Good morning! Greetings from Uni Watch HQ, where all three inhabitants continue to be healthy and safe (and where, for the first time in a week, we’re no longer under curfew, although it’s not like we had big nighttime plans anyway).
Readers have sent me some interesting questions in recent weeks. Many of them have been about the state of the uni-verse once the sports world returns to action, and a few have been about me. Today I’ll going to address some of those questions, FAQ-style.
These questions and answers assume that major pro and college sports leagues will resume play at some point this year. That’s still not a foregone conclusion, of course, but let’s pretend that it is, at least for today.
Here we go:
Since the NBA will be playing all its games in Orlando, will they create a generic court design or what?
There’s been talk that teams could ship their home courts to Florida, although that would apparently present some significant logistical challenges. One all-purpose design, perhaps with the NBA logo at center court and assorted public health messages/icons in the secondary spots, seems more likely.
Same question for the NHL: Since all the games will be taking place in two as-yet-undetermined “hub” cities, what will they do about the ice design?
Good question! I haven’t yet heard any chatter about this one, nor do I know how tricky it is to swap out an ice design as compared to a basketball floor. But considering how many other things the league will be dealing with (Covid testing, potential quarantining, etc.), an all-purpose design with the NHL logo seems most likely.
Do you think the combination of the pandemic and the recent protests will have any effect on how many uniform changes we see for the rest of the year, especially in college sports?
I think there are two separate issues here. First, there’s the question of whether the pandemic has affected manufacturing capacity and supply chains in a way that could affect on-field and/or retail product. If so, that could lead to a 2020 redesign being postponed to 2021. A contact at one Nike-outfitted FBS school tells me that this could indeed be the case for his school’s football team.
Then there’s the question of optics: When our country is wrestling with two large crises, is “Hey, check out our new uniforms!” really the best thing to be saying?
Regarding the latter question, seven NFL teams decided to go ahead with their new uniform unveilings in the midst of the pandemic (but before George Floyd’s murder and the resulting protests). I know at least two of those teams — the Browns and Falcons — pondered beforehand whether that was appropriate but ultimately decided it was okay.
But NFL uniform redesigns — which by rule can take place only once every five years and usually occur much less frequently than that — are much bigger deals than college football or basketball redesigns, which for some schools seem to take place nearly every season. And so postponing an NFL redesign would also have been a much bigger deal. In other words, I’m not so sure the NFL example tells us much about how college football and hoops will handle things.
But it’s an interesting question. On the one hand, going ahead with things like new uniforms sends the reassuring message that the world is okay. On the other hand, it can also run the risk of seeming tone-deaf. I’m very curious to see how it plays out.
In any case, we’ll likely start to get a better sense of things in about a month, which is when the wave of new college football uniforms usually begins to appear.
With teams and leagues losing tons of money, don’t you think they’ll try to make up that lost revenue by adding uniform ad patches?
I wrote about this issue last month. My take is that an increase in uni ads is unlikely.
What do you think about this idea of MLB possibly putting virtual ads on the field, including on the back of the mound?
To the surprise of exactly no one, I hate it. Fortunately, my favorite team has a very good pair of radio broadcasters.
Since fans won’t be allowed to attend the games, there have been some reports that leagues might use fake crowd noise in the empty stadiums and arenas. What do you think of that?
I think there’s a good chance they’ll do it, but I wish they wouldn’t. I may do a separate post about this in the near future.
A few months ago, in the most recent installment of Question Time, you said you thought sports leagues, once they returned to action, would wear some sort of patch or decal to acknowledge the pandemic. Do you think they’ll do something similar to acknowledge the death of George Floyd and the resulting racial justice protests?
I think this can be looked at on three different levels:
• On the league level, I could see some sort of league-wide uniform gesture in the NBA and NFL. Those two leagues have high percentages of black roster representation (70% in the NFL, 74% in the NBA) and also have groups of black players who are highly engaged in pushing for progressive change. One of those leagues (the NBA) has a commissioner who has generally applauded those efforts all along, and the other (the NFL) has a commissioner who has historically been less receptive to such efforts but has now begun to change his tune. I think all of those factors point in favor of some sort of league-wide uniform gesture for those two leagues.
(One potential complicating factor for the NBA: After former commish David Stern died on New Year’s Day, all NBA jerseys added a black memorial band for the rest of this season. If they keep that band and also add something for the pandemic and something else for Floyd, things could get crowded, especially with the maker’s mark and ad patches.)
While I’m still fairly certain MLB and the NHL will have some sort of league-wide patch or decal for the pandemic, I think it’s more iffy that they’d do something for Floyd and the larger protest movement. Maybe they’ll combine both sentiments into one symbol..? We’ll see.
I doubt the NCAA will do anything on a universal basis.
• On the team level, I think it’s fairly likely that teams and schools in Minneapolis (where Floyd was murdered) and Houston (where he grew up) will wear some sort of patch or decal. Beyond that, I think it will likely depend on the leanings of a team’s owner and/or the fan base and community.
• On the individual player level, I think we’ll see many, many players wearing all sorts of racial justice messaging. Much of it will likely be informal and handwritten — on shoes and sneakers, on baseball caps, on NFL towels, on NBA headbands, on wristbands, on base-layer shirts, on eye black, you name it. And unless that messaging includes profanity (“Fuck Tha Police,” e.g.), I think the leagues will allow it without any penalties or fines.
These patches and messages seem stupid. Will they accomplish anything or make any difference?
Will a patch on a uniform bring about racial justice, or police reform, or anything along those lines? No, of course not. Similarly, a patch commemorating a special event, or showing support for local hurricane victims, or memorializing a former player who’s passed away, doesn’t “accomplish anything” either, but everyone pretty much accepts those types of patches without questioning them.
In short: A patch of any kind becomes part of the historical record. It says, “We, as an organization, think this is important at this point in time, and we wanted you to know that about us.” You can decide for yourself what that accomplishes or whether it makes any difference.
I noticed that your Twitter avatar now has black stripes where the yellow stripes would normally be. Is that related to the current protests?
Yes. I added those a little over a week ago. Just a small gesture in support of victims of racial injustice.
Why didn’t you just put a black band around the logo?
I already did that for Memorial Day and didn’t want to use the same gesture for two different things.
Honestly, no (not even baseball, which is my favorite sport and would normally be in full midseason swing right about now). I haven’t watched any KBO games, any old games — nothing. And I’ve felt fine.
This has helped confirm something I’d long suspected: For me — and I want to make clear that I’m speaking only for myself here — sports had become like something between junk food and a narcotic. It felt good, but my consumption of it often seemed habit-formed and sometimes a bit less than healthy.
Of course, my relationship to sports is different than most people’s, because writing about sports is the biggest part of how I make a living. So that may have something to do with my feelings about it. In any case, going cold turkey has been an interesting and largely liberating experience. Moreover, it hasn’t made the slightest dent in my ability to keep producing Uni Watch posts. I’m fairly certain I could keep doing Uni Watch on a daily basis for a long time — like, at least two years — even if the sports world stayed shut down.
But I’m not rooting for that to happen. The sports world needs to come back for many reasons, not the least of which is that it employs thousands of people and generates economic ripples that provide livelihood for tens of thousands more (maybe even hundreds of thousands). In practical terms, the sports industry has become much like the banking and financial sector was in 2008: too big to fail.
And of course I realize many people, including many people reading these words right now, miss sports more than I do. So I want sports to come back for your sakes as well. Whenever the games eventually start up again, I’ll be watching like everyone else. But I admit that a little part of me will also be sad, because I’ve enjoyed this little interlude.
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You learn something new every day: Here’s something I didn’t know until last week: Secret Service agents have a tradition of making and trading unofficial lapel pins whose designs related to the person they’re assigned to protect. So in 1996, when Rep. Jack Kemp was running for Vice President (he was Sen. Bob Dole’s running mate that year, but they lost to the Clinton/Gore ticket), agents assigned to Kemp created a pin featuring a Bills helmet, because Kemp famously quarterbacked the Bills in the 1960s. A cool and surprising place for uni-related imagery to appear. You can even buy that pin on eBay!
(Big thanks to reader/commenter JFinDC for schoolig me on this one.)
Photo by Charles T. Higgins, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin; click to enlarge
Hex-tra helping: Here’s something else I didn’t know: In 1970, after losing a bunch of players to injuries, the Phillies tried to change their luck by installing Pennsylvania Dutch hex symbols — a common sight in southeastern Pennsylvania — on top of their dugout. According to this article, the signs “were installed without injury,” so that was an improvement right there.
(Big thanks to reader/pal Jeff Ash for this one.)
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Here’s the Maine thing: Uni Watch cap fulfillment manager Mark LaFountain is a man of many headwear talents. In addition to packing and shipping all of our Uni Watch cap orders, he also likes to make replica football helmets. He recently took up a friend’s request for a re-creation of a 1953 University of Maine helmet.
Mark started with a Riddell VSR4 helmet that he sourced from a local middle school that was going to discard it. He then went through several rounds of sanding and priming, filled in some of the era-inappropriate drill holes, added masking tape to create the winged design that Maine used at the time, and then painted the helmet blue. Here’s how it turned out (click to enlarge):
Nose bumpers like the one Mark used didn’t yet exist in 1953, but Mark wanted to include the word “Maine” on the bumper panel so he decided to include it, even though it’s technically era-inappropriate.
Nicely done, Mark.
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Pin Club update: As of this morning, there are only 56 June pins left, which means we sold over 80% of the run in the first week. If you want one, move fast.
Remember, you can save 15% on the pins (and on everything else in the Uni Watch Shop and the Naming Wrongs Shop) by using the checkout code COMMUNITY.
My thanks, as always for your consideration.
Membership update: One of the fun things about this year’s Purple Amnesty Day is that several readers, including Bob Andrews, ordered cards based on the purple tequila sunrise shirt that we sold for last year’s Purple Amnesty Day. Very meta!
Bob’s card — one of a whopping 13 designs that he’s ordered over the years (thanks, Bob!) — is part of a new batch of designs, most of them nauseatingly purple, that’s been added to the membership card gallery.
Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.
As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 2,800 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.
ITEM! Essential workers membership raffle: Reader Pete Graofalo has generously donated a membership for me to give away, with the stipulation that the raffle be open only to essential workers during the pandemic — healthcare workers, first responders, grocery workers, food deliverers, sanitation workers, transit workers, and so on — so that’s what we’re going to do today.
This will be a one-day raffle, and we’ll be doing it on the honor system. If you’re an essential worker, feel free to enter by sending an email to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern tonight. Feel free to let me know what job you have. One entry per person I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.
If you’re not an essential worker, don’t worry — we have more raffles coming up.
The non-sports franchise: On Saturday I filled out an absentee ballot for the upcoming New York State primary (something they’re allowing this year due to the pandemic, even for people who will not be out of town). First time I’ve voted by mail since, I think, my freshman year of college in the fall of 1982.
Requesting, receiving, and using the absentee ballot was all smooth and straightforward, and I know that voting by mail is standard in several states, definitely the best option during the pandemic, and probably the wave of the future. Still, voting this way feels like a comparatively sterile civic exercise compared to voting in person. (That’s easy for me to say, of course, since I’ve always had a fairly flexible schedule and lived in areas with a robust ratio of polling places to voters. I’m well aware that many of my fellow citizens, no doubt including some Uni Watch readers, are not as fortunate in either regard and that voting in person is therefore more problematic for them.)
On the plus side, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed the luxury of shirtless voting before. And I didn’t have to cope with the usual annoyance of the pen being oriented for right-handers.
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What Paul did
last night two nights ago: I usually like to drink out of a small-ish glass. But as you can see in the photo above, I used a big-ish plastic cup on Saturday.
That’s because Saturday was a hot, humid day — the first day that really felt like summer. I decided a while ago that on that day I would break out a special cup for the occasion.
Here’s a closer look:
Cool, right? My friend Rex gave me a set of them for Christmas a few years ago. They’re reproductions, not originals, but still fun. Obviously, I should have broken them out two days earlier, on June 4, to mark the anniversary of one of the greatest nights in sports history. But hey, there’s never a bad time to celebrate clever and well-conceived promotions, am I right?
The branch is still there.
As always, you can see the full set of Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos here.
Sorry, no Ticker today because Jamie Rathjen had the day off for his birthday. The Ticker will return tomorrow. — Paul
Paul, I also find it odd in how I am not necessarily missing sports all that much right now. Locally they were replaying a playoff game from the Phillies 2008 WS run, and I put that on for a few of the memorable innings of the game, it got me a little excited. But the next day went about my routine and didn’t really feel myself missing anything.
If anything I find myself missing going to baseball games more than any of the daily activities of following sports. I wonder if my thoughts are common, and if so how does that change the sports landscape in the future. Even when things are back to normal will people be tuning in less because they realized there are other things they’d rather be doing?
The pandemic has had an effect on uniform changes here north of the border. We knew the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders were getting new unis for 2020 and we would have seen them by now. We saw a teaser on Twitter before the pandemic hit but the team has been completely quiet about the new uniforms since March.
I know that you received the 10 cent beer night cup as a gift, but do you know if these are available for purchase anywhere?
Maybe check eBay and Etsy?
I thought Homage made those, but I don’t see them on the site anymore.
they did.. must have been limited edition
The markings on a hockey rink are *under* the ice. Melting down, re-painting, and re-flooding the surface day after day would be an even bigger logistical nightmare than storing and laying all those NBA floors. At best, you’d see the usual playoff graphics outside the blue lines updated round-by-round, and maybe the logos of both teams at center ice when there’s only two remaining at a given hub site.
My son plays youth hockey. I’m not sure when/if he will be able to play again, but it does look like there will be a uni-related change when they do return. Youth hockey players have two options for face protection: the “cage” and a plastic shield. USA Hockey may be on the verge of mandating the clear plastic full face shields for the kids in order to try to provide an extra barrier for the nose and mouth. We are not looking forward to the perpetual fogging problems when using the shield, but it does provide a better field of vision than the cage.
I bring this up wondering if any other levels of hockey are considering the same thing. I know hockey (and especially youth hockey) is probably the most unhygienic sport on the face of the earth and that shields seem like an almost silly proposition considering the contact and spread of body fluids, but we may be seeing the shields become more common. I doubt the NHL players will want them considering the stigma that was/is attached to visors.
how are body fluids spreading in youth hockey?
Sweat, spit, etc. Hockey players are ridiculously sweaty and it is a contact sport.
I’m fairly certain I could keep doing Uni Watch on a daily basis for a long time — like, at least two years — even if the sports world stayed shut down.
And I’m here for it the whole time.
I was upset about missing March Madness but that was probably due to it’s cancellation being so close to the start of the pandemic. But since then I’ve been doing just fine watching zero sports while catching up on TV shows and movies.
I don’t even miss having ESPN on in the background (I cut ESPN from my tv package back in March to save $15/month).
Paul, interesting to hear you say you don’t miss sports, as I’ve been surprised to realize I feel similarly. For me, I think sports was becoming a FOMO thing more than anything else, which is not particularly healthy. I’ve definitely appreciated the additional time I’ve gotten back during pandemic, but I’m sure I’ll go back to my old habits once the games resume.
If anything, I would say I do miss GOING to games a little bit, but that’s something that’s unlikely to return for quite a while.
Thanks as always for your thoughts and insights.
I’ve been asked if I miss sports as well, and the answer is, as a fan, no, because I always have at least two teams in season, even during a summer “offseason,” so a break of what turned out to be three months and nine days was a good thing.
But I have been using this time to watch old games, including in sports where I don’t have a team. Many leagues have been posting old games on YouTube, or they’re findable there, so now is a good time to find those new connections if you’re so inclined. They’re much more compelling to watch if you don’t know the result.
(Also, the NWSL’s Utah tournament is to start June 27.)
I am missing baseball, but not badly.
One of the other sports I follow is racing, which has dealt with the pandemic in an interesting way: before when states were under stricter lockdown, there were several virtual racing series put together, although I think there were definitely some issues in several of them (a couple drivers lost their regular rides, and other drivers did stupid things that reflected badly on them.)
I don’t blame the platform of iRacing on what occurred with Kyle Larson. Do you?
Racing, particularly NASCAR, is the only sport I follow with any regularity (I only uni-watch the big 4-sorry soccer fans); I like some of the modifications made upon its’ resumption, such as shorter race lengths and weekday events. But I really miss attending my regional tracks each spring/summer. It’s cliche, but true…there’s nothing like attending a race! If the facilities would open parking to allow tailgating and maybe park one of those jumbo-trons for fans to watch the action (you can still hear the cars at speed and stream the audio or use a scanner to dial in your favorite driver), I’d Be very tempted to make the trip.
Of course I don’t blame iRacing. The drivers did stupid things and paid the price.
I was also referring to a driver for Audi (who used a ringer to drive for him – he was fired) and also some Indycar shenanigans.
Curious about your upcoming article/commentary regarding piped in audience noise during games. The German soccer league, Bundesliga, started doing this over the last couple weeks. This was after a week or two without any additional noise. The difference was much more noticeable than I anticipated. I did find myself wondering if other sports leagues would follow suit. I feel that the crowd noise is an important aspect of watching football/soccer matches. The crowd’s chanting and cheers make the games much more interesting and entertaining. There is more energy in the broadcast with the added noise. Games without audience noise felt more like a pre-season friendly.
I’m not a soccer fan in the least, but the few times I have watched game the crowd noise seems to be a greater part of the game than any of the big 4 hear in the US. And I don’t necessarily mean in how it relates to plays of the field, like players not being able to hear the snap count in football. But rather it is just a part of the flow of the game, it is always there, the cheers, chants, etc. The crowd noise in soccer is almost like the score of a movie. I have to imagine it is incredibly strange for soccer fan to watch a silent game. That said I don’t know that piping in noise would necessarily replace that. The crowd noise seems to flow with the action on the field, you can’t really replicate that with pre recorded crowds.
I noticed during a recent Bundesliga match that whoever was in charge of the audience noise had control over what the crowd reaction would be, as if they had sampled several high-points and low-points in previous matches and were able to use them as needed. When the home team scored, the crowd noise matched normal reactions during a home goal, if someone was wasting time, you could hear whistling from the fake crowd noise. It was done so well that I found myself wondering if there was a crowd section there in attendance. There wasn’t, it was just handled incredibly accurately.
I agree with the not missing sports. It’s been almost three months since all of our major sports have ceased. I have missed very little of this.
When I was younger and in college, I consumed sports almost religiously, non-stop. As I grew older, with a family, much of whom did not care about sports, my consumption came more in reading about sports (box scores, recaps, features) than watching.
I also consumed sports for work-purposes. I worked as a PR person in NCAA Division I college athletics for 10 years and a high school athletic director for two I’ve also been a youth sports coach for 16 years. While I had some great experiences, it’s a much different way to consume sports. This way of consumption is more about the people. I knew the “kids” competing and their day-in, day-out approach. It was far less about the sport for sport, but the athlete’s journey. I definitely miss that part of sports.
I don’t miss the 12 hours of NFL consumption over the weekend that would take away my free time for six months out of the year (of which, in time, I slowed down to now just 4 or so hours in a weekend). I stopped attending live sports except for work purposes years ago and the occasional mid-week baseball game. I was tired of stupid drunk “bros” in the stands ruining my enjoyment of games.
The pandemic has fit my lifestyle. I abhor crowds, and thus the dislike of sports crowds. When I did go to a baseball game, I’d try to pick out areas that didn’t have loads of people in the stands. I prefer to have people six-feet or more away from me on a regular basis.
I don’t miss sports in person or the talk radio of sports. Often, the less educated about sports, those who are just spouting off the top of their heads, are increasingly racist spews, seeing the talented athlete more as their vessel for entertainment and less as a human being doing their work, with feelings and real human emotions. I definitely don’t miss the rioting and looting after a local team wins its championship.
I don’t miss the obsessive fan base that every referee’s decision against their team is biased or that the league is out to get them. Sports often takes sane people and turns them into meatheads without the ability to reason or look at both sides. Their passion for their team (which has done nothing for them) has turned them into stupid, low-brained oafs.
I don’t miss the discussions that each new city needs a brand new sparkling arena or stadium that pillages the local tax base often with the promise of generating an abundance of revenue for the surrounding community, usually to fall short of that revenue and cripple the area with insane traffic and an increased inability to afford housing/retail space in the area.
I do miss watching the best in the world do what they do, however. I’m always open to watching someone, whomever it is, who is among the best in the world in action.
I do miss some of the pomp and circumstance that sports provides, but I’ve proven I can live without it.
This site is one of my daily dives into sports. While I don’t always agree with Paul, I’ve had some great conversations with him over time. The content on here transcends the sports world and dives into the personal side of it, often better than most “traditional” sports sites.
I certainly identify with a lot of what you’ve said here. Your point about your relationship with sports having changed from being college aged rings especially true. For myself if the Red Sox lost a game back in the day the next day I was in a bad mood. Now I look at professional sports from a completely different lens. I see it as a nice distraction from the chaos that is everyday life and the 24 hour news cycle. As much as I would love to have the reliability of tuning into to the Sox nightly on the radio while sitting on the porch, I too haven’t missed much.
Among the comments today I’ve so far only seen many of us who generally don’t miss sports. It makes me wonder what the general demographic of “Comm-uni-ty” is. Have those of us who have commented today all had the same experience of our fanaticism having tempered throughout the years? Or are there a lot of fans out there who a. aren’t commenting or b. aren’t represented in the “Comm-uni-ty.” Just a thought.
I used this time “off” to learn more about soccer/football and its long history. Today was a YouTube video on the history of Redstar Belgrade (really snazzy red and white striped kits). I also have taken the deep dive into a game that was a passion of my late- grandfather’s; Bocce. I even Bought myself a Bocce set from Amazon and set up my back yard as a well manicured 27 yard bowling green. All-in-all, I haven’t missed live sports as much as I feared.
I apologize if this has been discussed previously, but perhaps my biggest uniform question for this autumn, particularly for the NBA & NHL, is the number of alternates that will/could be worn. Being in one (NBA) or two (NHL) hubs, do the teams bring along their full sets of alternates, or do the leagues/teams simplify and just wear a “home” and “road” (“association” and “icon” NBA-wise)? I would prefer just two types of unis for this set to avoid confusion, since we won’t have other visual arena cues for which team is which. Additionally, would unis like “city” alternates be rendered somewhat pointless for the intended purpose of wearing in front of home fans?
Good questions! Not sure. I’m fairly certain it’s not high on their list of priorities for now.
Paul, thank you soooo much for sharing your feelings re: not missing sports. 100% spot on for me as well, particularly this paragraph: “This has helped confirm something I’d long suspected: For me — and I want to make clear that I’m speaking only for myself here — sports had become like something between junk food and a narcotic. It felt good, but my consumption of it often seemed habit-formed and sometimes a bit less than healthy.”
In my life, I’ve gone from a daily SportsCenter-viewer, to someone whose connection to sporting news is pretty much exclusively Uni Watch. ESPN will never admit how vapid and unnecessary its 24-hour coverage is, but I appreciate your willingness to confront (and print) your truth. I think that line of thinking is widely applicable in life as well. How many of our decisions, and day-to-day activities, are purely out of habit? Thanks as always for being insightful
I’m surprised by how many people are saying they don’t miss sports. I was ready for a bunch of commenters saying, “If you don’t miss sports now, then you never loved sports and are not a true fan!” (or words to that effect). Fascinating to see so that so many people apparently feel the same way I do!
What about live music? I’m a big sports fan but my acquaintances are always surprised when I say I’d rather spend money on a concert than a big game.
Yes, I miss that a lot.
Agreed. Live sports translates well to TV. Live music not so much.
I, too, am surprised at how little I miss sports. It’s nice to be able to take a walk or a bike ride, or just sit on the porch, in the evening and be able to just enjoy being outdoors instead of focusing on the radio jammed into my ear. There’s no worrying about being home to watch the game or feeling like I’m wasting the summer sitting in front of the TV.
That said, I don’t watch a whole lot else on TV, so it has been hard to find things to watch when I am inside. And I do somewhat miss following the season and seeing highlights.
Small nit-pick: Shouldn’t “Nike-outfitted BCS school” be “…FBS school”?
Yes! Out of practice. Fixed!
I’m not totally surprised by how many members of the Uni-Verse aren’t missing sports all that much, me very much among them.
I’ll echo the PR person above when I say that it being a job does have an impact for me. I’m busy upwards of 180 nights a year doing PA announcing for different teams normally, even though that income only amounts to 20 percent of what I make from my 9-to-5 day job, which has continued in work-from-home form. For me, having the time back to do “me things” — clean around the house, get in better shape, sleep like a normal person, etc. — has been a welcome respite. I’ve often said, “I could use a few months off to get my life in order.” With this, I actually got it. Our bedroom is clean for the first time in years. I have nine bags of old clothing ready to donate. Next up is the garage, our spare bedroom and our closet.
However, in terms of the “average Uni-Watch reader,” I think he or she is generally a thoughtful kind of person, the type who appreciates analysis and taking a deep dive. One of the reasons I said from the very beginning I didn’t mind quarantine was because it was going to give me the chance to set aside, nay clear away, some of the day-to-day things I had to do regularly and focus more strongly on other things. A Uni-Watch reader will not simply accept a uniform is good or bad because Nike says so. A Uni-Watch reader will think about the elements. A Uni-Watch reader has to be thoughtful to do that. Having more time on our hands not watching sports, commuting to work, or in some cases even working at all, gives thoughtful people time to do the thing that makes them thoughtful — think. And people who like to think, not simply be dismissive of things in ways like “I don’t watch for the uniforms,” or “I only root for winners,” or whatever, don’t get bored, because there’s always something else to think about.
There’s one other thing I think is important to remember, too: While yes, Paul, you are right that sports has become an industry “too big to fail,” I think one could also make the case it’s perhaps become an industry “too big for its own good.” We spend a lot of time on this site bemoaning how much money and/or greed drives so much decision making in terms of sports aesthetics. Whether it be pervasive advertising, makers marks or the need to “churn merch” through alternates and special-edition uniforms, more and more, the visual identity of sports is being changed because money needs to be made more than anything else. But, at the end of the day, sports, really, honestly and truly, are just games and entertainment. We do not need sports in our lives to survive. That they have become something we take so seriously, and have placed such high financial stakes on, that players risk their bodies with PEDs, teams engage in covert and even overt acts of cheating, international governing bodies like FIFA and the IOC are bereft with graft, people spend $300 on cheaply made polyester shirts, and so on, has taken a lot of the fun out of it. But this has reminded us that life is fragile, there are more ways to enjoy life, and no, really, we don’t need sports to get by.
The best part of the NASCAR ProInvitationalSeries, the virtual races held during the shutdown, was seeing the guys interacting with their families in the room and fans online while racing and just enjoying competing with no prize money or points on the line. It took the edge off and it was just … fun. I said numerous times while watching those races that I actually enjoyed them far more than the real ones, and it’s been confirmed by watching the races since the virtual series ended. When you took out the danger and the big-time business elements and just kind made it, “I’m good, you’re good, let’s find a fair way to see who’s better and laugh about it when we’re done” in a very sandlot way, it felt like getting back to the core of what sports is really supposed to be about, not revenue streams and profit margins.
In the age of the internet, there are a whole lot of ways to be entertained, many of them costing only the price of your internet connection or cell phone plan. I think thoughtful people don’t need one particular thing to keep themselves entertained. I think they’re smart enough to find something else when one thing is taken away, and, if anything, normally struggle more often with not having enough time to enjoy the many things out there that are enjoyable.
I’ve actually called out some fans who have said “I *need* baseball back.” No you don’t. Many of those folks are the same ones who said they “needed” a haircut or to go to the bar during quarantine. Sorry, but there are over 100,000 people who literally needed ventilators or the ability to breathe, not to mention people who have a much greater *want* to have friends, relatives or loved ones fall victim to the disease, much less the people who *need* the means to get food, healthcare or a place to live (something I wish we can find a way for people to get independent of their employment status, but that’s a larger issue). Compared to those folks? I think those of us who still have our health, a roof over our heads, three square meals and the ability to read blogs should be content. We don’t *need* sports. They’re fun, but maybe we’ve invested too much in them, perhaps to the point where they’ve become less fun than they should be. Hopefully this has reminded us of that.
Wow, great analysis here. Never really thought of it this way, but yeah, you hit the nail on the head. This isn’t a proclamation of superiority or anything, but it does make sense that uni watch readers are going to be a different type of sports fan, with different interests and such than other fans. Especially because the site is not purely about “new uniform release by…” but as you said, Paul gets into the fine details about design and so much more. It is how he developed a great community here.
For some people their love of sports never changes, but I imagine for most of us here as we have grown and changed in life sports became less important, either by necessity of time constraints, or just discovering other things as we matured. And perhaps we only now realized we cared about them as much as we did because the sports industry is so big an in your face. By being forced to disappear we actually notice it was no longer that important to us, simply inescapable for the longest time.
Sorry guys. You will not see any College Football Uni Tracking – Canadian Rules Style from me in the Sunday comments this fall. Confirmed today:
I miss sports. Will really miss getting to go to various live sporting events I go to locally during the summer. Events like that are a fun escape from regular life filled with work and chores.
The conversation today reminds me of a segment on “Mike & Mike in the Morning” many, many years ago. The question posed was, “Do you actually enjoy watching your favorite team’s games?”. While there was obviously a wide variation in opinions, I recall a consensus gathering around the notion that when watching “their team”, the stress many fans feel far outweighed the enjoyment of seeing the team play or watching the game itself.
Perhaps (for those of us fortunate enough to be safe and relatively comfortable during this time) stepping away from sports has forced us to refocus and gain some perspective on our own lives. No doubt the overwhelming majority of us will go back to our sports fandom over the next few months and years as the sports world returns, but maybe many of us will do so having gained a new perspective on the role of professional (and major-college) sports in our lives.
I’ve noticed that I would rather watch live events (NASCAR and KBO) than classic games of sports I’m a die-hard fan of (MLB and NBA). Really, I can’t stand watching re-runs of old games anymore.
As a sports fan, I am more drawn to real-time tension and uncertainty than I am to the spectacle of elite athletes competing.
Was jonesing for some real Indycar (not the simulated/esport races). Was nice to see it on Big Boy NBC. Now have to wait until the July 4th weekend for a pretty good set of races in Indianapolis; Brickyard 400 and the Indy Grand Prix on the same weekend.
I recently read that the Indy 500 will only be run if fans are able to attend-it’s set to run in August but may be pushed back to October. It would be disappointing for it to be cancelled entirely.
I had a bit of a head start on this. Last fall I cut the cord because my cable bill had ballooned to over $200/month, including some onerous local taxes and fees. Except for certain big events (Clemson/LSU) where I had to make special arrangements, I found it surprisingly easy. There’s enough sports on free tv, and NHL.com streams several games each week. What I missed more than my local teams was some of my more ritual-based viewing, such as TNT’s late NBA games on Thursday nights and the early Saturday morning Premier League matches.
I terribly miss sports. As a HS Baseball Coach it was difficult to have the season cancelled, especially for the 12th graders who will never get it back. (Please no lectures on the ‘bigger sacrifice’ of people dying from the virus and losing jobs and livelihoods).. I completely empathize with the impact and loss.
I also have missed the NHL playoffs, and anxiously await their return in August and September..
Most impactful for me has been the lack of MLB. The day-to-day rhythm of the season and how it has shaped my 45+ summers.. the mid-week summer day games.. having the ball game on outside while working or cooking.. falling asleep to late-night West coast games.. knowing there will always be a ballgame on to break the summer monotony… Holiday baseball (minus the BS uni costumes).. Opening the morning newspaper to read about the game and tear into box scores…
Quite the opposite from most of today’s comments, I have realized how much I took watching sports for granted.. and how I long for them to return. One of the few signs of optimism these past months has been the flicker that sports would eventually be back.
Not to sound too much like the scene from “Field of Dreams”, but baseball has marked time for me in my life.. Memories with my Grandfather, to my dad, friends, and now wife are sacred to me.
To imagine that a money dispute is now what threatens the 2020 season is revolting.
I miss sitting in the backyard on Friday or Saturday nights listening to the ballgame. Drinking a beer, eating peanuts, just passing the time. I miss going to the movies. I watched a new episode of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire recently and it just wasn’t the same without an audience.
Paul, you made my day today. I saw my membership card in the gallery and I received my purple amnesty shirt in the mail today.
Glad we provided some happiness, Patrick — stay well!