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The George Floyd Protests Are Reshaping the Uni-verse

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The racial justice protests that started in the United States after George Floyd’s murder and soon spread around the globe have already had a profound effect on the uni-verse and related aspects of the sports world’s visual messaging — even though the sports world is barely conducting any live events because of the pandemic. It’s probably the most sweeping set of changes in response to a non-sports event that I can recall in my 20-plus years of writing about uniforms.

I’ve created a rundown, broken down by sport, of what’s happened so far this week. This list includes some items that have been in the Ticker over the past few days, along with some new developments from yesterday. It does not include any of the many non-sports items that have appeared in the Grab Bag (removing the Confederate flag from military bases, e.g.), nor does it include any moves that have been called for but not yet enacted.

Even with those two provisos — and even with the sports world mostly shut down — it’s a significant list. And the situation is so fluid, with new developments taking place at such a breakneck pace, that the list will likely be badly out of date by the end of today. But here’s how it stands as of now:

Soccer

• U.S. Soccer on Wednesday rescinded its ban on kneeling during the national anthem. Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone followed up yesterday by apologizing to women’s national team player Megan Rapinoe, whose kneeling during the anthem in 2016 prompted the enactment of the now-rescinded rule.

• MLS went out of its way to release a statement on Tuesday reiterating its existing policy of allowing players to kneel during the anthem. (That statement was then rendered moot the following day, when commish Don Garber announced that the anthem won’t be played before games at the league’s return tourney in Orlando, because he doesn’t see the point of playing it if there are no fans on hand.)

• In Germany, Eintracht Frankfurt wore “#blacklivesmatter” on its shirts for Wednesday’s German Cup semifinal against Bayern Munich.

• In England, Premier League players will wear “Black Lives Matter” NOBs, instead of their surnames, when games resume next week. They will also wear Black Lives Matter badges on the front of their shirts (along with “NHS” badges, as a salute to the National Health Service during the pandemic), and will reportedly be permitted to take a knee before kickoff.

NASCAR

• NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace drove a Black Lives Matter-themed car in Wednesday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

• That same day, NASCAR announced that it had banned the Confederate flag at its events and properties. (NASCAR Truck Series driver Ray Ciccarelli responded by saying he will quit NASCAR at the end of this season.)

• NASCAR has also rescinded its rule requiring team members to stand during the national anthem.

NFL

• Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk yesterday became the first NFL owner to specifically support “peaceful protests,” widely interpreted to mean she’d be okay with players kneeling during the national anthem, despite the NFL’s rule requiring players to either stand during the anthem or stay in the locker room while it’s being played.

• After the Panthers initially removed the statue of former owner Jerry Richardson from the front of their stadium on a temporary basis “for precautionary reasons” (Richardson sold the team in 2018 after allegations of racial and sexual misconduct, and there were rumors that activists in Charlotte planned to deface or topple it), The Charlotte Observer reported yesterday that the statue’s removal is permanent.

• Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson appears to be the first athlete (at least that I’m aware of) to have commissioned a set of George Floyd memorial cleats.

MLB

• Wednesday’s MLB draft began with a shot of all 30 MLB general managers holding “Black Lives Matter” signs. In addition, the MLB Network’s coverage of the draft included a giant “Black Lives Matter” banner on the set.

Golf

• The PGA Tour’s Charles Schwab Challenge observed a moment of silence for George Floyd at 8:46am yesterday. The time was chosen for the eight minutes and 46 seconds that Floyd endured a police officer’s knee on his neck.

Boxing

• Heavyweight boxer Jared Anderson had “Black Lives Matter” on his glove tape and on his cornermen’s shirts on Tuesday night. He also wore one of the shirts himself after his victory (as did another boxer on that same card, featherweight Shakur Stevenson).

Aussie Rules Football

• With the AFL returning to action this week, both teams in both games — Collingwood vs. Richmond and Geelong vs. Hawthorn — participated in a pregame kneeling observance.

Team Names and Mascots

• Western Connecticut State University, whose teams are called the Colonials, said it would consider changing the name.

• Howell High School in New Jersey announced that it is removing all traces of its Confederate-themed mascot character (although the school’s teams will still be called the Rebels, at least for now).

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Did I miss anything? If so, please let me know.

And there’s presumably a lot more where that came from. It now seems inevitable that the Big Four pro leagues will all have some sort of uni-based gesture regarding this issue when they return to action (assuming they actually do return to action, which still isn’t a sure thing).

(My thanks to Jamie Rathjen for the AFL items.)

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ITEM! Coasters available once again: Last summer I was able to get 50 Uni Watch coasters made at a discounted price. I made them available, and they sold out quickly.

That same supplier just offered the same discounted deal, so I ordered 50 more. Just like before, I’m selling them in sets of three for $9 (plus this time I’ll throw in a matching sticker). Full details here.

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Membership update: People ordering membership cards usually ask for designs based on home jerseys (except for Red Sox and Giants fans, who usually ask for road designs because those teams’ home jerseys don’t have NOBs). So it’s always interesting when someone asks for a design based on the road greys, as Joanna Zwiep recently did for her card, which is patterned after the Reds’ mid-1990s road set.

Joanna’s card is part of a new batch that’s been added to the membership card gallery, where I’m happy to report that we’ve finally gotten through all the Purp Walk orders.

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.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: This story details the saga between the two guys who fought — on Waveland Avenue and in court — over Sammy Sosa’s 62nd home run ball in 1998 (from Mike Chamernik). … Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom wore a really nice retro Red Sox cardigan during the MLB Draft. … Round Rock, Tx., has been granted a temporary Texas Collegiate League team, and they’re adopting the “Round Rock Hairy Men” one-off identity from MiLB team the Round Rock Express (from Ignacio Salazar). … Nate Sanderson, the head girls’ basketball coach at Linn-Marr High in Iowa, has a pretty amazing backyard wiffle ball field (from Kary Klismet). … Whoa, dig this shot of country music star Willie Nelson in an Astros tequila sunrise sweater! (From Dwayne White.) … Speaking of, the Houston Gaels — a Gaelic Football club — have just released their own tequila sunrise jersey design (from @Madmaclegend).

NFL News: The second part of Robert Bacon‘s review of NFL unis is live on YouTube. … Wouldn’t it be cool if NFL coaches could wear suits with embroidered logos on the jackets, like Rankin Smith is in this screenshot? You gotta admit that looks better than this (from @NFL_Journal).

Hockey News: Holy moly, check out the stripe action in this old AHL matchup between the Hershey Bears and Providence Reds (from Matt Campbell, with Reds identification from Jason Chaimovitz).
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Basketball News: The Daily Beast broke the news yesterday that reporters covering the NBA’s restarted season might have to be in quarantine lockdown in the Disney/Orlando “bubble” for three and a half months, just like the players. This might lead to most of the media coverage being remote instead of live, because (a) most reporters won’t want to be away from their families for that long, and (b) media outlets won’t want to cover months’ worth of hotel expenses for their reporters.

Soccer News: The NPSL’s Fort Worth Vaqueros have chosen the Fort Worth Police Officers Association as their new primary shirt advertiser. This has led to intense criticism from the supporters — just look at the replies to the tweet — and the resignation in protest of the chairman of the official supporters’ group (from Alex Rawden). … Celtic’s new Adidas kits have finally leaked. For those who were wondering how Adidas’s trademark shoulder stripes would look on Celtic’s famously hooped shirts, it appears Adidas have taken an appropriately subtle touch that doesn’t look that out of place. The training gear looks top-notch as well. (from Ed Żelaski and Josh Hinton). … Also from Ed: Scottish side Motherwell have unveiled a gorgeous home kit . … The following are all from Josh Hinton: More images have leaked of Manchester City’s away and third shirts. I’d hate to admit it, but those do look nice. … The FA Cup is dropping its title advertisement, and instead giving the space to Heads Up, a mental health charity. … Bayern Munich wore next year’s home kit in their win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday. … France’s Ligue 1 has unveiled a new logo, with a new title advertiser. … MK Dons of England’s League One have unveiled a very clean home kit. … Norwich City will put fans’ names and locations on the ad boards when the Premier League kicks off next week (thanks, Jamie). … In an interview, former Arsenal and Manchester United ST Robin van Persie said the No. 20 he wore with United was his favorite.

Grab Bag: The Financial Times has detailed how Adidas struggled to make an appropriate statement on the George Floyd protests when many other companies felt compelled to do so. Adidas finally decided to retweet longtime rival Nike’s statement. …  Rugby league team Keighley Cougars, out of England’s RFL League One, have a really garish Union Jack/NHS jersey they’re going to wear when lower-league rugby kicks back off in England (thanks, Jamie). … Max Weintraub sends along this fascinating article about how brands are changing taglines and logos during the pandemic. … With horrifically long poll lines in Georgia, many voters brought along lawn chairs so they could sit while waiting to vote. Atlanta Magazine talked to them about their chair choices (from Austin Gillis). … Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, is the only Canadian school in the NCAA and plays against American teams. The school’s team name, the Clan, is a reference to the Scottish heritage of the school’s namesake, but some are calling for it to be changed, since “Clan” has unfortunate overtones. “I would agree it is time for a name change,” says Wade Heidt, who lives in nearby Vancouver. … Spencer Cox, a candidate for Governor of Utah, has a campaign logo with a very Uni Watch-esque color scheme (from Benji King). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: The Houston Gaels — a Gaelic Football club — have just released a new jersey based on MLB’s Houston Astros’ famous tequila sunrise design (from @Madmaclegend).

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What Paul did last night: Our neighbor Sarah (in the green jumper) is a professional bassoonist. She and her son, Owen (in the Nirvana tee) stopped by yesterday while they were taking a walk. While we were yakking, another pair of neighbors, whose names I’m unsure of, walked by on the opposite sidewalk while carrying a 25-pound bag of flour, because NYC lockdown rules require everyone to bake their own bread or else you get hit with a sourdough tax. Yes, really. (Read: Not really.)

Here’s the fourth and final candy bar-themed tumbler:

I always think of this tumbler as the oddball of the quartet, because Mars bars weren’t commonly available in our local five and dimes when I was growing up — they were more like an unconfirmed rumor. They were discontinued in 2002 and then reintroduced as Snickers Almond, which is probably my favorite current candy bar.

Meanwhile: The branch is still there.

As always, you can see the full set of Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos here.

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Our latest raffle winner is Robert Baker, who’s won himself a Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to him, and thanks to Matthew Walthert for sponsoring this one.

Have a great weekend, enjoy Phil’s Saturday and Sunday content, stay safe, and I’ll see you back here on Monday. — Paul

46 comments to How the George Floyd Protests Are Reshaping the Uni-verse

  • Rob G | June 12, 2020 at 9:19 am |

    I have to admit I miss the day when NFL coaches wore suits.
    Landry, Lombardi, Stram, etc. For all his genius, Belichick looks like a guy who sqeegees you windshield when you come out of the Lincoln Tunnel!

  • jason | June 12, 2020 at 9:20 am |

    Seeing a kid Owen’s age wearing a Nirvana shirt fills me with the same sense of oldness that my father probably felt when I wore my Led Zeppelin shirt at that age…

    (cue wistful music from “The Wonder Years”)

    • StLMarty | June 12, 2020 at 10:07 am |

      Seeing Owen in that Nirvana shirt reminds me that Dave Grohl was once the drummer for Scream.

  • hofflalu | June 12, 2020 at 9:38 am |

    I never knew that on the Mars bar! I had wondered for a long time why I couldn’t find one, and that explains it. However…about a year ago, I *did* find a Mars bar in a store in the Twin Cities, and clearly a new one at that (not a leftover from the ’90s), which was my first Mars bar since probably the ’90s or ’80s. The store has a lot of Middle Eastern items and imported grocery foods, so that explains that!

    • Blair | June 12, 2020 at 10:48 am |

      I’m really confused as to what a Mars bar is/was in the USA. Here in Canada they’re readily available, contain no almonds or nuts of any kind, and is just caramel and nougant, similar but not identical to Milky Way, which we have here as well.

      • Paul Lukas | June 12, 2020 at 11:01 am |

        Yeah, the American Mars bar was different than the “international” version (which, as you say, was similar to a Milky Way). Different packaging, too.

        Probably a good thing the American version wasn’t readily available to me when I was growing up — I probably would’ve eaten waaaaay too many of them, at least judging by how much I like the Snickers Almond, which is the same product. (If Snickers Almond had, like, *one* more almond per per, it would be Perfect.)

        • Forde | June 12, 2020 at 11:29 am |

          I used to go to Ireland every summer in the 90’s (visiting relatives when I was younger) and Mars bars were huge their.

          Went last April and sure enough, they still appear to be very popular.

  • Matt | June 12, 2020 at 9:43 am |

    Mars Bars were one of the prizes when trick or treating along with Carmelo, Whatchamacallit, Baby Ruth and cookies and cream Hershey bars.

    Basically bars that we’re just common enough that if you went to enough houses, you’d come home With one.

  • Dumb Guy | June 12, 2020 at 9:48 am |

    The candy tumblers are all so odd to my eye. That 80’s diamond shape behind them. The “logo”/font just plopped on there. It’s so out of context. Maybe if you were drinking chocolate syrup out of them??

    • Paul Lukas | June 12, 2020 at 9:53 am |

      They’re definitely a product of their era! Probably $1.99 plus four wrappers for the whole set, or something like that. I find them sort of endearingly pop-cultural.

  • StLMarty | June 12, 2020 at 10:03 am |

    Chain Bloom apparently has that je ne sais quois.

    • VTJosh | June 12, 2020 at 10:47 am |

      Still just the guy from Tampa who traded Mookie Betts.

    • Clarybird | June 12, 2020 at 11:14 am |

      Besides having a photo of MLK Jr. on the office wall, Chaim Bloom also has a photo of Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, the first black Red Sox player who (finally) made his debut in 1959.

  • Kenny Ocker | June 12, 2020 at 10:31 am |

    As (I believe) the sole holder of an Eintracht Frankfurt membership card, I couldn’t be more proud to see them leading the site today. A surprising, great gesture for a country not exactly known for nailing race relations.

  • Chance Michaels | June 12, 2020 at 10:35 am |

    Whoa, dig this shot of country music star Willie Nelson in an Astros tequila sunrise sweater!

    Given the era, it’s probably a gamer. I remember as a kid seeing the Astros in their amazing knit jackets. Really wish this had caught on; did any other teams do this?

    Between this and Chaim Bloom’s gorgeous sweater, really love to see an MLB team bring these back. Some teams would have a lot of beautiful designs from which to choose.

    • DJ | June 12, 2020 at 5:48 pm |

      Nice, but unlikely. The hoody seems to have taken its place in the wardrobe, and certainly in the team equipment catalog. And if you want something buttoned-down, you go with the jacket.

  • Perry | June 12, 2020 at 10:51 am |

    Van Persie link doesn’t work. Which is fine, really, because f*** that guy.

  • Anthony Miranda | June 12, 2020 at 11:50 am |

    Can we rename the branch the “Iron Man Branch” and have a Cal Ripken Jr./Camden Yards Warehouse style ticker counting how many days it stays?

  • Mike Engle | June 12, 2020 at 11:56 am |

    Also within the last week, the Boston Red Sox publicly reckoned with their earned reputation as a city with a racist fan base. I hate the Red Sox, but I love self-awareness, and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt because they could have given a much emptier performative statement.
    https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/boston-red-sox-release-statement-acknowledging-racism-from-fans-at-fenway-park-directed-at-players/

    • Paul Lukas | June 12, 2020 at 12:05 pm |

      I agree that the Red Sox statement was impressive and better than most of the other team statements I’ve seen.

      I opted not to include it, or any other team statement, on today’s list because (a) almost every team and league under the sun issued some sort of statement, so putting those on the list would have made the list absurdly long, and (b) statements don’t mean much, at least to me, until they’re backed up by actions (or at least, in the case of Amy Adams Strunk, the promise of a *specific* action).

  • Rainbow Guts | June 12, 2020 at 12:05 pm |

    The Houston Gaels’ uniforms are EVERYTHING. Wow.

    • walter | June 12, 2020 at 12:55 pm |

      Guys who try to explain they were ahead of their time are tiresome. That said, I want a million dollars because I boosted those Astros’ uniforms as future classics, in 1976. And I have the hat to prove it!

  • Chance Michaels | June 12, 2020 at 12:44 pm |

    Wouldn’t it be cool if NFL coaches could wear suits with embroidered logos on the jackets

    I was kind of surprised the NFL didn’t do that when they briefly and tentatively experimented with suits in 2006. They had team color linings but no outward team insignia (although Jacksonville’s Del Rio wore a Jaguars lapel pin).

  • walter | June 12, 2020 at 12:48 pm |

    I have to admit “Colonials” was perhaps THE LAST name I thought people might find offensive. What would the mascot be? A guy wearing a powdered wig? “Rebels” is less problematic because you can be a “James Dean” Rebel, a “Daniel Boone” Rebel, or a “Minuteman” Rebel, not merely a “Confederate” Rebel. If I’ve learned anything, trying to figure out which nickname is the next one on the outs is a fool’s errand.

    • Paul Lukas | June 12, 2020 at 12:57 pm |

      It’s less about whether it’s “offensive” than whether colonialism, which often involved genocide, slaughter, white supremacy, etc., is really something we should be celebrating.

      That didn’t occur to me when I attended SUNY-Binghamton in the 1980s (the school’s teams were called the Colonials at the time), but I understand it now.

      • Andrew Ross | June 12, 2020 at 1:46 pm |

        I wonder if the Division I Colonial Athletic Association will follow suit.

      • Name Redacted | June 12, 2020 at 7:23 pm |

        I wonder how having a James Dean/Grease/1950s “rebel” theme to a high school sports program would go over.

  • Aled Thomas | June 12, 2020 at 1:31 pm |

    Two nations separated by a common language dept: To any British reader your neighbour isn’t wearing a jumper, which to us is another word for a sweater, (knitted, wool, crew or v neck, long sleeves, pulled on over the head.)

    To my eyes she’s wearing something akin to a jumpsuit, so I’m guessing that’s what ‘jumper’ means in the US? or NY at least?

    • Perry | June 12, 2020 at 1:54 pm |

      Dictionary says in North American usage it’s a “collarless sleeveless dress usually worn with a blouse.” She appears to be wearing a top that’s collarless and sleeveless, but with no blouse and with trousers. Or maybe it’s a jumpsuit, although I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sleeveless jumpsuit. So maybe Paul’s usage was NY-specific.

      • Paul Lukas | June 12, 2020 at 2:09 pm |

        Nah, I was just being a bit sloppy/conversational with my language.

      • Aled Thomas | June 12, 2020 at 7:32 pm |

        So, wait, what, if someone tells me and my (non-existent) American wife ‘go and put a jumper on’ I come back in a wool sweater, and she comes back in a ‘collarless, sleeveless dress’?

        This puts the Fannypack Controversy of 1993 in the shade..

  • Jr2t | June 12, 2020 at 1:39 pm |

    Considering purchasing coasters. Is the pressboard more of a paper or wood material?

    • Paul Lukas | June 12, 2020 at 1:55 pm |

      Cardboard.

  • rpm | June 12, 2020 at 1:47 pm |

    mars? mars?! who had mars? nobody had mars! what is going to happen to the pool money?!stupid no butterfinger. i feel cheated.

  • Kurt | June 12, 2020 at 2:04 pm |

    Do not even want to think about the BLM patches and observances coming to MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA et al, especially the Minnesota based teams. Will even dwarf the GI-joke programs of the past 18 years.

    • Paul Lukas | June 12, 2020 at 2:13 pm |

      Kurt, G.I. Joke has featured full camouflage jerseys (and, depending the sport, camo caps/helmets as well).

      Unless you can envision what a full-jersey/cap/helmet BLM design would be — in which case, I’d be interested in hearing your description — it’s hard to imagine how any BLM uni gestures will “dwarf” the camouflage uniforms we’ve seen in recent years.

      • Kurt | June 12, 2020 at 6:06 pm |

        I hope so Paul..

  • Drew | June 12, 2020 at 2:51 pm |

    Are there plans for a memorial shirt, cap, pin or membership card design when the branch finally comes down? I’m (mostly) joking but at this point I am hilariously invested in the branch!

    • Paul Lukas | June 12, 2020 at 3:05 pm |

      You think *you’re* emotionally invested in it?! Imagine how I feel!!

      • Andy Moeschberger | June 12, 2020 at 3:20 pm |

        It’s the December pin. Uni Watch 2020. The Branch Is Still There.

  • Mike Engle | June 12, 2020 at 4:17 pm |

    At this rate, the branch is such a character, it deserves a name. I propose…Branch Rickey.

  • John F. | June 12, 2020 at 7:32 pm |

    I find it amazing that a New Jersey high school would use a Confederate soldier as its mascot and was further saddened when I discovered that they adopted the Conderate imagery in 1964 during the height of the civil rights movement and the year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.

  • hysdavid | June 12, 2020 at 10:01 pm |

    How did The Undertones get overlooked on a discussion of a Mars bar? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0Tgfnp75TA

    • Paul Lukas | June 12, 2020 at 10:55 pm |

      Touché.

  • Nusm | June 12, 2020 at 10:22 pm |

    Listen, I agree that the suit with the Falcons logo was slick, but please don’t compliment Rankin Smith on *ANYTHING*. I’ve been a Falcons fan my whole life, and I can tell you, that cheap SOB hamstrung that franchise for the entire time he owned it.

  • Edmond Dantes | June 13, 2020 at 1:16 pm |

    The “Clan” should stay. Pandering to morons if it changes. Educate people, don’t change harmless things to satisfy an outrage fetish.