As we recently discussed, uniform rankings rarely bring out the best in anyone. So when my Sweet 16 uni rankings appeared on ESPN last month, I got lots outraged reactions (on Twitter, via email, in the comments, etc.). Annoying, but it comes with the territory.
A bunch of those reactions, though, had a common theme that I want to discuss today. That theme was best captured by reader Richard Barney, who sent me the following email, with the subject line “Get Off My Lawn”:
First, a disclaimer: I’m 51 and no young whippersnapper.
However, after reading your column in ESPN about the best uniforms of the Sweet 16, I realized that … someone needed to point out to you that you’re sounding REAL OLD. As in, you seem likely to drop “wooden nickels” or “sockdollager” into your blogs, no doubt typed up on your Smith-Corona typewriter. Besides UNC’s uniforms, I felt that your list was almost 100% upside down. As that youngster Bob Dylan once wrote: “The times, they are a changin’.”
My advice to you is to either rename your blog to something like “An old guy rants on and on about the good old days” or get out of the house, jump into your Buick Roadmaster, and see the world a bit.
I confess that I was unfamiliar with the term “sockdollager” and had to look it up. But the rest of Richard’s critique was easy enough to follow.
I turned 52 in March. Is that old? I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t consider myself to be old. I’m told all the time (most recently by my new doctor) that I look way younger than I am, to which I usually reply, “Well, it helps to be really immature.” More seriously, though, I’ve said for years that I’m proud to be an adult but have no interest in being a grown-up. I’ve never had or wanted kids, I’ve never had or wanted a mortgage, I haven’t worked in an office in 20 years and am pretty sure I’ll never do so again, I spend almost every day wearing jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts and listening to rock and roll, and so on. Has all of that contributed to my looking youthful (or at least youthful-ish)? I suspect it hasn’t hurt. I also feel youthful — my body feels more or less the same as it did when I was 35.
But of course Richard Barney — the guy who wrote that email — wasn’t talking about my looks or my life. He was talking about my writing, my opinions, my aesthetic. Now, I don’t happen to agree with his assessment, but let’s say, for the sake of argument, that he’s right. Let’s say my writing makes me sound every bit of 52 years old. In fact, let’s go further and say I come across as 62, or even older.
Here’s a question: What’s so bad about that, and why should it bother me?
Why exactly is it considered such a bad thing, a wrong thing, to sound like you’re in your 50s or 60s? Why did Richard say, “someone needed to point [that] out to you,” and why did he feel he needed to be that someone? If I had sounded like someone who was 35, or 30, or 25, would he also have felt the need to point that out? If not, why not? Why is it that “sounding old” is considered to be a negative, while “sounding young” (or at least not sounding old) is considered to be just fine?
I’m not suggesting that “sounding old” (a nebulous term at best) is a great thing, or that we should celebrate it or give it privileged status. I’m just asking why we denigrate it and give it lower status. We even have that term that Richard used in the subject line of his email, “Get off my lawn,” which has basically become code for devaluing and marginalizing old people. Some people even use that term when referring to themselves, which I find inexplicable. Yes, I know, it’s a way of laughing at yourself, ha-ha. But it’s also a way of marginalizing yourself and your opinions, and — more importantly — a way of buying into the larger cultural default that older people and their points of view are not to be taken seriously.
I was already thinking about all of this when I recently had a discussion with a guy who works for one of the Big Four pro leagues. The guy was talking about various people’s tastes in uniforms — including my tastes — and at one point he said, “Let’s face it, if we come up with a design and a bunch of white sportswriters in their 50s don’t like it but my 13-year-old kid loves it, we’re probably on the right track.”
I didn’t say anything, but why exactly does pleasing a 13-year-old instead of a 50something-year-old constitute “the right track”? Again, I’m not saying the 50something-year-old’s point of view should necessarily be valued more highly than the 13-year-old’s (although I can think of several arguments to support that position), but why should it be valued less?
Here’s the deal: When I write about uniforms, I’m not trying to tailor my opinions to any generational profile or appeal to any demographic group. I’m simply articulating what I think, as honestly as possible. Some folks may agree and others may not, and maybe those two camps will cleave along generational lines. If so, that’s interesting, but I don’t see it as problematic.
Let’s go a bit deeper: Let’s say, again for the sake of argument, that my opinions on uniforms are really out of step with those of younger readers, and that these younger readers will stop reading my work as a result. I’m sure that would widely be viewed as a problem — like,”Oh-oh, he’s losing the younger audience.” But now let’s turn that scenario on its head: Let’s say I had the tastes and aesthetic of a 25-year-old (whatever that means) and was therefore having trouble attracting readers in their 50s and 60s — would anyone view that as problematic? If not, why not?
A lot of this, of course, comes down to marketing, advertising, and merchandising. People in their 20s and 30s buy a lot stuff (including jerseys, caps, etc.), so they’re considered more valuable in the media world. Older people aren’t a particularly sought-after demographic because they don’t buy as many things (or at least not the same kind of mass-marketed products with high profit margins), so it’s easier to dismiss them — both in the marketing world and, by extension, in much of the rest of our culture.
Here’s another example of that: In yesterday’s Ticker, I wrote, “The D-backs are letting their social media followers vote on which uni the team will wear this Friday. I guess fans who don’t follow the team on social media don’t matter.” Reader/commenter Tom (who didn’t give his last name) objected to my critique, sarcastically saying, “I guess there’s no sense in doing something a little inclusive.” But here’s the thing: Letting social media followers determine your uniform isn’t “inclusive.” It actually excludes a big part of the fan base, because research shows that social media users skew disproportionately young. You want to be inclusive? Announce during your game broadcasts that fans can vote for their preferred uniform via text messages, because cell phone ownership is much more universal than social media usage.
I may be a bit more sensitive to this issue because I grew up with older parents. My mother and father were 40 when I was born, and that was in 1964, when having a kid at 40 was pretty rare. I was always very aware that my parents were older than my friends’ parents, and my friends were aware of it too. My parents dressed a bit differently, they furnished our home differently, and they had different cultural reference points. Sometimes this made them seem more interesting, and I was proud of that. At other times, I’m now ashamed to say, I was embarrassed by it, because I thought they were, you know, not as cool as my friends’ parents, who were younger.
As time went on and my parents entered their 60s and 70s, I watched as the world started giving them little signals that they didn’t matter as much as they once did. The magazines they’d subscribed to for years were running articles about things they didn’t care about or understand; Hollywood was putting out movies they couldn’t relate to; TV had begun to seem almost like an alien world (not just the shows but the commercials). I realize this is part of growing old — the world tends to get faster while we get slower. But it also reflects the way our cultural and marketing apparatuses tend to privilege youth above all else. And because I’d always been keenly aware of having older parents, I was also aware of how they felt like the world was leaving them behind. My mom just turned 92, and to this day I still feel badly for her when I see some sort of pop-cultural story on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, because I know it’ll make her feel clueless and worthless. That sucks.
All of which is a very long-winded way of saying I don’t see why sounding old (whatever that means) is any worse than sounding young (whatever that means). It might matter from a marketer’s standpoint, but marketing shouldn’t be driving what our society does or doesn’t value. From where I sit, good design is still good design and bad design is still bad design. I put forth my own point of view on those issues because it’s the only point of view I have. If that point of view “sounds old” (whatever that means), so be it.
One final thought: My Sweet 16 rankings also prompted a note from someone who told me, “Writing about uniforms? For real? Grow up already.” I’ll get right on that.
Annals of questionable journalism, Vol. 713: In 2003 a guy named Matt Cerrone created a blog about the Mets — MetsBlog. He worked hard, built an audience, kinda got in on the ground floor of team blogging, blah-blah-blah. I’ve never met him, but we’ve emailed a few times. Seems like a good guy.
MetsBlog now appears on the website of the Mets’ cable TV network, SNY. Cerrone still produces much of the content. In a move that’s disappointing but not all that surprising, MetsBlog is now “Presented by Citi,” with the Citi logo appearing in the upper-left corner of the page template. Okay, so that’s about what you’d expect in a situation like this. But here’s what you might not expect: Many of the blog’s individual entries are “presented by” additional corporate
sponsors advertisers, which are identified — get this — in the individual entries’ headlines (click to enlarge):
I have never seen that before in any print or online media outlet. And there are a lot of different corporate “presenters” in the MetsBlog headlines, as you can see here, here, here, and here.
I don’t mean this as an attack on MetsBlog (which I have read and enjoyed many times over the years) or on Cerrone (who, as I already stated, seems like a decent fella). I’m just astonished at the sight of corporate advertisers integrated into story headlines. Wow.
KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is now available. It’s a really good one, about a brass ring from a carousel. Check it out here.
By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: To honor the city’s bygone minor league team, the Columbus Clippers change their name and logo to the Jets on Wednesdays. They also wear throwbacks. Founded in 1955, the Jets were an A’s and Pirates affiliate that played ball in Columbus through the 1970 season, when they moved to Charleston, W.V. They are now the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. The Clippers were founded in 1977. … The D-Backs wore their new red helmets for the first time last night (from Phil). … Check it out: a reverse Breathing Either! That’s Chris Davis of the O’s, who trimmed his collar but left the Nike logo (from @BarstoolRDT). … Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin stood on their tip-toes for the Blue Jays’ team photo. … An independent team, the San Rafael Pacifics, will not wash its uniforms after home games attended by 500 fans or more. The move is to spread water conservation awareness in drought-stricken California. … Hanshin Tigers C Fumihito Haraguchi got promoted from No. 124 to 94, but he couldn’t get his new uniform in time, so he had to borrow a coach’s No. 82. Unless you can read Japanese, just take Jeremy Brahm‘s word for it. … Where do you think you’re going, Cracker Jack? The snack company is ditching toy prizes and replacing them with a code that users can scan to play baseball games on their phones. … Mets P Noah Syndergaard walked the streets of New York dressed as Thor, his nicknamesake. … Three teams will play in a 19th century base ball tournament at the New Jersey State History Fair on May 14. Here’s what the game looked like last year. … Extended netting really came up clutch at last night’s Phillies/Nats game. … Nats P Oliver Perez meticulously shredded a paper cup with his teeth. … Louisville Slugger has once again produced pink bats for Mother’s Day cancer awareness (from James Gilbert). … The Tacoma Rainiers will wear Star Wars jerseys on Wednesday, May 4. That’s Star Wars Day, of course ”” “May the 4th be with you” (from Alex Carson). ”¦ You know the game Operation? The Chattanooga Lookouts wore Operation-themed jerseys last night (from David Clemons). ”¦ The Asheville Tourists will become the Beer City Tourists for one game in June (from Jake Patterson). … For the second consecutive time, the Mets did not wear their blue alternate jerseys even though Matt Harvey was pitching. Harvey has a history of preferring the blue jerseys, but maybe that’s changing.
NFL News: A few readers sent this in: Here’s a deep dive into how the Quarterback Club and quarterback jersey sales nearly destroyed the players’ union in the 1990s. … Someone has an Odell Beckham-themed lacrosse helmet. That comes from this page (from Jared Buccola). … Former Bills CB (and current NFL analyst) Bucky Brooks once went FNOB. … Michael Barasch has a new project: What if every NFL team had a marching band? … The NFL Draft begins tonight in Chicago. Riddell took the SpeedFlex helmets of some of the higher-picking teams and matched them with a Chicago landmark based on their team name, logo, or helmet design. For instance, the Rams were paired with the Billy Goat Tavern, the Cowboys with Big Star, and the Dolphins with the Shedd Aquarium. Very neat! ”¦ Here’s a great 1964 photo of the Jets’ equipment manager applying logo decals to the team’s helmets. Looks like he’s wearing a pretty cool cap, too! (From Larry Bodnovich.)
College & High School Football News: Washington has a few “appearance tips” for women trying out for the cheerleading team (including a suggestion to wear “girl about town lipstick,” whatever that means). The tips sparked a backlash and were rescinded after the university determined that they were “inconsistent with the values of the UW spirit program and department of athletics” (from Adam Walter). … Despite the rumors, Georgia Tech is not becoming an Under Armour school. The Yellow Jackets have a deal with Russell Athletic through 2018 (from Michael Rich). … Elon, though, has signed a deal with Under Armour. The Phoenix were formerly with Nike (from Tim Kraus). … The Navy football team visited the White House yesterday and gave President Obama one of the battleship helmets from last year’s Army/Navy game. … The McCluer North Stars, a high school team in Missouri, have the NHL’s North Stars’ logo on their helmets (from Brett Stillman).
Hockey News: Did you know the Blackhawks first used a goal horn in the 1973 Stanley Cup Final because team owner Bill Wirtz liked the sound of his yacht’s horn? Or that when the Islanders wore their fisherman uniforms in the mid-1990s, they used a foghorn to signal scores? That all comes from this great piece on the history of the goal horn (from John Muir).
Basketball News: Both the Hornets and Heat wore alternate uniforms last night. The Hornets were in their sleeved black Buzz City unis and the Heat wore their “Legacy” set. … Rapper Iggy Azalea saved her boyfriend, Lakers G Nick Young, from getting “Born Reble” tattooed across his back. Then again, “Born Reble” could’ve passed as a subtle rebellion (or reble-ion?) against society’s spelling standards. That definitely would’ve been the basis of a basketblogger’s thought piece. … We saw this a little while back, but in case you missed it: The man who created the Bulls logo never received royalties from his work (from Patrick O’Neill). … A 1940s high school team was filled with players who wore double numbers.
Soccer News: An Xfinity ad in ESPN Deportes magazine shows a soccer fan wearing a jersey with a repurposed old U.S. Soccer shield (from Paul Lee). ”¦ The New York Red Bulls wore MetroStars throwbacks during pregame warm-ups, with the Nike maker’s mark obscured by tape (from James Ryan).
Grab Bag: Here’s the story on how SB Nation homogenized all the logos of the blogs in its network (from Ricky Schumaker). … Researchers have developed artificial intelligence that can colorize black-and-white photos (from Matt Bradford). … Nike founder Phil Knight sat down for an interview with CBS News and discussed the company’s history, including its use of sweatshops. His memoir, titled Shoe Dog, came out this week (from Keith Stokes). … Team USA revealed what athletes will wear for the Olympic Closing Ceremony. Also, here are the Olympic uniforms for Sweden (from Phil). … There’s more info on Olympic uniform unveilings, from a fashion perspective, here (from Tommy Turner). ”¦ Team Canada launched the “Ice In Our Veins” campaign for the Olympics (from Ted Arnold). … A Kent State alum was reunited with his old letterman’s jacket (from Mary Lynn Delfino). … A Fargo graphics firm, Custom Graphics Inc., declined to create a rainbow logo for a local Lutheran church. The kicker? The firm’s own logo features rainbow colors. … Toronto is getting a new rugby league team, the Toronto Wolfpack (from Will Leslie). ”¦ Elena Elms reports that North Carolina’s athletics department is holding a yard sale on May 14. Shoes, jerseys, equipment and other apparel from all of UNC’s sports teams will be for sale. A yard sale is cool, but I’d much prefer a bake sale, ideally with Elena’s cookies.
Paul, I’m only 43 and my taste in uniforms would be described as old school. You’re not alone.
Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance. – David Mamet
This is true in sports uniforms too. While the likes of the Diamondbacks keep firing uniform “misses”… Teams like the Cardinals hit the bullseye decades ago and are only slightly tweaked for the current era.
That’s right, appreciating the classics over the current trends doesn’t make you a geezer. Look at a photo of an NBA game from the 1970s. Who looks better with the passing of time, the Celtics or teams with a “seventies” look?
John, we are the same age and i’m on board with what you’re saying.
I’m 30 and have read Uni-Watch for 10+ years. I must be “old school” too. Never been a fan of what’s been happening. Don’t always agree with some design elements or uni choices (baseball greys/whites as the most notable) as Paul may have, but I definitely agree with most.
Shoot I’m 23 and get mad when teams add or change from historic uniforms l.
Sadly.. only old people listen to rock ‘n roll these days..
I’m 30 and I listen to rock ‘n roll.
First things first. I’m 38 and I would consider myself a uniform traditionalist. Simple, clean and classic are pretty much my standards for athletic aethstetics. I like uniforms that could be worn in 1950 as well as 2016 and look just as good. Timeless
That being said, being from Columbus, I think the Columbus Jets uniforms are miles better that the current Clippers uniforms. Heck, even the First Clippers uniforms are classics. With throwback hats, shirts and jerseys still being worn here in CBus. I don’t see hardly anyone rocking the new uniform that was introduced a couple of years ago. It’s got zero character, complete yawnsville.
The timeless traditional uniforms are usually at the top of every uniform ranking article. “Haters gunna hate!”
Even when you are 80 most people and writers will rank the Cubs, Tigers, Yankees, Cowboys, North Carolina, Packers etc. high on their ranking lists. While the DBacks 2016-2022’s (guessing) will be in the top 10 terrible uniform articles along with the old Raptors, teal Pistons and other garbage sets.
Very interesting read this morning. As someone in the cusp of 30, age and my tastes have been in my mind a lot lately, I’ve always tended to skew a bit “older” than my peers in my interests be it music or what have you. As for Paul’s work specifically, I’ve been a daily reader of this site since 2006 when I was 18 and have nearly universally agreed with Paul on uniforms (outside of some outliers, like enjoying the Islanders 2011 third jerseys) so I don’t think there’s anything age specific about those opinions.
Wait — you actually like this?
Yup. I honestly can’t specify a reason either, they’ve just always appealed to me for some reason even though objectively I can see the seas this issues people have with them. Certainly don’t like them as much more than the Isles actual uniforms, but I like them much more than the Stadium Series or Brooklyn thirds. I think it has to do with my general belief that if a team H’s a third or alternate (which is unecessary anyway, but I digress) I like it to be something completely different from their normal look.
Those are brutal.
I actually like them too, IF you remove the context of the rest of the team’s wardrobe. The Islanders are not a black, orange, gray, and blue team to me. Put that design on another team that wears those colors, and I think it’s pretty sharp.
Yeah, I don’t get it myself. But the 2002 alts were cool.
I’m going to have to stop going to this site while eating lunch if you keep posting stuff like that!
In so far as “modern, young tastes go”, go back and look at old pictures from even the 90s, 80s, 70s, 60s, etc, at what was considered fashionable. Then, realize how we all laugh at how we dressed back then. Point being is that new and modern that appeals to a young person may be something that is laughed at 10-20 years later. Classics ALWAYS are in style and look amazing. Fads are what come and go and I don’t really care to follow fads. Call me Old School or whatever else but real style means having some class.
Fads… exactly! None of these new things ever sticks too long. They are just fads – Johnny come latelys. Unfortunately the numerous “fads” are a bit of a movement. But hey, the new Sacramento Kings logo gives me hope that maybe we will swing back to traditional.
Proofreading: “I’m simply articulating what I think, as honestly possible.”
“but he couldn’t get his new uniform in time, so he had to borrow coach’s 82.”
“The Team USA revealed what athletes will wear”
“other apparel from all of UNC’s sports teams will for sale.”
” The the move is to spread water conservation awareness in drought-stricken California. … “
I think the unspoken bit you hit on the head. 18-35 is the “demo” where the advertising dollars go, and that’s what the big corporations care about, because that’s the age group that buys stupid stuff. (And I’m in it, so I’m not just picking on younger people.)
The other piece to this is I think something about culture. Who shapes culture? How do we get the soup we all swim in? I think you can suggest that young people are the culture shapers. Most of us get a particular taste or preference in our teens and 20’s, and that becomes pretty inflexible. For me, that means I love 90’s post grunge alternative rock. So, it makes me happy every time I hear Red Hot Chili Peppers or “Semi-charmed Life.” Try as I might (and I have) I just can’t get too excited about anything on top 40 radio, and I switch back to the 90s station pretty quick. The issue there of “getting old” is that I have become somewhat rooted in a cultural idiom that has past. Commercially that’s unhelpful (ie I’m only buying that Duncan Sheik single once), but its also artistically impossible. Even bands I like I tend to criticize subconsciously because it doesn’t “sound like their older stuff.”
This is how we get an “establishment” or “the man.” Over time a set of values or tastes becomes engrained in people and those people become the most powerful in society, because they are now running organizations they work for and make more money than young people, and they institutionally reinforce those ideas. I’ve noticed most restaurants I visit have just recently started playing almost exclusively music that I love! “Sounding old” is problematic in that it entrenches preferences from before and stifles new expressions. I’ve read you (Paul) long enough that I know you are much more open minded to new stuff than many others in many fields of interest. But I think one might suggest that your attitude on uniforms feels a bit stifling for younger designers and fans. Your opinion feels like the uni-universe “man” trying to mock new voices. Now, I generally agree with you because I like the old aesthetic better. But I think that’s the roots of the criticism, the fear that entrenched opinions by middle aged people can feel like the suppression of new younger ideas.
Interestingly, there is a physiological reason that music especially sticks with you. It has to do with brain development when you are a teen. I won’t do it justice, but you can read more about it here: link
I think that is one of the reasons for the shaping of the culture in general. Between the ages of 13-20, for whatever evolutionary reasons, we are wired to believe that things are more important than they really are. As you note, as we age, we tend to view those things as superior. Now, that’s not to say that this can’t be overcome with intentional thought, which is what good critics do. However, it does help to explain why we often are drawn towards the design elements from our youth, even if we can’t explain why.
Really great lede today. Lots to ponder. Thanks for engaging a part of my brain that doesn’t get a ton of exercise lately.
This idea of “establishing your preferences” during those years between, say, age 12 through 34, I think is solid.
I’m not going to pretend to be a human biology expert, but I would think that’s the time when your brain is still basically growing and developing, so you’re open to trying new things and both establishing and changing opinions of what is and isn’t good. Also, if you’re a believer in evolution, it’s also the time when we’re in our “mating years,” for the most part, which means we feel the need to compete against others to look/be cooler and more in the moment.
Other than the most open-minded folks, I think most folks who get beyond those ages have decided what they like and will stick with it. Plus, yes, once you get older, there’s often those things Paul discussed above (kids, a mortgage, etc.) to pay for, which precludes you from having the extra money to go and use trying out new things, which might end up being a waste.
So yeah, marketers will try and hook people in that demo because, if they get them there, they’ll probably get them for life. You’re less likely to convince an older person to change than a younger person because a younger person is still open to forming and changing their worldview.
Really well written point of view and honest look at society today. It’s the thoughtfulness you write with along with your authentic and genuine point of view that keeps hooked this reader and keeps me coming back daily. Simply put thanks for being yourself because it’s a good example for anyone to follow, be the best version of ourselves that we can be.
Wow — thanks so much, Will. Really appreciate the thoughtful words.
Absolutely right. I’ve tried being other people. I suck at it.
No Paul – no Uni-verse.
Where would cranky old decreptiles hang out to complain about people not getting it?
Actually if you are a creative type (or a old codger), you quickly find out that the differences between being “old fashioned vs. to the new hotness”, don’t have much in common with good design and or fashion at all (See Disco Era Polyester: I rest my case).
They occasionally are, and that’s cool when that happens, but for the most part not so much.
Great article, I’m 42 and a father of 3 boys and they even laugh at some of the newer uniforms in favor of the traditional uniforms. Its marketers job to sell as much of a product as they can no matter how ugly or thrown together it is.
It’s the internet, you’re bound to have haters. Most of them don’t know what they’re talking about and the rest are just “salty”. I’m 24 and find my uni-ideas about 85% in line with yours (purple being one of the dissenting points).
As for the ticker, the marching bands…I loved marching band and wish the NFL had kept bands in the stands.
Syndergaard’s nickname comes from Thor, which means he is Thor’s nicknamesake. The namesake is the person/thing named after something else. The thing/person that the namesake is named after is the eponym. So maybe Thor is Syndergaard’s eponickname.
Actually, “namesake” (or nicknamesake) can be either the thing with the original name or the thing named after it. The word’s definition works both ways:
Except that the definition of namesake used to be more limited, and (in yet another example of people becoming lazy about language) it came to be accepted to be used to mean both the named for and named after. In much the spirit of your post today, I have never tolerated this change in meaning.
Never “tolerated”? For a guy who’s advocating strict attention to language, that’s a pretty interesting word choice.
Regarding the college basketball team wearing double-digit numbers: there are 10 players in the picture, two with the numbers obscured. If we assume that the pattern holds, the second guy from the left in the upper row might have 33, as there is a 3 barely visible. This leaves the guy on the upper right side with wearing — 00.
Oh jeez, I can’t count. That is probably correct.
Paul, you bring up an interesting point about being “old”, now I’m 31, but I feel like your 30s is when one starts to feel old so to speak, but as you said, what’s so wrong with that? To me growing up, is holding onto those ideals and interests you liked as a youth, while also knowing when to change with the times with certain stuff, like having a smartphone.
Funny enough you linked to the cracker jack changing their “toys” to codes for a cell phone, and I just think it is pretty dumb, their toys have been a sticker, temporary tattoo or a trivia fact, so why can’t they keep those along with a code for a cell phone game? But then again I dont know what 10 year olds think of cracker jack.
But that’s another thing of growing up…… I dont care what a 10 or 13 year old thinks of something I may like.
I discovered uni watch in 2007 while working at a boring office job that allowed access to the internet. It wasn’t until years later in an article Paul wrote that I found out his age, back then it was around mid 40’s and I remember being a little shocked that he wasn’t younger. I’m no pro at reading or writing but just based on how I read uni watch I originally guessed between 25 and 30 years old, whatever that means.
Hmmm, I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult… Either way, it’s interesting!
Definitely not an insult.
I’ve said this before….it’s not really my interest in uni’s that makes me read this blog each and every day. It’s your voice and point of view that makes me do that.
Thanks, David — appreciated.
Both the Uni coverage and the thoughtful voice are great. I endorse this message.
Interesting point you raise, that we collectively seem to attach more validity to the preferences of “kids” and pretty easily dismiss those of “old people,” at least in this field. To that end, I think it touches on the whole fashion issue you raised within the past few months (right?). Those in their teens and twenties are the trendsetters (or, rather, those who consume the trends put out there by designers/manufacturers/retailers), anyone older can’t be fashionable and whatever it is you do like is irrelevant.
Interestingly, the opposite seems to be true when it comes to politics. My wife’s uncle and her sister recently got in to a heated debate on Facebook–suffice to say, they fall pretty far apart on the political spectrum. But he (about 50 y/o) dismissed her (about 35 y/o w/ a steady, very well-paying job & multiple sources of other income) perspective on the presidential race as being too young to understand. That just blew my mind. And I think, the younger you are, the more dismissive the general populace is of your opinion on political matters, despite the fact that all opinions bear the same weight when it comes to casting your ballot.
I think, the younger you are, the more dismissive the general populace is of your opinion on political matters, despite the fact that all opinions bear the same weight when it comes to casting your ballot.
A young person’s vote counts the same as an old person’s, it’s true. But here’s a big difference: Old people vote at a much higher rate than young people do. So old people have more political power, simply because they choose to exercise that power. But that’s an inequality that’s easy to rectify: Young people just need to vote more often.
Or to put it another way: If young people want to be taken seriously on politics, they need to take politics more seriously themselves.
When it comes to referencing an entire group, I think I agree, though I would imagine that the actual number of voters aged, say, 18-30 isn’t all that different from those above retirement age. While the younger group does turn out at a lower rate, it also comprises a larger chunk of the population than retirees. Lower turnout rates, perhaps, but still every bit as much influence overall.
When discussing politics one-on-one, though, it’s definitely an ignorant claim to make. Basically, a lazy argument to support your perspective, as anyone could easily make it about anything and be right in their own mind.
Wait — what is the “ignorant claim” and the “lazy argument” that “anyone could make”?
I’m honestly unsure of what you’re referring to here, Ryan. Could you please clarify?
Being an oldster myself, “you don’t understand” makes some sense since many older folks have come to vastly different political conclusions than they had when they were young and it’s easy to project that onto today’s youngsters – especially if the youngster is saying something that the oldster held decades ago and has since turned against.
First ballgame I ever attended was at Jets Stadium with my dad. I was too young to recall who they played or anything about it aside from that beautiful logo.
Me too! Summer of 1965. I think they played Jacksonville.
The new downtown park is great, I guess, but I liked going to the old one into the 2000’s and knowing that it was the same place my dad went to see the Columbus Red Birds in the 1930s.
I really enjoyed the authenticity of the lede today. Thank you for going through a lot of your thought processes on this subject, Paul. It’s this kind of stuff that has made me a daily reader since 2006.
Thanks so much, John. I appreciate your longstanding devotion to the site.
Cracker Jack has not given away toy prizes in years. It has been a paper prize for quite some time.
I’d say you have a style and you know what you like. You in turn pull in writers who have similar perspectives on uniforms as you do. I agree that the market is flooded with a ton of bad designs, but that is fashion for you. I never liked Ed Hardy shirts, but at a time they were worn by bros everywhere. I think there is a similar kind of trend on sports uniforms where there is an ability to over design something. I don’t know if liking or not liking has an age to it, but I think it comes down to your tastes. I would say the classic stylings and looks appeal more to your tastes.
I “pull in writers”?
Guest posts, Phil, Mike…those kinds of things. I would say they have very similar tastes to yours. Sure there are some differences, but I would say there is a style that the site leans towards as a whole.
I think what you’re trying to say is that the site’s contributors (and many of its readers, for that matter) share a point of view, or a set of values. Maybe not in terms of every single specific thing, but in terms of broad, general principles.
And yes, that’s probably true. It happens to be true of most creative projects that have a point of view, so Uni Watch is hardly unique in that regard.
I’m not saying anything is wrong with that. It is your site. There are plenty of commenters who go against the site’s grain and that is what makes the comments section so great. I don’t think there are many posts that go up that are point-counterpoint or even from a different perspective than those that you kind of side with. Again, it is your site, so that is what you want.
but I guess what I am saying is that those “ugly” (by Uni Watch standards) uniforms are out there and they are liked by at least some people. I’m just not sure what to do with that statement.
Great entry today, Paul. As you pointed out, I hate when writers say “get off my lawn” about themselves. They are willing to completely negate a strong, well-reasoned opinion in order to not appear old or out of touch. It’s a shame.
I wouldn’t put too much stock into the Sweet 16 feedback you’ve gotten (which I’m guessing you haven’t, but still). I thought the piece, like just about everything you do, was comprehensive, consistent, and supported by specific details. Most of the people that disagreed with you did so on an emotional level, and didn’t have the insight to offer a decent rebuttal. Calling you an old man was a cheap way to try to hit you where it hurt.
Boy, some people just have no shame when it comes to sucking up to the boss, eh? ;)
Seriously: Thanks, Mike. No, I don’t worry too much about feedback on a rankings piece (like I said, it comes with the territory), and I don’t care if someone thinks I “sound old” (whatever that means). I just think it speaks to a certain cultural trope that’s worth exploring, which is why I explored it today.
I always wonder about how readers will respond to these long-ish think pieces. Very nice to see that people seem to be liking this one.
I always wonder about how readers will respond to these long-ish think pieces.
If I skim a Uni Watch post and see a bunch of embedded stock images I know I’m in for something good haha.
I sometimes say “get off my lawn” about myself, but only in the context of acknowledging that I’m aware that certain typical age-based biases might be informing my opinions. Not age-based in that there’s anything inherent in being 42 as opposed to 36. Rather, in the sense that most people have highly formative aesthetic experiences in their adolescence. Entire industries are predicated on the notion that the stuff a person likes at 13 will say a lot about the stuff they like at 35, 50, and beyond. Industries that make rather a lot of money, so they can’t be entirely wrong. I mean, is it just an amazing coincidence that the average quality of baseball uniforms and pop music peaked circa 1986-1991? Or is it at least possible that the fact that I happened to be between the ages of 12 and 17?
Flagging oneself for get-off-my-lawnism doesn’t invalidate one’s reasoning or conclusions, or anyway it ought not do so. Rather, it should be seen as a simple acknowledgement of the existence and possibly influence of the biases inherent in coming of age in a certain time and place. I mean, look, I enjoy Def Leppard. I own Def Leppard albums, plural, and listen to them. (The two CDs that have been stolen from me most often are Elvis’ Golden Records and Hysteria.) But I’m also fully aware that if I had grown up ten years earlier or later, I would probably not enjoy Def Leppard at all. I don’t enjoy most popular music these days, but I’m fully aware of the fact that had I been born between 1990 and 2005, I probably would enjoy today’s pop music just as much as I enjoyed 1980s and 90s music. Is my preference for old-school rap and basic distaste for most contemporary hip hop really a considered aesthetic judgment, or is it an accident of historical timing that I was a teenager when NWA, Redman, X-Clan, early Wu-Tang, Public Enemy, Run-DMC, and the like were current? Probably the latter.
Flagging oneself for get-off-my-lawnism doesn’t invalidate one’s reasoning or conclusions, or anyway it ought not do so. Rather, it should be seen as a simple acknowledgement of the existence and possibly influence of the biases inherent in coming of age in a certain time and place.
This seems like a reasonable point, until you realize that there’s no youth-based analog to “Get off my lawn.”
If 17-year-olds said, “I really like [whatever] — now bring me another shiny object,” then “Get off my lawn” would be a reasonable counterpoint. But 17-year-olds don’t say that. Only older people are expected to self-caricature their opinions. It reflects a cultural bias.
I think younger people are generally more earnest in their viewpoints, thus then less given to self parody.
Younger people also tend to lack the life experiences and length of stable identity that is required for mature self-awareness. Sort of by definition. Time and experience tempers us and, hopefully, makes us more self-aware. So of course younger people will tend to have less self-awareness and a lesser faculty for viewing their own thoughts critically. That’s not a double standard or cultural bias, it’s a fact of life.
An adolescent who’s easily distracted by shiny things is normal. An adult who hasn’t figured out yet that his worldview is conditioned by arbitrary external factors beyond the purity of his own reason and virtue hasn’t been paying attention to his own life. It’s appropriate judge the clueless kid by a lower standard than the clueless codger.
I think you become old when you stop living life and let it live you. I purchased about 30 New Era hats last year including team issue. I purchased quite a few jerseys including game issued. I ran the streets of Midtown Manhattan until 230am. I am 58.
Paul lives life and lives it well. I see him on TV some. Old people do not appear on TV.
“…but marketing shouldn’t be driving what our society does or doesn’t value.”
I think we lost that fight a long time ago, Paul.
Paul: I’m a couple of years older than you are, and I have recently started thinking about this very subject. You are doing just fine holding back the inevitable march of time. For me, not only only does the factors you and the other responders have mentioned, but it is a reaction about the world that I find in 2016, when our country continues to involve itself in overseas wars, which besides how they are marketed with the singing of God Bless America, having athletes dress up like they are GI Joe toys, and saluting military members like they were demigods, when the places/people we are fighting pose no significant threat to the US (seriously, is the ISIS Navy going to invade LA?), when we send meaningless thoughts and prayers every few weeks when there is yet another mass shooting, and our only feasible choices for President is an unqualified vulgarian and a marginally qualified person with the ethics of a polecat. Given this, I would much rather, to maintain my sanity, watch reruns of Johnny Carson from 1976 and watch movies on TCM than deal with the real world.
As someone who is 25, I have almost exactly the same taste as you, Paul, in uniforms. Except that I like purple in unis. I’m VERY old-school when it comes to that design.
Also, re: the Washington cheerleaders sign- they include “bronzed, beachy look,” but what about for non-white cheerleaders? Would they allow someone on their team who can’t be “bronzed?” Grrr
Don’t take any wooden nickels, Paul…
Paul – I’ve been a reader of the blog for several years and can’t even place what brought me here in the first place. It must have been one of your ESPN columns although I was never particularly passionate about uniforms. However, since becoming a regular reader I have definitely become more aware and “old school” (I’m 36) in my preferences for unis.
Generally I have scanned rather quickly through your columns for the links since I tend to not agree with your social commentary however the last few weeks I feel like its been much more focused and has helped me appreciate your point of view even when I disagree with it.
I must admit though, I’m still not completely clear on when something is a design vs. fashion issue. For example, would changing the color of the uniforms to pink for Mother’s Day be a fashion change since the design (typography, layout, etc.) be the same as the usual?
Sorry for the long winded and somewhat off topic comment and thanks to you and your contributors for keeping up a blog which is among my first visits each morning.
Its worth noting that in the Diamondbacks online poll, the teal alternate home is currently outpacing all the other options combined. Not coincidentally its also the one with the least visible sublimated patterns.
I think there’s something to be said that the “youthful” uniforms designs with garish colors or patterns end up looking just looking bad.
As time went on and my parents entered their 60s and 70s, I watched as the world started giving them little signals that they didn’t matter as much as they once did. The magazines they’d subscribed to for years were running articles about things they didn’t care about or understand; Hollywood was putting out movies they couldn’t relate to; TV had begun to seem almost like an alien world (not just the shows but the commercials). I realize this is part of growing old – the world tends to get faster while we get slower. But it also reflects the way our cultural and marketing apparatuses tend to privilege youth above all else. And because I’d always been keenly aware of having older parents, I was also aware of how they felt like the world was leaving them behind. My mom just turned 92, and to this day I still feel badly for her when I see some sort of pop-cultural story on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, because I know it’ll make her feel clueless and worthless. That sucks.
That’s a very well written paragraph.
Thanks, James — appreciated.
Here’s something, and I think it has been discussed here before, but I wonder if the teams that you root for growing up influence your opinions of uniforms. I have been a lifelong (28 years and counting) Yankees fan and a University of Michigan fan (and now alum). Those two teams have probably the most traditional uniforms out there (at least for football, most of the time) so I tend to prefer more traditional uniforms. As much as I hate the Red Sox or Ohio State, I still hate to see them do anything to change how they look. Those all black buckeye uniforms last year where horrible and I hated all the alternates that Nike put out for The Game. That last game of the year should always be maize and blue vs. scarlet and grey not some fauxback or new design.
There are some new designs and features that I like, such as some of the matte and chrome helmets look really good, but overall the newer designs aren’t visually appealing.
I wonder if others in that prime demographic (18-35) feel the same way. Say, for instance, you are from the Northwest and are a big Oregon and Seahawks fan. Does that mean you like newer trends?
I’m 46, and my tastes mostly align with yours. But to answer your question, “Why exactly does pleasing a 13-year-old instead of a 50something-year-old constitute ‘the right track,” I think the answer is clear:
1. A 13-year-old is much more likely to wear team gear than a 50something. They just have more opportunities to wear the stuff.
2. Kids don’t want to like the same things as their parents. So if they like a jersey their dad doesn’t like, they’re probably going to stick with liking it for at least another 5-10 years. Whereas if the look is from his dad’s era, well, you get it …
Anyway, my post here is more from the position of devil’s advocate. I don’t agree, but if I were a marketer for a pro team, this is probably how I’d have to feel.
You’ve basically just echoed my point, namely that a lot of our society’s cultural dialogue, priorities, and valuations are driven by selling crap. Which is not a good place for a society to be.
I’m an on-again, off-again reader, but like you, I was born in ’64 and my parents were older than most of my friends’ parents. In fact, my oldest sister was closer in age to some of my friends’ parents. Anyway,
I don’t always agree with your opinions about things, but I like your quirks. Anybody who has a tattoo of a shoe-size thingy (and yes, I know it has a real name) and lines his doorway with pencil sharpeners seems like a person I want to pay attention to.
But right here you’ve pretty much nailed what it is about this site that keeps bringing me back. Yeah, great – we can sell more shit to teenagers than to people our age. But does that always have to be how we place value on people?
I don’t disagree. I guess I sort of misinterpreted your original question. I thought you were asking why a person trying to do well at his job would want to make sure younger people like his product. Sounds like you know, but are questioning the U.S.’s economic system. Again, I don’t disagree at all.
It’s your art, paint the picture how you want.
All writing, even factual reporting, comes from a perspective. The reader should understand that. It’s your blog, write about what you want and how you want to say it. You even have provided a forum for discussion and dissent and are fairly respectful of differing opinions. Us readers can chose to read it or not, to make comments or not.
I don’t say “Get off my lawn!” To sound hip or self deprecating. I say it because I want those little punks to get off my lawn.
That “PRESENTED BY” for the individual headers is really, truly awful.
41 years old. For the most part, I like the new designs for football. Sleeves really no longer exist and it is easy and relatively cheap to sublimate subtle designs in fabrics. I also think that Oregon’s uni run for football from the 2012 Rose Bowl to the end of the 2014 season was awesome. But I’m not a huge fan of every US college team going to 11 different looks for 11 different games.
I admit that I find your views skewed towards “retro” but that’s great. If everyone agreed on everything, the world would be a boring place. And as a Canadian who lives in the prairies, I love the fact that include stories on curling!
Excellent article/column/OP-ED today. I thought it was incredibly well written and constructed. While my lifestyle couldn’t be much more different than yours (33, 2 kids, mortgage, office job for 12 years now), I nearly completely agree with your views on uniforms and on this particular issue. Well done and thanks again for keeping this website going!
That’s not a lifestyle, Aaron — it’s your life, period!
Remember, lifestyle is something you buy. Life is something you live. Keep enjoying yours!
I’m 54 years old, and am feeling older by the day. I do like traditional uniforms, like the Yankees and Cardinals, but think there is also a place for innovative uniform styles for teams like the Diamondbacks.
In my youth the uniforms of the Oakland A’s, my local team, were considered garish. (I didn’t think so, but then I was only 10.) When the team reeled off 3 consecutive championships, those once garish uniforms became the toast of the town. A number of teams began wearing jerseys in something other than white or gray, and some even wore white spikes!
I’m not saying that I particularly like the D’backs uniforms, but I think we should at least give them some time. Within a few years they’ll either end up on the scrap heap or, if Arizona can win a few trophies, perhaps several other clubs will jump on their aesthetic bandwagon.
I’m not saying that I particularly like the D’backs uniforms, but I think we should at least give them some time. Within a few years they’ll either end up on the scrap heap or, if Arizona can win a few trophies, perhaps several other clubs will jump on their aesthetic bandwagon.
I don’t really understand this statement. You’re suggesting that if the team is successful on the field, then other teams may copy its design. That may be true, but that has nothing to do with how good the design is AS A DESIGN. It just means other teams like to copy something that’s associated with on-field success.
So when you say we should “give them some time,” are you saying we should wait to get a better sense of how the uniforms look? Or are you saying we should wait to see how many games the team wins while wearing this design?
Speaking for myself and for this website, on-field success (or failure) is irrelevant when assessing a design. All that matters is whether the design works aesthetically. The rest is all noise.
If the D-backs win the World Series, that won’t suddenly make their uniforms good (at least not to me, since I think the uniforms are bad). Similarly, the 1962-’68 Mets were among the worst teams ever to play, but that doesn’t change the fact that their uniforms were really, really good.
What I’m saying is that tastes change. What was once considered ugly, is now considered attractive, and yes, team success often dictates fashion. Would the San Diego Padres change their look seemingly every other year if they were winning championships? Not likely.
The Yankees have won 27 World Series. Their look is associated with success. If they were not as successful, we might see them changing uniform styles as often as, say, the Chicago Cubs. The same holds true for the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL, who haven’t changed the look of their uniforms for decades.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that open-mindedness is a good thing. As we give new things a chance, we may find that they’re not so bad as we first thought. Heck, we may even find, much to our own surprise, that we actually like them.
yes, team success often dictates fashion.
I’m not interested in fashion. I’m interested in design. And good design has nothing to do with on-field success. Neither does bad design. A good team can look like shit; a bad team can look great. The two issues — performance and aesthetics — are completely different realms. Or at least they are on this website. Your mileage may vary and all that.
A lot of feels with today’s blog.
The phrase that came to mind when I was reading this was “old soul.” You can have an “old soul” at any age. It’s an old-timey sounding phrase, but I think it’s usually used warmly. I think you’re an old soul, Paul, as am I. Nowadays, it can even mean a longing for the values and ways of a time before many of us were alive, when the almighty dollar meant less and one’s reputation and dignity meant more.
One of the characteristics of having an “old soul,” I think, is wisdom. Wisdom comes with age, usually, but I think it’s possible to have wisdom at any age, particularly with an old soul. Understanding and trying to determine what’s wise and timeless with design is different than trying to determine what will sell or be popular in the now.
You mentioned your parents were older when you were born. I think that contributed to your having an old soul because I’m assuming (especially given your love for your Mom and your writing) they were quite wise, perhaps from age. I, too, was born to older parents — my mom was 35 when she had me, after having her first child at 21. I’m fairly certain, as a result of having older parents who treated me more like an adult than a child through my development, I thought abstractly at a much, much younger age than most other kids, who tend to think concretely until they get to, say, high school. For instance, I routinely got to stay up just late enough to watch Johnny Carson’s monologue and would “get it,” often repeating the jokes back during conversations in my fifth or sixth grade class. My teachers would laugh; my fellow students would give me blank stares.
That said, I think part of your reaction came from Richard Barney’s E-mail. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I honestly have to admit — as far as a “burn” can go, Richard’s was actually pretty solid, creative and thoughtful, given his opinion. I give credit to anyone who can issue a “burn” that well-written, even if that person is “burning” me. I feel like you took it personally and you obviously disagreed on many levels, but I also hope you laughed a little and maybe even tipped your cap. Use of the word sockdollager qualifies as witty in my book.
I would not, however, say you “sound old.” I again say you have an “old soul” and sound wise. You know that, as great as sublimated dots may seem now on a Diamondbacks uniform, 20 years from now, it’s going to look silly, passe and dated, not to mention it might not even be replicable for a throwback if the tech changes between now and then. You also know, once you go down the path of always catering to “what’s cool now,” you’re always going to have to go down that path, perhaps to your doom. Can Oregon ever go back to wearing the same uniform twice now? What if the bubble for athletic revenue for colleges pops and they get to a point where they/Nike can’t afford to produce that many uniforms? Won’t problems be much more obvious if that happens? And don’t you reach a point where you’ve used all the best looking ideas and you will only have worse and worse designs going forward? Being able to have that kind of forethought is wisdom defined.
However, marketers don’t market to the wise. They market to the suckers who will pay. Or they market to the people whose minds they can change — the younger folks — not the older folks who have the wisdom to know that’s what they’re doing. (There’s a broader discussion that could be had about how the devaluation and defunding of education by certain segments of our society that also tend to be pro-big business plays into this, but that’s for a different kind of blog.)
If you want to use the “sounding old” phrase, however, this is where I thought you sounded oldest today: ” … marketing shouldn’t be driving what our society does or doesn’t value.” Unfortunately, this is where I think you have the biggest disconnect with the thinking of the apparel makers, leagues and even young consumers. To them, I think it increasingly drives everything they do because I think they’re increasingly just trying to figure out what makes the most money. And I think those without that “old soul,” to an extent, are even largely OK with that. I think there’s a segment of the younger generation that likes to affiliate with the Oregons and Diamondbacks of the world because new, shiny, flashy and 18 combinations implies marketing power, influence, wealth, having the resources to have that many combinations, along with the confidence and cockiness to say, “No one’s ever done this before and others will call this ugly, but we don’t f’ing care.” Those are all kinda sexy traits, but also not wise thinking. The unwise will buy into the sexiness. The wise will say, “Not a good idea.”
Nonetheless, there’s nothing inherently wrong with either “sounding old” or having an old soul. I think the ability to remain thoughtful and analytical into older ages is key to a fulfilling, satisfying life. It may even speak to a larger thing: Is thoughtfulness and critical thinking akin to “sounding old”? The young do tend to think fast and be more impulsive. Maybe it would be better if we instilled such “old values” in the young a little more. But then, they might not be as likely to buy into marketing schemes or feel the need to buy six alternate jerseys, so I’m guessing the powers that be wouldn’t want that.
As such, it’s important for us who Get Itâ„¢, us old souls who have the wisdom to see through it all, to keep up the fight.
One last thought: You called yourself immature. In a weird way, though, to be this thoughtful and analytical is some of the most mature ways of thinking possible. Keep in mind, there’s a difference between being immature by nature or acknowledging what a mature person would do, then doing the opposite for kicks and giggles, or simply because you can. You know maturity involves an office, khaki pants and decent work shoes. You choose to eschew those things. If anything, it’s almost a higher level of maturity. Remember, however, those with less wisdom often don’t even know what it means to be mature, and again, marketers can take advantage of that.
But yeah. Keep up the fight. Great column today. Try not to take it personally. Yes, you “sound old.” It’s because what’s old, tried, true, tested and survives is better than what’s new but not done for the right reasons. So keep “sounding old,” if that’s how you want to put it. Maybe we need more voices like that.
this is where I thought you sounded oldest today: ” … marketing shouldn’t be driving what our society does or doesn’t value.” Unfortunately, this is where I think you have the biggest disconnect with the thinking of the apparel makers, leagues and even young consumers.
Oh, believe me, Dan, I’m well aware that there’s a disconnect there. I’m all too aware that marketing increasingly DOES drive what our society does and doesn’t value. If that weren’t the case, there’d be no need for me to call it out.
Unfortunately, it IS the case. And it’s a bad place for our society to be. Which is why I’ll keep calling it out.
Please do so. It needs to be done. We live in a world where, more and more, we need people to understand that “making more money” is not the one and only value to which we should aspire.
I think when we accuse somebody of being “old” it can be a synonym for closed minded.
You might be old, you might have some old fashioned tastes, but do you reflexively dismiss anything new? Absolutely not.
I know some “older” people who automatically dismiss any music made after 1974, or any movie made since 1970, as “new” and “crap” without critically assessing it. The real sin is failing to even consider anything new on its merits, not in failing to like it.
And today’s lede is a little ironic. The Who is touring right now and I’m paying an ungodly sum to see them next week. I guess I’ll have to balance things out by listening to an album from an up and coming artist.
Great point, Mike. Most of us who read this blog obsessively agree that Paul is anything but closed-minded.
I think others may interpret him that way because where he stands now seems to be the opposite of what the current trend is. As such, he has to spend a lot of time decrying what’s going on. So much so, in fact, that some may think that’s all he does. But, to distill it down to two words, “it happens.”
In the mid-90’s, I HATED grunge. I despised it and everything it stood for. I believed in always putting one’s best foot forward and representing one’s family, friends, community, etc., in the best way possible. So while I held onto these beliefs and wore my sports-team sweatshirts and coordinating turtlenecks with pride, everyone else in my middle school wore grungy flannels, baggy pants with holes in them and sported unkempt hair in an effort to look like Kurt Cobain. I took a ton of grief for it and was thought of as a total square. But now, 20 years later? I’m really glad I stayed true to myself and my style through it all. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
Fantastic essay today Paul, great writing.
You & I are about the same age, and in many ways share similar aesthetic on lots of things. I often read your stuff and think to myself “yeah, what he said!”.
Thanks for helping me articulate things in my own head much better than I could usually do myself.
I’m 25 and read uni-watch every single day. I agree with Paul on at least 95% of things (I’m okay with purple sometimes). I’d love to see a poll for the avg. age of readers here. Maybe stick it in at the end of an article so only people who read all the way through on a regular basis poll in.
As someone who’s 24 reading this article I only have one comment: keep doing what you’re doing. In yesterday’s post about the Kings’ new logo you mentioned that you don’t usually like purple. Personally, I like it because in the uniform word purple is pretty unique (as long as it’s used in good taste, mind you). But on most other uniform related topics I agree with you. I’m an Atlanta Hawks’ fan who falls into the Millennial demographic but I hate the neon green and a bunch of the “mix and match” combinations. I’m not in love with the BFBS and Grey kicks that a lot of teams are into right now. I know a good uniform when I see one and whether or not that falls in line with your thoughts doesn’t matter: we have differing opinions and that’s ok.
As someone who still has room to go before 40, I’ll be very honest and say that I prefer the traditional looks of teams. While I get that redesigns are often done to “spice up” the brand, it’s how far one goes away from traditional team elements that either shocks or wows the fanbase and, perhaps, makes them appreciate what was changed.
Case in point? The New York Islanders. The Fisherman threw everyone for a loop so much so that there were boycotts outside Nassau Mausoleum. A few years later, the Islanders make changes to the uniforms again, but introduce the “traditional” jersey as an alternate. People get very happy again.
There are a lot of NHL teams that have gone back to traditional looks – Pittsburgh, Washington, Buffalo for example – in the last few years. Understandably, the fanbases have embraced these looks once again.
History has a romance about it, and sports doesn’t escape that. It’s a time when our values were established, as one reader said above, and it’s why we associate that logo and look with a sports brand.
Toronto Wolfpack is a rugby league team, not a rugby team. Rugby always refers to rugby union, as it is the far-more-popular code. If you’re talking about rugby league, you should always use “rugby league,” not “rugby.”
Other that you oddly specific hatred of purple, I tend to agree with you on almost all uniform points. And at 39, I don’t consider myself “old.” I like classic looks, especially when it comes to baseball. The Giants home creams are a simple, fantastic set. The Dodgers classic look is timeless. (Yes, I just threw up in my mouth a little.)Don’t fuck with the look of the Yankees or Cardinals. And every single combo that the D-Backs have come out with this season can all burn in a fire.
But I understand that uniforms are now and forever more marketing tools. The more ridiculous combos a team comes up with are more that can be sold to the fans. In college sports the uni is now part of recruiting.
Being a traditionalist in the modern marketing world can suck, and if being a traditionalist makes me “old” to the younger generation, then those whippersnappers can get off my lawn.
In Richard Barney’s note, is says “gold old days”. I’m assuming it was supposed to be “good” there. Was that your typo or his (or am I missing something here)?
Thanks — now fixed.
Not proofreading, but something else I just noticed about his note. He says he’s “no young whippersnapper”. Can you even be an old whippersnapper? Young whippersnapper seems redundant to me, but you frequently see the word whippersnapper preceded by the word young.
Not a critique, it just struck me as humorous…
Hmmm. Wasn’t there an entry here like a week ago discussing how the now sacrosanct Cardinals (MLB) unis were once ridiculed for being too new fangled?
So we know on some level that’s a moving target. And I for one then, would be glad that the youngin’s got their say back when the Cards put the birds on a bat into effect.
I use “Get off my lawn” (I’m 42) about myself to REMIND myself that there’s nothing new or unique about aging and becoming a curmudgeon. I saw a talk recently about the absurdity of lumping people into generations anyway (Adam Ruins Everything) and one of the neat reveals is a quote from like some ancient Greek about how kids these days don’t show any respect. So in some ways this is the second or third oldest conversation topic ever.
I use “Get off my lawn” to check myself against forgetting what it was like to be young. We simultaneously want our youth to have it better than us (But we get jealous they have it better than us). We want them to be prepared to take the reigns but we bristle when they reach for them. It’s all about our mortality.
And to the extent they (young) have an out-sized say in commercially targeted taste-maker stuff? They have a super under-sized say in almost everything else that goes on around them (the cost of college as one example). And the people in advertising determining the under 35 $ is worth more? Are probably over 40-50 yrs old to begin with. If we don’t value the older American it’s the middle aged American doing doing the devaluing I think. Plus older folks get catered to politically sometimes too cause they’re such a reliable bloc and in many cases (within a limited sphere) wield actually way too much influence you could argue.
Not saying it’s not an interesting topic. It is. Not even saying Paul is wrong here. I’m saying it’s super complicated and I lately choose to push back on anything that feels broadly or even tangentially derogatory of the “youth” of America.
plus older folks get catered to politically sometimes too cause they’re such a reliable bloc…
As I already noted in an earlier comment thread, there’s an easy solution to that: Young people can increase their rate of voting instead of sitting out so many elections. Simple.
You can’t complain about not having power if you choose not to exercise that power.
Great column today with which I can completely empathize. I’m on the back end of my 40’s and I can’t tell you how many times I’m told I sound like an old curmudgeon. And, like you, I don’t feel my age, but there are times where I hear my father’s voice in my own comments. I must admit, that kind of creeps me out a bit.
And this doesn’t limit itself to my uni-tastes in the world of athletic apparel. For crying out loud, all my favorite musical artists are in their late 60’s now. I can’t even stomach watching the Grammy awards anymore because, well, most of the stuff today just doesn’t speak to me. Oh, there are some exceptions, but, by and large, I’d just rather listen to who I like.
Probably about the only area of sports apparel where I do like the more modern stuff is in what professional golfers wear. Most of the current stuff is tasteful, and I can see myself wearing it (with the notable exception of Rickie Fowler’s jumper pants and high-tops . . . NO EFFING WAY!)
I guess this is all probably just a part of the life cycle. There, inevitably, comes a point where we all start to feel a little out of touch, and realize that the world is starting to pass us by. Maybe that’s why we “old souls” hold onto the things from our past that we love. It’s that form of nostalgia that makes us “remember when.”
Having said that, I do try to keep an open mind (where I can) and be receptive to new things. Some new stuff in the world isn’t all bad. But, I have to say, I still like to look back on the things I enjoyed from when I was younger. . . seeing Earl Campbell run over people while wearing those sweet Oiler uni’s, George Brett make a run at .400 wearing perfect stirrups, Tony Gwynn win his first batting title wearing the Taco Bell duds, and watching Billy Joel bounce around a stage when he had hair.
You’re older than my parents, yet we tend to agree on some things and we tend to disagree on some things. What fun would this site be if we all agreed on everything?! If that was the case there would be no discussion and absolutely no point in having the thing. You’ve taken this site and made other peoples’ opinion on uniforms heard, at least on this blog. At the end of the day, our ideas of style are going differ, just like the real world, but that’s what makes us human. So to answer your question, yes, you are old….but who the hell cares?!?!?
Paul, I have always liked your occasional use of old-ish slang words. That makes for timeless writing, not out-of-date writing.
It’s interesting to me that the dominant political discourse of our society is dominated by a rhetoric of conservatism and tradition. Not only the ideological movement that identifies as big-C Conservative, and which ironically is nothing of the sort. But even our liberal and progressive traditions habitually present themselves as rooted in traditions and supposedly eroding but therefore longstanding values and ideas of the common good. Even when an actual European-style “socialist” runs for president, he doesn’t say, “America, screw it, we’ve gotten it wrong all along. You know how does it right? Norway. We can remake America from the ground up if you vote for me.” Instead, the guy maps his vision for America to a past that’s almost but not quite too far gone to be recovered. Even our boldest visionaries adopt a rhetoric of restoration and renewal, not transformation and novelty.
Yet our culture is as Paul so well describes today dominated by a rhetoric of disruption and anti-traditionalism. It’s as if we all simultaneously want to be ruled by both Eisenhower and Lenin. Or in uni terms, we yearn for the stolid comfort of the Yankees even as we lust after the outrageous dissonance of the Diamondbacks. The criticism Paul reports receiving here feels less about actual age or generational cohorts and more of a generalized pushback against Paul’s aesthetic and cultural conservatism. Youth or youthiness is really just a symbol for anti-traditionalism or cultural radicalism. The odd thing is the frequency with which criticism of Paul’s aesthetic conservatism is couched in the language and symbols of contemporary political conservatism. But all of us are implicated in the larger paradox of operating at once within a political discourse dominated by the rhetoric of tradition and a cultural discourse dominated by the rhetoric of disruption.
Here’s the thing: I’m 46 and grew up in one of the first waves of sports fans who had somewhat easy access to buying team jerseys, hats, etc. So as an “older fan” who’s still interested in those things, I suspect I care about them more than older fans used to be. I get that the younger folks spend more money on merchandise, but leagues ought to be smart enough to realize that us old-timers are significant consumers as well.
Speaking of 19th century baseball tournaments, If you haven’t seen Conan Obrien’s take on 1864 baseball, I highly suggest you check it out, it’s a hoot.
My only real beef with Paul’s general tastes is that he will refer to NFL teams with uniforms that are about the same as they were in the 60’s (the Packers for example) as “classic” yet he continues to refer to my Panthers’ uniforms as “dated” and in need of an update because they look too “90’s”.
I still believe that since the Panthers were founded in the 90’s, there’s nothing wrong with their uniforms reflecting that, and the way a uniform becomes “classic” is NOT to update it.
Any uniform becomes good-looking if it sticks around long enough.
Any uniform becomes good-looking if it sticks around long enough.
We can agree to disagree about the Panthers, Dan. But the above-quoted statement is simply incorrect. Your premise is that longevity inevitably equates with aesthetic respectability, and that premise is badly flawed. Good design is good design; bad design is bad design.
What keeping a uniform around long enough means is that the team has a grasp of branding. Good or bad, commit to it and allow potential fans to become familiar with it. Even if you get other things wrong, the uniform is a good optic and tends to smooth over boo-boos in player development, bad luck, poor trades, etc.
Just once I would like to have a discussion that doesn’t include the word “branding.”
I’m in advertising; it’s my bread and butter.
Loved the lede, Paul. Excellent work.
I’m 49 and see nothing wrong with Paul’s “old guy rants.” Just because a guy is “old,” it does not invalidate his opinion. I’d argue his opinion is of equal or greater worth simply due to wisdom. Wisdom is the gift of knowing what works and what doesn’t. You could say the “old guy rant” is a message of caring; of not wanting to see future generations make similar mistakes.
The thing is, each generation likes to put their own spin on things to express their collective individuality. Graphic design is an excellent medium in which to satisfy creative urges. Artists capitalize on these urges by constantly seeking out different ways to deliver their message and hopefully create the latest trends. Sometimes a trend will stick and become the norm, while most others simply remain trends. And that’s ok!
The ambition of youth nudges (and occasionally steamrolls) an established way of thinking. Older ideas are challenged and stretched to deliver a fresh look and attitude. And that’s ok too!
Wisdom comes from living through trend after trend and seeing what is effective and what falls flat. Details begin to take on greater significance. One learns how to differentiate useful and practical elements from those that are mere window dressing. In other words, it hones a person’s “bullshit detector.”
I think the “rant” comes from experiencing the downside of wisdom: knowing too much. We “rant” against that which we feel is ineffective. We’re absolutely certain that a particular trend will be ineffectual and feel the need to say so to spare those less experienced the pain of failure. But wisdom isn’t always right and the truly wise man will admit to himself and others that he has had a change of heart.
My point is that Paul’s “rants” come from his deep well of wisdom in regard to sports uniform design. He’s seen countless trends and knows shit from shinola. Say what you will about Paul’s opinions, but dammit, the man always makes a good argument. Paul also keeps an open mind. For instance, longtime readers are familiar with his dislike of purple in uni-design, yet he readily admits when it works (SAC Kings new logos). Paul’s employers and loyal readers are a testament to the fact that he is an expert whose opinion truly matters in the world of sports uniform design.
“The sweet popcorn snack announced last week that it is replacing its toy prizes with “baseball-inspired mobile digital experiences.””
A better game is trying to find the two peanuts they put in each pack of Cracker Jack these days.
How’s this for a coincidence? Before I checked out today’s post, I was just watching a youtube video of some older-looking fella’s guitar cover of link (which he totally fucking nailed).
I rarely do this, but for some reason I checked out the comments to this video. Naturally, there were plenty of negative comments — all of which seemed to be age-related. None that I saw had anything to do with the way he played the song or his tone or any other such potentially valid criticism.
I have a new ESPN piece about a potentially game-changing development in catcher’s gear. Check it out here:
Dodgers with a cartoon of a streetcar?
Yankees with a cartoon of a civil war carpetbagger?
Braves and Indians with their mascots even more cartoonish than they are?
Mets with a cartoon of Manhattan (most of manhattan is a cartoon anyway, but I digress)
Was all sarcasm, by the way, Paul…
I don’t see anything the Atlantic League does as being easily transferable to MLB. Most MLB teams prefer to look like MLB teams, and cartoonish chest protectors are very minor leagueish.
Despite the frequency of my contributions to this website, I feel like an outlier in light of the bulk of opinions being expressed here. I’m 54, a bit stuck in my ways, but I like to side with designs that I find artistic and unappreciated. A devil’s advocate, if you will.
Oh, yes, and smartphones and social networking are tools of Satan. Paper has not been improved upon.
Millenials don’t have the money. X Generation and Baby Boomers have the money and buy the seats. Why would marketing guru go racist, ageist with his marketing commentary? Pretty sad commentary on the state of marketing these days.
Thanks for your essay, Paul. I’m 64, my wife 69. We long ago realized nobody in this consumerist society gave a damn about how we spend our money. That’s fine with us. Sports broadcasters put elite events on cable; we cut the cord a long time ago. If their advertisers don’t care they are now reaching a third of the people they could be reaching, screw ’em. We don’t participate in social media, so do we feel left out? Not at all. I have a feeling your Mom doesn’t worry too much about feeling “clueless and worthless”. She sounds pretty sharp to me. Keep up the good work, young man.
As one who has been told to “get off my lawn”, I always viewed that as more disrespectful to punk ass kids that weren’t respecting “the old guys” grass! Not disrespectful to the old guy at all – more about the disconnect between kids and grumpy old men… Hmmm…
With regards to the chest protector/shin guard billboards – I can only see the negative here.
Oh, put a fucking ad on the chest protector already – and be done with it! And then, get off my lawn!
I am almost 49 and am generally a uni traditionalist. That said, I think there are new design unis that not only look good but also push the uni-verse forward. Examples would be the “new” Broncos unis (disagree with Paul on this one, always thought the new helmets were a great improvement over the old) and this year’s Hawks unis (could quibble about the asymmetrical shorts but love the neon and textured pattern). I think it is important to respect classic design elements but to also acknowledge time moves on. In some cases basic uni templates dictate change. This is not new. Michigan’s famous winged helmet was a result of painting the old leather helmets with the winged pattern.
It’s interesting to see how many people describe themselves (and also try to describe others) as “traditionalists.” It may be accurate in your case, GTV — I don’t know you, so I can’t be sure — but the term is often misused.
Some people, for example, try to hang the “traditionalist” tag on me. But I am not a traditionalist; I am a classicist.
What’s the difference? This:
A traditionalist, as the term implies, wants things to stay the same simply because of tradition. Don’t make change — keep things the way they are, because that’s the way they’ve been and that’s the way they should remain.
A classicist sees no reason for change as long as something is working. The classics are classics for a reason. Ain’t broke? Then no need to fix it.
Do traditionalists’ and classicists’ interests align? Often, yes. But not always. And more importantly, their motivations frequently don’t align, because they’re working from two different sets of underlying values.
Interesting distinction. Can traditionalist and classicist fall on a continuum? I think I am a little of both. But yes, full-on traditionalist when it comes to teams like the Yankees, Penn State, and Alabama. I don’t root for any of those teams, but their unis mean something. Leave them alone, dagnabbit! But there are also new classics, like the Braves’ set from the ’90s on.
I’m 32, and have read your stuff for at least ten years, and I’ve always found that your thoughts on uniforms are much in line with mine. There’s something about a clean classic aesthetic to a uniform that I find much more appealing.
Seems fitting for today:
“Waxing nostalgic is a slippery slope” – Attila Szendrodi
Watching the D’backs/Cards game and the logo on the D’Backs batting helmet is almost invisible.
A day and a half late (sorry) and probably a dollar short, but I am pretty sure that Metsblog had “Presented by Verizon” on it link before it switched to Citi.
And, I meant to add that I think they have have also had “presented by” for some entries, particularly SNY clips they post as blog entries, for a while as well. It seems that presenting credit for more more regular posts, such as the line for the day’s game, have been sold to advertisers.