Some Thoughts About Dignity

[Editor's Note: Daniel Snyder is mentioned in the first paragraph of today's entry. But don't worry, the entry is not about Snyder or his team. — PL]

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dignity. It began a month or so ago when I was emailing back and forth with a reader who accused me of trying to shame Dan Snyder into changing his team’s name. “Of course I’m trying to shame him, because I think he’s behaving shamefully,” I explained. After taking a moment to think of the opposite of shame, I added, “If you think he’s behaving with dignity, you’re welcome to make that case.”

It soon occurred to me that dignity is a big, unspoken element that’s often hovering over our discussions of the uni-verse. When a player resorts to some sort of uni-driven “Look at me!” gimmick and we all roll our eyes, what we’re really saying is “Please, have some dignity out there.” When Nike or another company comes out with some absurd design and we all pull our hair out, what we’re really saying is “Please, have some dignity out there.” When we fret over teams and leagues pandering to cheap jingoism with their camouflage and flag designs, what we’re really saying is “Please, have some dignity out there.” When a team or league comes out with some transparently merch-driven uni program and claims that it’s performance-based even though we all know it’s just about selling more product at retail, what we’re really saying is “Please, have some dignity out there.” When we grimly note how many swooshes are plastered all over a college football player, what we’re really saying is “Please, have some dignity out there.” When we fret about the NBA wanting to sell ads on its jerseys or Barcelona selling ads on the inside of its jerseys, what we’re really saying is “Please, have some dignity out there.” When some of us get uptight seeing MLB players who make a point of untucking their jerseys to celebrate a win, what we’re really saying is “Please, have some dignity out there.”

It makes sense that dignity would be a big issue in the uni-verse, because uniforms — from the Cub Scouts to policemen, from Little Leaguers to MLBers — tend to connote and confer dignity. That’s part of a uniform’s function. It provides a sense of authority, legitimacy, official status. I think that’s a big reason why many of us have become fascinated by uniforms to begin with. So it’s no surprise that we’d be upset when we perceive something to be threatening that sense of dignity, whether it’s a crazy Oregon design or a set of NBA Christmas jerseys that look like T-shirts.

But standards of dignity, like most other social standards, tend to evolve. Here’s a good sports-related (but not uni-related) example: When Jets defensive lineman Mark Gastineau pioneered the sack dance in the early 1980s, his teammates made a point of walking away from him while he celebrated. They were saying, in effect, “Please, have some dignity out here.” Gastineau’s antics led to the NFL’s “excessive celebration” rule, which essentially codified a personal foul for lack of dignity. But three decades later, almost every player in the league celebrates in some manner, often after the most routine plays (and usually in ways that make Gastineau’s sack dances look tame by comparison). The excessive celebration rule is still on the books, but the threshold for invoking it has drifted upward. You now have to celebrate pretty damn excessively to be flagged. The cultural norm has changed, as cultural norms tend to do.

Dignity is often associated with formality, but standards of formality evolve as well. Back in the earliest days of baseball, in the mid-1800s, the most formally attired man in the crowd was often chosen to be the umpire, because it was assumed and understood that he was a man of dignity and authority and would therefore be a fair and honest arbiter. This is why some early baseball illustrations show the umpire wearing a top hat and tails, which eventually gave way to umps in dark suits and ties. Today, with the Casual Friday-ization of American life, MLB umpires wear polo shirts and khakis, and many of them have goatees, which would have been unthinkable a generation ago. I haven’t yet spotted an ump with a visible tattoo, but I’m sure it’s coming. When it eventually happens, my reaction will probably be something along the lines of “Please, have some dignity out there.”

These examples and trends all suggest that standards of dignity tend to become more permissive, more accepting, over time. Now, when it comes to uniforms — and the culture of sports in general — I tend to be a conservative, so I’m not too happy about those more permissive standards. But there’s more to life than sports. Once upon a time, it was considered shameful and undignified to have sex out of wedlock, or to be openly homosexual, or for a woman to have a career instead of having children, or to be in a bi-racial relationship. Thanks to more permissive and accepting standards, those things are now fairly routine, and I think most people would agree that we’re all the better for it.

In other words: When it comes to more permissive standards of dignity, it seems to me that we have to take the good with the bad.

Of course, standards and concepts of dignity can be driven by age, or class, or race, so this stuff can get complicated. It’s also worth noting that dignity and the people who try to personify it can sometimes get full of themselves, which can turn dignity and its associated protocols into ripe targets for mockery and protest. That’s why first-wave punk rock (to cite a simple example) was so effective — it basically sought to strip away the dignity from established cultural totems by mocking them and critiquing them. In so doing, it created its own rules and standards of dignity, which eventually got incorporated into more mainstream standards, providing some of that cultural evolution I mentioned earlier. I imagine there are people at Nike who think that’s what they’re doing with their designs — taking aim at stuffy, outdated notions of aesthetic dignity and replacing them with their own. (I don’t agree that that’s what they’re doing — I think they’re just pandering to teen-agers to make a buck — but I can understand that point of view.)

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. What do you think about all this?

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Peeves, continued: Yesterday I invited everyone to use the comments section to post their uni-related pet peeves (or rants, or gripes, or Festivus grievances, or whatever), and lots of you responded. Actually, now that I think of it, an awful lot of your peeves were basically saying, “Please, show some dignity out there.”

Anyway: There were definitely some recurring themes among the peeves, and now I’m finding myself a bit curious about which ones were most popular (or, rather, unpopular). So: Anyone want to slog through yesterday’s comments and tabulate the all results for our edification? If you’d like to volunteer for this admittedly unglamorous task, give me a shout. Thanks. We now have a volunteer — thanks.

+ + + + +

Raffle reminder: In case you missed it, Tuesday’s entry was our annual year-end reader-appreciation raffle. Lotsa good stuff this year — check it out. Deadline for entering is next Monday.

+ + + + +

Tick-Tock: Today’s Ticker was compiled and written by Mike Chamernik.

Baseball News: The Rangers put Christmas lights on their Twitter avatar (from Aaron McHargue). … The Yakima Valley Pippins will be the newest team in the summer-collegiate West Coast League. … The January 2014 issue of Texas Monthly lampooned the Houston sports scene, only the cover’s artwork showed Astros players in outdated uniforms (from David Wilson).

NFL News: How many NFL teams are using the same wordmark today that they used in 1972? Answer at the end of Grab Bag, or you can count for yourself (thanks to Chance Michaels). … A Pixar artist sketched out some NFL matchups from this season. … Passengers wearing Russell Wilson jerseys get priority boarding on Alaska Airlines flights from Seattle. … Ravens QB Joe Flacco will be wearing a knee brace for the first time in his professional career this Sunday.

Hockey News: Detroit’s Jonas Gustavsson will wear this mask for the Winter Classic (from Michael Hersch). … Another day, another hockey team wearing an ugly Christmas sweater-themed jersey. … Tore McCarthy was Christmas shopping and found a NNOB Rick Nash jersey. … The Rochester Americans and the Lake Erie Monsters (aka the Cleveland Barons) played an outdoor game this past weekend in very nice throwbacks (from Anthony Nuccio). … “Tuesday night’s Islanders-Lightning game at Nassau Coliseum marked the return of Jon Cooper to Long Island,” says John Muir. “Cooper, a Hofstra alum, went with the school logo tie behind the bench. I’m fairly certain this marks the first time a Hofstra grad has been part of an NHL game. Very cool.”

Soccer News: Might Liverpool have new kits for next year? “Much better than the travesties on the Reds this year,” says Matt Duprey. “These kind of have a retro hockey feel, which fits with Warriors’ profile.” … On a related noted, next year’s Manchester City home shirt has been leaked (from Eric Jensen).

NBA News: The Heat wore red jerseys with red lettering at home last night. … “I was cruising the pages of eBay and came upon this,” says Geoff Schiffrin. “Neither Phil nor myself have any idea why it exists.” … Need an expensive joke gift for the NBA fan in your life? Complex rounded up the worst jerseys that are still for sale online.

Grab Bag: Lost Letterman graded college basketball’s new uniforms for this season (from Chris Mahr). … Brinke sends along the most talked about logo redesigns of 2013. Not included? The Oscars, which is getting a cleaner, simpler logo and typeface. … If there’s something you need to do today, make it reading the entire US Naval Academy Uniform Regulations Handbook. “389 pages of what to wear in which location and event, complete with pictures,” says Rex Henry. “I bet Nike has one of these detailing what their teams wear on the field and sidelines.” … USA Today summed up the spatting issue in college football (from Phil). … The Canadian skeleton team has some wild helmet designs for the Winter Olympics. … Great Britain is changing its currency from paper to plastic (from Tom Mulgrew) … The Marines have new hairstyle regulations. … By my count, seven teams have the same wordmark they did in 1972 — the Bills, Packers, Cowboys, Colts, Bears, ’Skins and Saints (New Orleans’s 1972 version has a dotted “I,” but otherwise they’re identical).

 

167 comments to Some Thoughts About Dignity

  • DonS | December 19, 2013 at 8:25 am |

    We have Homer Jones of the NY Giants to thank for the loss of dignity, at least in the NFL. He was the first to spike the ball after a touchdown. If only he had just handed the ball to the referee. Oh well.

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 8:57 am |

      You can certainly make that case.

      But here’s a question: Is spiking the ball bad? Just in and of itself, divorced from all the things it may have spawned? Personally, I kinda like a good touchdown spike. Now, I could definitely live without all the other celebratory crap that takes place on the field, but I’m fine with the spike. Another case of taking the good with the bad, methinks.

      • Geeman | December 19, 2013 at 10:16 am |

        Great post today, Paul. The lack of dignity is associated with what has been described as the infantilzation of our culture, demonstrated by such things as men dressing and acting like boys.

        In recent years, as the World War II generation has died off, it has become clear how times have changed in this regard and the great lessons that many (but not all) of those folks provided is apparent. The dignity of such diverse men as John Wooden and Bob Sheppard was a beautiful lesson for all.

        There have been many positive changes in society, including less racial and gender prejudice, but the loss of dignity is a change for the worse.

        • Flip | December 19, 2013 at 10:41 am |

          I was never a Cardinals fan, but how could you not like and appreciate Stan Musial. He was the epitome of dignity, class and professionalism. I don’t recall ever seeing, hearing or reading anywhere where Musial tried showing up someone. He simply did his job and did it well.

          Hank Aaron is another who comes to mind. These were guys confident enough in their ability that an exclamation point was unnecessary.

          Each of these guys wore their uniform neatly and without gee-gaws. I have no doubt if they were playing the game today, they’d do it the same as they did then.

          Nice post today.

        • Geeman | December 19, 2013 at 11:06 am |

          Hank Aaron is the epitome of dignity, and what a ball player. Derek Jeter is a modern day version.

        • David | December 19, 2013 at 11:12 am |

          For every Stan Musial and Hank Aaron or specifically Jackie Robinson, there’s a Leo Durocher (womanizing grandstander) or Babe Ruth (gluttonous adulterer and showboat.)

          I generally think it’s naive to whitewash “The Good Old Days”. Forget where I’m stealing this line from, but there has been no change over time in how beholden people (In a broad sense, not anecdotal individuals) are to either their pocketbooks or genitalia.

          The level to which we must stoop in those pursuits may have changed, but relative to their times, relinquishing dignity to those 2 pursuits is a consistent thread in American history.

    • terriblehuman | December 19, 2013 at 9:01 am |

      I don’t know, I think there’s a distinction to be drawn between spontaneous expressions of joy, like spiking the ball, and choreographed moves or celebrations of the mundane (like a wide receiver signalling first down).

      Maybe it’s because I wasn’t raised in the North American sports culture, but I see sports as a forum for self-expression and celebrations are a way to share a moment with fans. To the extent that the expression isn’t vulgar or insulting, I don’t see a celebration as undignified.

      I think my feelings on dignity of uniforms is closer to Paul’s standards though. Stick to the team colors and stop letting other shit encroach the team name/emblem.

      • RoccoT | December 19, 2013 at 9:19 am |

        I have a problem with athletes that show excessive celebration for simply doing there job. Their job is to get a first down, not signal it. Celebrate like crazy once you’ve won the game.

        • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 9:35 am |

          There are those who would say that their job is to be entertainers, and that celebrating is part of that job.

          I’m not saying I agree with that point of view, but I do think it’s a point of view that has to be considered and addressed.

        • terriblehuman | December 19, 2013 at 9:45 am |

          Also, an involved crowd is a competitive advantage, and celebrations do help pump up the crowd. Again, we can talk about the dignity/respect, but it’s not all gratuitous look-at-me-ism.

        • DonS | December 19, 2013 at 11:05 am |

          My feeling is that the game or sport is in fact the entertainment. The other crap is just crap. Sport is one of the great traditions (some say it is one of our few here in the US) and it just ticks me off to no end to see it degraded.

        • Todd | December 19, 2013 at 11:58 am |

          I have to disagree. A fist pump, a first down signal, they all fall under spontaneous, in the moment celebrations. When you are in a competitive environment, you express yourself in those situations, and not always on purpose. When you have a guy do a whole act of mocking catching a fish, it gets to the point of what I consider ridiculous. That is what sack celebrations have become, yet I have yet to see a flag thrown for that BS.

    • Will S | December 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm |

      Not knowing much any of the history of football and rugby, I would have guessed that the spike would have been an evolution from the rugby try’s grounding the ball in the in-goal area.
      Wouldn’t have guessed it evolved from handing the ball to officials to some throwing the ball into the stands to the spike.

      While not usually fond of touchdown celebrations, they are much better than pre-touchdown showboating or celebrations. Cheer on the rare occasions when I see these jokers get stripped of the ball before crossing the line.

  • TBone | December 19, 2013 at 8:30 am |

    After reading yesterday’s comments, I was really hoping we would get some kind of tally of everyone’s peeves. We had a lot of things in common, it seems. Some of it surprised me though– there were a few people who listed peeves that were things I actually love about the given uniforms. Anyway, I look forward to seeing the results if someone does compile them.

  • SamTheMan216 | December 19, 2013 at 8:32 am |

    Here’s a Yahoo blog posting about a number of ugly hockey Christmas sweaters.

    http://sports.yahoo....

  • Anthony Nuccio | December 19, 2013 at 8:35 am |

    My only beef with those potential Liverpool kits are the lace up collars and the fact that we are referred to as the Reds, not the Maroons. Other than that, I agree that they are far better than the away and alternate kits for this year.

    • DJ | December 19, 2013 at 8:44 am |

      I think they’re fakes. A centennial throwback for Boca Juniors was leaked yesterday; it’s a weathered-looking cotton jersey with a tie down collar and a broad chest stripe. It’s made by Nike, and it looks precisely like these purported shirts.

      As was mentioned on a discussion thread on Creamer’s board, “Nike and Warrior don’t use the same templates.”

      • terriblehuman | December 19, 2013 at 8:52 am |

        I think you’re right.

        Plus, it’s rare for non-Adidas home and away kits to be on the same template.

      • Anthony Nuccio | December 19, 2013 at 9:51 am |

        I would assume that they’re fakes as well. I do like the overall look, but I’m not too hopeful that the new kits will look this good.

      • superfly | December 19, 2013 at 11:48 am |

        Yeah, pretty clearly fakes, though nice ones, but if Warrior tried to do something like that, I don’t think Liverpool fans would be too happy with that grey stripe through the red jersey, works fine on a change kit, but that home kit needs to be ALL red.

        • Anthony Nuccio | December 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm |

          I don’t mind the stripe that much, but I think most Liverpool fans would like to see it gone.

  • Hodges14 | December 19, 2013 at 8:36 am |

    I forgot to add one pet peeve from yesterday: Cleveland’s block C on the caps, mainly because of the lack of an outline.

    • MEANS | December 19, 2013 at 9:45 am |

      a rich red on a navy ground has enough contrast to be clearly visible, you don’t need to muddy it up with an outline.

      • hodges14 | December 19, 2013 at 10:28 am |

        Yeah, but for those of us who are visually impaired, it’s a bit of a headache to look at.

    • ChrisH | December 19, 2013 at 10:34 am |

      I had that as one of my peeves.
      Have the Chief Wahoo caps been phased out of the uni lineup for next season?

  • DJ | December 19, 2013 at 8:37 am |

    It’s eight, isn’t it? The Raiders haven’t changed.

    • The Jeff | December 19, 2013 at 9:16 am |

      It’s 6. Packers, Bills, Cowboys, Colts, Redskins & Bears. The article forgot to list the Bears (not surprising from a Packer-centric site), but they appear unchanged as well. The Raiders letters are the same, but they’re closer together with the RAI now being joined at the bottom (the original version is still on the helmet logo), and the Saints are the same, but without a dot on the I.

      • MEANS | December 19, 2013 at 9:46 am |

        Bills word mark has changed

      • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 10:19 am |

        Ugh – I can’t believe I forgot the Bears! Noticed it, but neglected to include them in my list. Thanks for the catch.

        I did mention that the Raiders have tweaked their kerning.

        And while two of the corners are a bit rounded off, I think any differences you’re seeing result from poor reproduction on that 1972 poster.

    • Mark K | December 19, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

      The Bills word mark did change, ever so slightly, in 2012.

  • Derek Jackson | December 19, 2013 at 8:50 am |

    Yeah, the Raiders is the same and we might be able to throw the 49ers in there as well since they use the old one just as much anymore since the jersey switch and the closing of Candlestick coming up

    • The Jeff | December 19, 2013 at 9:04 am |

      The Raiders official mark has the letters smooshed a bit closer together now. The letters themselves are still the same, and the original is still what’s actually used on the helmet logo.

      • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 11:15 am |

        It’s called kerning, the space between letters.

        And I think the old 49ers wordmark is only being used because this is the final season in Candlestick. Hasn’t it been well and truly retired except for throwbacks?

        • Matt | December 19, 2013 at 5:51 pm |

          It has been. And they don’t even wear throwbacks anymore (not since they changed the uniforms in 2009).

  • Paul Hill | December 19, 2013 at 8:56 am |

    I think all this “look at me” comes from the money, and from the teaching that “everyone is special”. Somehow, there is a belief that with wealth comes the privilege to act up. It also proves that money doesn’t buy class. In the end it really isn’t that big a deal, but to all these these self-centered clowns I only have two words, Stan Musial.

  • Jason M (DC) | December 19, 2013 at 8:56 am |

    I can’t believe I didn’t notice that the Steelers changed their wordmark! The stencil wordmark is great and classic. How did anyone decide it was a good idea to mothball it?

    Also, the Chargers need to change their wordmark back. Just because they want to do throwback stuff with the goalpost H wordmark… Just because it’s old and vintage doesn’t mean it’s good.

    • Jason M (DC) | December 19, 2013 at 8:58 am |

      Oh, wait. Check that. I got confused looking back and forth between the two images. I have them backwards.

      Disregard.

      The Steelers stencil IS the current one.
      And I got confused with the Chargers because I’m pretty sure that they’re using the goalpost H in their endzones.

    • Dumb Guy | December 19, 2013 at 9:17 am |

      Funny,…. I didn’t know the new versions were visible if i paged down! I still got them all right (although I missed the dot on the Saints so I included them).

    • CB | December 19, 2013 at 10:27 am |

      And neither does being old mean that it’s vintage.

      • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm |

        How would you define “vintage”, then?

        • CB | December 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
        • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 2:42 pm |

          Cute, but considering that one of the dictionary definitions of “vintage” is “old”, and considering that the word can mean either “outmoded” or “of enduring interest”, I’m wondering what you personally see as the difference between the two terms.

        • CB | December 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm |

          both good and old. but then, I’m not a hipster.

        • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm |

          Um… ho-kay.

        • CB | December 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm |

          There’s already a word for something that’s old: “old.” So using “vintage” for just old makes one sound silly. (Much like fashion-types shortening “haute-couture” to “couture” for “fancy clothes” when the “haute” is for fancy and “couture” is just clothes.)

        • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm |

          Sure, why would we ever want to use synonyms in our speech or writing? One word was good enough for Grandpa, it’s good enough for me.

  • Rob S | December 19, 2013 at 8:58 am |

    That Supreme jersey is all kinds of weird. That it’s tagged for 2003-04, but has the Twin Towers in the skyline? Boggles the mind.

    Here’s that company’s About page. They also have a cap that apes the Super Bowl XX logo.

  • Coleman | December 19, 2013 at 9:02 am |

    Well done today, Paul. An interesting read that, I imagine, resonates with most of your readers.

  • Brian | December 19, 2013 at 9:06 am |

    Paul, would you say that there was at one time a “uniform” for journalists, which has clearly evolved over the years? There was a day when you never saw a reporter not wearing a suit, dress shoes, and a hat with a little PRESS card stuck in the brim. I remember a post from sometime over the last year describing your suit-buying process, and how you don’t have a closet full of them. I’ve never seen you on TV (no cable) but I guess you don’t wear your suit for most TV appearances. What would you say to someone asking you what happened to your dignity as a journalist?

    • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 10:23 am |

      Did they really ever wear “PRESS” cards in their hatbands?

      I think what you’re really talking about is the standard uniform for men, which has undergone a sea change in the past couple decades.

      • ChrisH | December 19, 2013 at 10:50 am |

        I thought they had buttons:

        http://www.youtube.c...

      • Brian | December 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm |

        Maybe that was just in the movies. Sure, as Paul is a man and a journalist, I asked him about his feelings on standards for male journalists. The same question applies to “uniforms” traditionally worn by women. I’m sure someone might say that a female teacher wearing a football-team sweatshirt on the Friday before gameday has lost her dignity compared to old-timey female teachers who were expected to wear ankle-length skirts and chin-height blouses. My question is: do we consider that an evolution of behavior or a dignity issue?

    • Robert S | December 19, 2013 at 11:31 am |

      I think that could be said for nearly every aspect of society?

      I see shorts and t-shirts in church when once we didn’t dare step into church without our “Sunday’s Best”.

      Used to be suit and ties and business casual Friday’s with polo’s and slacks. Now it’s polo’s and slacks with Jeans Friday’s.

      We celebrate a half naked woman for twerking with a man onstage where once Elvis couldn’t be shot from the waist down.

      It’s everywhere, not just Paul or “the Press”.

      • Brian | December 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm |

        Of course. Do you work in a field in which the dress code has slacked since back in the day? Or dress a certain way in a certain place where people used to dress “nicer” years ago? If so, you can answer too. Do you feel like you have “lost your dignity?”

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm |

      Sorry, I totally missed this comment — wasn’t ignoring it, just hadn’t seen it until now.

      I imagine the dress codes for journalists have shifted over the years, just like they have for most other professions. But I’ve never worked in a journalism office — I’ve been working at home since 1996. So I’m probably not the best judge of this.

      Here’s a website that looks at one very specific aspect of certain journalists:
      http://appreciationo...

      • Brian | December 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm |

        This lady is the Prince Fielder of the Cleveland-area weather scene:

        http://appreciationo...

        I bet she just says her salmon pants, metallic top, boots and Mr. T necklace are fashionable and it would look odd if someone on TV wasn’t being fashionable. Athletes probably feel the same way.

      • Brian | December 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm |

        I’m not trying to trip you up here Paul, I’m just asking…when you do “traditional” media stuff like go to an unveiling/press conference, go on the Olbermann show, or interview someone in person, do you ever feel like the traditional clothing standard for a male journalist is something you ought to try to meet, or do you just wear what you want and not think about it?

        • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 2:46 pm |

          If I’m going to an unveiling or some such, I’ll usually wear “nicer” jeans (dark blue or black) and a nice sweater. If it’s summer, a lightweight button-front shirt. Basically, I want to look presentable and reasonably professional while still looking and feeling like myself.

          Being on TV is different — I’m an invited guest. I’ll usually ask the producer if they have a dress code, or what they recommend, etc. Often they say, “It’s totally up to you.”

  • Dumb Guy | December 19, 2013 at 9:07 am |

    One of the biggest dichotomies (or whatever the right word is) in the NFL was John Riggins. Along with his mohawk, and “Loosen up Sandy Baby” (to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor), and his holding/sitting out the 1980 season in a contract “dispute”, etc. came his on-field antics (actually a lack thereof) which were simply to toss the ball to the ref after scoring a TD.

    While not always the most diginified off the field; on-field he showed nothing but.

  • DenverGregg | December 19, 2013 at 9:09 am |

    Given other comments you’ve made about tattoos, you surprised me with this bit “I haven’t yet spotted an ump with a visible tattoo, but I’m sure it’s coming. When it eventually happens, my reaction will probably be something along the lines of ‘Please, have some dignity out there.’”

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 9:15 am |

      I like tattoos; I have two tattoos. But I don’t like seeing them on authority figures or, for lack of a better term, grown-ups.

      A few years back I interviewed a school principal for a story I was working on. He had several tats on his arms. That didn’t feel right. I’d have the same feeling for, say, a boss in an office. And yes, umpires fit into this category too.

      But that’s just me. I’m not saying this is how it should be; just saying that’s how it feels to me.

      • DenverGregg | December 19, 2013 at 9:19 am |

        Great aside about “grown-ups”. A large part of the loss of dignity in most social interactions these days is holding on to too much of childhood for too long. I’m guilty of it too. Example: when I go to the my boss’ boss’ office (I work in a hospital, not a school), I say “off to the principal’s office”.

      • ClubMedSux | December 19, 2013 at 9:37 am |

        Oddly enough, I was never interested in getting a tattoo when I was playing in bands in college, but now that I’m a lawyer I think about it all the time. Maybe it’s my sub-conscious way of dealing with the fact that lawyers aren’t as dignified as we like to think we are. ;-)

      • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 2:45 pm |

        I completely understand that feeling. I have a couple tattoos myself, but I think there’s a time and place to display them.

  • Joel K | December 19, 2013 at 9:11 am |

    I missed out yesterday (Christmas shopping out of town) on the pet peeves. So here goes mine belatedly: pullover baseball jerseys that pretend to be button up (the bottom buttons are just decoration and only the top two buttons actually work).

  • Jeff (not The Jeff) | December 19, 2013 at 9:13 am |

    Paul: Thank you very much for this awesome post this morning. There is so much meat here to chew on; and I don’t have time at work to provide enough thoughts worthy of what you wrote. I am just grateful that you brought this up. Dignity is very much on the decline, not only in sports, but in society in general (in my opinion). Take care and keep up the great work.

  • ScottyM | December 19, 2013 at 9:16 am |

    Is it dignity or is it grace? You know, a measure of decorum. Effortlessness in form. Behaving in moderation. Displaying elegance and beauty of form in accomplishing something. I dunno.

    Dignity, to me, has more ‘judgment’ behind it. And who’s to judge what’s above or below X threshold? It’s about conduct and self-respect. But who’s to judge what’s disrespectful?

    Maybe the word isn’t dignity. It’s respect.

    Not an either/or. Just a thought.

    • ChrisH | December 19, 2013 at 10:16 am |

      Are you implying that there something ‘wrong’ with making judgements?
      One can show respect for their fellow man in many ways which will preserve their dignity(though it’s a lot harder to do when they seem to show little interest in preserving it for themselves?)and in no way supress or curtail self-expression, but this does not have to equate to condoning their actions/choices or valuing their spoken/written opinions or remaining silent on the matter.

  • walter | December 19, 2013 at 9:25 am |

    Two days of red meat on Uni Watch! I sympathized with the fellow who lamented the presence of a “story” with every element of a team’s iconography. We’re far indeed from Arnholt Smith who put brown on the Padres’ uniform because it was his favorite color.

  • Rob S | December 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |

    Regarding the USA Today article on spatting:

    Arkansas’ contract with Nike cited a “zero tolerance” approach for spatting unless it was medically necessary. Mississippi State’s contract with Adidas prohibits spatting but notes “(e)xceptions to this provision require written approval by (A)didas.”

    I have to like that USA Today corrected the capitalization of Adidas. None of this e e cummings crap!

    Also regarding the article, I peeked at the comments section, and the overwhelming theme was this: if the shoe companies have such an issue with spatting, why not put out branded athletic tape? It would certainly solve the logo cover-up issue, arguably making the logos more prominent, although it certainly wouldn’t be elegant. Plus, they could sell that tape to the type of consumer that would eat that shit up, and make a few bucks. As it would be a win-win for the companies (who get to keep seeing their logos on the players’ feet) and the schools (who would be able to have their players spat to their hearts’ content), it would seem to just make good business sense to take this approach.

    Of course, most of us here would rather not see that kind of logo creep happen. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any practical alternative that would keep all sides happy.

    • Rob S | December 19, 2013 at 9:35 am |

      (By the way, E.E. Cummings is excused from “that e e cummings crap” because that was his artistic style as a writer. I don’t even care so much that Adidas’ wordmark logo is in lower-case; it’s when they try to force that lower-case style in all usage of their name down our throats that pisses me off.)

    • terriblehuman | December 19, 2013 at 9:43 am |

      I appreciate a “zero tolerance” approach that tolerates some non-compliance.

      Agreed on the USA Today editorial touch with the parenthetical (A), and on your branded tape approach.

  • ClubMedSux | December 19, 2013 at 9:31 am |

    I think it’s funny that you mention punk rock, Paul, since the irony of the punk movement was that it eventually became so obsessed with its own rules (standards of anti-dignity, perhaps?) that a band who dared to go beyond them–even a band as important as the Clash–would be shunned for no longer being punk enough. Makes me wonder if there’s just something in human nature that craves standards of dignity even when we claim to be tearing them down.

    • superfly | December 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm |

      Can’t find the exact quote, I think it’s in the book California Hardcore, but it goes something to the effect that “Some say punk was dead by the time the Sex Pistols got to Winterland, because by then everyone knew how to dress, how to act, how to dance, how to spit…”

      Lot of irony in that thought, both intended and unintended.

  • Matthew B | December 19, 2013 at 9:32 am |

    Note on the pixar illustrations: features the old Dolphins logo.

    • RJCoug | December 19, 2013 at 11:29 am |

      I noticed the old Seahawks logo on the pixar illustrations too

    • ChrisH | December 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

      Purple fcemask on the Minnesota helmet too.
      And a missed opportunity not giving the brown swirling vortex white sclerae and orange irises?

  • Sean | December 19, 2013 at 9:32 am |

    Hi Paul,

    I’m a long-time uni-watcher, first-time commenter. Your article on dignity makes a very sound point, and I think the point is that the culture in the United States is changing, and I’d even say degenerating, and it’s manifest in the attitudes and behavior of our beloved (perhaps overly) professional athletes, and how they respect their attire. As a clinical psychologist I tend to look at the bigger picture in all of this, and to me the fact that Jose Reyes untucks his jersey after every Blue Jays’ win is not that far disconnected from kids who post hoards of inappropriate selfies on Facebook and Twitter. I believe my generation (I’m 28)was never taught this dignity of which you speak. We were taught that “we can do anything, be anything,” and refuse to accept anything different. This manifests itself in a lack of self-restraint, both in gaudy uniforms (why does a face mask need to be two colors??”) and in how athletes disrespect the privilege that it is to don it. Just some thoughts :)

    • Connie DC | December 19, 2013 at 11:29 am |

      Stay classy, Uni Watch.

      I dunno, dignity doesn’t do it for me. For one thing, “dignity” was a word often employed by white describers, frequently sportswriters, for African-Americans who rose above the (inferentially) clownish and overly-demonstrative tendencies of their brethren, cf Henry Aaaron, Joe Louis.

      In the American democratic vernacular, the operative word for what Paul (not incorrectly) would call dignified has been “classy,” as in “That’s one classy dame,” or “This is a high-class operation, you mug; take off your lid.” Given the obvious etymology of “classy,” it’s curious that it became a near-synonym of “dignified” except among the rich and well-born.

      Of course, now Ron Burgundy has complicated matters, but thus is language. Anyway, “dignity” to me sounds way too serious, fussy, self-important. It invites a pie in the face.

  • Scott Davis | December 19, 2013 at 9:33 am |

    I tend to disagree on the side of excessive celebration. I think it is important to remember that they are playing a game. It is meant to be fun.

    I remember a few years back, Wes Welker was fined $10,000 for making a snow angel in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. While some may argue that he was making a mockery of the game, I would argue that he was simply having fun. It’s just football.

    • terriblehuman | December 19, 2013 at 9:40 am |

      Agreed. “Making a mockery of the game” implies that the game is above mockery. It’s not. Football isn’t war or funeral or church. It’s a game.

      Also, I can’t really begrudge players, many of whom come from really shitty family situations and abject poverty, from celebrating every moment they’re in the lights. They have to beat lottery-like odds (even if it’s by winning the genetic lottery) just to make the roster, or even get above the poverty line.

      It’s easy to say “Act like you’ve been there” when you’ve been “there” and know you’ll be “there” again.

      • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |

        I think there are certain systems in which there’s supposed to be an authority figure and there’s supposed to be some pushback against that authority.

        For example, kids are *supposed* to rebel against their parents, at least somewhat, and parents are *supposed* to be square. That’s how it works.

        That’s how sports leagues are now. The athletes are the kids, and the league offices are the parents, and everyone behaves according to their appointed roles. It didn’t used to be that way — everyone used to be more or less on the same page, and there was less pushback, less rebellion.

        Worth noting: In sports, the kids make more money than the parents. That has definitely affected the dynamic.

        • terriblehuman | December 19, 2013 at 10:33 am |

          I’m not sure if that’s entirely accurate. The “kids” might be making more money than before, but the “parents” (I know you mean the league office, but the league office is basically the collective will of the owners) still control the purse strings (pretty much every league CBA prevents players from taking more than half of what the owners make). The “kids” are only making money for a few years while the “parents” are there for life.

          More tellingly, the “parents” can always lock out the “kids” when they have a revenue sharing dispute (the last three Big 4 league work stoppages were less about player pay and more about how to settle the gap between rich and poor owners – the billionaire “parents” used the millionaire “kids” as pawns because they had trouble sharing). To that extent, the power dynamic hasn’t really shifted that much.

          I don’t know, I have a lot of thoughts about this that are only half-formed, but I’m guessing how one feels about The U documentary also says where you end up on the “dignity” discussion, at least when it comes to player power and self-expression.

        • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 10:59 am |

          The league execs and owners may have more power, because they own and control the means of production, but the players generally *do* make more money. Even a short-ish NBA or MLB career will result in more earnings than the average league official will make in his career.

          And think about the average player’s salary compared to the average coach or manager’s salary — the boss is totally outearned by most of his players. There aren’t many employment realms where that’s the case.

          And although the leagues/owners ultimately hold the power of the lockout, what I’m getting at here is that the players feel more secure and confident (rightly or wrongly) due to their huge earning power, which I think is part of why their on-field behavior has gotten harder to police. They feel a sense of entitlement, and they’re not scared by fines that amount to a drop in the bucket compared to their salaries.

    • Dumb Guy | December 19, 2013 at 9:52 am |

      Being/acting dignified goes hand-in-hand (in my eyes) with respect for others–something I feel/see less and lees of in today’s society. A lack of respect for authority (teachers, elders, etc.) has led to new heights in “F-You, I’ll do what I want and you can’t stop me.” When a teacher can’t tell a kid to sit down and shut up cuz mom and dad (who spend fewer hours a week ith the kid than the teacher does) will cry discrimination or favoritism or some other excuse for their idiot kid’s behavior, and mom and dad demand no repsect themselves, we are doomed.

      I know my points aren’t as cogent as others’ may be, but I hope you see the diginty/respect link I’m shooting for in this one example.

      PS: I do not have kids… That’s on purpose.

      • terriblehuman | December 19, 2013 at 10:03 am |

        See, I think this is less a lack of respect for authority as it is a lack of respect for working folks. To many parents, teachers are just “the help” who are getting paid good money.

        I sense a parallel between how many parents treat their kids’ teachers (I’m thinking strictly of stories in the news – my children’s school has a pretty healthy teacher/parent dynamic) with how they treat the poor (“If they don’t want to be poor, they should make better ‘choices’.”) and service industry employees.

        And that even extends to how they relate to athletes – they see professional athletes, not as humans, but a very well-compensated “help” who should be thankful for what they have, and have no right to even acknowledge any hardship that comes with their job or the duhamanizing crap they put up with, because money makes everything okay. Just look at the concussion debate or the Incognito/Martin brouhaha.

    • Anthony Nuccio | December 19, 2013 at 9:54 am |

      I can’t say I fully agree with you. I think there is a time and appropriateness for one’s celebrations on the field. Yes, it is a game and players should have fun, but celebrating every single time you get a first down or a tackle doesn’t warrant looking like a jackass. They are professionals and should conduct themselves as such. With that being said, I do like some sack celebrations. Also, I’m aware that the last sentence probably will make me look like a hypocrite.

      • Scott Davis | December 19, 2013 at 10:09 am |

        I understand what you’re saying. There’s a time and place for everything… I get that. I just feel that in an attempt to make the game more and more serious, there is a bit of “je ne sais quoi” that was lost.

  • cab647 | December 19, 2013 at 9:53 am |

    Not sure if this adds anything to the conversation, but I find it interesting that Paul went with “dignity” as the flip side of “shame.” My academic life has been spent some in the social structures of the ancient Near East and Greco-Roman society, and those cultures are known as “honor and shame” cultures. Sociologically, this is the idea that value in life is acquiring “honor” and avoiding “shame.” In some ways these celebrations do a bit of both, in that they are drawing attention to their good play (honor) but its done in a way that many dislike (shame). Much of the honor/shame system is tied up in collective identity. What do my actions say about my family, nation, tribe, etc.? Strikes me most of that is gone from American society.

    We (USA folk) tend to think of things as innocence/guilt instead of honor/shame. The distinction can be seen in the phenomenon of “honor killings.” Honor/shame people see them as sensible, innocence/guilt people see them as horrific. This also helps us understand why Western democracies often struggle to make headway with Middle Eastern nations in international affairs, because the innocence/guilt and honor/shame stuff clashes.

    What does this mean for uniforms? I don’t know exactly, but I’d say that we are seeing the unfortunate consequences of innocence/guilt in touchdown dances, Miley Cyrus twerking, and a whole host of other less than dignified activities. If I’m not doing something “wrong” there is no sociological construct to critique it anymore. I fear that it is just the cost of the benefits of rejecting honor shame, like increased freedom of expression.

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 9:57 am |

      “Honor” strikes me as being a function of, or at least related to, pride. And pride, of course, is one of the seven deadly sins.

      I’ll stick with “dignity.”

      • cab647 | December 19, 2013 at 10:03 am |

        I don’t disagree with your choice of “dignity” in this context. Honor/shame is just the technical way some sociologists will talk about the structures I mention. In those contents honor tends to be something one person ascribes to another, not one that someone takes upon themselves, so there is some distinction between pride or boastfulness and honor. You would be proud of your writing, but I would honor your writing.

        • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 10:11 am |

          Interesting! Nomenclature is always complicated and fraught, eh?

        • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 10:28 am |

          That’s fascinating, since in other contexts “honor” is a standard applied to oneself. Such as a school’s honor code.

        • cab647 | December 19, 2013 at 10:37 am |

          Well even an honor code is not really about “act to bring yourself honor” it is “act in such a way to not dishonor our collective reputation within the community.” Violations of honor codes are not about the shame on the individual, but the violation of the social contract the student is part of. Most honor code violations are a non-issue, until they become public bringing disgrace on the institution.

        • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm |

          Hmm. Interesting, but I’m not sure I agree.

          While it’s true that someone who violates an honor code does bring shame on the entire organization, they also bring shame on themselves. They violate their own personal honor, which was relied upon to police their actions.

          Or howsabout the Boy Scout Oath? “On my honor I will do my best/To do my duty to my country…” It’s appealing to a personal sense of honor, a responsibility to the self, not the organization.

        • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm |

          And one more quick follow-up, I disagree with this statement: Most honor code violations are a non-issue, until they become public bringing disgrace on the institution.

          My undersdtanding of honor codes is that the violation itself brings disgrace whether or not it are ever uncovered. That’s why violators are supposed to self-report.

        • cab647 | December 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

          I’m not saying I think that honor code violations are not in a moral sense a problem. I’m saying that often administrators will look the other way as long as public disrepute does not occur. I went to a small conservative Christian college where smoking was against the “honor code” (we didn’t call it that). Students were forgiven by administration when caught, as long as it was kept in house. Alas I think we are chasing a rabbit however.

        • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 2:48 pm |

          Really? That’s not my understanding of an honor code at all, just permissive and selective application of the rules.

  • Newt | December 19, 2013 at 9:53 am |

    1976 Rams wordmark is way better than current wordmark in my opinion

    • ChrisH | December 19, 2013 at 10:20 am |

      Ditto for Philadelphia (I’d settle for that to return in lieu of bringing back the kelly green).

      • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 10:29 am |

        I’ve never liked that Eagles wordmark. Those capital letters look awkward when placed together.

  • Matthew Toy | December 19, 2013 at 10:15 am |

    I don’t believe that Steelers wordmark in that 1972 illustration is real. They’ve had their current wordmark since at least 1970. It’s in the end zones when Three Rivers Stadium opened.

    • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 10:25 am |

      You could be right – the Jets’ current wordmark also dates back well before this period. Not sure where they got those two from.

    • Joseph Gerard | December 19, 2013 at 11:35 am |

      Was gonna say, the Steelers stencil wordmark dates to 1963 (yeah, it actually predates the Batman uniforms), while the wordmark on the poster I’ve never seen before.

      And as the article states, it was sometime between 1970 and 1975, after the AFL merger but before the Seahawks and Buccaneers. Well, it isn’t before 1972, because that was when the 49ers removed the apostrophe from their script logo.

      • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 12:42 pm |

        Wow – I didn’t know that about the 49ers. Paul mentioned ’72 above, but that was the first I had heard of a firm date for the poster.

        • Joseph Gerard | December 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

          I’m guessing Paul mentioned 1972 because he knew about the Niners script.

        • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

          Wait – are we sure about that date?

        • Joseph Gerard | December 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm |

          I was going by Chris Creamer’s website, which states 1972.

          For some reason I can’t find an image to save my life, but for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, the 49ers wordmark until the early 1970′s read “49′ers”.

        • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 1:12 pm |

          Unfortunately, the Creamer dates are often guesses. I wouldn’t trust any of those before the early 1990s – I know many of the Packer ones are just wrong.

        • Joseph Gerard | December 19, 2013 at 1:14 pm |

          Yeah it says the Steelers adopted the stencil-style wordmark in 1968, when they really started using it in 1963.

          In any case, it was sometime in the early 1970′s that the “49′ers” became “49ers”, we just need to pinpoint an exact date.

        • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm |

          I’m looking up old media guides, and I haven’t yet found an example of them using “49′ers”.

          I do think I’ve pinpointed 1957 as the year they went from spelling out the year “Forty Niners” to “49ers”. See 1953, 54, 55 and 56, contrast with 57, a rf=http://i.ebayimg.com/t/1958-San-Francisco-49ers-Media-Guide-Repro-NFL-Football-Reproduction-/00/s/MTQ4NFgxMDI3/z/dj0AAOxy8x9SMRAq/$T2eC16FHJGgFFme5(Y-BBSMR!q4Pb!~~60_57.JPG”>58, 59 and 60.

        • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm |

          Oh, crumb. Here’s 1958.

  • willard | December 19, 2013 at 10:17 am |

    great write-up on DIGNITY, Paul. Spot on!

    Regarding the “look at me I am great” ass-hat-athelete, Venturi’s dad said it best:

    Growing up in San Francisco, Venturi was an amateur sensation with a swing to die for and an ego to match his talent. When he bragged of winning a junior tournament, his father shot back, “When you’re as good as you are, you can tell everybody. When you’re really good, son, they’ll tell you.

  • JBiscuit | December 19, 2013 at 10:30 am |

    I agree. It’s a slippery slope from marriage equality to this on a full-time basis: http://cdn0.sbnation...

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 11:03 am |

      I know you’re joking. But it’s interesting that you invoke the example of MLB’s futuristic uniforms. The initial objections to them (including my own objections) were, essentially, that they had zero dignity.

      Fifteen years later, they still look awful, but they’re an interesting chapter in uni history. As I’ve stated a few times in recent years, I wouldn’t want to live in a world where something like that couldn’t happen.

    • terriblehuman | December 19, 2013 at 11:32 am |

      Remember when backward caps were downfall of humanity?

      • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 11:36 am |

        That’s what Buck Showalter was saying to Junior Griffey: “Please, have some dignity out there.”

        • terriblehuman | December 19, 2013 at 12:07 pm |

          And of course, Griffey’s explanation was that the backward cap was a nod to his introduction to the game, hanging around the clubhouse in Cincinnati wearing his father’s cap.

          Given that sports fandom is essentially an interactive celebration of nostalgia, I think the backward hat was about the most pure, dignified gesture he could make.

          Plus, back in the 90s, the distaste for backward caps was less about “dignity” and more concern-trolling/dog-whistling about “dressing like a gang banger”.

  • NickV | December 19, 2013 at 10:50 am |

    The very worst part of the Saints’ “}update” is the trade of rich, dark Old Gold for the current weak Cat Piss version of “Vegas Gold”. Here’s a deal – use whatever word mark that you like, but give us the good stuff – Old Gold!

    • DonS | December 19, 2013 at 11:11 am |

      Agreed! I loved those old Saint unis!

  • Mainspark | December 19, 2013 at 10:57 am |

    Didn’t Simon and Garfunkel address this very issue in 1968:

    “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

  • Pete | December 19, 2013 at 11:17 am |

    The SPHL Peoria Rivermen are wearing “Central Illinois Strong” unis for tomorrow night’s game against Bloomington in support of the recovery process from last month’s tornadoes. Look pretty nice.

    http://rivermen.net/...

  • Dan | December 19, 2013 at 11:34 am |

    More baseball news:

    On the 6/10/72 NBC GOW (Giants v. Cubs @ Candlestick), announcers Jim Simpson and Tony Kubek discuss the Cubs new road uniforms- specifically how the number is centered underneath the word Chicago in very un-baseball like fashion. One of them asserts it looks more like a basketball uniform; I’m not sure I’ve ever heard announcers discuss a team’s uniform at such length on a national telecast.
    Anyway, they relate a story that when the uniforms arrived from the manufacturer the team response was ‘Uh-Oh.’ The front office got wind of things and asked to see the jerseys. Upon inspecting them they basically said, ‘Well, we can live with it.’
    They must not have liked it all that much though- by ’73 the number was no longer centered but offset below the ‘G-O.’
    I’ve seen discussion of the ’72 Cub road jersey on this wonderful site- just thought I’d let people know it was apparently in no way intentional!

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 11:37 am |

      Do you have video of the game you’re referring to?

      • Dan | December 19, 2013 at 11:55 am |

        Saw it on You Tube.

        • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm |

          Link? Inning?

        • Lee | December 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm |

          Lol, I don’t know why Dan is being so evasive, but here is the link to the game on YouTube: http://www.youtube.c...

          I haven’t watched it myself, so sorry, no help in terms of the specific conversation.

          Lee

        • Dan | December 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

          Top of the third. Randy Hundley at the dish, grinding his AB against Steve Stone.
          Uniform chatter starts at about 25:55.

  • Padday | December 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

    I might be more inclined to think about these things as a matter of taste. And not “good” taste vs. “bad” taste but rather any taste versus no taste. The idea that even bad taste trumps no taste is something I’ve been considering a lot lately. I think a lot of what you described above Paul could be characterized as “no taste”, i.e. things done not as an expression of initiative, originality or personal expression, but merely done as imitation, faddishness or one-upmanship.

    I think this approach gets around the old-fogey conundrum of the final paragraph. Standards of dignity change, but whether somebody is expressing taste (good, bad or otherwise) or merely being a slave to fads and trends will always remain a constant.

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 12:11 pm |

      I think a lot of what you described above Paul could be characterized as “no taste”…

      But that assessment on your part is itself a subjective assessment based on *your* tastes!

      I think you’re right that taste plays into a lot of this, but I think that’s largely an issue of semantics — another word for the same basic idea.

      • Padday | December 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm |

        It’s a semantic mess, I know, but I guess the point I’m trying to make is that standards of dignity are anything but standard. Hence, by placing yourself in such a context you do yourself and the nature of your criticism a distinct disservice. If this website was just about certain trends being pleasing or unsatisfactory in a subjective sense that would be fine, but as you yourself have stated in your Matrix inspired piece from a few weeks back, the purpose of your criticism has increasingly been about highlighting practices within sporting culture which are objectively wrong and fundamentally objectionable for how they are exploitative, money-grubbing, artless or downright racist.

        • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm |

          I hear ya. Well put.

  • Lee | December 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm |

    Great lede + great comments.

    Well done Paul & commentors.

    Lee

  • hodges14 | December 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

    Celebrations I can agree with:

    Dancing (as long as it isn’t risqué or a stupid novelty)
    T-shirts, (personal messages are fine, but profanity, politics and corporate whoring is stupid)
    Making a religious gesture (sign of the cross, kneeling and praying to Mecca, heck, you could be a Wiccan and I wouldn’t care)
    mobbing a teammate (Screw you Bob Costas)

    Basically so long as it isn’t explicit, or nsfw, I’m okay with it. Dignity be damned, it died a long time ago when people stopped feeling shame, and it isn’t coming back.

    • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 12:48 pm |

      Personally, I think religious gestures show a lack of class, claiming divine providence for an athletic accomplishment and in the process diminishing the opponent.

      I make an exception for the rare athlete who will also publicly blame his god for losses, strikeouts or dropped passes.

    • James A | December 19, 2013 at 6:21 pm |

      Hodges14 pretty much sums up my own opinion on celebrations. Then again, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson is from my hometown, so that might influence things. At least for an actual accomplishment. Signalling a first down seems excessive for something so mundane. I think a religious gesture doesn’t necessarily “diminish” an opponent. Something as simple as a sign of the cross might help keep a player’s individual accomplishment in perspective (Relative to his/her faith system). Along those lines, while it isn’t a “celebration” in the same sense as what we have been talking, I like the prayer circle that you see after an NFL game.

      • hodges14 | December 19, 2013 at 7:42 pm |

        So you agree that dignity died a long time ago?

        Also, I agree with you, the prayer circle shows that in a world that seems to be overrun with secularism, there is a certain niche group that feels that having faith keeps us rooted. And to those who complain about it, it’s not like we’re forcing you to watch it. You don’t like it, you can look elsewhere, unless your neck is broken.

  • Eric Romain | December 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

    I’ve often thought about this dignity and shifting norms argument when it comes to hockey uniform numbers.
    For the longest time hockey teams only issued #1 through 20, sometimes allowing 20 through 30 as needed, and letting backup goalies take numbers in the 30s. As a youth, I recall being a defenseman in bantam, and my coach refused to let me wear 18, traditionally a forward’s number. As for any number outside 1-30, GASP, you can’t wear that, it’s a football number. There was even used to be perception in the NHL that wearing a weird number like #73 was sort of shameful, you used to only see them used on the backs of last minute farm team call ups. When you become a permanent fixture in the lineup you earn the right of passage to wear a normal 1-30 number.
    What happened?
    Nowadays you see NHL players (and a lot of youth players) pick whatever numbers meets their fancy, it’s a free-for-all.
    I can see 3 factors that led to this: 1. While you can find many examples of NHL players wearing untraditional numbers through the years, it was superstars like Gretzky/Lemieux/Jagr/Lindros/etc. that made it cool, but even back then wearing #99 or #66 opened you up for ridicule because you openly compared yourself to those superstars.
    2. The NHL’s European invasion: Many European hockey areas don’t seem to follow the traditional North American uniform numbering conventions. When Europeans flooded NHL lineups in the 90s, they came expecting to wear the numbers they were accustomed to. Over time, you began seeing European third liners wearing numbers like #51, and North American kids watching no longer associated high numbers with the Gretzky/Lemieuxs of the hockey world.
    3. Less adherence to Tradition: Look at the rosters of NCAA Div-1 schools. Most(?) programs are steeped in tradition and still today only issue low numbers. If you are a kid privileged enough to attend the school, you can either accept the number you’re given, or don’t play. Youth teams in my area used to be the same way, they would only print the traditional numbers and you’d take what you get. Now many programs and coaches aren’t even aware of the traditional system (or don’t care) and they ask the kids what number and they order it.

    To someone who is practically minded and with no background in hockey, the thought of me taking exception someone skating around in #53 is absurd. There isn’t much gained practicality in issuing #1-20 compared to #1-99, it’s a norm that was completely created in the past and has pretty much been followed “for traditions sake”, but the norm has slipped hard over the past 30 years.

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 12:44 pm |

      Basically, hockey numbers are one of many, many areas in which people (including but not limited to athletes) now feel more comfortable expressing themselves. A number used to be just, you know, a number; now it can be a statement or expression.

      Like many of the things we’re discussing today, I think this is a two-sided coin. Many of the old, traditional restrictions on expression were silly and rooted in various forms of prejudice (I’m not referring to hockey numbers here), but loosening up those restrictions has meant that some people express themselves in ways that many other people find over-the-top or undignified.

      Like everything else in this discussion, ya gotta take the good with the bad.

    • Chance Michaels | December 19, 2013 at 12:44 pm |

      That’s an excellent point; how one tradition of the game became overrun by athetes looking to distinguish themselves.

      • Eric Romain | December 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm |

        And it’s certainly not just athletes. Society in general now has this urge to distinguish themselves more. Parents today are open to much more variety in what they name their kids.
        Look at the traditional name Michael, traditional in that it has been a top 10 popular boys’ name since the 1940s. Even though it remains the #8 most popular boys name in 2012, it’s only used at one fifth the frequency it was 50 years ago. http://www.babynamew...
        It’s still popular in the sense that it’s one of the most common names, but it’s being used less frequently because people have created many more names to choose from.

        I can’t say I understand the driver for that trend.

  • Ty | December 19, 2013 at 12:35 pm |

    Paul,
    I loved your discussion today. Whether we call it “dignity” or “acting like you’ve been there before”, I think it all comes down to presenting yourself in a way that evokes a certain pride in your appearance.

    Pajama pants look like shit. Unbuttoned jerseys look sloppy. And excessive celebration in (insert any sport here) show a lack of respect for your opponent. It all comes down to the same issue.

    Remember what Earl Campbell did when he would score a touchdown? Answer: he did nothing . . he simply handed the ball to the ref, and went to the sidelines. He let his performance speak for him. He didn’t have to draw extra, “look-at-what-I-just-did” attention on himself. But, at some point, athletes lost sight of that. And the authority figures in sports (read, coaches) apparently don’t want to get in the middle of reigning in their players out of fear of either becoming unpopular with their players, or losing their jobs if the players don’t respond well to them. Watch a football game these days (college or pro) and it’s almost impossible to see someone NOT throw a party after a play. For me, it’s become damn near intolerable to even watch that crap anymore. It is a perfect example of the lack of “dignity” we see today. And the shitty excuses for uniforms we see so many teams trod themselves out in is just another extension of it.

    • David | December 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm |

      I don’t think they lost sight of it.. I believe they realized there was more money to be made in being popular.

      If I don’t draw attention on the field, on Twitter, on ESPN, my jersey sales will lag. When I retire, I will have to charge less for autograph signings, and I’ll need that money to pay for the dementia medications.

  • Dan Pfeifer | December 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm |

    My feelings on your dignity piece today tend to boil down to one thing:

    Some people equate dollars with dignity. I think I can summarize your case by saying that it’s very important to separate dollars from dignity.

    I think the undignified folks you speak of believe anything which generates dollars generates dignity. In fact, the most dignified thing to do is often to focus not on the money but instead on the thing itself. Have a great product — a classic uniform, or even just being a winner as opposed to a look-at-me-player — and dollars will come. Focus on generating dollars at the cost of your product, be it through gaudy and even ugly alternates, ads, or even through players feeling like they have to get noticed with dances or look-at-me gestures to get paid, and the dollars don’t get you dignity.

    Having or getting money doesn’t necessarily mean you’re smart, you’re talented, you’re special or you’re dignified. Any dope can win the lottery, or be born the son of Judge Smails. It just means you have money.

    Fortunately, it doesn’t take money to have dignity. It would be nice if more people chased the dignity part than the money part.

  • urbanleftbehind | December 19, 2013 at 1:17 pm |

    Prince better use a unitard or suspenders – Texas is one of those states where people tuck in their polos. He lso looks like he’s using the same sort of “athletic support underwear” that the short kid from Roll Bounce got grief for wearing.

  • terriblehuman | December 19, 2013 at 3:27 pm |

    This is apropos of very little, but is there anyone who had a more iconic look than Kurt Rambis?

    • Dan | December 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm |

      When he played for Phoenix I attended a game there against Golden State, in Feb. of 1990 I believe.
      Everybody in attendance got a pair of those frames (without any glass or plastic lenses in them of course). It was a hoot to look around during the game and see the majority of those there wearing them.
      He was a very popular player during his stint there.

    • Attila Szendrodi | December 20, 2013 at 2:27 am |

      I love Sean Price.

  • Ben Fortney | December 19, 2013 at 3:28 pm |

    Whoa, I don’t think anyone saw this one coming…

    MLB set to OK pitchers’ headgear

    Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy joined “The Buzz” podcast Wednesday and said there’s a chance that MLB pitchers could have the option of wearing special protective headgear as early as the 2014 season.

    He said the headgear would look like a hat but would be able to protect a pitcher from serious injury.

    “They’re coming,” McCarthy said of the headgear. “From everything I know they’ll be available this year. I don’t believe they’re going to be mandatory. Actually, I’m almost certain they won’t be mandatory.

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 3:45 pm |

      This has been in the works for a while. The exact same story was floated, with almost the exact same language, last winter, with the idea that it would be ready in time for 2013. But the prototypes apparently weren’t good enough for MLB’s liking, so they went back to the drawing board. Maybe they’re finally ready this time.

  • Keith S. | December 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm |

    Paul, I think a better work is decorum. Dignity assumes the quality has always been there, and in some cases, that’s not true (or at least it’s arguable). Decorum speaks more specifically to maintaining a level of quality.

    I know it’s just semantics, but I tell my youth baseball team every year to “show decorum”.

    Excellent piece today.

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 4:10 pm |

      Decorum, to my mind, is more about behavior. That covers some of what we’re discussing here today, but not all of it.

      Yes, more semantics.

  • Matt | December 19, 2013 at 6:01 pm |

    “Might Liverpool have new kits for next year?”

    Strange way to put it. They have new kits every year (along with almost every other EPL team).

  • brass bonanza | December 19, 2013 at 6:18 pm |

    Others have already noted it, but Liverpool’s supposed new jersey is a fake – it’s a Nike design made specifically for Boca Juniors, whose home shirts have always featured the classic center stripe.

    Also, most of the bigger soccer clubs get new kits each season – the exceptions being relatively few. (Arsenal, for example, has a 2012-14 home kit, which will change next season with their deal with Nike expiring.)

  • Benjamin | December 19, 2013 at 7:56 pm |

    The folks over at stance socks sure have have interesting ideas about hosiery.
    http://www.stance.co...

    Who wears any of those?

  • Sparky | December 19, 2013 at 8:56 pm |

    >>>”Of course I’m trying to shame him, because I think he’s behaving shamefully.”"

    Imagine if a preacher came on here and said this. There would be twice as many comments condemning the “hateful” and “judgmental” speech from that person.. Now I don’t think it would be accurate to use those descriptions for either Paul or the preacher, but I would also suggest to both of them to try a more positive route.

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm |

      I’m not sure why you think a preacher is the only person who can invoke shame. Shame is a powerful and important social force — it’s part of how a culture polices itself. You invoke it yourself, probably without realizing it, every day.

      Is shame sometimes abused or taken to extremes? Yup. But there’s nothing wrong with invoking shame per se. When people protest, they are often invoking shame; when people boycott, they are often invoking shame; and so on.

  • Martin Colloby | December 19, 2013 at 10:35 pm |

    I don’t know if anyone else has raised this point, but the new ticker layout has some issues displaying in non-browser environments. I love the new layout and the icons for each sport, but when I look at the page in the Feedly rss reader on an iPad, the icons appear in greatly differing sizes. Some are almost normal size, but others such as the soccer ball are almost full page. The content is still readable, but the layout suffers. Screenshots can be provided if needed

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 10:43 pm |

      First I’ve heard of this. Please email screen shots to me — thanks.

  • Scott | December 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm |

    As a lifelong Brewers fan, I feel a point needs to be made about the (now discontinued) jersey untucking.

    I’m the first person to decry excessive/premature celebrating. And the Prince Fielder-era Brewers had some of that. (The bowling pin/explosion celebration after a September game one year when the Brewers were way out of the race was absolutely terrible, not to mention embarrassing.)

    However, I feel untucking was one of the most misunderstood “celebrations” in baseball. Although Fielder is generally credited with taking the idea out onto the field, untucking was really a nod to Mike Cameron’s father. As the story goes, the blue-collar elder Cameron would come home from work and tell his son the best part of finishing a hard day’s work was to come home and untuck his shirt. I never had a problem with it on the field because: a) it honored the father of a respected baseball veteran; b) it was always done after the game was over; c) it was a subtle gesture (I always thought); and d) the entire team did it, so it wasn’t a “look at me” thing. In MLB, the entire winning team always comes out and does the high-five line on the field after the game (even if it’s on the other team’s turf). Why is this acceptable and a subtle gesture like untucking isn’t?

    As I said, other celebrations during the Fielder era were far more annoying; for example, the “beast mode” celebrations that became played out by the end of the 2011 playoff run. Yet jersey untucking has become a lightning rod for criticism, and I never really understood why.

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 10:47 pm |

      Yes, yes, we all know about Mike Cameron’s father. Been discussed many times here on Uni Watch.

      And here’s the thing: If you really want to honor the working man, you can show enough respect for your job to keep your uniform tucked in until you’re back in the clubhouse. Did Cameron’s father untuck right there in his workplace? No — he waited until he got home.

      Jeez.

  • Sparky | December 19, 2013 at 10:50 pm |

    I don’t think they’re the only ones. My point was, they’re the ones who get the most backlash. When other people use shame, it sometimes gets labled as righteous anger, depending on the audience. Most of the time, though, in this hypersensitive age, any use of shame from an authority figure (especially clerical authority) is met with responses like those mentioned above.

    • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 10:59 pm |

      So your point is that preachers are a victimized class? And this has to do with Uni Watch and/or today’s discussion because..?

      • Sparky | December 19, 2013 at 11:06 pm |

        Just looking for consistency. Not so much from you as from the general public. Carry on.

        • Paul Lukas | December 19, 2013 at 11:22 pm |

          Straw men don’t get much more straw-y than this.

  • David Firestone | December 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  • Mike | December 21, 2013 at 9:08 am |

    Unfortunately when I look at the ideas of “dignity” in sports uniforms and actions on the field I try but its really impossible for me to separate the racial component of it. Its really since the 1960s when you saw the separation of the still mostly white audiences to the current mostly black athletes of the NBA, NFL and heavily latino MLB. The cultural differences are stark, and I don’t feel the athletes themselves feel they lack dignity. They don’t act like those who came before them, but the cultural of sports in the beginning of the century wasn’t built by the black athletes of today, it purposely excluded them. So I can see there not being affinity to the “keep your head down” “act like you’ve been there before” attitudes of old.
    Its clear that its not just black athletes who get criticized for “lacking dignity” the Mark Gastineau, but the real inventor of the modern touchdown dance came before him and was Billy White Shoes Johnson and the main purveyors of celebrations are black. I really think this article pairs with the 12/7/12 article about the mostly white readership of this site and I think are some pretty clear tension points with the way the athletes wear their uniforms