Fridays with Morris

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[Editor’s Note: Morris Levin will be contributing an article each Friday while Paul takes his break. Enjoy! — Phil Hecken]

Religious Modesty and Competitive Sports
By Morris Levin

The qualifying rounds for next summer’s Olympic soccer tournament are underway. For international women’s soccer, the two highest-profile international competitions are the World Cup, and the Olympic soccer tournament. The World Cup ended July 17 in Germany; the next Olympic tournament is next summer at the London games.

The matches are played under the auspices of FIFA, the governing body of international association football.

So it was on June 3 that Iran had a qualifying match against Jordan in Amman. The full Iran squad appeared for the match outfitted in uniform athletic hijabs. Match officials did not judge the apparel to have been pre-approved. The Iran team refused to remove them, cited adherence to ritual practice, and forfeited the match to Jordan. Following the decision, FIFA supported the decision of the match officials; Iran protested the forfeiture, and subsequently has received the support of FIFA’s Vice-President, a Jordanian national.

Last month in Poland was the 2011 European Women Basketball Championship. It is a sixteen-team bi-annual tournament which crowns its own champion, and is a qualifying tournament for the FIBA World Championship for Women and for the Olympic Games.

Israel was among the qualifying teams this year. On its roster was University of Toledo guard, Naama Shafir. Shafir is Jewish, and in adherence with her religious practice, elects to cover her shoulders and upper arms on the court. Wearing a t-shirt under one’s jersey is a common practice in the NCAA for both men and women. On a college court, Shafir dresses like a lot of other players.

However, like the NBA, FIBA, international basketball’s European headquartered governing body, does not permit players to wear undershirts. In an effort to address FIBA’s regulations, the team “team created a jersey with a shooter’s sleeve designed to cover her shoulder… …made of nylon and spandex that extends from the player’s biceps to the wrist.” In the event that FIBA would reject the ad-hoc solution, the squad brought an extra player to the tournament. Shafir was also prepared to sit out.

The desire of an athlete (or full team) to wear an extra-garment for religious reasons poses an interesting question to our sports governing bodies. After all, clothing, and how the body is covered, is treated in different ways by different theological understandings and cultural orientations.

This question speaks to the relationship between civil society and religious institutions, a key question for the Enlightenment. We have those who would subordinate the church to the state (as in Hobbes and Spinoza) and those who would attempt to separate the two (as in Locke). This is not a new or uniquely contemporary issue. We see the challenge in finding broad cross-demographic consensus in issues from same-gender civil marriage to celebrations of holy days on public property.

But sports present a potentially neutral venue for the state and the church to co-exist. After all, at its highest competitive levels, winning cures all.

In prohibiting Iran’s wearing of the hijab, FIFA cited its own bylaws concerning player’s equipment, “A player shall not use equipment or wear anything (including any kind of jewelry) that could be dangerous to himself or another player.” This would seem to assume that wearing a hijab is dangerous on the field.

FIFA permits goalkeepers to wear caps under section 22 in Section 5, “All goalkeepers may, irrespective of the prevailing conditions, wear a goalkeeper cap of any Colour.” These are often baseball caps but can be caps with protective padding which seem to have their own issues if we are concerned about choking. Grab the strap!

Hijabs made specifically for athletic play are now widely available.

Montreal industrial designer Elham Seyed Javad created a sport-specific hijab following the expulsion of Muslim athletes from a taekwondo tournament. The taekwondo sports federation had previously reasoned that a regular cloth hijab could not be worn under a helmet for safety reasons. Javad’s design easily addressed this obstacle.

Primary in my mind is the impact of a garment on performance. We encountered this with Speedo’s polyurethane LZR racer swimsuit. Records fell due to the fabric which lead to a ban on the suit in January 2010. Metal bats were not permitted in professional baseball because it would significantly change performance (and also endanger pitchers). Women wearing extra fabric around their head is unlikely to improve performance.

University of Memphis junior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir wears a cap playing Division I basketball in her practice of modest Islamic dress. It certainly did not prevent her from breaking Rebecca Lobo’s Massachusetts high school career point record. Last summer, Minnesota Vikings safety Husain Abdullah fasted during the Muslim liturgical month of Ramadan. Shafir, wearing sleeves, scored 40 points to lead Toledo to the WNIT championship.

Sports invite the possibility for individuals to connect, countries to re-engage each other, and people divided to march together when wider dialogues or partnerships are difficult if not impossible. Sport is not inherently a panacea itself, nor am I a romantic about deep rooted divisions.

Allowing athletes who wish to cover more of their skin – when it does not serve to improve physical performance – should be allowed. Uniforms serve to identify players and teams and no one has suggested a garment, which prevents this utility.

When we can let go of this issue, we can then focus on the proper question which applies as equally to sports hijabs as it does to any other article of athletic clothing: How does it look?

~~~

Morris Levin is an alumnus of Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. between 1993 and 2006 and edited MLB Game Worn Jerseys of the Double Knit Era. He is a proud booster of the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia and supportive of efforts in West Philadelphia to honor the legacy of the Philadelphia Stars.

~~~

Thanks for that wonderful article, Morris. On Fridays during Paul’s sabbatical, Morris will be treating us to an interesting look at a variety of subjects.

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Benchies Beginning logoBenchies from the Beginning
By Rick Pearson

For nearly three years, “Benchies” has been appearing most weekends at Uni Watch. While Bench Coach Phil fills in for Paul Monday through Friday during August, we present a retrospective. New strips will continue to appear on weekends. For further background, here’s the “Benchies” backstory and bios on the regular Boys of “Benchies.” Enjoy.

7-29-11_d-sbar_2

And here is the full-size version.

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ticker 2Uni Watch News Ticker (compiled by John Ekdahl): Gatorade’s 2011 Athlete of the Year is sporting some fine-lookin’ stirrups (Paul). … Eli Whiteside had a major league rip in his pants last night (Jeff F.). … Despite the best effort of fans, the Red Wings’ Mike Commodore will wear No. 22 instead of No. 64 (Mike McLaughlin). … Here’s a look at Wigan Athletic’s 2011/2012 jersey (George Chilvers). … Can anyone remember why Dwight Gooden was wearing number 64 on this Sports Illustrated cover? (Krvanch) … Oklahoma State’s new uniform promo shots are out. And of course, here is the official uniform combo creator (Brady Vardeman). … Polk State is rebranding themselves as the Eagles (Wayne Koehler). … Here’s a shot of that 1974 Red Sox cap in action (Thomas Huppé). … Here’s a great old photograph of Michigan’s winged leather helmet and no face mask (Greg Dooley). … From Scott Davis: “A friend of mine was recently filming a commercial for the Patriots tenth anniversary of their first Super Bowl win, in which he played a Patriots player in full attire. Because this was a commercial for the Patriots, and not for the NFL or Reebok, there was no branding on the uni except for the Patriots wordmark and the Flying Elvis.” … From Teebz: “The St. John’s AHL team will announces its name and unveil its logo at Mile One Centre, tomorrow morning (July 29) at 11 NT (9:30 ET).” … Looks like new Giant Carlos Beltran was wearing his NY Mets cleats last evening in Philadelphia (LI Phil “The Thrill” Hecken) … Bruce Bochy gave up his #15 uni number to Carlos Beltran after the Giants acquired him. Here’s Beltran discussing it. Beltran brought his old Mets bat (check out the knob) and his cleats to Philly (Bryan Heaton). … “Safeco vendors to wear peanut-shaped patch in honor of Rick Kaminski” (Tyler Keefe) Here’s a write-up on the man being honored (John Doodigian).

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And that’s all for this week, folks. I appreciate all your great feedback.

Special thanks to Morris for another “Fridays with Morris,” and Mike Styczen for his great post on panel caps — really made for some great discussion in the comments (for those who read & post there). And a huge thanks to John Ekdahl, who’s been a tremendous help with the ticker these past three weeks, and for keeping me sane in the wee hours of the evening/morning. He’ll be taking you through the weekend, and I’ll catch you guys on Monday. Peace! — Phil

~~~

“I hope Boise State starts wearing mono-orange and still wins all of their home games. That’s just a BS ruling. If you can wear mono-green on a grass field, you should be able to wear mono-blue on a blue field.” — “The Jeff” Provo

 

88 comments to Fridays with Morris

  • jdreyfuss | July 29, 2011 at 7:25 am |

    Good writeup. I know it can be hard to address something like that with a neutral tone. I still don’t understand the FIFA/FIBA rulings. If their intent is to prevent injury they should explain how the clothing is dangerous. If their intent is somehow political, isn’t it more appropriate to allow the modesty clothing?

    That would say to the world that no matter what divides us, sport is universal. Denying someone his or her religious traditions when they don’t affect gameplay does just the opposite; it politicizes the sport.

    • Morris Levin | July 29, 2011 at 7:53 am |

      This is precisely my point. So long as the uniforms serve the purpose to distinguish teams or players from each other, and game play is not affected, we can be neutral about the philosophy behind it. Then it’s about aesthetics – color, style, logo-creep – which is where UniWatchers enter.

    • Dootie Bubble | July 29, 2011 at 8:57 am |

      Maybe it’s because I’m a liberal in the classical sense of the word but I don’t like making exceptions for religion. In the US we, contra our Constitution, do this all the time. Do you know vegetarians can get a special meal in prison if they ask for it on religious grounds but if they ask for it on moral grounds the request is denied. If you’re going to let someone cover their head for religious grounds you better be willing to allow it for fashion grounds which is, in my opinion, just as legitimate a platform.

      • Morris Levin | July 29, 2011 at 9:33 am |

        Dootie, You would be in agreement with Hobbes and Spinoza who would place the ‘secular’ interest above the individual faith-practice. I did not address epistemology above. I think your argument is that just as one might wear a yarmulke or angle-length skirt, one could wear a colander on one’s head in reverence to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It is not for the civil state or sports body to sanction the legitimacy of a religious-item. This is why I prefer judging the garment by its utility quality in player and team identification, and whether it provides unfair athletic advantage. I would be fine with the colander so long as it is swoosh-free.

      • jdreyfuss | July 29, 2011 at 9:53 am |

        I don’t think the point is that they should allow it because it’s religious, but that they’re excluding it specifically because it’s religious. I consider myself a liberal in the classic, Teddy Roosevelt sense as well, and that philosophy tells me a person’s religious teachings should not bar them from competing so long as those teachings aren’t harmful to the game.

        • jdreyfuss | July 29, 2011 at 10:03 am |

          Also, the colander isn’t actually a symbol of the FSM. Even though Pastafarianism is itself is intended as a joke, the colander thing was that guy exploiting Austrian freedom of religion laws.

        • Aaron | July 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm |

          I don’t even think he was exploiting freedom of religion laws. The DMV (or whatever they call it in Austria) couldn’t find anything in the laws and regulations that would prevent him from wearing it in his picture.

        • jdreyfuss | July 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

          In Austria they don’t allow unnecessary head coverings for official IDs, because of the facial recognition software they use. Several states and the US State Department use it too. He was only able to wear the colander because he convinced a judge that it was religious headgear.

    • R.S. Rogers | July 29, 2011 at 9:28 am |

      I agree – great writeup. I hope readers clicked through to the great photos as well.

      Putting aside the important questions of civil/religious accommodation, I see two issues at play in FIFA’s decision on the Iran/Jordan match.

      First, even in the West, heirs as we are to the Enlightenment with our culture of moral individualism, most of us most of the time are complete sheep who follow the rules as written because they’re the rules. We’re social animals, and that’s just sort of how we are. Thinking each new case through back to first principles and the functional purpose of the rules is just hard. And even were we to do it all the time, we’re also aware that we’d be inconsistent and biased in our application from case to case. So we fall back on the fact that the rules say X, so we do X, and move on.

      Throw in the fact that FIFA is a global body, with many important posts held by people who come from cultures that lack even our thin commitment to individual moral autonomy, and regardless of the merits of the case I wouldn’t expect a different outcome. If any country wishes to outfit its players in a way contrary to the rules as they are written, then that country should first seek to change the rules. Not “should” in the moral sense, but “should” in the practical sense of that being the only course likely to produce a favorable outcome.

      Second, specific to soccer, the specific rule and its application seem perfectly reasonable to me. Players manipulate the ball with their heads. Any head covering is likely to create an imbalanced advantage, probably in favor of the player wearing the head covering. And then you get into the thicket of regulating head coverings to guard against exploitation of rules by players seeking to add extra padding, or to affect the shape of their heads to make more accurate shots, or whatnot. At the end of any rules change permitting soccer hijabs will be an official hijab-inspector. Huge can of worms.

      Not that the existence of that worm-can should prevent opening it and finding an equitable solution, but I think these two factors go a long way toward explaining the regulatory inertia against accommodation by the international federations.

      • DanKing9 | July 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm |

        I doubt a hijab would provide anymore advantage than a rugby helmet, baseball cap, or those stupid “protect my dear child from heading the ball” things, which are all permitted by FIFA

    • aflfan | July 29, 2011 at 10:49 am |

      I work for the Michigan Community College Athletic Association and we have Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, MI in our association. Dearborn has the largest Muslin population outside the Middle East. They have several players in both basketball and volleyball who have worn full covering during matches. I also can remember a volleyball player at another school (can’t remember which one) who wore sweatpants full sleeves and a head covering during matches. As someone who is non-religious, I have no problem with this as long as it does not cause and undo injury risk.

    • Pat | July 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm |

      As a Christian and a person who has played both organized basketball and soccer there is definitely no competitive advantage nor a risk of danger from an athlete wearing a hijab in a competition. In fact it may be to their detriment competitively to wear it considering all of the moisture wicking clothing technology that is out there today. If that is their religious practice they should be allowed to wear it. By not allowing them to wear it organizations like FIFA are telling them that they must choose between their idea of morality and a game. Also by making them not wear it they are sending a message that conforming to a set of rules by a sports organization takes precedence over a personal belief.

  • The Jeff | July 29, 2011 at 7:38 am |

    Oh… I think I’d better stay out of today’s discussion.
    ____

    I’ll just say good for Mike Commodore. If he wore 64 there’d be far too many LOL-OLD-COMPUTER jokes and it’d probably overshadow whether or not the guy is actually a good player.

    • Rob S | July 29, 2011 at 8:36 am |

      Would’ve been fun… although I still associate 22 on the Wings more with Dino Ciccarelli than anyone else.

      No surprise Conklin’s wearing 29 again.

    • aflfan | July 29, 2011 at 10:51 am |

      I am with you Rob on 22 being associated with Dino but many of the young fans associate 22 with Bret Ledba and they would rather not have anyone wear that again, since he pretty much sucked.

    • Lloyd Davis | July 29, 2011 at 11:32 am |

      “…it’d probably overshadow whether or not the guy is actually a good player.”

      Yeah, it’s not like that Ogie Oglethorpe haircut he used to sport did that.

      • The Jeff | July 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
        • Lloyd Davis | July 30, 2011 at 12:16 am |

          “Oh, this young man has had a very trying rookie season, with the litigation, the notoriety, his subsequent deportation to Canada — and that country’s refusal to accept him, well, I guess that’s more than most 21-year-olds can handle… Ogie Oglethorpe!” — Jim Carr in “Slap Shot”

          http://torontosports...

          And Commodore:
          http://en.wikipedia....

  • James | July 29, 2011 at 8:09 am |

    re: the Patriots commercial in the ticker–I don’t know if the producers of the commercial would have even taken this into consideration or if it’s just a weird coincidence, but when the Patriots won SBXXXVI, their uniforms were provided by adidas, not Reebok. I don’t think Reebok’s league-wide contract was in place until the next season.

    • Rob S | July 29, 2011 at 8:46 am |

      What’s bizarre is seeing a blank spot where the NFL logo should be on the collar (and it would’ve been the old NFL shield, as they hadn’t started using the NFL Equipment shield yet).

      Plus, the shield patch is just that – a patch. Couldn’t they have just used one of these to pop it off, instead of awkwardly covering it up? Then at least the collar wouldn’t look so awkward.

    • Sean | July 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm |

      Also, why would the producers use a helmet, the Riddell Revolution, that didn’t come out until 2002? This kind of thing annoys the living crap out of me and is a big reason why most sports movies are terrible. Accuracy people!
      ‘In 2002 Riddell released a new more spherical design for the helmet called the Revolution and it is currently the most widely used helmet in the National Football League.’
      http://en.wikipedia....

    • Mike K | August 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

      Biggest problem with those photos is the fact that Otis Smith wore #45 for the Patriots that season. Don’t think the model in the pics is going to pass for Otis anytime soon.

  • Jerry Straniero | July 29, 2011 at 8:14 am |

    Good Morning Gentlemen,

    I am a long time fan as is Mr Lukas, and I can remember this particular spring training, because a Mets broadcaster (not sure if it was Fran Healy or possibly Tim McCarver as it has ben awhile now) mentioned that Gooden asked for # 64 in spring training. He also wore # 64 in spring training 1984 when he was a rookie and he sought to try to re-start his career after some issues the previous year. He reasoned that if he was to revitialize his career, he should start over an be a rookie again. At least that is how they described it at the time. Love the site and am looking forward to becoming a member.

    Have a great weekend.

    Jerry Straniero

    • scott | July 29, 2011 at 9:04 am |

      From a 1997 New York Daily News piece written by Wayne Coffey:

      “Gooden wore No. 64 in his first big-league camp, in 1984. He was reassigned to 16 when he made the Mets, and went for 11 when he joined the Yankees last year. It had nothing to do with his fondness for Hector Lopez, but with his desire to build his birthdate with his three big-league numbers: 11-16-64.”

    • Graf Zeppelin | July 29, 2011 at 9:20 am |

      That’s what I recall as well. He had had some issues the previous year and thought that reverting to his rookie Spring Training number for the preseason would give him some kind of fresh start.

    • -Monty- | July 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm |

      Why Gooden is wearing 64 is right in the article in that issue of Sports Illustrated (http://sportsillustr...)

      “Before reporting to spring training, he shaved his head and requested that he be temporarily given uniform number 64—the same numeral he was issued, at age 19, at his first big-league camp in 1984, the year he went on to win 17 games and strike out a rookie-record 276 batters. “I’m sound physically, my shoulder’s fine, so I said, ‘Let’s go upstairs,’ ” he says. “You know, be sound mentally, too. I thought about my first camp, when I was just trying to make the team. Just get back to basics. Keep it simple and have fun.”"

  • Jeremy Brahm | July 29, 2011 at 8:25 am |

    Morris, you could have thrown volleyball into the mix as well because you have some players on Muslim teams who are covered and some who look normal in FIVB tournaments.

    http://www.fivb.org/...

    • FormerDirtDart | July 29, 2011 at 8:58 am |

      Obviously, not all Egyptians are Muslims

      • Seth H | July 29, 2011 at 9:10 am |

        Or perhaps not all Muslims wear hijab?

        • FormerDirtDart | July 29, 2011 at 9:50 am |

          Seth, of course, not all Muslims wear hijabs. But, it is a fact that all Egyptians are not Muslims. Since Egypt is not a ruled by a Theocracy, sporting teams from there probably shouldn’t be typecast as “Muslim teams.”
          While certain nations may require their athletic teams dress in a manner interpreted by religious practices, the linked photo tends to lean toward the manner of dress being the individual athletes choice.

      • Nick | July 29, 2011 at 9:22 am |

        I think this picture lends more to the “Not all Egyptians are Muslims” argument.

        • Morris Levin | July 29, 2011 at 9:42 am |

          Or, not all Egyptian Muslim women dress alike.

    • wayne | July 29, 2011 at 9:34 am |

      wait a sec…is the 9 underlined so we know it’s a 9 if she somehow finds herself upside down, or is it something else?

      • FormerDirtDart | July 29, 2011 at 9:52 am |

        And, for continuity’s sake, why isn’t the “9″ on her thigh underlined?

      • DJ | July 29, 2011 at 11:44 am |

        IIRC, in volleyball, the captain’s jersey number is underlined

  • Jeremy Brahm | July 29, 2011 at 8:33 am |

    You can see Naama Shafir in the team shot fully covered.
    http://www.fibaeurop...

    • Nick | July 29, 2011 at 9:26 am |

      For reference’s sake, she’s number 21. Bottom row, right side of the players.

  • Todd | July 29, 2011 at 8:36 am |

    This might be one of the best write ups I have seen on this blog in a while. Good information and no opinion (not that I don’t enjoy the opinions). Keep up the good work, Phil.

    • Phil Hecken | July 29, 2011 at 9:09 am |

      thanks, but this one is ALL Morris Levin’s effort — and yes, it is a great piece, i concur

      • Connie | July 29, 2011 at 9:50 am |

        Absolutely, Phil. First-rate work, Morris.

  • Donny | July 29, 2011 at 8:42 am |

    Re: Gooden

    As I recall, 64 was Doc’s number in his first spring training. When his career started spiraling out of control he decided to wear it again in spring training one year as a way to symbolically “re-start” his career.

    • Donny | July 29, 2011 at 8:42 am |

      beaten

    • Ricko | July 29, 2011 at 10:36 am |

      Didn’t Dick Allen do the same sort of thing earlier when he joined the A’s? Went with “WAMPUM” for NOB and #60 because that was where and when his career started? His hometown was Wampum, PA, and he signed with Phillies in 1960.

      • Phil Hecken | July 29, 2011 at 11:45 am |

        yes and yes

        richard anthony allen was born on march 8, 1942 in wampum, pa

        wiki entry

  • Andy | July 29, 2011 at 9:26 am |

    Oklahoma State is interesting. I like the notched stripes, but I don’t like the fact that they are trapezoid shaped. I love orange and grey together, but three outlines on the grey helmet logo? Come on. I don’t really like logos on the hips (or sleeves), but the cowboy is a better choice than putting the OSU logo on there again.

  • Flip | July 29, 2011 at 9:48 am |

    Sober story this morning in USA Today about the late Buffalo sports memorabilia collector Doug Wielinski. It’s a good read. http://www.usatoday....

  • JimWa | July 29, 2011 at 9:52 am |

    Without getting into the whole rights debate over the hijabs, I find it quite interesting that a large number of the women pictured wearing them (you know, for physical modesty reasons) also have their eyebrows beautifully tweezed.

    • FormerDirtDart | July 29, 2011 at 9:56 am |

      When your advertising space is severely limited I guess it’s best to use simple, clean graphics.

      • JimWa | July 29, 2011 at 10:36 am |

        Where’s the “like” button, again? Originally when I saw this response, I assumed it was a misplaced comment. Then I thought about it twice. Well done.

    • jdreyfuss | July 29, 2011 at 9:59 am |

      The purpose of the hijab isn’t to render the women unattractive; it’s simply considered more modest for them to cover their hair, arms, and legs. It’s similar to the purpose of a snood among orthodox Jewish women.

      • J-Dub | July 29, 2011 at 10:13 am |

        So what’s Manny Ramirez’ excuse for wearing a snood? Didn’t realize her was an Orthodox Jewish woman ;-)
        (Too tacky?)

        • Morris Levin | July 29, 2011 at 10:22 am |

          Manny was unable to obtain a p’sak permitting him to wear a sheitel, and he found such a lovely snood the last time he was in Monsey.

      • JimWa | July 29, 2011 at 10:40 am |

        I don’t see the eyebrow things as “trying to render a woman unattractive” at all. If the reasoning for the hijab is to avoid accentuating a woman’s physical features (including the hair) on top of her head), why is it acceptable to then groom the hair that IS showing?

        • jdreyfuss | July 29, 2011 at 11:38 am |

          I was saying they weren’t prevented from cosmetic grooming, not that having plucked eyebrows is unattractive. In fact I was saying the opposite, that they’re allowed to do things considered to be more attractive, like pluck their eyebrows.

        • Mariam | July 31, 2011 at 7:10 pm |

          As a muslim girl religiously we aren’t supposed to tweeze our eyebrows, only eliminate a uni brow if a person has one. However in reality most Arabs are quite hairy and culturally they all tweeze their eyebrows.

    • Morris Levin | July 29, 2011 at 10:05 am |

      For the purpose of this entry, I concerned myself with athletic uniforms and how we might enable athletes from a multiplicity of backgrounds to play each other.

      • J-Dub | July 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm |

        Mr. Levin – the reply referencing Monsey should be considered the “Post of the Day”, speaking as a former Lawn Guyander, though it’s probably too “inside” for the world West of the Hudson River :-)

  • Connie | July 29, 2011 at 10:13 am |

    Not-to-Ignore-Ticker-Item-Department.

    Thanks to Wayne Koehler, we learn that the Polk State (FL) Vikings have become the Polk State Eagles. Maybe there’s a significant population of Minnesota and Dakota retirees around Winter Haven, but otherwise it seems pretty reasonable for a sub-tropical institution to junk a Nordic nickname.

    But Eagles? It is true that there are eagles in Central Florida, and that there are even Bald Eagles in the Everglades, so OK, I guess. But what a missed opportunity to come up with a nickname that evokes the memory of the great man in whose honor Polk County was named in the first place.

    I refer, of course, to James K Polk, America’s most successful one-term president, and the person most responsible for the greatest expansion of US territory since the Louisiana Purchase. It was Polk who successfully played high-stakes poker with Great Britain on the Oregon Question, and secured what we now call the Pacific Northwest by pretending that the US would go to war to secure what we now call British Columbia. Brilliant use of bluster. Even more brilliant was his use of deceit, trickery, and secrecy to foment war with Mexico, the end result of which was to annex to the US that which we know as California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada, plus some chunks of neighboring states.

    So here we have an eponymous hero for Polk County, a national great squarely within Florida’s own tradition of successful shady land development. Let’s try to nickname-ify James K Polk. Polk State Presidents? Polk State Fightin’ Jacksonians? Polk State Manifest Destinies?

    • R.S. Rogers | July 29, 2011 at 10:50 am |

      The Polk State …

      Fighters
      54-40s
      White Knox
      Dark Horses (Polk was the first “dark horse” candidate elected president)
      Spotters (after the famous heated debates over the “spot” on which the Mexican war broke out)
      Filibusters (the military term, not the parliamentary trick)
      Pioneers
      Anexers
      Stumpers
      Speakers
      Coasters
      Grabbers
      Whosiers (or just the Whos, after the Whigs’ anti-Polk campaign slogan, “Who is James K. Polk?”)
      Pacifics

      • Connie | July 29, 2011 at 11:01 am |

        Scott, I knew I could count on you. Polk State Grabbers is very strong.

    • jdreyfuss | July 29, 2011 at 11:43 am |

      The high school gave up the name, but Polk State Presidents would be the greatest nickname since a Cleveland area high school named after a Chief Justice was the Fighting Lawyers.

    • Ricko | July 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm |

      Not “Salad Annies”?

      • Connie | July 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm |

        Ha!

  • Brad | July 29, 2011 at 10:50 am |

    Re Okie Light, I spent most of yesterday looking for a ticker Item I sent to Paul back during the football season in 2009, tipping that I heard OKST (read Boone Pickens and his billions) wanted to change the uniforms to Black and Silver. Then during last season I couldnt help but notice that the Canvas covers over their locker room tunnels were Black with a Silver “Pistol Pete” logo on them, no International Safety Orange to be found (Still searching for screen grabs/ photos.) The big question remains, is this a slow transition, or do you think the mix and match is here to stay?

  • aflfan | July 29, 2011 at 11:03 am |

    Winnipeg’s farm club in St. John’s (the old Manitoba Moose) have released their logo and name. the Ice Caps.

    http://twitpic.com/5...

    • Lloyd Davis | July 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm |

      Lard t’underin’ Jayzus.

      This just in: IceCaps was chosen over such leading contenders as the St. John’s Wort and the St. John’s Ambulance.

      We’re told the Jets name had to do with the air force. I can only guess that the IceCaps is a nod towards the many Tim Hortons locations (I think there are something like two dozen in St. John’s — and yeah, I know their frozen coffee drink is really an Iced Capp).

    • Oakville Endive | July 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm |

      Article taken from Globe & Mail. Note the comment on the team colours being the same as the Winnipeg Jets (i.e. no red) This is consistent with what Chirpman said the other day on a Toronto radio station. “The only red will be in the logo”

      The new American Hockey League team in St. John’s, Nfld., will be known as the IceCaps.

      Team president Danny Williams made the announcement during a press conference at Mile One Centre.

      He also unveiled the team logo, which features the word “IceCaps” underneath an image of a snow-capped mountain.

      The team colours are consistent with the parent Winnipeg Jets — navy blue, silver and white.

      With the NHL returning to Winnipeg, the Manitoba Moose were relocated to Newfoundland and Labrador.

      The IceCaps jerseys aren’t expected to be unveiled until the team starts playing in October

    • -DW | July 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm |

      Boy, I wish this phase of naming teams like IceDogs, IceHogs, IcePilots, IceCats, IceHawks, IceGators, IceBears, IceFlyers, and now another IceCaps, would work it’s self out.

      • Oakville Endive | July 29, 2011 at 2:33 pm |

        Especially when most of those teams have ended up being “Iced”

      • R.S. Rogers | July 29, 2011 at 2:57 pm |

        At least an ice cap is an actual thing. Team gets some points for that.

        But “ice cap” is pretty darn far down the list of thing I think of when I think of St. John. Or Newfandland. Or, really, the entire eastern two-thirds of Canada.

      • Lloyd Davis | July 30, 2011 at 12:22 am |

        Funny how the other sports don’t seem to suffer from this affliction. No baseball teams with Grass or Turf in their names; the Dallas GridCowboys aren’t America’s Team; the Los Angeles HardwoodLakers aren’t a dominant NBA franchise . . .

  • Martin | July 29, 2011 at 11:15 am |

    That’s Wigan Athletic, not Wigen! Typo in the ticker

    • Phil Hecken | July 29, 2011 at 11:40 am |

      thanks…now fixed

      • George Chilvers | July 29, 2011 at 11:47 am |

        Usually pronouced “wiggin” round here anyway :)

  • StLMarty | July 29, 2011 at 11:47 am |

    Brad Smith makes the new Bills uni even prettier.

  • Frankie | July 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm |

    Look at the last picture of Carlos Beltran again. Is that an insulin pump attached to his rear belt loop? You can see two cords coming out of it, with one of them going up and over his waistband.

    • Phil Hecken | July 29, 2011 at 12:21 pm |

      HOLY CRAP

      check it out

      great spot — we (and by “we” i mean “someone with more time than i have at present”) need to follow up on that one

      • Casey Hart | July 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm |

        I don’t know the first thing about insulin pumps, so maybe it’s obvious that that’s what it is, but it looks like it could be a mic, including an antenna taped down along his belt.

    • Nick | July 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm |

      Great read, Frankie. Totally didn’t see that until pointed out.

  • Lloyd Davis | July 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm |

    For the “I’m Still Calling It…” file: Ryerson University and the Loblaws grocery chain have been renovating Maple Leaf Gardens. A jumbo supermarket on the main floor, along with a 2,500-seat hockey arena and other athletic facilities upstairs.

    Now Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is seeking an injunction against Ryerson to prevent them from calling the building Maple Leaf Gardens.

    MLS&E certainly ssems to have a point that it would be trademark infringement, as MLG is a registered trademark of MLS&E. But I get the sense they wouldn’t be so pissy about it if they were managing the arena rather than Global Spectrum.

    They also claim that they fear competition for sporting events & concerts will harm their business. Um, yeah. Maybe an act like Spinal Tap, whose audience grew “more selective” over the years, might choose a 2,500-seater over a building that can be configured for 7,000 to 20,000.

    Anyway, I’m still callin’ it MLG.

    http://www.theglobea...

    • The Jeff | July 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm |

      They also claim that they fear competition for sporting events & concerts will harm their business. Um, yeah. Maybe an act like Spinal Tap, whose audience grew “more selective” over the years, might choose a 2,500-seater over a building that can be configured for 7,000 to 20,000.
      ________

      You’d be surprised. Some bands would rather play smaller venues. Heck, I saw Megadeth a few years back at a place that only holds around 1200.

      • Lloyd Davis | July 30, 2011 at 1:02 am |

        Oh, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. There are all sorts of live music venues in Toronto that hold between 1,000 and 4,000. Massey Hall is probably my favourite – seats about 2700, and not a bad seat in the house. Then there’s Roy Thomson Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto, the Sony (I’m still calling it O’Keefe) Centre. And the Guvernment night club on the waterfront. Then there are a handful of municipal auditoriums and theatres in the suburbs. And Ryerson itself owns a theatre that seats 1,250.

  • timmy b | July 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm |

    Crud.

    Just got off the line to update my Baseball Hall of Fame Plaque postcard set for this year’s inductees and also to order the “new” Pete Hill plaque (redone b/c Pete’s real first name is John, not Joseph as listed on the original plaque). No problem for this year’s inductees, BUT I was told, by two different sources that they no longer carry ALL of the inductees anymore. ONLY “the 30 most popular members.”

    Wha—–??????? That unmade my day. :(

    Anyone know anymore about this? Thanks in advance.

    • scott | July 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm |

      I think the Hall only displays the postcards for the most popular plaques, while the other ones have to be special requested. At least that was the case a few years back when I wanted a postcard of HOF umpire Tom Connolly.

  • Paul Lukas | July 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm |

    Short notice: I’ll be on Dino Costa’s show on XM’s Mad Dog Radio at 8:30pm eastern.

  • Skycat | July 29, 2011 at 10:20 pm |

    From the looks of how things are going with the renovations at the Garden, it certainly appears that the Knicks have eliminated all traces of black from their color scheme:

    http://espn.go.com/b...

    • NickV | July 30, 2011 at 3:29 am |

      Long overdue. Is there a worse color combo than Black and basic Blue? Add Orance and it is truly sickening. In honor, someone should play the Donna Sumer/Barbra Streisand duet of “Enough is Enough” to celebrate the end of this horrible era.

  • Tom | August 1, 2011 at 5:46 pm |

    Great post!

    While I think that wearing the hijab should have been allowed by FIFA, I also understand that by allowing that to happen, FIFA would have been opening the door to all kinds of requests to wear non-regulation clothing. It’s understandable that they wouldn’t want to deal with that issue, though I can’t say that I agree with the decision. I think FIFA should have further explained why they prohibited the hijab.