What the hell is this?
Answer: It’s a listing of all 45 Super Bowl outcomes, as depicted by an infographics system created by reader Christopher Fox, who’s a designer and design professor (you can see more of his work here). Here’s his description of how the system works:
Each stacked pair of orbs represents a Super Bowl — winners on the top row, losers on the bottom. There are 45 pairs, stacked in three rows of 15 Super Bowls each.
For each pair of orbs:
• The colored semicircles are team colors (loosely represented).
• The center bulls eye indicates the team’s conference — red for the AFC/AFL, or blue for the NFC/NFL).
• The radiating gray rings represent the final score. The more rings, the more points that team scored.
• If there’s an colored arc above the orb pair, that means the game was played in a dome. All such arcs are blue, because the only Super Bowl domes so far have been NFC stadiums.
• If there’s a colored bar below the orb pair, that means the game was played in an NFC (blue) or AFC (red) outdoor stadium.
• If there’s no colored arc above the pair or colored bar below, that means the game was played on a non-NFL field, such as the Rose Bowl.
Intriguing, no? A few thoughts:
• It’s amazing how the simple addition of the blue or red bullseye completely changes the color schemes. I had to think hard to make myself realize that this stands for the Jets. Ditto for the Saints, and I barely even recognize my Niners. Maybe there’s a better way to designate the conferences without distorting our perception and recognition of the various teams’ color schemes.
• I think it would be better for outdoor NFL stadium designations — the colored bars — to go on top, like the dome symbols. Then, on the bottom, you could have a separate indicator for natural vs. artificial turf.
• Would it ruin the purity of the exercise to put the appropriate Roman numerals beneath each orb pair? Sure would make the whole thing easier to follow and appreciate.
As some of you are probably thinking already, this whole exercise may be a case of overthinking, because we already have graphic icons to represent football teams: They’re called helmets. Still, infographics are interesting and fun, plus they’re essentially programmatic classification systems, just like uniforms are. If you’re into this kind of stuff, you should definitely check out the baseball-themed charts that are showcased at Flip Flop Fly Ball. If you want to move beyond sports, there’s a guy named Nigel Holmes who’s pretty much the king of this kind of stuff, plus Kirsten recently told me about a good infographics site called Information Is Beautiful.
Anyone else want to try their hand at this? I’ll give a free Uni Watch membership or T-shirt (winner’s choice) to the person who submits the best sports-themed infographics presentation by the end of this month. It can be about a big, official thing, like Super Bowl results, or a small, personal thing, like your cap collection. Bonus points if your subject is uni-related, but that’s not a requirement. Cool? Get crackin’.
My former life as a travel writer: Yesterday I linked to a 1998 travel article I wrote about western Nebraska. Several of you told me you enjoyed the article (thank you), and a few of you asked to see more.
The western Nebraska story was one of the first pieces I produced as the travel columnist for Money magazine, a very incongruous gig that I got sort of by accident (it’s a long story). The column was called “Lost in America” and was all about road-tripping, regionalism, the nooks and crannies of American culture and subculture, and about the nature of place — not really a good fit with the magazine or its readership, which was probably more interested in spas and resorts (which are of zero interest to me). I started with a one-year contract and figured that would be the end of it. I even envisioned what the editor-in-chief would say to me as he gave me the bad news at the end of that first year: “This has been a fun little experiment — and now it’s over.”
Instead, against all odds, they kept me around for six years. I think it was because I was such a cheap date compared to most other travel writers — I actually preferred cheap motels over luxury hotels, I preferred hot dog shacks over fancy restaurants, and so on, so my expense reports were pretty reasonable. In any event, I got to see America on Time-Warner’s dime. It was a great gig.
I’m surprised to find that many of the “Lost in America” pieces are still web-available. Some of them now feel pretty dated, others were edited in ways I’m not thrilled about, and all of them were a lot stronger with their accompanying photos and maps (none of which appear in the web versions), but whaddaya gonna do. Anyway, for those of you who are curious, here’s what I had to say about Death Valley; places that dare you to overeat; halls of fame; state borders (it was an absolute coup to get that one published — it had no business being in a personal-finance magazine); factory tours; utopian communities; small museums; roadside art; historical markers; old-fashioned ice cream parlors; “World’s Biggest [Whatever]” attractions; the amazing all-metal houses called Lustrons; pies; regional bowling subcultures; driving down the length of the Mississippi; storm-chasing; underground mine tours; and America’s least-visited state.
In those days, incidentally, I juggled several different magazine gigs at once. While I was a travel columnist, I was also a marketing columnist (for Fortune), a business-history columnist (for Fortune Small Business), a food writer (for various places), and of course I also wrote a small monthly column about sports uniforms for the Village Voice. One thing I did not have back then was a daily blog, and one measure of how much my life has changed since those days is that I can’t imagine taking on a travel-writing gig now, if only because it would make it impossible to maintain this site. I’m not complaining, mind you — just noticing how things have shifted.
Membership update: A bunch of new cards have been added to the design gallery, including Jonathan Leib’s Tampa Bay Lightning “thunderstorm” card (which follows the now well-established trope of really horrendous jerseys making for really tremendous membership cards). As always, you can make the membership scene yourself by signing up here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Cross-dressing alert (with thanks to Roger Faso). … Rob Carabelli notes that Big Ben’s sideline cap on Sunday had a Reebok wordmark patch. “I guess he kept an older-style hat with the vector logo and Reebok had it patched up for the big game,” says Rob. “Kind of like when a player adds a World Series patch to a clearly worn cap for the Fall Classic.” … There are tattoos, and then there are tattoos. … For years now, Under Armour founder Kevin Planck has been saying, “Cotton is the enemy” over and over again, like a mantra. But now UA is putting out a cotton product line. It’s sad when a company can’t even stick to its (really, really stupid) principles (with thanks to Josh Neisler). … If you’re over 18 and live in Delaware, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, you can enter a contest to design the Phillies’ ballgirl uniforms (with thanks to long-lost Anthony Verna). … A lot going on in this photo. First, Ole Miss wore gray at home on Wednesday night. Second, that created a color-on-color match-up with LSU. And third, does Daron Populist have the greatest name ever or what? (With thanks to Ethan Allen.) … Very interesting NHL news from Cork Gaines, who writes: “One of the Lightning radio broadcasters was on a local station in Tampa talking and mentioned that what they unveiled last week may not be exactly what they wear on the ice next season. He mentioned possibly adding a lightning bolt to the shorts and some other unspecified tweaks. This makes me think we got a mid-season unveiling just so the team could gauge reaction and make adjustments — a concept I’m surprised we don’t see more often.” … Ever hear of the “the Jackie Robinson of hockey”? Here he is — Willie O’Ree. Further details on him here (nice find by Ed McVey). … Great story about a guy who built a scale model of Ebbets Field (with thanks to Michael Smith). … The Jumpman logo is coming to NASCAR (with thanks to Kenny Loo). … Check out this shot. “That’s the legendary Soviet hockey goalie Vladislav Tretyak with a fellow Hall of Famer and the ‘Father of Soviet Hockey’ Anatoly Tarasov, both of them rocking the old CSKA Moscow away jersey,” says Slava Malamud. “The interesting thing, aside from the fact that Tarasov had apparently worn a jersey during practices, is that he wore a big ‘T’ instead of a number. Could stand for Tarasov (wouldn’t put it past him) or could be for ‘Trener,’ which is what Russians call a coach.” … Always fun to see how corporate logos have evolved (with thanks to Glen Heck). … Jake Donahue has envisioned what some college basketball courts might look like if they went with an Oregon-style approach. … Here’s an interesting piece about the proper spelling of Russian surnames on NHL NOBs. The writer of the piece then posted an interesting query on Twitter: “MLB uses accent symbols on jerseys of Hispanic players. Do you think the NHL should do the same for Czechs, Finns, Swedes?” That leads John Muir to wonder if the NHL has ever used diacritical marks on NOBs. I asked Teebz, who sent back this photo but said such examples are very rare: “Alain Coté, who played for both the Canadiens and the Nordiques in the 1980s and 1990s had no accents on his name while playing with either team, and he was a French-Canadian! Jose Théodore (MTL), Jean-Francois Sauvé (QUE), and Jason Lafrenière (QUE) all played in Quebec and none had accents. I’m almost positive that the NHL encourages the anglicized names to used, but will never come out and say that due to political correctness.” Fascinating. … Hey, speaking of Russians, check out this page of uni photos from Russia High School in Ohio. That must’ve been a weird thing to wear on your chest during the Cold War (great find by Brad Francis). … “The New York Rangers recently had a bowling party for members of their Blueshirts United fan club,” says A.J. Frey. “Here’s a few of them in custom bowling shirts.” … Car-branding controversy in Formula 1 (with thanks to Andrew Jobe). … Latest gumball product: build-your-own mini-jerseys (with thanks to Adrian Rieder). … Georgia Tech hoops debuted new uniforms last night (as noted by Britton Thomas). … According to Bills RB Fred Jackson, nobody on the team liked the old uniforms (with thanks to Chad Todd). … Weird scene last night in Boston, as the Lakers and Celtics both wore home throwbacks. … Also from that same game: Ray Allen wore two different sneakers with two different shoelace colors during pregame warm-ups. “He had the Air Jordan IX Bin 23 on his left foot and a player-exclusive version of the Air Jordan XI on his right foot,” says Ryan Mandel. But he appeared to switch to matching sneakers once the game started. … Special Valentine’s Day jerseys for the Alaska Aces (with thanks to Marcelo Cordoba).