I even have a hat that has the logo of the J train, a hat that has the name and symbol of Esperanto, a hat that has the “bicyclist” symbol, and even a hat that has my own name.

    These are all caps, not jerseys; but the concept is the same. They are means by which I can express myself, just as UniWatch is the means by which you express yourself. And even the caps with non-sports logos are linked to the sports-gear phenomenon, as these caps exist for me to buy only because the pervasiveness of sports gear has made the logo-embossed baseball cap a common item even for non-sports logos.

    I agree that it is particularly distressing that the availablilty of team gear is sometimes the driving force behind uniform design, as teams make changes on the basis solely of selling jerseys, thereby sometimes putting bad design into a kind of feedback loop. I will note, however, that even this has had a good side-effect.

    Teams jumped on the throwback trend mainly to sell jerseys. But we must not overlook the wonderful fact that this practice teaches history. There are kiddies out there who know that the L.A. Clippers were once the Buffalo Braves and that the Kansas City Chiefs were once the Dallas Texans only because of the throwback uniforms that these teams wore. So I don’t care one bit that the underlying motivation is to sell jerseys; indeed, I hope they sell a million of them.

    Every good thing is misused by idiots. The fact that this happens with sports gear says nothing about whether the phenomenon of available sports gear is in itself good or bad. Judged purely on its merits, the availability of clothing bearing the logos of sports teams is, in my opinion, a net gain for the populace, as it promotes a multiplicity of manners of self-expression — some of which is realised by means of gear that is itself not sports-related.

    While every criticism that you have said about the sale of jerseys is true, I still think that the phenomenon, on the whole, is a good one.

    The way I see it, the wearing of gear allows for another way of self-expression. Note that I don’t say “supporting the team”. When I wear my Chelsea cap or my NYCFC cap (I have more than 100 caps, but just a few jerseys), I am not “supporting the team” — I am supporting *myself* by declaring something about myself.

    Of course, this expression is not limited to sports gear; I have hats of things other than sports. I sometimes wear a hat showing the logo of a favourite television show, of my favourite rock band, of my favourite cartoon character, or of my political ideology. I even have a hat that has the logo of the J train, a hat that has the name and symbol of Esperanto, a hat that has the “bicyclist” symbol, and even a hat that has my own name.

    These are all caps, not jerseys; but the concept is the same. They are means by which I can express myself, just as UniWatch is the means by which you express yourself. And even the caps with non-sports logos are linked to the sports-gear phenomenon, as these caps exist for me to buy only because the pervasiveness of sports gear has made the logo-embossed baseball cap a common item even for non-sports logos.

    I agree that it is particularly distressing that the availablilty of team gear is sometimes the driving force behind uniform design, as teams make changes on the basis solely of selling jerseys, thereby sometimes putting bad design into a kind of feedback loop. I will note, however, that even this has had a good side-effect.

    Teams jumped on the throwback trend mainly to sell jerseys. But we must not overlook the wonderful fact that this practice teaches history. There are kiddies out there who know that the L.A. Clippers were once the Buffalo Braves and that the Kansas City Chiefs were once the Dallas Texans only because of the throwback uniforms that these teams wore. So I don’t care one bit that the underlying motivation is to sell jerseys; indeed, I hope they sell a million of them.

    Every good thing is misused by idiots. The fact that this happens with sports gear says nothing about whether the phenomenon of available sports gear is in itself good or bad. Judged purely on its merits, the availability of clothing bearing the logos of sports teams is, in my opinion, a net gain for the populace, as it promotes a multiplicity of manners of self-expression — some of which is realised by means of gear that is itself not sports-related.

    I hear what you’re saying. But I don’t think mass-produced gear that everyone else is wearing has much to do with “self-expression.”

    I dig where he’s going with this. “Everyone else” (not really, when you step outside the stadium or the sports bar…even if you’re in a team-issued t-shirt you’re still in a minority out in the real world) may be wearing the same gear, but there are many different reasons for wearing it. Do you like the team, a certain player, the colors, the logo, the city…something else? Growing up with contrarian/obscure tastes in teams, I often got “Why are you wearing that?” I still do sometimes, and when I feel like responding I end up telling them a little something about myself in the process. I don’t think you always need to design your own stuff to self-express. If you can, great.

    Same thing when you share a joke you heard with someone else. You didn’t write the joke, but in sharing it you give that person an insight into your sense of humor.

    “Many readers on this very website have said that it bugs them when they attend a game and see other fans wearing ‘normal’ clothing instead of jerseys.”

    I can’t understand why anyone would feel this way. Why do fans need to wear a jersey? To make the other team think there’s an endless supply of bench players? To make fans think at any moment, a manager will look up into the stands and ask them – since they’re already suited up, of course – to come down and step up to the plate? Odds are, the guy or gal in a plain old white T is the most ardent fan in the place. He just doesn’t feel the need to justify his “fan-ness.”

    There’s been a problem with defining “true fandom” probably as long as teams have existed. It’s not restricted to sports. Plenty of people are/were disappointed that the Nats’ primary color is red for political color assignment reasons.

    Much ado about nothing. I have no issue with you selling merchandise. Freelancers don’t get paid health insurance, pension, etc. from an employer, so there’s nothing wrong with making a few bucks from products you enjoy creating. Readers have been getting great info from this site for years, for free. So to me, anyone not crazy about the merchandise can just scroll past it and go on with their day.

    It never occurred to me that selling merch could be perceived as hypocritical, but I can see the point now. But yeah, the stuff you sell is all reasonably priced and relevant to the site and the interests of your readers. As opposed to, say, $100 polyester shirts, or officially licensed doggy bowls.

    Considering that you have bills to pay, it makes sense for you to sell some merchandise here and there.

    I’m a HUGE Rush fan, so that story about sitting behind Neil Peart’s drum kit is awesome. But about the Capitalism stuff, it never even occurred to mt that selling merchandise on here could be seen as hypocritical. Where does Paul ever rant against people making an honest buck? What this place is about is asceticism, and NONE of the stuff sold (at VERY reasonable prices, mind you) has huge swooshes,or any corporate markings that ruin the ascetic on them. If anything the t-shirts,member cards and smartphone covers celebrate the spirit of the site wonderfully,they allow those of us “who get it” to fly our “freak flag”.

    “Aesthetic”, not “ascetic”.

    Also, it’s worth mentioning to Paul that Rush’s drummer’s name is spelt “Peart”.

    Side note: even though many people pronounce his name “pert”, the name is properly pronounced as spelt, with the same long E as in “peer”.

    I did spell it as Peart. I apologize for the other misspelling, the morning coffee was still doing its work. I am originally from St. Catharines, you can see the man in town sometimes, Je suis Canadien.

    Justify if all you want, You’re still a greedy rube. You control the prices for most of these items, especially the shirts. You could make them $5 cheaper (not that I’d want one of those lazily designed monstrosities) but you don’t. Hayseed.

    “The Brooklyn Hayseed.” There’s the title for your autobiography. Plus, mixing “hayseed” with “rube” is like mixing chocolate and peanut butter… two great tastes that taste great together.

    Seriously… Since when does a self proclaimed “Hipster Brooklyn Jew” qualify as a hayseed?

    I love “greedy rube.” A “rube” is usually associated with the victim of manipulation or greed by a sophisticate or elite, not the perpetrator of the exploitation. When a rube, greedy or otherwise, gets one over on the moguls, he’s a folk hero.

    The anachronistic language really does set this troll apart. Generally trolls just spew “you suck” or random hate. This guy really finds the sweet spot of specific complaint combined with colorful language. It’s almost as though it’s performance troll art tailored just for this site.

    Almost like he “gets it”.

    I hope he experiments with “clodhopper.” I’m fond of endangered invective.

    I enjoy the website and am always impressed when someone can turn their blog into any sort of a revenue stream, especially in such a niche area as uniform design. Keep up the cool and good work.


    Question for you. How many items that you have sold do you own and plan on using.

    That is where it may seem to rub people the wrong way if you are selling things that you wouldn’t wear or use. (phone case, Zazzle crap, etc).

    It feels like if you wouldn’t wear it or use it, it is a bit of a sell out.

    Also I find this statement halerious, “I object to the merchandise-industrial complex that just keeps pumping out junk with no apparent regard for creativity or quality.” –Is that not exactly what Zazzle is?

    I do have my Uni Watch membership card in my wallet. But aside from that, I don’t wear or use Uni Watch merch because I think it’s silly for me to wear my own logo (just like I think it’s silly for a band to wear its own t-shirts onstage). I mean, seriously, how ridiculous would I of all people look in a Uni Watch T-shirt?

    Also: Uni Watch already dominates enough of my life. I don’t need to wear it as well.

    I saw Bret Michaels wearing a Bret Michaels shirt at a Bret Michaels concert. Blew my mind.

    Fair enough.

    Thought on the last statement?

    It just feels like some of it is quantity of quality at this point.

    But as I think, the market place speaks and if someone is buying, go for it. Just telling you how it can rub people the wrong way.

    If you ask me the Zazzle should go as it hurts your brand more than it helps. There are plenty of opportunities for people to buy a shirt of uniwatch

    “… how ridiculous would I of all people look in a Uni Watch T-shirt?”

    Indeed! You know you’ve succeeded when you don’t have to shill for yourself since others will do it for you willingly.

    I don’t blame you for selling the shirts and tagging whatever you can tag. Personally, I don’t have any desire to buy the shirts or gear as I prefer to remain a closeted uni-nerd.

    I think the shirt program, where you had the carrot of “buy every shirt and get a free gift” may have been a bit much. Twelve tshirts is a lot of drawer space. It would take over my tshirt rotation.

    I love t shirts – its a favorite souvenir/keepsake of certain events. To wit:

    One of my ‘annual events’ is a fall tour of New Jersey hot dog joints that has been going on for over 10 years now (you ever going to join us Paul??). After the first, informal one, I decided to use Zazzle to design and sell a shirt for those on the trip who want to remember it. I end up selling about 20 shirts each trip – which, with Zazzles royalty rates, just about pays for my own shirt each year. Not a soul has ever criticized me for it, and the people who do buy really enjoy them! Am I being greedy??

    Also – another event that I regularly attend is a Labor Day gathering of Stones fans down in Wildwood NJ. One of our ‘members’ is in the sports uni business, and he designs and sells a t shirt for every gathering. Hes been charging us $21-24 for each shirt. When you consider the designing time, the collecting of the cash, and so on – is HE being greedy?

    I have no problem with Paul making a few extra sheckles off anything he does…even if its not on purpose.

    Apparently, I totally missed Purple Amnesty Day t-shirt. I totally don’t remember seeing it.

    I don’t have a problem with you selling stuff. I do find that the underlying ads seem to cause issues with my browser. But people need to make a living. I still start the morning by reading UniWatch even though I disagree with you on some things.

    Perhaps moving the hawking to below the ticker — instead of having it in the middle of the post — would quiet some of the folks who disagree.

    Hawking products > popup ads

    Redirects to the app store are the worst. Thankfully that seems to have subsided. For those who still get that one, I think there’s a solution: wait until you see the refresh arrow at the top of your screen before scrolling. That seems to work.

    I do agree with this one. I would rather UniWatch sell more stuff and get rid of as many ads as possible. Each morning I read this site, then have to close the browser and start over to continue browsing without lag.

    That’s true. I often have to restart my PC after opening UniWatch. Not a problem wiith my iPad.

    Paul, can yoou tell us, are the underlying ads and pop-ups something that you allow, or something your advertisers sneak in there? Is there an adware or malware issue that we should be made aware off?

    I get that you can probably charge more for ads with pop-ups and such. Rent and meat in New York is expensive. But those are a hassle and I do worry about adware.

    Thanks for adddressing this for me.

    We do have one pop-under provider — serves one pop-under per user per day. Anything beyond that shouldn’t be happening.

    Agree that this is super annoying… First click of the day I always know I have another window popping up. Is there actually much revenue from me (and everyone else) closing that window before it opens.

    If you sold a $200 polyester Uni Watch jersey, then there would be an issue.

    The Zazzle stuff…not sure. Leaning more towards “no big deal” than “yeah, drop that already.”

    The only thing I really disagree on is this:
    We might extend the Club into 2016, but it’s hard to see how it can be sustainable beyond that (we’ll run out of designs), so this revenue bump is a temporary bubble.

    You also thought you’d run out of things to write about when you started Uni watch, right? The uni-verse (and your readers) should give you an ample supply of t-shirt ideas. The parody aspect may run its course, but there are other options. For instance, I was thinking of submitting a “right proper” design for celebrating the 4th in Phil’s concepts section. You could have design contests for the months where you don’t have a particular idea.

    I would buy a t-shirt if:

    1. It was available in my size
    2. If I had disposable income, since I’m in between my regular job and summer job, there isn’t much of that

    Hypothetical question I wanted to ask the Uni-verse:

    The Lightning will not (with 99.9% certainty) wear their black 3rd jersey with diagonal lettering during the Stanley Cup. BUT IF THEY DID… where would the Stanley Cup patch go? The right chest has the “B” in the diagonal “BOLTS,” the left chest has the captaincy patches, and both shoulders have logo patches.

    Anyone have any theories?

    The various t-shirts are nice, but don’t interest me enough to purchase one. But if Uni Watch ever came out with a bowling shirt, that WOULD interest me.

    So Paul, isn’t writing an entire article about your merch just one giant UniWatch Merch ad?

    Just screwin’ with ya! I don’t see your merch sales as hypocritical in the least. If your shirts had a Nikelace on ’em and a big ol’ swoosh on the back, then yeah, that’d be hypocritical, but you’re a guy who’s taken his passion and parlayed it into a wonderful niche for all to enjoy for free. If you’re a regular reader of UW, you should be thanking Paul rather than vilifying him.

    Paul’s weapon of choice…the FAQ breakdown…for those who don’t “get it”


    The FAQ breakdown…Paul has a way of explaining things so I understand them ;)

    The Ticker item on the MLB ball with the “Practice” stamp on it reminded me that if you go to any PGA Tour event, the practice range has balls submitted by every manufacturer available so the pros can warm up hitting the same ball they will play in competition. Those balls all have “Practice” stamped on them as well. I have a few from the old Bellsouth Classic and the PGA Championship held at Atlanta Athletic Club.

    Rush are kinda hard to get into. Sure, they’ve got some really good stuff… but you have to get past hearing the crap like Spirit of Radio and Tom Sawyer 300,000 times on radio stations first.

    Just an FYI, that Gansett can is at least a year old. Still a fun call back to Jaws.

    I appreciated today’s post mostly because it put down any “Paul really needs cash” thoughts in my mind. Always loved UniWatch and felt a bit guilty for under supporting financially. (UniWatch membership or diapers?). So the increase in Merch made me concerned about the sustainability of UniWatch. Good to know all is well.

    Why shouldn’t you be allowed to make money? Anybody who gripes about somebody working to make money is a knucklehead. It’s your work, man. Make all the money you can!

    It’s fascinating how so many people’s takeaway from today’s post appears to be “Sure, make a buck, that’s the American way,” even though I made it really clear (or at least I thought I did) that making a buck is not my primary motivation with any of this stuff.

    Also: It’s worth remembering that the heat I’ve received has not been about my use of merchandising per se; it’s been about my use of merchandising while criticizing other merchandising — hence the accusation of hypocrisy.

    So while I appreciate your support, you haven’t really responded to the accusations that have been leveled at me.

    I don’t see the hypocrisy. For the most part, most of the stuff has been in Uni Watch colors and fit the idea. The T-shirt Club is the closest parallel, but even then, it’s kind of a lark to see what the Uni Watch equivalent is.

    I don’t see a big difference between Nike slapping their logo on something and you slapping your logo on something. I imagine the purpose to be the same. To get the message of what a person is looking at out there.

    I’d say capitalism *was* great, when it worked in concert with the public sector. There’s a great article on Vox about how link, because doing great, necessary things don’t always translate to private sector wealth.

    I think great businesses, the ones that endure are the ones that aren’t out to make money, but see the revenue as a means to an end, not the end itself. I think when Paul sells stuff, he’s doing it not for the money (there’s a lot more profitable ventures out there than blogging about polyester), but as a way to enable his platform. My sense is that he sees a lot of uni merchandise as merely ways to make money, not to improve anyone’s fan experience.

    I think the current problems with capitalism, like so many things in our society, are not about something that has failed but, rather, something that has succeeded too well.

    I’ll have more to say about this in a future entry.

    They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.
    -Ian Malcolm

    And it gets even hairier because various people have various pet definitions of what constitutes “exploitation” (when they bother to define it rigorously to themselves at all).

    The people who are criticizing the website and Paul are the hypocrites. They want to live a closeted uni-nerd lifestyle for free, and be damned if anyone makes a dime on it, especially the Brooklyn hayseed who works on it. How about you charge a membership fee and then see how many of them can continue to hide their inner-dork from their wives when “Uni-watch” shows up on the credit card statement? That’s assuming they’ve ever felt the touch of a woman, which if this is their complaint they’re probably still living in their parents’ basement at age 40. (By the way, I was just joking about the membership: that bitch I married would have a conniption.)

    This is a frightfully disturbing post.

    I’ll avoid addressing some of the creepier elements here, but do you have some sort of axe to grind with “nerds” and “dorks”?

    Additionally, should I now presume that the phenomenon of people keeping their hobbies and interests secret from their spouses is more common than I might have previously guessed?

    I have no axe to grind with the nerds and dorks in hiding, unless it’s a moment of self-loathing. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife. However, she, and most women, can’t understand why most of us readers come on here everyday and spend time connecting to our sports-dork side. It’s boys being boys without the police charges and expenses.

    Given the vast range of tastes of UniWatchers, my only complaint may be that UniWatch products are not available in some manner to be customizable. While Paul has his own design and color preferences, the third-party vendor things would be fantastic if such were available to be made in any manner. How many items does one need in UniWatch green, red and gold (zazzle). Just a thought, as the membership cards are up to each person’s desires (except purple, because gross), some custom things might work better when also available along with the little merch projects that could Paul has been hawking as of late.

    How ’bout a contest for best UW shirt design? Leave it wide open (colors, logo, etc.) and see what happens.

    re: Women’s soccer players with protective headgear:

    I noticed Ali Krieger started against Australia link, but link.

    re: stars above crest:

    The men’s jerseys for link and link both feature single stars, but the link.

    On the other hand, link as does link (that’s a really cluttered jersey!). It seems that the star treatment is consistent for teams that have won the WWC. Otherwise, whatever goes.

    If you can find a way to make money off of a blog that obsesses about fucking uniforms… I say more power to you… that’s less capitalism and more pure genius… Full disclosure, I’ve purchased every UniWatch shirt to date because I think it helps sustain the site… and that’s a good enough reason for me.

    Regarding the pizza box projector article, the movie title “Slice Night” on the smart phone to me initially read as “Suge Night (sic),” a subject that seems much more horrifying.

    Article on a history of shirt sponsors in English Football. Plenty of pictures and a list of every shirt sponsor each club in the EPL has ever had.


    I had my first conversation with our Wisconsin real-estate agent yesterday, wherein I went over our search criteria. Three bedrooms, no condo or HOA, yard and local ordinances that would permit keeping some hens, room or an outbuilding we could turn into an in-law suite, in Madison or points west as far as Mt. Horeb or Black Earth.

    Now I want to call her back and add, “trolley car on property” to our criteria, since apparently that’s a thing in Wisconsin. Great Perma-Rec entry today!

    I love that hayseed thing. You should sell Brooklyn Hayseed jerseys. Have a contest. But they have to be black.

    Whenever people gripe about stuff I tend to have the same response/thought:

    “When YOU have YOUR own blog (or website, or store, or themepark, whatever), you can charge whatever you like for products (or tickets, or services, etc.) and run your blog (or website, or store, or themepark, whatever) however you would like. If you are coming to and/or using this one, you don’t get a say in what goes on or how much is charged.”

    My Uni Watch 15th patch is my fave UW merch item that has been offered. If you do the other disc logo I think it would be too similar, however. I would love to see more patches, maybe even a patch of the month although I understand these are done in batches and are not made based on orders placed like the shirts.

    Patches would lend themselves to so many aspects of jerseys: team logos, commemorative patches, secondary sleeve/shoulder logos, numbers. My ideal UW merch series would be a series of patches based on different jersey number styles, all sized similar to TV numbers.

    In other words, keep on going with the cool merch.

    I was wondering about all the stars that the Brazillian women’s team had on their shirts as I was watching their match against South Korea last night. I am glad you covered it today.

    Personally I think the German and US national team are handling it correctly.

    All the past WWC winners–US, Germany, Japan and Norway—are doing it correctly. No one else should be wearing stars.

    I had raised this point a few years ago, maybe as long ago as the last WWC? The answer given was that the stars above the Brazilian crest are actually a part of the crest itself, and not an additional decorative element. Therefore, men and women both wear the stars.

    I can see that argument, that the stars are part of the crest, but let me ask this, if the women’s team won the WWC, do you think the men’s team would wear six stars?

    NO WAY, NOT A CHANCE, they would be rioting in the streets more than last summer’s men’s world cup.

    Yup. It’s an implicit message that the women’s program is second class to the men’s. It may be true anyway, but France and England both get it right by giving the women crests without stars.

    It’s pretty common for MLB teams to use old baseballs for BP/warmup balls. They also get “seconds” that don’t quite make the cut for game use…stamped Practice.

    It’s a blog.

    Read the blog.

    Or don’t read the blog.

    Buy something.

    Or don’t buy something.

    And then move along.

    It’s really simple.

    But reader participation is part of the blog experience, especially a site like this where the author has near total control of the content and engages readers directly.

    I mean, you’re expressing your opinion about other people expressing their opinions, yet only other people are being asked to shut up and move along.

    Wow, people complain about everything nowadays. It’s your website so you can do as you wish. If they don’t like it being pushed, then skip the section(s) or don’t read. I won’t buy any of it, but I don’t mind it being hawked.

    I feel like today is a good day to ask a question related to the site. You mention a lot of revenue sources that don’t amount to much but there is one that you do not mention and that is your online advertising. I use Ghostery, a Google Chrome extension that blocks ad beacons, trackers, etc. and then shows you what they are and what information the advertisers are attempting to gain from you.

    UniWatch is one of the spammiest sites I’ve come across related to this, with 17 different background ad programs running every time a visitor comes to the site. When guests visit this site Adknowledge, AvantLink, DoubleClick, FeedBurner, AdSense, Lijit, MarketGid,, Outbrain, PixFuture, Scorecard Research, Sonobi and Zedo all run and not only deliver ads but attempt to gain some information about the visitor during their visit. Given your displeasure with advertising, especially related to its movement to uniforms, I’m curious as to whether you have a philosophy related to this like your thoughts on selling merchandise.

    I don’t mean for this to be inflammatory at all because advertising/merchandise/etc. considered, I’m still going to read your site. You do a great job of delivering consistent content that I like. But since today is an introspective kind of day, I thought I would throw it out there.

    I confess to having very little involvement with most of our advertising. I handle the product-specific advertisers (Grey Flannel, American Trench, There Used to Be a Ballpark, and NASCAR), but the fancier ad-serving services are all handled and installed by webmaster John Ekdahl — I leave that stuff to him.

    Comparing advertising on a website to advertising on a uniform is apples/oranges, since the website gives away its product for free. Media being subsidized by advertising is a business model that goes back centuries.

    But as I have said many times, I would prefer not to have any advertising and move to a pay model for the site. When I have proposed that, the response has been overwhelmingly negative.

    I think a couple of those might be kinda connected to each other. Running A causes B to run, etc. I’ve got NoScript so I don’t get any of the ads, but of the 13 things you specifically listed, I’m only showing like 4 or 5 of them being actively blocked.

    Yeah, I’m cool with the sponsor advertising, but I really dislike the data collection and the awful “recommended content” feels well beneath Uni Watch standards.

    I run Ad Block and Ad Block +…I never see any of that. But Ghostery sounds cool.

    I just added Ghostery and it tallied 58 different programs running in the background. (By comparison, Mets Blog had 11)

    Interesting post today. I almost feel like PL is having to justify selling logo items….which he should not, under any circumstance, have to do.

    It’s. his. site.

    Nothing wrong with self-promoting the brand. This is his BUSINESS, and last time I checked, there were costs involved in running an online business.

    In some people’s self-righteous zeal, they forget that, no?

    Capitalism, making a buck, whatever. I don’t have an issue with that. We all have to get creative these days.

    The part that leaves me scratching my head, and I’ve been feeling this way for a while, is that the push on the merchandise has started to feel like “selling the lifestyle.” It’s not exactly like Nike/Reebok/UA, obviously, but still there’s a tinge of it around the edge.

    And it’s only been since the phone case, really. The membership cards are way cool, the patch was slick, the zazzle trinkets were ok. But the phone case and T-Shirt club were tipping points for me.

    Am I going to pitch a fit and stop visiting the site? Not at all. But I probably won’t be purchasing anything, either.

    That’s fine. As I said, I have some misgivings about the phone case myself.

    T-Shirt Club? No regrets — I love that project. I don’t care if nobody buys a single shirt. It’s fun for me.

    Typo/misplacement – The Rugby World Cup jersey entry is in the soccer section and Australia is misspelled.

    When I hear people living in NYC I’m amazed. How the heck can you afford the rent! ?
    What is the average price?

    It’s a biiiiiiiig city with all sorts of living arrangements and pricing mechanisms and market forces (public housing, rent-controlled housing, foreign real estate speculators, etc.), so the “average” rent is meaningless.

    My monthly rent is $1870. Yes, that’s a lot. But I like living here.

    I don’t see hypocrisy in all of this.
    It is damn near impossible not to be a hypocrite at some point. Fortunately, I’ve found a loophole. I have never felt as free as the day I admitted that I am a one. The moment I did, I was no longer a hypocrite. Sublime.
    It’s kind of like “Never say never… I just said it twice.”

    As much as I generally detest over-commercialization, I’ve never given a second thought to merchandise sales here; I certainly don’t consider it a conflict of interest. If Paul needs to raise some extra scratch and can do it selling some UW-branded product? More power to him. After all the work he’s put into cultivating this site over the years, he’s entitled. And if it helps keep UW operating even one extra day? I’m all for it.

    Again: Everyone’s takeaway seems to be about the “extra scratch,” even though I made it clear that that’s not what drives these projects.

    Nobody seems to care about (or maybe they just skimmed over..?) the parts where I said I do these projects mainly because they’re personally satisfying, because they let me flex certain creative muscles, and because they keep me sane.


    before i say anything on this TOD, let me say one-ish things, paul is the most generous cat that has ever lived ever. and i mean as true as anything i have ever said. he has been kinder to me then my only family, and 5x as supportive. from let’s sell the guy a couple bobbles, to the stirrup revolution, bowling pins, etc. and he never asked a red cent, never! i doubt any of you would be so kind. paul is, as they say, aces, and anybody who complains? clearly they don’t know what he stands for, or met the man.

    now let’s get on to the weather channel question, is it going to rain? yes, the paul does speak out of both sides of the mouth if you care read to much into it and militia your purchase. sure he talks about jerseys still being poly-not cotton for your purchase, but does that stop any of you crazy clowns from buying them and pretending you may get called onto the ice? no, it is completely a societal problem that you feel guilty being part of as far as i can see. and if you want to wear that crap and joint the fraternity, so be it, nooooobdody is stopping you from being crazy, go nuts easy cheese squirrel. oh, and, by the by, it’s 20/30 bills and not 300 bills to join this group of nut eaters, but who is quibbling with your insanity purchase?

    i could type, delete, and re-type forever, i have already done so ripley, but that is how i feel, relatively unfettered…paul=best guy i have known since i drank from a teet, and that’s a custard sharing truth as sans caps i can say it. and if anybody begrudges the cat for making $4 a month,quite frankly you should get a grip and cram it with walnuts. when the lukas brand is on par with nikedas we can talk, until then he is just some shmo trying to live the dream outside a freaking death cube that actually makes my day better. and on top of that reality, i applaud his generosity. and can i reiterate “generosity” to accentuate the right proper position of my brain pan? i can’t say that enough times quite honestly. t

    thank you and good day clowns(not void in tennessee), thank you for reminding me why i stay away from the comments. today’s lede made me sick at the very thought.

    I am not even close to the most generous person ever, but I’m happy to support things I believe in, and Robert’s projects (which are soooooo much better than any of my projects) certainly qualify. Unlike me, he *is* an artist, and good art needs to be supported.

    Mutual-admiration society, etc…..

    whatever, i am a hack at this point of my waisted life. but i am honestly saying you have to say sorry for who you are or what you stand for to nobody, nooooobody. and if people ask you to defend being the most stand up man i have ever known, they should cram it royally with walnuts. because truth be friggin told, they are just being hypocritical at best about their own self induced hell. sell your 5 shirts and 4 memberships a month, it wouldn’t pass gas at the local walmart next to the jiffy lube if thy were paying bills on it. i am pissed about the very implication of this entry. i would have been happier just not knowing this, and would have been blissful reading what you put here and elsewhere without knowing the flack of dirtbags.

    you are a good man paul lukas, oooooooooown it.

    The Sex Pistols credit card is brilliant. Don’t forget that when the band reunited in the ’90s, they went on the Lucky Lucre Tour.

    I can’t wait for the new PiL album. I saw them a couple of years ago at a historic theater and it was fantastic.

    It boggles my mind that any of these items are being purchased. I’m a long time reader, and I enjoy reading the blog and the comments. But I have no desire to walk around wearing the Uni-Watch logo (or any other blog’s logo for that matter). I find it weird. If you’re in a bar and someone asks about your fancy t-shirt, are you going to respond: “It’s my favorite blog. It’s cool. We talk about uniforms. I ‘get it’. Look, I even have a membership card.” The whole thing seems very nerdy and cultish to me.

    Again, I am not knocking the site or Paul. But my question for the purchasers is, Why?

    The whole thing seems very nerdy and cultish to me.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    I totally get the reluctance to wear a logo. But it seems to me that wearing a Uni Watch t-shirt isn’t all that different than wearing the t-shirt of your favorite band, or whatever else ends up on t-shirts these days.

    The whole thing seems very nerdy and cultish to me.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.


    Talking about the t-shirt club… has anyone received their June t-shirt (BFBS)? The last email I received from Teespring was that it was printing (and I received that email weeks ago), and I have yet to receive the one that says that it is being shipped out. I have gone online and the status still says that it is being printed.

    I like your post except for your answer to your first hypothetical question. Tickets to sporting events are not “overpriced.” In fact they are often underpriced, which is how sellers can make money (rather than only cut their losses) in a secondary market. In other words, the outgrowth of secondary markets for tickets helps correct teams’ (under/over) pricing of tickets to a persons’ actual willingness to pay.

    And if merchandise is overpriced and/or looks awful, it won’t sell. So the market takes care of that problem as well.

    I like your site; you add generally helpful criticism and uniform news to help consumers make choices about how and when to spend their money. But your criticism often seems to be less focused on hideous uniform designs as on what you perceive to be “corporate greed.” If uniforms/merchandise look horrible, then they won’t sell and they will disappear. No need to turn the column into an anti-corporate screed. And there is no need to apologize for wanting to sell a product and make a profit, either.

    I come at this jersey issue from a different angle, though I would agree with the SI writer about a 50 year old man wearing a Russell Wilson jersey. Perhaps it would have been more fitting if that man was wearing a Steve Largent jersey. Wilson is a terrific young player, but made one of worst plays in Super Bowl history, and may not spend most of his career in Seattle.

    For me, wearing a legendary players jersey to a game or having said jersey framed in a home or office setting is appropriate. It’s celebrating a moment, or a tribute to an individual who was in the 1% of the 1% of his field. It’s almost inspiring in a way, because that player often had to overcome some hurdle for success.

    I have less of a problem seeing jerseys worn outside the arena if it’s in a casual context. Beats 30 year old men wearing superhero t-shirts or 17 year kids with pants too low.

    Just received my BFBS shirt and it’s beyond awesome. Hail Greedy Capitalist Hayseed Paul!


    Anybody who is miffed about merchandise you have every right to produce and sell should probably find more constructive things to be upset about. It’s amazing how the anonymity of a computer allows people the balls they don’t normally possess to criticize others who are smart and creative enough to make merchandise people actually want.

    Uni-Watch rocks, Hayseed!

    Paul – I don’t necessarily agree with everything you write, including some of your musings today, but I will say that the transparency with which you conveyed those thoughts and ideas today is entirely commendable.

    This is late because I’m on the West Coast and working second shift today, but just to chime in, I’ve never thought of the Uni-Watch merch as a profit device for Paul. I’ve always seen it as something that shows I’m “In the Club”. Much like the membership card, which I carry.

    Speaking of which, if you have a Uni-Watch membership card, and you’re at a bar, if you put it on the bar next to your glass, and I’m there, I’ll buy you a drink. We take care of our own, sort of thing.

    I’m not sure how it’s hypocrisy for you to sell Uni-Watch T-Shirts. Your “anti-commercialization” stance (if someone even wanted to call it that) has never been about not wearing a Mets T-shirt or any other brand that you choose to support. Now, if the Uni-Watch merch had logo creep all over them to save a buck or two, that’s a whole other ball of wax. Keep kicking ass.


    When it comes time for me to give up the reins of this administration, if I have but one friend and that friend lies deep within me – then I’ll be satisfied.

    Abraham Lincoln

    I don’t really understand why anyone would have an issue with Paul generating income (of any amount) from this site. This site has been free from day one, and for us Uni-Nerds, it’s been a great daily stop. If Paul can monetize the site in a way that allows him to keep it free, that’s great!

    Paul’s stance on merchandise has always been consistent, and frankly, I don’t see any correlation to the things he sells on the site. Until/unless he starts selling Uni-Watch team related apparel, I don’t see a problem.

    I’m a little saddened that Paul felt like he needed to explain himself.

    I really dig your work Paul. And we all have to make a living. You have, in my opinion, been one of the most respectful artists to their fans that I’ve ever known. Keep on keeping on.

    All fans are the same. The “which fan base is the best in the league?” is the most rediculous argument in sports.

    People should wear what they want to wear to a game. Nobody should or should not wear a jersey.

    If you don’t like the merchandise, don’t buy it. I usually pass on most but am a proud card carrying member and appreciate this free service, regardless of how much merchandise is pushed.

    This is America…if you don’t like Paul’s analysis or the way he runs his website, feel free to establish a rich network of connections and leakers and start your own blog. Honestly, if it’s better, I’ll jump ship to it, but I highly doubt that ever be the case.

    Keep on rocking on, nothing to justify or apologize for on this site.

    Anyone else notice that the Denver baseball team picture has a pitcher with the last name Kinsella?

    I enjoy reading UniWatch so I also enjoying supporting UniWatch Nation by purchasing the occasional sticker, patch or tee-shirt. To me it feels like a special interest community, kind of like those guys who have the “ham radio operator” license plates. I just received my BFBS tee shirt — super cool. You definitely don’t see a person wearing UniWatch stuff at every bus stop like you would a Yankees jersey. JETS suck. Baba booey, Howard Stern’s pe*is.

    I know this is old thread now, but February 25, 2013 Paul refers to himself as a hipster Brooklyn Jew. It’s just by chance I stumbled on that and thought I would share it on regards to that being mentioned previously. Go Pack Go and keep up the great work. Love the site.

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