Uni Watch is a media project that deconstructs the finer points of sports uniforms in obsessive and excruciating detail. It’s not about fashion — it’s about documenting and maintaining the visual history of sports design, and about minutiae fetishism as its own reward. If that concept doesn’t make sense to you, no problem — Uni Watch definitely isn’t for everyone, and there have always been people who Don’t Get It™. But for those who understand the pleasures of detail obsession, programmatic classification systems, information overload, and sports history, you’ve come to the right place.
Uni Watch debuted in May of 1999, as a column in the sports pages of The Village Voice (they already had a column devoted to hockey fights, so adding a uniform column wasn’t much of a stretch). It was a very small column in those days, and it was designed primarily for print, not for the web, so there weren’t any photo links. When the Voice sports section was eliminated in 2003, the column briefly moved to Slate.com (that material is here). Then, in the summer of 2004, the column moved to ESPN.com, where it continues to run today (that material is here). This blog, designed to supplement the column, launched on May 17th, 2006.
People often ask me, “How’d you get the idea to write about uniforms?” The short answer is that I already had a lot of experience writing about the small details of brand design, package design, industrial design, and so on. I’d always been a big sports fan, so applying that detail-driven sensibility to uniforms seemed like a natural next step. Plus my girlfriend got tired of me pointing at the TV and saying, “Look, look at his socks!” (or whatever) every time we watched a ballgame. “Y’know, Paul,” she said, “maybe you need an outlet for this.”
Lots of people have been enormously helpful in facilitating (or, if you prefer, indulging) that outlet. The ones listed here deserve special mention:
• The idea for this blog came from Uni Watch reader John Ekdahl, who first approached me in early 2006. As I explained to him at the time, I don’t know anything about setting up a website. Fortunately, he does, so he ended up designing, configuring, and administering the site. XXXXXXL-sized thanks go to him for making this happen, and for his continued webmastering skills.
• The Uni Watch logo was designed by the fabulous Scott M.X. Turner, a man whose knowledge of uniform-related arcana dwarfs my own. He’s also one of the nicest people on the planet.
• Phil Hecken started out as a Uni Watch reader, then became this website’s weekend editor (a role he still has), and soon became my indispensable right-hand man, not to mention a loyal friend and trusted confidante. I’m incredibly lucky to have him on board.
• I’ve also been fortunate to have a bunch of very talented interns and assistants working for me over the years, including Vince Grzegorek, Bryan Redemske, Garrett McGrath, and Mike Chamernik.
• A lot of the credit for Uni Watch’s growth over the years goes to all the great editors I’ve been lucky enough to work with, starting with Miles Seligman, former sports editor of The Village Voice, who liked the idea of a uniform column from the moment I first proposed it to him. He’ll always be Uni Watch’s editor emeritus. Ward Harkavy at the Voice, Bryan Curtis at Slate.com, and a slew of talented people at ESPN (Michael Knisley, David Schoenfield, Kieran Darcy, Michael Philbrick, Thomas Neumann, Kevin Jackson, Chris Ramsay, Cynthia Faulkner, Dave Wilson, Matt Wilansky, and John Banks, among others) have all been super, too.
• By far the biggest share of credit goes to Uni Watch’s amazing readers, who serve as my eyes and ears out there. They contribute ideas and photos, respond to my calls for additional information, correct my mistakes, and teach me things on a near-daily basis. Seriously, people, a writer couldn’t possibly ask for a better readership. Here’s to you.