Interesting development yesterday afternoon, as the Baylor basketball team announced via Twitter that the NCAA had put the kibosh on the school’s “Sic ’Em Bears” jerseys, which had been released by Adidas just last week. Once the news broke, I quickly wrote this news item for ESPN. (As noted in that piece, Baylor will wear its regular uniforms in the postseason.)
Whether you view this as a good thing or a bad thing (and I can see arguments on both sides, frankly), I see several noteworthy aspects to consider:
• Baylor’s Big 12 tourney game last night was in Kansas City, and the team was already in KC when the announcement about the jerseys came down. So if Baylor knew in advance to bring along their regular season unis for that game, that means they knew about the NCAA’s ruling well prior to when it was announced. I asked a team spokesman if he could clarify the timeline and got the following response (which came too late for my ESPN newser but is fine for our purposes here today):
We were alerted that there might be an issue on the same day the uniforms were released. We have been working with Adidas and the NCAA to find a solution to this issue, and since a positive resolution wasn’t reached before we left Waco, we brought the regular season uniforms with us to Kansas City.
That’s pretty interesting, as is the fact that they were able to keep the problem under wraps for a week. And that leads us to our next point…
• In the course of reporting that ESPN piece yesterday afternoon, I asked Adidas if there had been any concern beforehand about the NCAA nixing the “Sic ’Em” design, or if the NCAA’s action had come as a surprise. An Adidas spokesperson told me, “We followed our standard design and development process when creating the Made in March uniform design.” That’s not a very satisfying answer, but I know from past experience that attempts to get a more specific response will go nowhere. In any case, it seems like Adidas should have checked with the NCAA on this, right? And that in turn leads us to…
• If you happen to be conspiracy-minded (which I generally am not, but it’s fun to role-play), you might be thinking this was Adidas’s plan all along. Maybe they purposefully didn’t check with the NCAA in advance, figuring they were in a no-lose scenario: If the jersey is allowed to be worn, it generates lots of attention; if it gets banned, it generates another kind of attention. It’s that whole “No such thing as bad publicity” approach.
If you want to take the conspiracy theorizing even further, consider this: When Adidas’s full slate of
March Merch Madness uniforms was released last week, I thought it was odd that only one school — Baylor — was wearing a slogan. That’s usually the kind of gimmick that the outfitters get lots of schools to do at once, creating a “Team Adidas” effect (or Team Nike, or whatever). So why didn’t Adidas do that here? Were they looking for a lone guinea pig to try out the slogan-centric concept, because they knew there was a decent chance it could be rejected by the NCAA? After all, it would have been too risky to have three or four teams all being told to shelve their postseason unis. So did they pick one team to test-drive the slogan idea, just to see if they could get away with it?
We’ll likely never know the answers to those questions, but it’s good food for thought.
Finally, here’s something worth considering: Many of us, myself included, have long complained about the schools and the NCAA being more or less in the sportswear outfitters’ pockets, or about the outfitters calling too many of the uni-related shots, or about merchandising being the tail that wags the entire NCAA dog. But here’s a case in which the NCAA has said no to Adidas. So let’s give credit where it’s due: Even if you think the NCAA’s move here is misguided, you can’t say they’re just kowtowing to Adidas or chasing the easy merch lucre.
An excellent way to spend 15 minutes: ESPN’s “30 for 30″ series has released a new short film about Marquette’s late-1970s uniforms, called Untucked. It’s good — like, really good. Uni Watch’s highest rating. The film should be embedded above, but the code seems to be a bit wonky, so if you’re not seeing it there, access it here. (And if you’re into coincidences, at least two of the jersey designs shown in the movie were banned by the NCAA — perfect timing in light of yesterday’s Baylor news.)
I’ll be writing something about this next week for ESPN, and I want to document as many untucked jersey designs, across all the major sports, as possible. Obviously, all hockey jerseys are untucked, and then there are the leisure-suit White Sox, and I’ll also mention the recent MLB trend of players untucking their jerseys at the end of a game (yes, I know it started with the Brewers as a tribute to Mike Cameron’s father). Anything else I’m overlooking? And how does untucking play into soccer history? Feel free to fill me in.
If you don’t have time to watch the movie right now, you can whet your appetite with these screen shots I took while watching it yesterday afternoon:
If you can’t see this slideshow, click here
’Skins Watch: The ’Skins play their home games in Maryland, which has now prompted two members of the Maryland state legislature to propose a resolution calling on the team to change its name (from David Goodfriend). … Twenty-nine schools in Maine have changed their Indian-related team names in recent years, and Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis is praising the efforts to eliminate the last three that remain, thereby proving yet again that only white people care about this issue (from Tris Wykes).
Baseball News: The Dodgers — and presumably the D-backs too — will wear this cap patch for the season-opening series in Australia (from Chris Cruz). … The Kalamazoo Growlers — that’s a college summer team — has a new jersey made out of selfies. When commenter terriblehuman posted that in yesterday’s comments, The Jeff responded, “Wow… those are fucking awesome. They’re just so blatantly bad that they’re good.” I kind of agree! … TV cameras inadvertently caught a funny note on the bottom of Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey’s clipboard the other day (from Charles Noerenberg).
NFL News: Bose will have its logo on NFL coaches’ headsets in 2014. Contrary to what it says in that article, the headsets had been sponsor-free for the past two seasons, not just in 2013 (from Thomas Courtman). … The folks at Skittles made a jersey for Marshawn Lynch (thanks, Phil). … Hmmmm, ya think these free agents would have signed with the Bucs if they’d known their uni numbers would look this stupid? (From Wayne Koehler.)
College Football News: Maryland is moving to the Big 10 in 2014, and yesterday the Terps released a photo showing how the B1G logo looks on their jersey. Of course, they’ll probably have scrapped that jersey and introduced 14 new ones by the time the season starts.
Hockey News: The Kings are bringing back the gold throwbacks next season (thanks, Phil). … Remember the children’s book The Hockey Sweater? That book will be the subject of an upcoming performance by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (from Steve Mandich).
Soccer News: What you can do with a empty cigarette box? You can turn it into a soccer jersey (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Also from Yusuke: This year’s World Cup marks the first time that Nike will outfit more teams than Adidas.
NBA News: Andre Miller of the Wizards ties his shoes behind his ankles and wears his socks inside-out (from Yusuke Toyoda). … The Heat and Nets did the nickNOB thing again last night, and I’m fairly certain exactly zero people cared (thanks for reminding me, Phil).
College Hoops News: Unexpected side-effect of March Madness: The Dayton Flyers’ original mid-court logo has been exposed. Nice! (Thanks, Phil.) … Inconsistent “3″ numerals last night for Eastern Michigan (screen shot by Matthew Daley). … The first round of results from Rex Henry’s uni-themed ACC Tracker are up.
Grab Bag: I had this in yesterday’s Ticker, but the link was messed up for the first two hours of the day, so in case you missed it: Here’s a well-written but fairly boilerplate article that brings up all the familiar factors surrounding the possible use of uniform advertising by the Big Four leagues. … Here are all of this season’s F1 helmets, along with a good story about the guy who paints the Mercedes F1 cars (from Matthew Walthert). … Why paint your face when you can just slap a mask-like decal on it? (From Brice Wallace.) … Knitters across Eurpoe are celebrating the upcoming Tour de France by knitting little cycling jerseys. … Here are the best and worst tennis outfits from the BNP Paribas Open (thanks, Brinke). … Oooh, look at this great shot of a bowling alley at an abandoned hospital in upstate New York. BeeYOOteeful (big thanks to my pal/hero Jamie Jensen).