I wasn’t planning on running a regular lead entry today. With the holiday and all, I figured I’d just put up a placeholder photo at the top of the page and then proceed directly to the Ticker. Had a fun little topic picked out for that photo, too. Everything was good to go.
But then a story started circulating that was too annoying to just bury in the Ticker. To wit: Word leaked out that the Memphis hoops team was planning to wear an orange/purple jersey this Wednesday as part of a “FedEx Appreciation Night” at the FedEx Forum. Fortunately, the news prompted such a shitstorm of reaction that the plans were quickly scrapped (although, appallingly, the NCAA had apparently green-lighted the whole thing, at least according to this report).
Listen closely, because you may never hear me say this again: Purple was not the main issue here. Neither was the prospect of Memphis wearing the orange hue of arch-rival Tennessee (although that apparently pissed off a lot of fans). The big issue, of course, was glorifying a corporate entity that already has its name plastered on the side of your building. This would be inappropriate enough for a pro team, but it’s completely offensive for a collegiate program — doubly so for a public university like Memphis.
According to this story, Memphis coach John Calipari was all in favor of the uniform tribute. Maybe that’s because, according to this article, FedEx has helped ensure “that John Calipari’s salary is one of the best, if not THE best, in the country.” Or hey, maybe that’s just a coincidence.
I realize FedEx has done a lot for the university and the city. If they did that out of the goodness of their hearts, good for them; if they did it because what’s good for the university and the city is also good for FedEx, that’s fine too; if they did it because they’re required to do it as part of their naming-rights contract, well, at least they know how to live up to their end of an agreement. But none of that justifies a “FedEx Appreciation Night,” and it certainly doesn’t justify having 20-year-old amateur athletes at a public university dressing up in corporate colors.
I know there are a handful of you out there who think this is no big deal. And to you I say: Fine, then let’s rename the city of Memphis as “Memphis, Delivered by FedEx.” Because there’s really no difference between that and what the Memphis hoops team was planning here. Once you sell out your civic institutions to corporate interests, it’s like that story about the million dollar hooker versus the $50 hooker — just a matter of degree. Either way, you’re a whore.
Uni Watch News Ticker: NBA all-star weekend thoughts, in no particular order: Holy fuck! Or, to put it another way — no, there is no other way. Holy fuck! Didn’t exactly help that Michael Beasley wore mismatched sneakers. I mean, jeez, holy fuck (screen grabs courtesy of Jonee Eisen). … Arguably even weirder: For the celebrity challenge game, players wore Adidas-branded 1995 all-star jerseys and, in some cases, pink sneakers. In addition, Rick Fox wore black tights, and they used a orange/purple version of that ball design that was briefly used and then rejected a few years back (hey, orange and purple — what was this, FedEx Appreciation Night?). But the weirdest thing is that each team’s roster included a Harlem Globetrotter, so there were usually three uniforms on the court at any given moment. Anyone know who the Globetrotters’ memorial patch was for? … Oh, and you see that ref’s jersey in the background? Don’t be surprised if you see all NBA refs wearing something like that next season. … Meanwhile, the three-point contest was defiled by Foot Locker ad patches, and the skills contest was similarly marred by Playstation ad patches (although at least those were harder to read). … And of course there was lots of freaky-deaky shit going on during the slam dunk contest, but I’m not even gonna pretend to have kept up with all of that. … As for the All-Star Game itself: When the NBA honchos gave me a sneak peek at the ASG jerseys back in October, they assured me that although the Adidas logo appeared on the prototypes they showed me, it would not appear on the actual game jerseys. Sure enough, the video game screen grabs that surfaced a few months later were logo-free. So why were last night’s jerseys logo-infested? Between this and the ad patches in the three-point and skills competitions, this was a very bad weekend for David Stern’s reputation as a bulwark against logo creep. … Aside from that, I thought the ASG uniforms looked pretty good, and I confess that I kinda liked the socks (whose stripe patterns ran all the way to the toes). … This is probably old news to all you sneakerheads, but I was surprised to see that Shaq has uni numbered soles. … Love this photo of Sam McDowell — the old-school spike pattern, the textured inseam, and, yes, the stirrups. … What’s that collar logo? … Check this out: Pete Rose wearing red low-cut Chucks and a grey windbreaker. … If you skip ahead to the 1:15 mark of this video report, you’ll see several members of Dunlap High School in Illinois wearing long-sleeved undershirts beneath their basketball tank tops (with thanks to Ben Zoss). … Paul Ricciardi sent along some scans from some 1971 Flyers programs. Check them out here. … I recently scored something very, very cool: this 1942 booklet published by the men’s clothier Hart Schaffner & Marx. It has an odd format — each two-page spread profiles a past or present baseball great on the left page and then has information on HS&M suits on the right. Gorgeous illos all around. I’ve scanned the whole thing and put it in this slideshow. … A Japanese airline is abolishing its uniforms (thanks, Jeremy). … Lots of pics of Reds and Bengals players playing basketball against each other here (with thanks to Steven Wyder). … Here are the uniforms for this year’s U.S. Open marshals and volunteers. … If you scroll down a bit on this page, you’ll see this 1926-27 New York Americans jersey with an unusual detail — an NOB. Was there really an NOB team playing way back then? Seems very odd (with thanks to Terry Proctor). … A little late, but David Kessler made these cookies for his Super Bowl party. … Hmmm, I’m guessing these guys didn’t give Jackie Robinson a tryout (with thanks to Frank Hanney). … Two Virginia high school basketball teams showed up for a game with white uniforms, so the visitors had to wear the home team’s road unis. Details here. … I think we’ve covered this before — maybe last season, even — but Robert Becker notes that Cristobal Huet’s black stripes are thicker than those of his teammates. … We’ve finally got a photo of Trent Dilfer wearing Terry Bradshaw’s mask. You can see him wearing it during the postgame handshake (great work by Benjamin Guest). … That Sears catalog sure made a lot of kids happy. That’s Jake Elwell, circa 1972, “with my cool grandfather from out west.” … The Philadelphia Phantoms are gonna wear Broad Street Bullies jerseys on Friday. … Chien-Ming Wang has a new glove design (with thanks to Alan Borock). … Sooooo nice. … Two notes from Grant Ramey regarding Saturday’s Tennessee/Vanderbilt game: “Tyler Smith had two messages inscribed on his shoes. ‘RIP POPS’ is in honor of his father, who passed away due to cancer in 2007, and I would assume the ‘AWARE’ pertains to cancer awareness. Also: Previously, only coach Bruce Pearl would don the orange blazer against rivals Kentucky and Vanderbilt, but on Saturday the entire coaching staff wore orange.” … Speaking of coaching staff attire, Matt Mitchell thinks Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik and his staff “look like they should be (a) delivering freight, (b) working the counter at Auto Zone, (c) curling, and (d) embarrassed.” … Butler wore a black shoulder band on Friday, in memory of their director of basketball operations’ girlfriend who died in the plane crash in Buffalo (with thanks to Brian Parchem). … Cities hoping to land the 2016 Olympics have released details of their bids, as seen in these packages submitted by Madrid, Tokyo, and Chicago (with thanks to Harvey Lee). … “The Washington Capitals have had two rookie goaltenders start (and win) this season, Michal Neuvirth and Simeon Varlamov,” writes Steven Robeson. “They’re so new, they only have plain white masks.” As a result, Varlamov has been dubbed “the White Russian” and Neuvirth “the Blank Czech.” Details in the last two grafs of this story. … My ESPN colleague Thomas Neumann sent along some scans of an old New York Nets ticket stub. There’s a lot to like about the front of the ticket — the old Nets logo, the engravers’ union chop, the misaligned “1″ and “7″ at the bottom, etc. — but the real prize is the ad that appears to have been rubber-stamped onto the back. … Went to Ba Xuyen in Sunset Park for some killer bánh mi on Saturday. On the way there, I was saddened to see that the Rainbow Café, which has long boasted some of Brooklyn’s best neon signage, is no longer an ongoing concern. Then again, the Rainbow was never as cool on the inside as its exterior suggested, so this is a great opportunity for someone with vision to redo the space in a manner that befits its majestic visage. I’m sure many of you NYC-area people have oodles of capital on hand to devote to a worthy project like this, so get crackin’. … New baseball uniforms for Oregon State (with thanks to Travis McGuire). … Francisco Rodriguez is reportedly wearing those red-tinted contact lenses. … “Was watching a WKRP in Cincinnati DVD the other night and caught an interesting typo,” writes Matthew Algeo. “In the episode ‘Fish Story’ (the one where Herb dresses up like the ’KRP carp), Venus Flytrap is wearing a Reds jacket with an obvious misspelling.” … Matt Watkins found a really cool web exhibit devoted to the history of the Tigers’ spring training camps in Lakeland, Florida. Among the highlights: Ted Williams in cricket gear and history’s most literal Grapefruit League photo (which would go well with this, right?). … Really good interactive feature here on the U.S. Navy’s new uniforms (great find by Tris Wykes). … Neil Bisman reports that the USF basketball team’s uniforms were lost in transit on the way to South Bend, so USF had to wear their practice uniforms in yesterday’s game against Notre Dame. … The Canadian Olympic hockey jersey impasse appears to have been settled (with thanks to Joe Pelletier). … Teebz has put together a great treatise on hockey goalie numbers. … Here’s a look at the new Syracuse lacrosse uniform. “There seems to be a growing trend of putting the important stuff under the numbers,” notes Alex Ozenberger). … The Pond Hockey National Championships took place over the weekend in Wisconsin. There’s a great photo gallery here (with thanks to Nicole Haase).