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The Day After: As Simple as Black and White?

In case you missed it yesterday, the Hawks unveiled their new uniforms. My take on them can be found in this ESPN piece. I wrote that article early on Tuesday morning, several hours before the unveiling, so I didn’t have the benefit of some of the team’s “explanations” for the various uni elements, most of which are ridiculous anyway.

That ESPN piece also addresses the issue of whether the Hawks’ uniforms are geared to appeal to a younger subset of the fan base. That prompted a note from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous, as follows:

You missed the boat on the appeal of the Hawks’ new uniforms. It’s not about age — it’s about race. Uptight white people like you (no offense) will never like this kind of uniform. But black people are gonna love it! There’s no reason for you to understand that, because you have no feel for black fashion. But trust me, the black players will love wearing this uniform, and black fans will love buying it.

He’s right about one thing: I have no feel for black fashion. And that makes it hard for me to assess the rest of his claims. It got me thinking about an old post in which I examined the concept of “white tastes” vs. “black tastes” in the uni-verse. I’ve decided it’s worth revisiting that piece, so here it is, exactly as it ran two and a half years ago.

That’s Mighty White of You
This piece originally ran on Dec. 7, 2012

Today I want to pose a question. I’m not sure the question has a correct answer, but I think it’s a question that’s at least worth asking and thinking about. (I should also point out up front that while the set-up to the question involves politics, the question itself is not political. So don’t be scared off by the set-up.)

Here’s the deal: Unless you’ve been under a very big rock for the past month, you’ve probably heard people saying that Mitt Romney lost the election in part because his coalition of support consisted primarily of white males, and white males are an aging, decreasing segment of the American population. I read several analyses (and you probably did too) that basically said, “Any enterprise — political, cultural, business, or otherwise — that continues to rely primarily on white males is going to be left behind in today’s America.”

“Hmmm,” I thought to myself after reading that. “I know of an enterprise that’s based primarily on white males: Uni Watch.”

I know some of you aren’t white and/or male, but I’m pretty certain most of you are. Perhaps this isn’t so surprising, since Uni Watch is, at its heart, a very geeky endeavor, and geekitude is an overwhelmingly white, male cultural phenomenon. (The reasons for that are worth discussing too, but that’s another topic for another day.)

Now, not all of us agree on every uni-related topic. But I think it would be fair to say that most of us agree about a few core tenets and standards regarding uniforms. We don’t like “Look at me!” gestures; we don’t like overly showy or flashy designs; we like “classy” designs; we tend to think less is more; we like tradition, at least up to a point; we don’t like baggy basketball shorts or baggy baseball uniforms.

I think all of these preferences — each of which I happen to agree with — are, in their way, very white. Even the word “classy” is derived from notions of social class, which is itself a white-European concept.

But as the election showed, building a movement on the backs of white males may have become a loser’s game. So here’s my question: Is the aesthetic that most of us tend to celebrate here really a white aesthetic? And if so, given the demographic trends in America, does that mean we’re destined to be on the wrong side of aesthetic history?

Before you answer those questions, here are a few other thoughts to consider:

• We often say that tastes in uniform design are generational — the 20-year-olds vs. the 45-year-olds, roughly speaking. But it’s worth noting that today’s 20-year-olds live in a much more racially and culturally integrated world than I did when I was 20. So what we think of as a generational divide may actually have a racial component.

• It’s also worth noting that the demographics have shifted for the players who actually wear the uniforms. Most NBA players are black; most NFL players are black; an increasing percentage of MLB players are Latino and Asian. Perhaps it’s not surprising that many of these young, non-white players have uni-design tastes that don’t match up with mine (or yours).

• You know which groups are still mostly old-ish and white? All of the owners, most of the coaches, most of the GMs, and all of the commissioners — in other words, the people who get the last word on things like uniform design. But as they age out of their positions and are replaced by a younger, more diverse set of people, we may see more changes to the dominant uni aesthetic. (You can already see the stage being set for this in the NBA, where septuagenarian David Stern, who held the line against logo creep and uniform advertising for years, will soon make way for the much younger Adam Silver, who wants to add uniform advertising. Now, Silver is white, but I think it’s fair to say that he doesn’t fit the “crusty old white male” model like Stern does.)

• When I was growing up, sports and pop culture were two fairly distinct realms, rarely intersecting with each other. But now, sports is firmly enmeshed in the pop culture world. And the biggest pop culture influence, without question, is hip-hop — which, of course, is the pre-eminent form of modern black cultural expression. Personally, I’ve never liked hip-hop, either musically or socio-culturally, but all you have to do is watch a game or two to see that it’s a huge influence on many of today’s players and fans. So again, perhaps it’s not surprising that people who are into hip-hop would have uni-design tastes that don’t match up with mine.

• Finally, I think it’s also worth noting that the world of graphic design has always been dominated by white males. So has the world of design criticism (and cultural criticism in general). All of this has had an effect on our aesthetic tastes, whether we realize it or not. I don’t know if companies like Nike and Under Armour have more diverse design staffs than, say, a New York design firm would have had 30 years ago, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

I want to make it clear that I think there’s nothing wrong with having “white tastes” (I put that in quotes because I also realize that the whole notion of “white tastes” is a construct, and an elastic one at that). I’m not accusing anyone of being racist, or of anything else. I’m just asking if our tastes in uniforms are influenced by our status as white males, and if that means we’re on the losing side of the aesthetic argument in an increasingly diverse America. I’m also curious to know what those of you who aren’t white and/or male think of all this.


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Design contest reminders: In case you missed it yesterday, I’m running an ESPN contest to redesign (or, if you prefer, re-redesign) the Clippers. The deadline is next Thursday, July 2, 7pm Eastern. Full details here.

Also: Phil is running a contest to redesign the Rays. Deadline for that one is next Tuesday, June 30. Full details here.

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Mike’s Question of the Week
By Mike Chamernik

When I covered high school sports last year, I occasionally attended hockey games. I would arrive early to get a decent seat, and before the game the Zamboni would come out and resurface the ice. I was always transfixed by it: I liked how the white, gritty ice was smoothed into clear, shiny ice; I liked all the ice-resurfacing mechanisms that were visible; I liked that the steering wheel had a Brodie knob. Mostly, though, I liked watching the Zamboni cover every inch of the ice in the most efficient way possible, and being able to track its progress. My God, watching that thing perform its task was a great way to kill 20 minutes before I had to get to work.

What are some of your favorite functional devices or machines in sports? I also like batting donuts, too. Popping the donut off by tapping the handle on the ground is so satisfying, as is the temporary illusion of a 33-ounce maple bat weighing as much as a stick of balsa wood.

While not sports-specific, I know Paul likes the Brannock Device.

As always, post your responses in today’s comments.

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The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: This model of Miller Park made from Legos is pretty neat. … Mr. Met just looks at home amongst other baseballs. … Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox has thrived at the plate since he started to use one of those bats with an axe-like handle. … Miguel Cabrera gave a bat and batting gloves to an Indians fan who made a nice catch of a foul ball two nights ago. … Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” was Mariano Rivera’s entrance song. Now, his son uses it. … The sky turned red at Nationals Park the other night (from Tommy Turner). … Pirates 2B Neil Walker is the latest Bucco to wear those nice striped socks. … The NHL Draft will be hosted by the Florida Panthers this weekend, so a few draftees attended a Marlins game and wore the team’s jerseys (from Michael Jaworski). … Looks like former Pirate Al Holland had a few Stargell stars on his Giants cap (from @roryjayz). … Will Scheibler came across the Australian Baseball League, which existed from 1989 to 1999. The nine teams in the league were affiliated with MLB clubs, and the Sydney Blues wore Blue Jays-inspired uniforms. Here’s another shot of the jersey, and a clip of the team in action. This PDF contains a thorough breakdown of the league. ”¦ “My wife and I visited Target Field in Minneapolis this week (with me wearing my Uni Watch BFBS T-shirt, a Father’s Day gift),” writes Clint Wrede. “A long Twins timeline wraps around two exterior walls of the ballpark, with large player photos and brief text about each season in the team’s history. But in the fine print is a nod to the importance of uniforms: small, standardized illustrations of each year’s home and away uniforms.” ”¦ White Sox P Chris Sale’s Minnie Minoso patch was missing during pregame warm-ups yesterday, but it was there during the game. It’s not clear if someone noticed and had him change jerseys or if he just routinely gets a fresh jersey right before the start of the game (from Erik Bremer).

NFL News: New unis for the Titans’ cheerleaders (from Eric Wright). … Speaking of the Titans, they’ve sold their stadium naming rights to Nissan (from Brinke). … I’m a sucker for pro sports merchandise in old catalogs, and Ronnie Poore is, too. That’s from a 1975 Sears catalog.

College Football News: Here’s what Louisville will be wearing for their season-opening game against Auburn. ”¦ Here’s a look at Virginia Tech’s jerseys with the new ACC patch (from Andrew Cosentino). … Miami may have leaked their new uniforms (from Phil).

Hockey News: The Coyotes teased Friday’s uniform unveiling (from John Muir). … All of the Blackhawks’ and Bulls’ championship and retired number banners have been done by a family-owned business in Chicago (from Matthew Robins).

Soccer News: New home jersey for Olympiacos F.C. This is what the club wore last year. “They now collaborate with Adidas but the past several years they were outfitted by Puma and before that Umbro,” says George Tzamaras. “My understanding is that they will wear the Unicef banner again this year.” … A few readers sent this in: Sports Illustrated wrote a feature on Chris Maxwell, the USWNT kit man who was fired a few months ago after helpng midfielder Morgan Brian negotiate a shoe deal. Brian opted for Adidas instead of Nike, the USWNT’s sponsor and supplier. ”¦ Bobby Kaufman notes that some of the Women’s World Cup players are wearing their socks over their knees to avoid burn from the Astroturf.

Basketball News: The Hornets will unveil their latest alternate uniform this evening. ”¦ The Bucks unveiled their new court design yesterday. The link shows other proposed court designs and the stories behind each one. I have to say, I enjoyed this one. … Stephen Curry sent one of his NBA Finals jerseys to Drazen Petrovic’s mom. She looked after Curry during the 1992 three-point contest during All-Star Weekend, where both Dell Curry and Petrovic were participants. … The Hawks’ concept of matching neon shoelaces might start a trend (from Phil). … “This is my alma mater Barboursville (W.V.) High School, the Pirates, circa 1939,” says Jake Keys. “Those are some slick warm-up jackets. The school colors were red and white. Would love to see this colorized. And yes, two of the nicknames written in are ‘Booger’ and ’20.'” … The Seattle Pro-Am basketball league has some pretty busy unis (from Brandon Sparks). ”¦ Conrad Burry has some ideas about what the Hawks’ new court could look like.

Grab Bag: New logo for the San Antonio Riverwalk (from Kenny Loo). … A marketing publication selected the 12 best college logos (from David Barndollar). … Harlequin F.C., an English rugby team, released new home and away kits (from Eric Bangeman). … Loudmouth, the company that makes gaudy golf attire, is now making cycling jerseys. … This op-ed says that NASCAR should do more to get rid of the Confederate flag (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Bryan Moore is a NASCAR fan, graphite artist, and collector of race-used team apparel. He met Bubba Wallace, a driver in the Xfinity Series, at a recent pro-am golf event. “I sketched a quick portrait of him, grabbed my Ford Eco-Boost pit shirt (his current sponsor) and headed down with said art in hand,” he says. “While the end result was an autograph from and a photo with an extremely gracious driver, I almost found myself shut out by by the pit shirt I was wearing. His small entourage seemed to pay me no mind at first as I approached for an autograph. Only when I held up the portrait did Wallace take notice and come interact with me, with one of his party members saying to me, ‘Sorry, I saw the shirt and thought you were one of our corporate shmucks not doing his job!'”

Comments (93)

    I’ve been saying that Nissan should do something with the Titans ever since they started making the Titan in 2003. Glad to see it’s finally come to fruition. That’s some good synergy.

    I don’t mind the Hawks new uniforms (and I’m white 50+). Yes, maybe lime green may look like a passing fad in 10 years – they said that about appliances all being that chrome/silver like color,and that does not appear to be going away) I view lime green as not much different than bright orange or some vibrant sky blue shade, it’s an accent color, that if used in small dosages, can work. In particular, I like the white uniform, it clean, unique and distinctive.

    A couple of things from two days ago…

    The bumps on the back of some jerseys also have GPS capability. They’re commonplace during matches in SuperLeague and NRL Rugby. link.

    There was a mention of long-sleeved AFL jumpers. The Collingwood Magpies also have used them. link

    Sorry for being 2 days late.

    QOTW – While not sports related, I’m intrigued by simple things that can change a musical instrument’s sound/tone, such as a trumpet mute or a guitar capo.

    Zamboni fascination:
    I was at a Wings game second row in a corner where there is a press photography window in the glass. During playing time the photographer removes the panel and gets clean pictures. During intermission the photographer left and three little kids ran up, took off the panel and stuck their hands out. The driver, Al Sobotka (whom the Octopus mascot is named after), cruises by in the zamboni and drops pucks in the kids hands.
    I was astonished, it seems there is some secret tradition of kids doing this where Al is always ready with pucks in hand.

    I’m a white male who thinks the 1939 Cleveland Indians had the best MLB uniform of all time…I also happen to think the Marlins and the Jacksonville Jaguars have nice-looking unies too.

    I think the Uni Watch crowd is not necessarily “dull” or “vanilla” at heart, but there is a strong historical or conservative sensibility from which a uni is judged. And I think it’s just limited to older clubs in the colleges and the four major sports. I think the Jaguars, since they are a newer club, don’t need to be too buttoned-down. However the Cleveland Browns are an abomination.

    Mikes question, I like watching the machine put down the foul lines & batters box with lime/paint at MLB stadiums.

    I was going to say the batter’s box device too…but I don’t remember a machine for that. The Mets had what I would call a stencil…they had chalk in it and used a hammer to knock it down.

    You raise an interesting point, because Hawks CEO Steve Koonin has explicitly stated that he’s trying to market to two key demographics: African Americans and Millennials. (link)

    But this past season’s success caught the attention (and attendance) of people who definitely don’t fall into those groups. Even so, I haven’t seen too many people complaining about the futuristic design elements of the Hawks unis (the triangle pattern, font, etc.). I also haven’t heard classic white guy complaints about a lack of tradition or too much flash.

    The discussion essentially boils down to each person’s tolerance/disdain/acceptance of neon, and the debate is much more evenly split than I thought it would be. It doesn’t seem to be divided down racial or generational lines. I’ve heard people from all demographics voice approval and disapproval. The only thing everyone seems to be in agreement about is that the secondary logo is awful.

    The Hawks marketing team has done a lot of great things to navigate a dicey racial situation and years of fan disinterest, but fans are clearly divided on the uniforms. The team’s successful #TrueToAtlanta marketing strategy is centered on togetherness and unity, so giving fans something to argue over is certainly not ideal.


    Well, if this were still the olden days I would say the gun that the referee fires to signify the end of an NFL game!

    Currently,…. I like that thing that holds the football while kickers (oh, so lonely) warm up on the sideline. So simple.

    (Probably something else will come to me later too.)

    As for the missing patch on Chris Sale’s jersey…I’m all but certain he didn’t change jerseys. The Sox probably carry with them a number of spare adhesive patches; they just applied a new one to the jersey he was wearing.

    For a short time when I was a kid I was a bandwagon Packers fans.

    I got one of those vinyl-sleeved Packers jackets shown there in the Sears catalog. I felt indestructible in it! There wasn’t any tree in the woods, or tackler in frontyard football, or pavement when skateboarding that could poke or scrape through those sleeves or that wool/felt body armor!!

    I wore that Steelers jacket in elementary school, but for a child in the winter, there was a drawback with that design. If you were outside for a period of time in the north, the sleeves would stiffen, making it harder to bend your arms.

    Someone gave me that Steeler jacket in 1975 and I am a Steeler fan to this day.

    Black guy from Baltimore here. I think the piece you reposted is spot on. I would offer that it may not necessarily be divided by “black” vs. “white” or “20 some year old” vs “45 year old”. I would offer that it is more of a divide between urban vs suburban culture. I know a lot of both older and younger white males who are more “urban” (sometimes read or interpreted as “blacker”) than I am. They know more about hip hop than I do, they know more about and keep up with the latest fashion trends.

    With that being said, I definitely agree that with more diverse leadership (Ownership, GMs, etc), we will continue to see “edgy” and “new-fangled” uniform designs that deviate from the “classic” looks.

    I sure hope that we will never see “edgy” unis like link or link or interesting ideas gone wrong like link any more though.

    But then, what would we talk about??

    Good comments here. I think rather than this being a urban vs suburban issue, I see it more generational. For example, I have four sons from 15 – 9. Without exception, new uniform combos I don’t like (read: less conservative), they love. Further, they love clothing with those bright neon colors and hot pinks for example, colors I would never have worn at their ages and don’t particularly like now. These are entirely suburban kids and their reaction to ATL’s unis was very positive, particularly the bright yellow/green and the texturing effect on the clothing. Just one more example of their old man not “getting” their fashion preferences I’m afraid.

    “… Stephen Curry sent one of his NBA Finals jerseys to Drazen Petrovic’s mom. She looked after Curry during the 1992 three-point contest during All-Star Weekend, where both Dell Curry and Petrovic were participants. …”

    Good story, good on Steph.

    QOTW: One thing I’m always satisfied and transfixed with is the down marker in football. I find it hard to fathom how a sign can non-digitally project 4 different screens at the flip of a switch.


    It’s interesting in general to see what all goes on during the game–that is a integral part of the game–but isn’t actually on the field per se. Like the ref that puts the little tag on the middle of the chains (at a painted yard stripe) so if a measurement is called for they can place the chains properly.

    I like the movable stands in multipurpose ballparks; Shea, Aloha Stadium, Mile High. The notion that such huge pieces of architecture are designed to be portable fascinates me. As well, the movable roofs of convertible-top stadiums. I’m aware they break down over time, but while they are functional, they’re appreciated.

    I like the Hawks unis. They’re not bad.

    I’m not a fan of “ATL” on the jersey. Whats next, “404”. You are Atlanta or the Hawks…not the Airport Code

    I saw a video of the 3D projection court….thats nuts

    I may have a double standard because I think the Phila unis are cool…but ATL? The A.T.L. thats bushleauge

    What about the use of ATL is “bush league”? I have lived in Atlanta all my life, and have heard Atlanta referred to as the ATL for years (at least since most people in Atlanta stopped calling it Hotlanta in the early 80’s). Also, the alternative jerseys have had ATL on them for several years, so this is not a new design element.

    This is another attempt to reach out to the urban/black demographic. As pointed out in yesterday’s comments, ATL is referenced in numerous rap/hip hop songs.

    Do they really need to reach out to the urban/black demographic? Is there really a significant number of non-Hawks fans who are going to buy an “ATL” jersey for the sake of fashion that wouldn’t buy the same basic design with “ATLANTA” on it instead?

    my initial reaction to the HAwks unis yesterday was “oof”. since then, they’ve honestly continued to grow on me. the black one is still really bad.

    I’d actually almost like to see the set as white home, red road, and neon green as the alt.

    (why yes, I loved the Orlando Thunder.)

    QOTW: Not really a “machine” but I do enjoy watching the grounds crew bring out the batter’s box templates and scoop the lye or chalk out of a 5-gallon bucket to set the lines.

    Also, who doesn’t love the cart or tractor picking up balls on the golf range?

    1 more thing about the Hawks

    Their uniforms never stand they test of time. All their throwbacks are goofy products of fabs.

    The best unis they ever had was when JT was there, 2001-2002?. Simple red and yellow.

    I’m an African Canadian woman and I grew up with one older brother who was always watching sports. I really enjoyed uniforms and how they look. I stumbled upon this blog 5 years ago when I was in university and I started reading it again 2 months ago. I work in health statistics and I enjoy finding cool anomalies and variations which Uni Watch is all about. I will say that I don’t really have much of a connection with the posts about uniforms from 1800-1970s because it was before my time and I have no family connections to sports. However, when it comes to posts from the 1990s onwards I really enjoy them.

    Thanks for everything!

    I should also add:

    The Hawks uniforms don’t really appeal to me right now but I could see it growing on me. Except the one with the unbalanced A. Crooked lettering irritates me.

    I do enjoy how the photo of the Blue Jays inspired jersey from the Australian Baseball League nicely summarises why the league folded.

    The PDF in the other link shows why the Sydney Blues wore Blue Jays-inspired togs; it seems that they were affiliated with the Jays in one way or another at the time.

    I need to know more about that Al Holland pic. Why did he get Stargell Stars when he was only a Pirate briefly in 1977 and again in 1985?

    Great question since he only appeared in two games for the Pirates, both in 1977 which was a year before Stargell Stars were handed out. He was traded to SF in late June 1979. Perhaps he earned them in spring training 1979, which was likely the last time Pops and Al played together. The photo is from a 1981 souvenir Giants photo album.

    Its an interesting question as to how background effects how one feels about a uniform.

    I’m really interested in hearing from everybody on this one.

    One thing I’d like to bring up is that what constitutes urban is always changing and often lines up with the conservative pallets like Uni-Watch.

    I’d like to cite two examples.

    In the late ’80s and early ’90s you had NWA front and center promoting the Los Angeles Raiders. That silver and black color scheme led to LA Kings and Chicago White Sox adopted sleek, silver and black uniforms. All three squads continue to use those schemes and most of us would argue that they qualify as classic, timeless designs.

    Second, we have to remember that we’ve had an NBA team owned by a prominent hip hop mogul, the Brooklyn Nets. While some of us think the Nets uniforms are too bare, no one would argue that they were overly flashy.

    We also have to recognize a strong trend in fashionable culture towards minimalism. In fact the Hawks uniforms, with their relatively stripeless jerseys and shorts have a strong minimalistic streak.

    So its important to remember that youth and black culture is tremendously diverse and can and does overlap often with old school or retro idea.

    The new San Antonio Riverwalk logo is about a thousand times better than any San Antonio sports team’s logo. However, as a logo for a pedestrian shopping district, it’s not working for me at all. The Riverwalk and the Missions should swap logos.

    True confession: When I saw the entry in today’s ticker about the new logo for the San Antonio Riverwalk, my initial reaction was, “Hey, that’s a clever name! What league do they play in?”

    Sadly true. Used to be, you could have told it wasn’t a team because there’s no plural S at the end. But hey, what’s six hundred years of traditional English usage with regard to group names between friends?

    QOTW: A few things! What about skate guards? The rubber/plastic blade covers on the bottom of ice skate blades…I was always fascinated as a kid that the blade wouldnt just slice through.

    Also, the little thumb-doohickey that Don Mattingly and others used to market as a magical hitting aid. You’d slide this innocent rubber ring on and all of a sudden, you can hit.

    More so older ones that had the spring that helped fasten to the back of your tube skates, or the newer ones with the plastic (possibly rubber??) holder loop?

    Old white guy here – I like the lime on the Atlanta unis a lot – the Pistol Pete-era Hawks unis are one of my faves.


    Like Mike, I have always been transfixed by the Zamboni…

    Other than that…

    I played baseball from little league through high school; and for some reason I have always been fascinated by the Jugs pitching machines. They’re pretty basic — two wheels spinning at separate speeds on an adjustable apparatus — and are perfectly functional for batting practice (BP).

    I totally appreciate the live BP pitchers who come out and toss BP to batters before the games. But for the extra practice, I love hearing the thooomp of the Jugs shooting fastballs, curveballs, sliders, etc. across the plate.

    In high school, my buddy and I would try to get in extra practice just to use the Jugs. We’d roll the thing out to our practice field (it weighed something like 100+ lbs), and set it up for all sorts of different pitches.

    I actually wish I had one of my own to still use in the backyard; but alas, the last I checked they’re something like $2k.

    So much to talk about today.

    I have always viewed Uni Watch as mainstream vs. niche. I have never considered race or age to be as significant, but of course I could be way off on this, and of course there is always a lot of overlap on these issues anyway.

    Example: the number of people who tweet Paul to ask where they can buy the latest jersey, cap, etc. Paul’s normal response follows, that he is not into the retail scene and consumerism. I guess there are bloggers out there who do cover jerseys from that perspective, but I’m not aware of anyone doing it at a high profile, again I may be completely wrong on that. But a lot of people more interested in mainstream jersey issues seem to find their way to Uni Watch, only to probably leave after they find out it’s not for them.

    But the real article I want to read from Paul is the one about male geekitude. Please write this article so I can learn more about myself.

    I figure that “white male geekitude” comes from the fact that as white males, we have the extra time and money to spend on geeky endeavors, since we are privileged.

    black guy from brooklyn, ny. long time fan of the blog. remembered your original post on race and uniforms from a couple of years back. marcus from baltimore hit a lot of the points i wanted to address. i would add that “geekitude”, in particular black geekitude is actually cool nowadays, particularly fashionwise. the retro looks, bright colors and tighter fits that are popular now all gained momentum in urban “nerd” culture first & has since been embraced by the masses. other point is that i’m a lifetime baseball fan, played it & now i coach it. i hate stirrups (we have elastic socks now). i hate camo jerseys (for multiple reasons). put them both together and it makes me cringe violently.

    One of my favorite machines is very similar to the zamboni and used in drag racing. I love the track dragger. link

    QOTW: The bat donut (Elston Howard’s on-deck TM Bat Weight)is right up there on my list. Can vividly remember the packaging with Elston Howard’s b&w pic – and it was nearly 50 years ago.

    But this piece is interesting, so for those who missed it. Published a few years ago:


    I don’t remember who it was, maybe it was Stephen A, but I specifically remember one of the sports personalities talking about the white “wine and cheese” crowd at Hawks games, and how the front office specifically wanted more black fans. Not sure if that is accurate or not, but it would explain the assessment of the uniforms by anonymous.

    Fashion. It’s not hard to figure out.

    New Atlanta Hawks uniforms are for the under 30 set. Those colors are trending high across the board, with them. 80s Retro is cresting. Under 30s seem to think that the whole damn decade was florescent.

    The reader that sent you the note centralizes his perception of the world, in order to make sense of his immediate surroundings. It’s not a black or white fashion thing. It’s a fashion thing.

    I remember at some time in the 1980s looking for a winter jacket that wasn’t either a multi-coloured fluorescent nightmare or just in one drab colour. Had to search several stores before settling on a grey with red and black one.

    I like some things considered tacky by many (usually 1970s related) but wasn’t fond of the whole fluorescent trend then, and my dislike of it hasn’t faded.

    RE: Zamboni love….

    I think there is a machine that is zamboni-like for doing the ice for curling too. But it doesn’t make it fast, it makes it bumpity.
    I guess it’s called “pebbling”.


    When I think of “urban” marketing, which is really code for marketing geared towards minorities and the white people who buy into those fashions, I can’t help but think of the Brooklyn Net’s recent rebrand. And when I look around the city where I live, most fashion sports wear is more conservative/retro. Being a Pennsylvanian, I also think Philadelphia as a sports city tends to trend urban, while Pittsburgh tends to trend rural in their marketing. The 76ers also recently had a significantly conservative rebrand. I’d say that the Atlanta rebrand has a lot less to do with target markets and more to do with the industry’s obsession with gimmicks.

    Rereading my comment, I think “white people who buy into those fashions,” sounds more negative than I intended. I only meant to say that urban fashion is typically led by people of color as the trend setters.

    Good responses, everyone. I love seeing a device perform a task smoothly and efficiently.

    I didn’t see anything wrong with Atlanta’s uniforms. Seems like they changed just to change. When I think Atlanta Hawks, I think of the Wilkens era. What’s wrong with those? That being said, lime green and red don’t go together.

    Here is a thought-provoking, semi-serious response to the Hawks’ new unis from link

    It is a generational thing. I for one can’t stand the flat brim hats that populate stores and heads these days. Can’t do it. I prefer the unstructured hats, fitted or adjustable, with a nice curved brim. Just a simple solid color hat with a logo in the middle of it. No fancy stripes. No way out there 4 color patterns with huge fonts. Nothing that sits 6 inches above my head. No bill that is wider than my forehead. Just a nice simple floppy hat. I find it harder and harder, at 43, to walk into a store like Lids because the walls are dominated by these flat brim huge tacky hats. There is a whole generation and culture that loves them. I am not one of those people. My son, who is 7, doesn’t like them as well.

    My head isn’t even the same shape as the flat-brimmed hats!! I need the bill bent a little so it will contour to my bean.

    QotW – Not sure this is what you had in mind, but I think the red and yellow cards in soccer add an element of excitement to the game. That pause between when you know the official is going for a card and you don’t know if it will be red or yellow. It helps that most of the players seem to be pantomime characters who plead their case.

    Slight correction, or clarification about Mariano Rivera III using ‘Enter Sandman’ as his intro music…if you read this article:


    you’ll see a quote where he says it was done as a joke.

    “I knew they were going to try to mess around with me, so I was almost anticipating (the song), but I didn’t think they would do it. But they did it and it’s their way of having fun,” Rivera said. “For me, I have to stay in the zone and go out there and what I have prepared, I have to execute it. So playing that song, it didn’t really affect me.”


    Here’s another sports object/device that is fun to watch…

    the guy with the giant orange gloves at NFL games telling the refs(?) when to go to commercial!


    I have always been intrigued by the link they use to smooth the infield dirt on baseball diamonds. They’re sort of like the Zambonis of baseball.

    I like going to MLB games and seeing a team of grounds crew members drag those things around in synchronicity.


    Zamboni is the best, but it’s already been mentioned. Here are some others.

    – Grounds crew working like a machine during 6th inning touchups and rain delays
    – Ump’s brush that cleans home plate, and ball/strike counter
    – Pylons
    – Bowling ball return (will it go left or right?) with hand dryer, pin setting machine, and especially the gate that clears the knocked-down pins
    – Pool table ball return, especially how it is able to differentiate the cue ball from the others
    – Drilled hole in the center of the basketball foul line

    The ball/strike counter is great! I also like the pitch count clicker.

    White male, 46 from Canada. Not a fan of the neon lime, but we survived teal, we can survive this.

    But trust me, the black players will love wearing this uniform, and black fans will love buying it.

    That’s a bit of a generalization, eh?

    Whatever. This “uptight white male” (you forgot “old” by the way) loves the Hawks’ new unis. Loves them. Would I have been happy with a throwback? Sure. But I’m open to new designs. As long as the uniform serves its function (being able to tell who the team and players are without having to sit on the floor or watch on a jumbo screen). Not every team has to stay the same like the Celtics or Bulls. In fact, the Hawks have been all over the place in their relatively short history. What’s one more change for them?

    I used to be mesmerized by the automatic tarp at Three Rivers. Sometimes I’d try to get Dad to hang around after the game so I could watch it rise out of the ground.

    As mentioned above, I love the pin setters in bowling. Also I’m intrigued by the measuring devices in curling.

    Re some WWC soccer players wearing their socks over their knees to protect from turf burns – Have any players actually come out and said that’s why they are doing it?

    Some players like John Terry consistently wear their socks above their knees.

    I’ve always enjoyed the strap in the center of a tennis net that holds it down to the appropriate height, creating just the right amount of sag in the middle of the net.

    In the Hawks’ official release, it states, “This also marks the first time that socks, shoes and laces were built as part of the overall uniform kit – delivering a true head-to-toe design approach.” Did they happen to work with individual shoe companies to produce a consistent look? Or are all the players expected to wear the same brand regardless of their individual endorsements?

    I’m a black guy from Los Angeles, 27 years old and I follow this site religiously. Perhaps I’m too whitewashed, but the Atlanta uniforms are a bit much. I love the idea of using like green, but I feel they used it in a haphazard manner. That said, I know plenty of friends who will buy it because it is trendy. But if you’re an upright white male, so am I, because I know overkill when I see it. Though since I share your inclinations towards hosiery, putting Kyle Korver in high lime socks is change we can believe in.


    Well said sir!

    There is overkill and then there is style. That fine line of the bleeding edge balanced against gaudiness.

    “The sense of design is strong in this one”.

    I think race plays a part in it. Because plays a part in everything.
    But I think the main thing is nostalgia & status quo bias. People in general don’t like new, unless it reminds them of old.
    The Hawks are an interesting case. The 80s uniforms are the first uniforms I’m sure a lot of people from this site remember on the Hawks, and it was when the best player in franchise history played for them. Many regard them as the Hawks best uniforms.
    But think of them for a second. The jerseys were essentially two-toned colors. Team name slanted. The numbers were non-conventional and slanted too. These all seem like elements that would be horribly slammed if they appeared on a team today. They certainly were unlike anything that came out before design-wise. Are the uniforms good from a design standpoint, or did we simply see them all the time and we associate it with the best Atlanta teams and their cornerstone player?
    I think for the most part, we like what we used to. If what we’re used to is ugly, we like that too. A radical departure is going to be seen negative until enough time passes and maybe some wining seasons and it will become a “classic”.

    QOTW –

    Mine are all tennis related:

    First, I love watching my racquet get restrung on one of these:


    Second, I like the variety of vibration dampening devices. Some people have really elaborate devices that snake between their strings, some just tie a rubber band on.

    Finally, it’s not a machine or device, but I like watching the grounds crew at Wimbledon pull the tarps over the courts when it starts to rain. Such a precision move.

    As a kid my Dad took me to countless Yankee games, most Sundays as a matter of fact. We’d always get there early enough to watch batting practice and I dreamed of one day having the easy camaraderie of the players as they stood around that cage waiting their turn. And when the cage was folded down and rolled out to the outfield gates it meant that gametime was that much closer. I still think about that with much nostalgia on the rare occasions I still get to see some big league BP.

    I think maybe Paul misses the bigger picture. Sometimes, the uniform is more about representation than aesthetics. Perhaps the goal of the Hawks is to have a uniform/color scheme that represents the city of Atlanta moreso than what an outsider might think looks good.

    Ultimately, the pinstripes of the NY Yankees represent New York City regardless of whether you personally like pinstripes on a uniform. And that might be what ties a city’s fan base to the team.

    I live in Charlotte, and have noticed that Jerry Richardson has refused to change the Panthers uniforms aside from minor tweaks from when they were first introduced. Whether or not you think the uniforms “look good”, he understands that eventually they will become classics just like the Yankees pinstripes, while franchises like the Jaguars have no identity.

    Yeah, Lime green has never been associated with Atlanta to my knowledge short of the brief Lime and Blue unis worn by the Hawks. Our city’s flag (and the state’s seal) are both Blue and Gold (same blue briefly used by the Hawks from 1970-72, and every professional Atlanta sports team has either had Gold in their scheme or worn it on their uniforms in some capacity, including the incoming MLS franchise, all 3 hockey teams, and then there was Georgia Tech which was the only game in town until 1966).

    If I had to choose a color scheme that is associated with my City it would be what the Hawks wore for a vast majority of their time in Atlanta; Red, White, and Gold.

    Hell our teams have a history of adopting the colors worn by Georgia Tech and georgia. Lime was worn for 2 seasons when the franchise first moved here and then they went to the color scheme we would have for 35 years.

    What they tried to do here was blend 2 eras together and they picked 2 awful colors to do that with. Neon colors shouldn’t be paired with warm colors, period end of discussion. Aesthetically it looks bad, in fashion it looks bad, to people who have no sense of the color wheel and what colors should be paired together it MIGHT look okay.

    If they were really targeting African American fans then they should have rolled out the same uniforms but replaced Lime with Gold (Athletic or Metallic), and then unveiled fashion jerseys that replaced the gold with the lime color.

    These would look so damn good if they used Gold instead of Lime, and its a complete missed opportunity (and to be clear it doesn’t matter if it is popular with black people, because a team’s identity should be something that resonates with all of its fanbase, you can try and cater looks to a particular demographic but if the final look splits the fanbase (that is chomping at the bit to fall in love with this team) then you’re making the wrong move. I pray the new ownership group hates these things and can’t wait to change them (unfortunately I doubt a change would be as simple as swapping the lime for Gold and we’d probably get a new look that could be disastrous in other ways, but at least the logo wouldn’t look like crap because it wouldn’t be rendered in puke green).

    I still think it’s strange that Mike Chamernik puts his mugshot on here. I don’t get it.

    I think your old blog post is spot on, but that that’s not necessarily what’s leading to the different reactions of people to the Hawks uniform.

    I’m a 30-something white male and I like them. As much as the new Bucks or Sixers uniforms? Well, no, but my feeling is that I’d rather teams take a chance on being interesting than on being boring (see the Clippers).

    Now, I do spend most of my time around non-white people, including my wife, so that’s likely affected my taste. Still, I usually find I agree with you and I just was unable to understand your strong dislike of the Atlanta uniform.

    The Color Scheme is awful. The uniforms would be great provided “Volt Green” was swapped with some sort of Gold. Athletic, metallic, old, vegas, don’t care just something that looks remotely good and pays homage to our franchise’s history (I don’t count 2 seasons of .439 basketball as a proud moment in our franchise history).

    Color Wise these look like something Adidas would force their colleges to wear in the postseason play with the highlighter look over one that resembles the actual team that’s wearing it.

    If you ever get a chance: visit the Louisville Slugger factory and museum in downtown Louisville.

    You get to tour the actual facilities as they make pro bats. Like 5 Guys has on a dry erase board where the potatoes were from… they will tell you whose bats they’re making (Justin Upton in my visit.)

    They take you from every step of making a wood bat from chopping a tree to the beautiful bats we see on the major league fields. It’s such a cool process which the tour guide told us has been nearly the exact same process since the first bat was made.

    Bonuses: you will receive a complimentary mini-bat and the coolest part: a small piece of an actual bat just before it gets stained.

    FYI, the Australian Baseball League still exists, albeit with fewer and different teams.

    Im Dominican and i read your blog religiously Paul !.i would’nt say taste are only limited to one race(not saying that you stated taht ) but i prefer old school designs as well.

    Re hawks:

    My 4th grade baller is all neon all the time. I get the Hawks uniform motif.

    A good weird sports tool is the Stimpmeter for measuring green speed. Basically a flat stick with a hole that will release a golf ball when held a precise angle relative to the putting surface. If you hear the blow hards saying that the green is “rolling a twelve” that means the golf ball rolled 12 feet from the end of the meter.

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