Exactly one year ago today, I uploaded this entry, thereby launching the site you’re now reading. At the time, I had two primary concerns: (1) Would anyone notice? (2) What the hell would I write about the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that? (Confession: I intentionally launched the site on a Wednesday, so I’d only have to come up with three entries for that first week.)
A year later, the site has been a much bigger success than I ever could have imagined. Except for that little server hiccup back in February, we’ve had fresh content every single non-holiday weekday, and on a few weekends to boot. I’m proud of that, and you should be too, because so much of the material comes from, or is inspired by, you. I’ve also had invaluable assistance from webmaster John Ekdahl (who, aside from all the technical help he’s provided, is the one who came up with the idea for this site in the first place), design director Scott M.X. Turner, and intern Vince Grzegorek. In addition to all their behind-the-scenes help, John and Vince have also given me occasional days off by writing blog entries, as has Todd Krevanchi. I’m super-grateful to all of them.
So what’s on tap for Year Two? In my fantasy world, I’d like the site to become less of a blog and more of a magazine, with separate sections devoted to various sports and uniform elements, additional writers (I would love to have a regular column written by someone at Nike or Reebok — a “voice from the corporate side,” as it were, to counter my relentlessly anti-corporate stance), a message board, and so on. That isn’t going to happen without a major sugar daddy, something I’ve so far been unable to attract. A more realistic fantasy, or so I’d like to think, is for Uni Watch to become self-supporting, meaning that I’d be able to focus on it exclusively, without devoting time to non-uni-related writing.
And that leads me to a big announcement: We’re are about to start offering (read: selling) multiple levels of Uni Watch memberships, the most immediate benefit of which will be a super-cool plastic-laminated membership card, designed by our own Scott M.X. Turner. The front will look like this, and the back will be styled like the back of a jersey — you’ll be able to pick a uniform number and your last name will appear in your choice of typography: vertically arched, radially arched, straight, or, for you old-schoolers, no name at all. I’ll add an “Active Roster” page to the site, listing all current members by uniform number and membership level. (
Sorry, no duplicate membership uni numbers — if someone else already has the number you want, you’ll have to choose another number, just like on a real team. Update: There’s already been such a scramble by people trying to call dibs on certain numbers that I’ve decided to make the numbers non-exclusive, so you can have whatever number you want, even if someone else already has it.)
So what does membership cost, and what do you get in return? Here’s the breakdown of the various one-year membership levels and their respective benefits:
Level One: Wool Flannel ($25): Benefits are as follows:
- Official Uni Watch Membership Card
- Uni Watch fridge magnet
- Three bonus entries in all Uni Watch raffles
- Your name featured on the Uni Watch “Active Roster” membership listing
Level Two: Vertically Arched ($50): All of the benefits listed above, plus a special Uni Watch T-shirt, available only to members. This design is still in development and should be ready in about a week, but trust me — it’s gonna look great.
Level Three: Chain-Stitched ($100): All the benefits listed above, plus a CD containing the digital art files for three rare, hard-to-find uniform style guides: NFL 1972, XFL 2001, and MLB’s 1999 “Turn Ahead the Clock” series.
Level Four: Leather Helmet ($250): All the benefits listed above, plus Uni Watch design director Scott M.X. Turner will create a logo for your team, fantasy league, company, civic association, church group, or just for you.
Level Five: Satin Piping ($500): All the benefits listed above, plus I will conduct a “Uni Watch Profiles” interview with you, a transcript of which will be posted on the blog. During the interview we will discuss your favorite uniforms, your uni-related pet peeves, your cap collection, or anything else uni-related that you want to talk about. You will be uni-king for a day!
Level Six: Striped Stirrups ($1000): All of the benefits listed above, plus I will fly to your town (or to the nearest city with an airport) and host a Uni Watch party at the local venue of your choosing. Probably your best chance at attending a Uni Watch party if you live in, say, Wichita. Continental U.S. only. If you live within a 100-mile radius of New York City, I will take you and a guest out to dinner either before or after the party. If you and some friends pool your resources to come up with the fee, you will all receive membership cards.
I may come up with other benefits, and I’m also hoping to get some e-merchants to offer some discounts to Uni Watch members, but that’s all still in the “We’re working on it” phase.
So you’re probably thinking, “Is this just a money-making scheme, or a glorified donation program?” To a certain extent, yes. But I’ll be frank with you: I need some more money from this project. The site now eats up a significant amount of my time (easily 25 hours a week, often a lot more), and it’s starting to cut into the time I’d ordinarily devote to “real” work. Obviously, nobody’s forcing me to do this, and I can stop anytime I want. But I don’t want to stop — I love working on the site. I just need to be able to justify the increasing bite it’s taking from my schedule.
That said, I also think the membership program is a fun little sub-project. The benefits ain’t bad, and I’m pretty stoked about the membership card myself. All in all, I think membership at any level is a fair deal.
That said, I’m fully aware that some of you are students, and/or have families to support, loans to pay off, ad bankruptum. I also realize that many of you have already donated and/or bought raffle tickets in the past. Believe me, I know. I’m not trying to put the squeeze on anyone, I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip on you, and I can assure you that access to the site will always be free. I’m just asking for a little help, from those of you who are able to give it, so I can keep doing this thing we all enjoy — a thing that is rapidly approaching the status of a full-time job.
I won’t even accept any membership purchases until the Level Two T-shirt design is finalized. While we’re waiting, I’ll get the ball rolling by raffling off a membership — send a note to uniraffle at earthlink dot net (one per person, please) and I’ll pick a winner when the T-shirt design is ready.
Okay, enough of that. Thanks for a great first year, people — looking forward to more.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Nice note from Greg Evans, who writes: “Anderson, South Carolina, has a new Class A independent team called the Joes, after Shoeless Joe Jackson. Shoeless Joe was an upstate South Carolina native, and supposedly got his nickname while playing semipro ball in Anderson. The team logo is pretty cool, especially compared with the cartoonish logos of most other minor league teams. Also, the inclusion of a pair of spikes on the cap is a nice touch.” … Tuesday’s post mentioned the troubles that the Red Bulls have had fitting Dave van den Bergh’s name on his jersey, but I didn’t have a photo. Now, thanks to Kenn Tomasch, I do. … The Broncos’ memorial helmet decal for Darrent Williams and Damien Nash will look like this (with thanks to Andrew Mason). … Jeff Scott (who has a pretty sharp Cardinals blog) notes that the Majestic logo has been missing from David Eckstein’s road jersey for several days now. … In a related logo-anti-creep item, Kevin Gee reports that the MLB logo has been missing from the back of Carlos Lee’s batting helmet, and “it just doesn’t look right.” … “Hey Paul, a while back you linked to one of my pictures of the Oregon Marching Band, in our numbered, helmet-attired glory,” writes Matt Takimoto. “The helmets have since been retired — apparently we looked like Nazis to some of the older, donor set here in Eugene — and we are now selling them to raise money for the band.” Takimoto said he’d even try to arrange a raffle for us — stay tuned. … A confused and outraged Brandon Hall wonders why Lindy Ruff was wearing a Senators-colored necktie the other day. … Lots of great old West Virginia high school football uniforms on display in this gallery (kudos to Brad DiCola). … You know how a book’s index will have listings formatted like “Stirrups, Uni Watch’s obsession with” and “Purple, utter loathsomeness of”? Check out the jersey insignia for D3 school St. Thomas University (great find by Mike Miller). … According to a small note contained in this article Ted Lilly and Lou Piniella “enjoyed a novel bonding moment recently when Lilly informed Piniella that his fly was unzipped during a conference at the mound” (with thanks to sharp-eyed David Chisholm). … So this horse and this Mexican wrestler walk into a bar… (as spotted by Jeremy Brahm). … Bill Pinsak notes that Ben Roethlisberger was wearing Nike tri-bolt shorts the other day, instead of standard-issue NFL Equipment shorts made by Reebok. … Photos of Miami’s new football jerseys (first discussed here) are starting to circulate — look here, here, and here.