New ESPN column today — here’s the link.
Meanwhile: Back around 1980, the now-defunct magazine Inside Sports ran this kinda snarky Q&A column every issue. One entry from that column has stayed with me over the years:
Q. I’ve heard about this new sport, “nude female mud wrestling,” but I don’t really understand it. Can you explain it to me?
A. The first thing you do is get some nude female mud. After that it’s pretty self-explanatory.
That little exchange — and a bunch of other things, which we’ll get to in a minute — came to mind last week, when news broke that Austrian skier Rainer Schöenfelder had settled a bet by going on a naked ski run, which gave new meaning to the term “losing streak.”
Schöenfelder is hardly the first to take, shall we say, a minimalist approach to athletic apparel. A few others that come to mind:
• In 1990, Steve Lyons of the White Sox (who later distinguished himself as a very thoughtful commentator), dropped trou after beating out an infield hit. I’ve seen the video of this on TV plenty of times, and you probably have too, but I haven’t been able to find pics or footage of it on the web. Little help..?
• Brandi Chastain famously removed her jersey in 1999, but her sports bra provided so much coverage that she was still pretty much fully clothed (although the same can’t be said for her [NSFW alert] here, here, or here).
• The Lingerie Bowl — now firmly established as an annual rite of the Super Bowl’s halftime break — features plenty of underwear on parade. For those who’ve never seen this stirring cauldron of athletic competition, some video footage is available here. (And speaking of Super Bowl halftimes and nudity, there’s always this little maneuver [NSFW version here; and most of the remaining links in today’s main entry are NSFW too, so office types should be careful]).
• Photographer Eadweard Muybridge, best known for his stop-action photos of horses, did similar photographic studies of nude baseball and nude fencing (as well as jockstrap-clad boxing, although that seems like a cop-out).
• An unzipped fly isn’t quite the same as nudity, but it’s getting there. Several players have had XYZ issues in recent years, including Todd Jones, Ray King, Marcus McNeill, Chris Cooley, and Anquan Boldin.
But of course the real intersection of sports and nudity comes with streaking, which over the years has afflicted baseball, football, hockey, soccer (not just men, either), tennis (ditto), and even cricket. In addition, back in the early to mid-’70s, I can distinctly remember reading that a Braves fan was arrested on Opening Day for sitting in the stands naked at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium (that kind of news report tends to stay with you when you’re only nine years old).
And then there are these guys, although I don’t think they actually played au natural.
Two interesting Uni Watch footnotes to all this: First, Uni Watch design director Scott M.X. Turner used to play guitar in the faux-French band Les Sans Culottes, whose name literally translates to “Those Without Pants” (although they keep their pants on onstage). And second, two days ago Uni Watch hedge fund analyst Jenny Strasburg and I participated in the annual No Pants Subway Ride, a group project that features lots of New Yorkers boarding a subway train and then methodically taking off their pants in front of bewildered — and, ideally, amused — onlookers. I’m happy to report that many of the pants-free riders, myself included, wore striped socks for the occasion.
NHL Update: In case you missed it yesterday, the New York Post broke the latest news about the NHL’s new uniforms — or, rather, about how the new uniforms will be presented. To see for yourself, scroll down to the “Propaganda Alert!” section toward the end of this page. From an information-control standpoint, this sounds worse than a White House spin-fest, but this dispatch gives us some hope for optimism in terms of the actual designs. I’m reserving judgment until I see the actual jerseys.
ITEM! January Raffle: Our friends at Distant Replays are at it again, donating a $250 gift card for me to raffle off. And that quarter-large will go even further, because most of their merch is 25% off from now through January 22nd.
No quiz this time — just send an e-mail to uniraffle at earthlink dot net and I’ll pick a winner on Thursday. One entry per person, but I’ll put your name in the hat a second time if you buy anything this week from the Uni Watch store, or if you buy a set of Uni Watch temporary tattoos (PayPal $5 to paul_lukas at earthlink dot net, and make sure to include your mailing address), or if you just PayPal a $5 donation (for people who don’t want to buy anything but still want to support the cause). Big thanks to the Distant Replay folks, and good luck to all entrants.
Uni Watch News Ticker: As many of you know by now, the Brewers will be wearing this patch on their Friday throwback uniforms this season, and the Mariners will be wearing a 30th anniversary patch. … Tom Carlson points to the last paragraph of this article, which reads: “Pavol Demitra is one of a few NHL players who has retained a wooden stick. Ironically, Nike Bauer paints his sticks so that at a glance it appears to be a fancy composite one. ‘I’ve got no feeling for the puck if I don’t play with wood,’ explains Demitra.” … Two items from Dominic Litten: “The University of North Texas at Dallas has unveiled a new logo, mascot, and colors. UNT Dallas is preparing to make themselves a separate entity from the UNT campus in Denton. And the Air Force will be setting up a web site to foster suggestions for the new USAF uniforms [these are the actual military uniforms, not the Air Force Academy’s athetlic uniforms — PL]. Airmen will be able to log in and comment directly to the uniform board on designs.” … All Idaho State teams are now wearing a “D.H.” memorial patch for former student-athlete, coach, and athletic director Dubby Holt. … A New Era press release makes a big fuss about the 5950’s new moisture-management capabilities but also includes a small mention of the new “Performance Undervisor,” which supposedly “Keeps visor dry and reduces glare in bright conditions.” This is the first time I’ve ever seen an undervisor touted in a sales pitch. … Interesting article here about how Nate Burleson of the Seahawks wears custom-made suits each week, in the color of Seattle’s opponent (with thanks to Dan Weimann). … As several readers have noted, Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen’s new mask has characters from Kill Bill on the sides and Lil John on the backplate. … Scroll down to the Blackhawks photo in this article to read Brett Hull’s thoughts on the state of NHL uni design. … Thursday’s discussion of the non-wraparound tape on the blade of the stick shown in the Sharks logo led Greg Stevenson to add the missing tape — much better. … The new Houston Dynamo kits look like this and this (with thanks to David Robbins). … Edward Lilly says the “bulbous” cap design worn by Michelle Wie at the Sony Open was a “hideous mistake,” but I kinda like it. … According to this blog post, the Nationals are going to emphasize their script “W” logo this season, and play down their “DC” logo (with thanks to Matt Schudel). … There’s been some chatter in the Comments section lately about whether girls’ teams should have their own cheerleaders. There’s a good article on that topic here. … Reprinted from Sunday’s comments: Lots of new MLB batting practice cap designs are now emerging. Here’s what the Reds, Yankees, Braves, Cubs, Mets, Cards, and Tigers will be wearing. Yes, they look like shit, but my position remains “Who cares?,” because BP caps are a joke anyway. … Uni Watch is name-checked in this eBay listing. … In case you missed it, Fox’s coverage of the Saints/Iggles game included a shot of this [NSFW alert] artfully worded T-shirt. What’s particularly interesting is that you watch the actual video — available here on YouTube — it’s clear that Fox had pre-focused on the fan in question, rather than just stumbling across her in the crowd. … Everyone wants to know what was going on with that little nub on Lovie Smith’s jacket yesterday. An inflation pump? An iPod jack? An “extra nipple”? (That was reader Mike Caverhill‘s assessment — and that was before he knew about today’s main topic.) I’m trying to get an answer from Reebok. … Yancy Yeater notes that Philip Rivers’s sleeves appeared to be cut shorter than his uni numbers yesterday. … Check out the sweaters worn by the 1917 Queen’s University women’s hockey team (credit an assist to Jonathan Goupil). … Not exactly logo creep, but definitely related (with thanks to Uni Watch publicist Carrie Klein).