Because It’s Almost Time for the Winter Olympics

I saw the new Tonya Harding biopic, I, Tonya, a few days ago (trailer shown above). It’s not bad, and there are several uni-centric sequences in the movie. Well, okay, costume-centric. Anyway, it got me thinking, and the result is a new ESPN column that should be up today. Link coming soon.

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’Skins Watch: I spent about six hours in a car yesterday, plus another three at a big ESPN staff meeting, plus a few more catching up with colleagues I hadn’t seen in a while, so I missed out on a fun and well-executed hoax that was unfolding about the ’Skins supposedly changing their name to Redhawks. I’m too wiped from the Bristol round-trip to explain all the details, but Deadspin has already done a good job of that, so check out their coverage. Kudos to them, and to whoever created the hoax — nicely done.

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Click to enlarge

KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is about a replica Detroit Red Wings championship ring. Check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Kris Gross

Baseball News: Didn’t we all see this coming? There’s a new collaboration between Major League Baseball and Gucci (from Arrin Williams). … It appears Coke was a big MLB partner on the baseball winter meetings (from BSmile). … Last week we discussed a photo that showed Jim Thome wearing the American/Canadian flag helmet decal that all MLB players wore in 1991 to support the military effort in the first Gulf War. Steve Vibert recently acquired one of those decals on eBay, along with a memo from then-commish Fay Vincent explaining how it should be worn. … Newly signed Cubs P Tyler Chatwood had his contract revised after the baseball writers’ association complained that it put writers in an ethically fraught position.

NFL News: The Lions will go mono-grey on Saturday (thanks Phil). … Following up on this photo of a mysterious Raiders logo sent in by Rudy Gutierrez, he came across the logo again on Ken Stabler’s T-shirt. Anyone ever seen this logo? … Little-remembered fact: The Steelers wore white pants on the road in 1970 and ’71 (from Brian Wulff). … The first ever draft pick by Atlanta, Tommy Nobis, passed away earlier this week, so the Falcons posted some great old photos of him (from @treyinathens). … You are not a bigger Tim Couch fan than this guy (from Mike Chamernik). … Ravens RB Alex Collins is permitted to wear a dark visor because he suffers from light-triggered migraines. Players need a medical waiver to wear dark visors because, in the case of a neck injury, medics need to be able to see a player’s pupils without removing his helmet (from Cole Pessolano). … The Oilers had inconsistent number fonts and inconsistent helmet colors back in the 1970s.

College Football News: Colorado State gets new helmets for the New Mexico Bowl. Here’s another look. Additionally, this article says that CSU will be getting two new alternate uniforms in the next three seasons (from Matt Stephens and Rob Montoya). … Here’s how the Heart of Dallas Bowl patch will look on Utah’s jersey (from Trent Knaphus). … Southern Miss will honor the 177th Armored Brigade with helmet decals during the Independence Bowl (thanks Phil). … Should we be expecting a color-on-color matchup in the Las Vegas Bowl? (From @bsuorangecrush.)

Basketball News: Wizards F Kelly Oubre Jr. wore a “Supreme” leg sleeve two nights ago but removed it after the first half. Lots of additional info here (from Tommy Turner). … The Magic wear the Nike and Disney logos on their jerseys, and G Shelvin Mack had those same two logos on his shoes last night. … The Utah Jazz Gaming Team unveiled their new logo (from Kris Ingles). … The Windy City Bulls, affiliate of the Chicago Bulls, are wearing Star Wars jerseys on Saturday night (from Steve Johnston). … Here’s how UNC got its signature argyle pattern (from William Wells). … Hornets G Jeremy Lamb wore black calf sleeves for part of last night’s game against the Rockets but had white tights at another point in the game (from Collin Wright).

Soccer News: Here’s an article on clubs with different jersey ads at home and on the road (from Ben Armstrong). … ESPN ranked the 11 best players under 21 by Photoshopping them as Star Wars characters (from Josh Hinton). … You can vote on Lionsbridge FC’s new home uniform.

Grab Bag: We got a look at the floor for the NCAA women’s volleyball Final Four (thanks, Jim Vilk).

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Tomorrow: The annual year-end reader appreciation raffle!

73 comments to Because It’s Almost Time for the Winter Olympics

  • Andrew | December 14, 2017 at 8:46 am |

    Proofreading: “It appears Coke was a big on the baseball winter meetings” A big what?

    • Paul Lukas | December 14, 2017 at 8:48 am |

      Fixed.

  • Brian Weingartz | December 14, 2017 at 8:47 am |

    I think that if the Lions paired their blue pants with the gray jerseys and the Bears wore their blue jerseys this wouldn’t be a bad looking game.

    • Ephraim Vorzman | December 14, 2017 at 1:10 pm |

      I think the Lions Color Rush is already great but would be better if paired with the grey pants with the blue stripe. The solid grey pants make the entire uniform have too little blue.

  • J.D. | December 14, 2017 at 8:48 am |

    MGoBlog, a University of Michigan-centric sports blog, has published its annual list of “translated” college football bowl game names. This list uses the common name of each bowl, without the corporate gobbledygook, and even includes a sponsor-less logo for each. Seems to fit well with this blog’s general pushback against corporate sponsorships.

    http://mgoblog.com/content/annual-bowl-game-guidenaming-complaining-post-whopper

  • Jeff Ash | December 14, 2017 at 8:50 am |

    The Washington Redhawks project was done by the Rising Hearts Coalition, a group of Native American activists, most of them women. The project was described as a “culture jam” or “culture jamming,” which sounds kinda cool.

  • Rob S | December 14, 2017 at 8:58 am |

    Re: that ESPN soccer/Star Wars article… they do know Captain Phasma is a woman, right?

  • Joe Rodgers | December 14, 2017 at 8:58 am |

    Need more Vikings updates!

  • John in KC | December 14, 2017 at 8:58 am |

    Regarding the Oilers helmet color inconsistency – I imagine the darker one is a clear shell helmet painted on the inside. They always looked darker because the shell has a slight gray tint to it (particularly the Marietta/MaxPro ones). I can’t tell if this one is a MacGregor (I don’t think they became Kelley until after 1974, the last year the Oilers wore the blue helmets), a Marietta/MaxPro, or one of the other manufacturers who made clear shells back then.

  • Mangler | December 14, 2017 at 9:05 am |

    Typo: “then-commish FAY Vincent”

    Typo?: “inconsistent number fonts and inconsisten helmet colors”

    • Paul Lukas | December 14, 2017 at 9:06 am |

      Both fixed.

  • Trev | December 14, 2017 at 9:08 am |

    The Raiders shirt that Ken stabler is wearing is actually available on their team website.

    https://www.raiderimage.com/1001146102.html

    • Dumb Guy | December 14, 2017 at 9:16 am |

      And it is still horrible and illegible!

  • Brian | December 14, 2017 at 9:11 am |

    Steelers white pants: That mono-white look would be a nice option for a Thursday night (similar to the Saints).

    • Ty | December 14, 2017 at 7:10 pm |

      I also like the white pants. I also like when my Bears do the same. I guess I’m just weird that way!

  • Terry Smith | December 14, 2017 at 9:15 am |

    I had not heard the sad news about Tommy Nobis. That guy could play! Condolences to his family and Falcon fans.

    • mild bill | December 14, 2017 at 12:22 pm |

      This is the first I am hearing about his death and I check ESPN and SI websites two or three times a day.

      As of a couple of moments ago there still appears to be nothing on either website. If so, it is well hidden.

      • Nathan Parks | December 14, 2017 at 5:26 pm |

        His contemporaries considered Nobis to be every bit the player Butkus was, but playing his entire career for a woeful expansion team, before the age of mass media, and in a (then) relative backwater, relegated him to a life of obscurity.

        He may have well been in the Witness Protection Program.

        It’s no surprise national media outlets took notice. Why should they start now?

        • Nathan Parks | December 14, 2017 at 5:28 pm |

          *took LITTLE notice*

  • Andrew Ross | December 14, 2017 at 9:20 am |

    Nice to see a volleyball court without markings for other sports cluttering up. Rare sight.

  • James | December 14, 2017 at 9:24 am |

    I hate the team name, I wish they would change it…

    But I disagree with the tactics. First, its borderline trademark infringement. I imagine Paul would be very unhappy if someone posed as “uni-watch” and posted something that might hurt his reputation.

    But the larger point is that truth is a better weapon on issues like this, not lies. You win attention with lies, but it convinces no one, and moves the issue no where. And there is a larger issue of how difficult it is these days of knowing what is true and what is false.

    • Paul Lukas | December 14, 2017 at 9:29 am |

      Your final point, about the muddied waters of fake news these days, is a good one.

      As for the rest, including the part about me, I strongly disagree. Well-executed media parodies are excellent weapons for fucking with the status quo.

      • Tim | December 14, 2017 at 2:50 pm |

        Well-executed media parodies…

        Agreed…if they’re in the opinion section, not the news section.

        • Paul Lukas | December 14, 2017 at 2:55 pm |

          Dude, the parody is its own thing — there is no “section.” It didn’t run in the Washington Post or the NY Times. It ran on its own.

          Back here on planet Earth, this type of media project is all part of the marketplace of ideas. Simple rule: If it were advocating for a position you agreed with, rather than one you oppose, would you have a problem with it? Of course not. It only bugs you because you disagree with it. (And just to be clear, if it were advocating for something I oppose, rather than something I agree with, I’d still be fine with it, because goose, gander, etc.)

          Let’s move on. Thanks.

        • Tim | December 14, 2017 at 3:01 pm |

          I was speaking strictly in terms of publishing in a “newspaper” or “news website”, other than reporting on the parody itself.

          I fully agree a parody can exist on its own, and, in fact, use Alfred E. Newman as my sign in icon…

    • Graf Zeppelin | December 14, 2017 at 9:38 am |

      Parody is not even in the same league with, let alone “borderline,” trademark infringement.

      First, the parody mark is not the Washington football club’s actual mark, so the latter is not being used without permission.

      Second, the Washington football club doesn’t own (and hasn’t registered) the parody mark, so again, no one’s trademark is being infringed.

      Third, trademark infringement requires a showing of likelihood of consumer confusion, viz., the consumer buys the infringing product thinking that it comes from the mark owner. This scenario is not like that; no one is trying to disguise a product that isn’t the Washington football club, as the Washington football club.

      Remember these? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wacky_Packages

      • Daniel Tarrant | December 14, 2017 at 11:52 am |

        I am a Journalism school grad (UNC) and while it was a while back, I was required to take a Media Law class. So what I recall from it (as it relates to something like the RedHawks hoax):

        – Parody/satire is a protected form of free speech, so there is no legit worry that the Redskins can take legal action against the makers of the Redhawks site.

        – Now, where Graf Zeppelin’s comment might not be totally correct is that trademark infringement does not require an exact duplicate of the registered trademark. A famous example at least in my neck of the woods is when the Hard Rock Cafe forced a Chapel Hill establishment called the Hardback Cafe because the bookstore/cafe’s name and logo were too similar, even if nobody really was confused about whether the Hardback was the Hard Rock.

        – So it seems to me that if somebody started selling Redhawks t-shirts, especially with the identical colors, identical font, and similar logo that the ‘Skins would have a good legal case. Plus, if a business learns there trademark is being infringed upon, they have to pursue legal action or risk losing the trademark protection themselves. This is why “big guys” like Disney are often suing smaller businesses even if the smaller business isn’t really a threat to Disney’s bottom line.

        • Paul Lukas | December 14, 2017 at 11:55 am |

          Just FYI: Graf Zeppelin is an attorney.

        • Daniel Tarrant | December 14, 2017 at 12:10 pm |

          Didn’t know that, and I would thus have no problem deferring to his expertise, especially if he (she?) specializes in trademark/intellectual property law.

          However, I am 99.9% sure that trademark infringement does not require an exact duplicate of the registered trademark.

        • Winter | December 14, 2017 at 1:13 pm |

          I think the point here is “likelihood of confusion”.

          Does that exist in this case?

        • Daniel Tarrant | December 14, 2017 at 3:16 pm |

          There is certainly some likelihood of confusion since if somebody were to start selling t-shirts with that RedHawks logo and wordmark a number of people would be fooled into thinking it was a new logo/name for the NFL team.

          My understanding of the law is that there is a difference between parody/satire in the sense of Free Speech and attempting to capitalize commercially on another person’s trademark.

          Perhaps Graf Zepplin or other lawyers here could confirm or clarify this?

        • Paul Lukas | December 14, 2017 at 3:18 pm |

          Yeah, but nobody is selling Redhawks T-shirts. It’s a moot point. Let’s please not get bogged down in this. Thanks.

      • Adam N. | December 14, 2017 at 3:08 pm |

        If anyone has a claim to trademark infringement in this case, wouldn’t it be the news organizations? Not the Redskins?

      • Graf Zeppelin | December 14, 2017 at 7:55 pm |

        The infringing mark does not have to be an exact duplicate of the owner’s mark; it has to be similar enough for the consumer to confuse the former for the latter, have difficulty telling them apart, or buy the former’s product thinking it’s the latter.

        “[P]eople [being] fooled into thinking it was a new logo/name for the NFL team” is not the sort of consumer confusion contemplated by the Lanham Act.

    • James | December 14, 2017 at 4:47 pm |

      For clarification, the trademark infringement is infringing the face of page for the media sources, not the football team. I’m referring to something called, “trade dress”.

      I thought of this point before I knew who was behind the hoax. I thought it was someone looking to get their 15 minutes of fame to have a bunch of twitter followers or something. Obviously my feelings change about the hoax when they were trying to send a message. But for other practical jokers, there is money to be made on copying people’s websites. Parody the team, but there is no parody for SI or Washington Post, just straight copying.

      But I admit I led with my weakest point (I did qualify it with, “borderline”)

  • Ryan M | December 14, 2017 at 9:30 am |

    Ugh… ESPN foisting their Disney-ness upon us yet again (Ticker > Soccer). I feel like I’ve seen them specifically do Star Wars in the past, and Marvel, too.
    http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/page/rogueone/espn-fc-football-rogues#header
    http://comicbook.com/marvel/2017/08/21/espn-college-football-marvel-comics-covers-2017/

    • Greg | December 14, 2017 at 11:22 am |

      It is a good thing they do so, or else how would we possibly know there is another Star Wars movie coming out? I mean it is flying so far under the radar that these Disney corporate cross promotional stunts are the only ways to find out about it.

  • Graf Zeppelin | December 14, 2017 at 9:30 am |

    I always thought Redhawks would be a fine name for Washington, for which they wouldn’t have to change their logo (à la Chicago Blackhawks) or colors, the only problem being that the NFL already has a team called the Seahawks and there can’t be two teams in the same league called “the ‘Hawks” for short.

    Then again, the league already has two horse teams (Broncos and Colts), two pirate teams (Buccaneers and Raiders), two Greek-myth teams (Giants and Titans), and four cat teams (Lions, Bengals, Panthers and Jaguars), so what the heck.

    • Josh Hinton | December 14, 2017 at 1:04 pm |

      Graf, why not have two teams with Hawks as an abbreviation? I know several Seattle fans who don’t call them the Hawks, and the EPL has several “Reds” and “Blues” (ManU, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool)

      • Graf Zeppelin | December 14, 2017 at 7:56 pm |

        I don’t have a problem with it, but the NFL might.

    • Brent | December 14, 2017 at 1:56 pm |

      Why not? The CFL had RoughRiders and Rough Riders for decades. MLB has red Sox and White Sox?

    • Tim | December 14, 2017 at 2:29 pm |

      There’s a Redhawks in Seattle. Seattle University, who were originally the Maroons, then in 1938 became the Chieftains in honor of Chief Seattle, and then in 2000 became the Redhawks, from what I can tell, due to the logo being used for the Chieftain.

      The term Chieftain in and of itself is pretty generic, IMHO.

    • Ryan M | December 14, 2017 at 9:28 pm |

      Miami University’s teams competed as the R-words for about 70 years, before changing it to RedHawks in ’97 after the Miami tribe (in Oklahoma) withdrew their support the nickname.

      http://www.miamiredhawks.com/trads/mioh-nickname.html

  • Marcus | December 14, 2017 at 10:07 am |

    Adding that argyle pattern was such a genius move by North Carolina’s athletic department. I love that its football program embraced the argyle pattern, too.

    • Daniel Tarrant | December 14, 2017 at 12:05 pm |

      I agree, but to be totally accurate, the argyle was created/added by designer Alexander Julian (a UNC grad and Chapel Hill native whose father had a store on Franklin Street), when Dean Smith personally asked him to redesign UNC’s basketball uniforms in the very early 90’s.

      For a long time, the argyle only appeared on the men’s basketball team uniforms, and only pretty recently did the athletic department decide to add it to other sports’ and make it something of a UNC sports trademark.

      FWIW, there is some division among Carolina football fans as to whether or not the argyle “belongs” on the football uniforms, I guess because it is a “preppy” design that doesn’t necessarily convey “toughness”. Or some people will complain about anything new, perhaps?

      • Marcus | December 14, 2017 at 1:58 pm |

        I won’t complain about the pattern appearing on the football uniforms. I think it makes them look just a little more stylish. It makes me think that North Carolina should’ve done that long ago! Thanks for the extra info!

  • Le Cracquere | December 14, 2017 at 10:20 am |

    If the Redskins were to change their name, I’d prefer something with actual D.C. roots. For example: since the baseball team is no longer using “Senators,” why not adopt that? Washington’s original NFL franchise used it.

    Other Washington pro teams of yore: the Olympics (N.A.), Statesmen (alternate nickname of the original NL Senators), Potomacs (Negro leagues), and others that residents can doubtless recall.

    • Graf Zeppelin | December 14, 2017 at 11:38 am |

      I think Warriors is the most popular alternative nickname; of course there’s already a big-4 pro franchise with that name (Golden State in the NBA), but that didn’t deter the Carolina or Florida Panthers (whichever was awarded first), Texas Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, or either incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets. Given that, and the franchise’s origins, maybe Braves would be just as good.

      I’ve also thought that Scouts, another defunct former pro-team name, would be good, but that might be too direct a connection with Kansas City and the Chiefs.

      Potomacs would be OK, although Patawomecks would be more accurate; there really aren’t any better-known Indian tribes with historical connections to that region.

      All that assumes that they want to keep their colors, uniforms and logo, which I think they should. I personally think that American Indian motifs generally, in and of themselves, in sports branding, are not objectionable, although I respect others’ sensitivity on this issue and won’t presume to tell anyone else — least of all actual Indians — how they should feel about it. I think there’s a difference between the names and current logos of the Chiefs, Braves and Blackhawks on the one hand, and the name “Redskins” and the Chief Wahoo logo on the other.

      • Daniel Tarrant | December 14, 2017 at 11:58 am |

        Good points, but I would assume that if the Redskins did decide to change their identity, they’d want to totally move away from anything that might be related to American Indian iconography.

        It would be an interesting question as to whether they would want to keep the colors, wordmark font, etc or go with something totally different in order to make a clean break from the Redskins.

        I mean, “Redskins” might be the focal point of the issue because it (at least at one point) was a racial slur, but there seems little doubt to me that Chiefs, Braves, Indians, etc. will be pressured next.

        • Paul Lukas | December 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm |

          there seems little doubt to me that Chiefs, Braves, Indians, etc. will be pressured next.

          Some of us have been pressuring those teams all along.

        • Daniel Tarrant | December 14, 2017 at 3:51 pm |

          Right. It’s interesting though, that the Chiefs especially seem to have avoided much of the criticism in the mainstream press. They’ve even continued to play in Arrowhead Stadium when it would have been easy to replace it with a corporate name.

        • Graf Zeppelin | December 14, 2017 at 8:01 pm |

          The word “Redskins” is objectively offensive, given its usage history. The word itself specifically, not the American Indian motif generally, is the problem. Same with Chief Wahoo.

          I have always maintained that whether American Indian motifs generally are appropriate for sports-franchise branding is a separate question from whether epithets and caricatures like “Redskins” and Chief Wahoo are appropriate. Some people answer no to both, but they’re still separate questions.

    • Tim | December 14, 2017 at 2:32 pm |

      Washington Gargoyles.
      Washington Generals (although the Harlem Globtrotters might not like that)
      Washington Monuments.
      Washington Sentinels (homage to The Replacements which was an homage to the Redskins)

      • RS Rogers | December 14, 2017 at 3:05 pm |

        Monuments is such an awesome potential nickname that no pro team in DC will ever use it.

        My personal preference would be for the team to become the Washington Americans. But keep the colors and the feather iconography while ditching the beheaded-Indian logo. If they need a human figure, use the feather-dressed Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome. They’d be the only NFL team with a female mascot!

        • Daniel Tarrant | December 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm |

          I don’t think “Monuments” would work for a football team because you generally want your football team’s mascot to promote a image of aggression. Monuments obviously are the exact opposite of that…

        • Paul Lukas | December 14, 2017 at 4:00 pm |

          I don’t think “Monuments” would work for a football team because you generally want your football team’s mascot to promote a image of aggression.

          “aggression”? Why? Whoever said that was a rule?

          Jets.
          49ers.
          Cardinals.
          Packers.
          Browns.

          And so on.

      • walter | December 14, 2017 at 5:28 pm |

        Washington Rebels, or
        Washington Redshirts.

        Rolls off of the tongue, and they wouldn’t have to change anything else.

        • Tim | December 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm |

          Yeah, so there’s moves afoot to rename UNLV and Ole Miss from the Rebels, based upon the appearance of the mascot (a Southern War Soldier who sort of looks like Yosemite Sam)

  • Le Cracquere | December 14, 2017 at 10:26 am |

    R.I.P. Tommy Nobis. His career was a year or so older than I am myself, so I can’t claim to recall it … but he’s always been a revered and beloved figure in Atlanta.

    Funny that only a few days ago I waxed nostalgic about the original Falcons red/black uni that Nobis wore. Don’t wish to be opportunistic, but it’d be all the more fitting now if the team were to reclaim that look in his honor.

    • Warren Thompson | December 14, 2017 at 5:58 pm |

      Tommy Nobis may be one of the latest victims of CTE.

      • Paul Lukas | December 14, 2017 at 6:07 pm |

        Or CTE may have had nothing to do with his death. Unless you have specific knowledge or evidence, let’s please not engage in speculation or rumor-mongering. Thanks.

        • Josh Hinton | December 14, 2017 at 7:02 pm |

          We speculate all the time on this site

        • Josh Hinton | December 14, 2017 at 7:03 pm |

          The fact remains that American football is highly dangerous and catastrophic for the body. Our bodies weren’t meant to undergo that kind of physical aggression, not to mention the mental aggression and hatred that coaches teach their players.

        • Paul Lukas | December 15, 2017 at 12:26 am |

          Yes, that is a fact.

          But it is also a fact that that is not the same as saying that a person died of CTE.

        • Paul Lukas | December 15, 2017 at 12:35 am |

          Not about things like someone’s cause of death. Some perspective, please.

  • Thomas | December 14, 2017 at 10:38 am |

    I wouldn’t be nearly as interested in the Redhawks hoax if that logo wasn’t as good as it is.

    It’s detailed in a way most modern logos (especially bird logos) rarely are.

    It’s not angry or hyper aggressive. It’s refreshingly retro.

  • Dumb Guy | December 14, 2017 at 11:09 am |

    “ESPN ranked the 11 best players under 21 by Photoshopping them as Star Wars characters”

    And it’s horrible.

  • RICKAZ | December 14, 2017 at 6:38 pm |

    I like the “Redhawks” name a lot. It flows off the tongue in much the same way as the current name. I do think the current name is incredibly offensive. I’m not so sure about Chiefs and Braves. I’ve always been one to believe you name your team after something you respect and honor. Similar to why Vikings are used to honor the Scandinavian population in Minnesota. However if the Native American population rejects them, then that should be respected. Or get the local Native American population to come to a consensus, like what Florida State and some other colleges have done.

  • Dave | December 15, 2017 at 12:44 am |

    Any thoughts about the Colts blue pants tonight???

  • Zeke Perez Jr. | December 15, 2017 at 11:26 am |

    Oh wow! LOTS of great stuff in the fan appreciation giveaway this year. Fingers crossed that luck smiles upon me this time around. Thanks for putting that together, and thanks for another great year of Uni-Watch!