Phil briefly mentioned something on Saturday that I want to explore in greater detail today. Here’s the deal: Sevilla — that’s a Spanish soccer team — is letting fans pay to have a tiny photo of themselves printed within a player’s uni number or NOB. Photo size: two millimeters square. Price: about $33, depending on today’s exchange rate (or on whether the Euro still exists by the time you read this). A few other European soccer teams will soon be offering the same service.
Most of the reaction I’ve seen has been negative. That Yahoo Sports story refers to it as “a new way to squeeze money out of [fans]” and quotes another site calling it a “money-making scheme”; on Saturday, Phil called it “some new
corporate whoring profit-making move”; in Friday’s comments, Mike Engle referred to it as “a totally gross cash cow.”
Personally, though, I find the idea more silly than offensive. And as silly ideas go, I think this one is rather clever. For starters, there’s nothing corporate about it. This isn’t like selling corporate ad space on a uniform; it’s more akin to those personalized stadium bricks (which I also think are silly, but largely harmless). In other words, it’s a way for fans to feel a more personal connection to their team. In that sense, it’s actually the opposite of corporate whoring, which drives a wedge into the fan/team relationship.
Is this also a rather transparent attempt to create a new revenue stream? Sure. But nobody’s forcing anyone to put their photo on a jersey (just like nobody’s forcing anyone to buy a $200 polyester jersey, or any of the other crap that teams sell).
Of course, it’s worth noting that I don’t really give a shit about soccer, so I don’t have much of an emotional stake in this. But what if the same thing started happening in Major League Baseball? Specifically, what if the Mets started doing it?
I can’t say I’d be thrilled. But my main concern would be that the photo-imprinted numerals look sort of faded and camo-ish (at least based on those photos in the Yahoo story). In other words, my concern would be more aesthetic than conceptual. Even then, I’d at least want to see how it looked before passing judgment. And if someone told me I could have an itsy-bitsy photo of myself lurking in
Jose Reyes’s Ike Davis’s uni number, I’m not gonna lie: I think that would be kinda cool. I don’t think I’d pay to do it, but I’d have fun imagining it.
Here’s a related thought: Most MLB stadiums have really ugly corporate advertising on the outfield wall. If a team could raise just as much $$$ for a given portion of the wall by letting fans pay to have tiny photos of themselves printed on the wall, wouldn’t that be preferable?
Of course, there are no ads on MLB uniforms (yet), so there’s no need to make that trade-off. But if forced to choose between a MasterCard sleeve patch and a bunch of fan photos imprinted on the uni numbers, to me it’s a no-brainer.
By Brinke Guthrie
In the beginning, there were Chucks and Jack Purcells. And they were good. And then the Dassler brothers started rocking in Germany and started Adidas and Puma. Puma Clydes owned my high school in the mid-1970s. And by the way, Broadway Joe scores in Pumas, baby. I don’t think he needed any mistletoe, either.
As for the rest of this week’s eBay finds:
• Here’s a great 1973 Bengals team photo. I had this, and I always thought it was cool they had Nos. 12 through 20 sitting in order.
• Had this too — a terrific early 1970s Minnesota Vikings poster.
• Check the eagle wings on this little bobble dude from the 1960s.
• Off to Canton we go, with this 1960s Football Hall of Fame coin bank with AFL logo stickers on it.
• I like this retro-style 1950s football sweater- is that Michigan on there?
• Here’s one from Paul: a nice set of Baltimore Colts glasses.
Holiday reminders: Uni Watch aspires to be your one-stop shopping source for all your
holiday war on Xmas needs. Por ejemplo:
• If you want to buy someone a Uni Watch membership as a gift, full details on how to do that are available here.
• From now through the end of the year, if you order two sheets of stickers based on your membership card design (that costs $26), you’ll also get a free sheet of Uni Watch logo stickers (a mix of all three colors). Instrux for ordering stickers can be found here.
• Speaking of the circular Uni Watch logo stickers, my recent offer still stands: If you want three of these stickers (one of each color), send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Paul Lukas, 671 DeGraw St., Brooklyn, NY 11217. If you want to enclose a coupla bucks or a barter offering, that’d be nice, although it isn’t required.
• T-shirts, beverage coasters, coffee mugs, and the like are available at the Uni Watch shop on Zazzle.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Here are some video game shots of some of the new MLB uniforms. … Scotland County High School in Laurinburg, North Carolina, uses a helmet design based on the Phil Sims-era Giants (from Gerry Dincher). … Hmmm — is this a blank nameplate, or was the nameplate removed? (Screen shot by Jimmy Atkinson.) … New cycling kit for Omega Pharma (from Ted Hill). … Gazoo update: A week or so ago I mentioned that Rawlings would be unveiling a new version of the S100 helmet at the winter meetings, and here it is. Can’t tell much from that shot, but I’ll try to get better visuals from Rawlings today. … An additional college football note from last Saturday: Clemson wore a “91” memorial decal for Chester McGlockton (from Benji Boyter). … And here’s a college football follow-up: Yesterday I mentioned that several readers thought Lamin Barrow of LSU had some backwards letters in his NOB, but I thought it was just the way the fabric was stretching. LSU assistant equipment manager Louis Bourgeois saw yesterday’s post and responded like so: “We received a few texts/tweets during the first half on Saturday about the Barrow jersey. You basically got it right: It was a combo of the angle of the picture and the way the jersey was sitting on the Velcro. We went ahead and snapped this picture in the locker room during halftime just in case this came up.” So there you go. … Looks like the only thing bigger than the Marlins’ cap logo is their sleeve logo. … New kits for the Columbus Crew (from Jeff Frazier). … Next time the Texans wear their red jerseys “presented by Halliburton,” remember that they’re in bed with a company that’s so scummy, even other scummy companies can’t stand them (thanks, Phil). … Good-looking game at the Garden last night, as the Rangers wore white at home and the Leafs wore their throwbacks. … Detroit Mercy hoops wore their Dick Vitale throwbacks last night, and the court featured a massive Dickie V. signature (from Stuart Ratliff). … Quite a bit going on here: the Oregon-style diamondplate, the Flying Elvis rip-off, the wordmark on the thigh, and let’s not overlook the Magic Marker on the arm. And in case you were wondering, here’s what the team’s road uni looks like (from Nick Hanson). … Another high school with a dubious logo choice: Camas Valley High in Oregon uses the Hawaii helmet logo. Didn’t they know they’re supposed to use the XFL Hitmen logo instead? (From Joe Alvernaz.) … In case you haven’t seen it, the three-part series about Derek Boogaard in the Times is the kind of work that wins Pulitzers — epic, powerful, compelling. Here you go: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. … The Sixers are letting fans vote on the team’s new mascot (from Kurt Esposito). … R.I.P., Hubert. Killing floor, indeed.