The Sports World and Uni-verse Salute Prince

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Who’s that in the 1972 Bryant Junior High hoops uni? None other than Prince Rogers Nelson, who played a bit of basketball while growing up in Minnesota before becoming a world-changing musical figure and then passing away yesterday at the age of 57.

The news of Prince’s death had barely begun circulating when the Fresno Grizzlies announced that they’d be memorializing him by wearing purple uniforms. And sure enough, that’s what they did: (Continue reading)

How Can We Tell What Will Become Classic?

I was being interviewed on a sports radio show recently, and the hosts and I talked a bit about the Diamondbacks’ new uniforms, which we all agreed are pretty awful.

Then one of the hosts said, “Okay, enough with these newfangled designs. Let’s talk about the Pittsburgh Pirates — they’re going old-school with those classic 1979 throwbacks this season, right?” (Continue reading)

How a Uni Watch Reader Was Almost in a Bill Lee Movie

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Michael Clary, who’s going to tell us about a near-brush with stardom involving former Bosox/Expos pitcher Bill Lee. — PL]

By Michael Clary

Back in November of 2013, a bunch of guys from my baseball league and I were tabbed to be extras in a movie about Bill Lee, called The Wrong Stuff, starring Timothy Hutton as the former Red Sox/Expos pitcher. Ballplayers in their 40s were needed to fill out the roster spots of the Longueuil Senators (the semi-pro French-Canadian team that Lee played with after being released by the Expos) and their opponents.

So on an unseasonably balmy, late-November day, we joined a slew of other guys who answered a cattle call, showed up at the Dan Duquette Sports Academy in Hinsdale, Mass., for an informal tryout and screen test. We had to fill out a long questionnaire about our acting experience, baseball experience, special abilities, languages spoken, height, weight, clothing sizes, body modifications, and so on. Head shots were taken, and then they filmed us taking batting practice, infield/outfield, and playing in an actual game. (Continue reading)

Some Thoughts About Advertising vs. Sponsorship

On Saturday, the day after NBA owners voted to go ahead with uni ads for the 2017-18 season, Uni Watch reader Mike Wissman sent the league an email criticizing their decision. Yesterday he received a form letter from a “Fan Relations” representative, as follows:

Thanks for contacting us regarding NBA jersey sponsorships.

The NBA Board of Governors approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, beginning with the 2017-18 season, as part of a three-year pilot program. The sponsorship patch will appear on the front left of the game jerseys and measure approximately 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches.

We believe that jersey sponsorships will more deeply engage our partners without negatively impacting the competition on the court, and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways. We appreciate that many fans have a deep admiration for the NBA’s traditions and a strong connection with our uniforms.

We’re always thinking about innovative ways the NBA can remain competitive in a global marketplace, and we are excited to see the results of this three-year trial.

Thanks again for writing us. We appreciate your sharing your views.

Okay, so it’s your basic soulless corporate form letter. The one interesting thing about it is the incessant repetition of the word “sponsorship(s),” which appears four times in the first thee paragraphs.

This is not a new trope for the NBA. Commissioner Adam Silver, for example, has repeatedly referred to Kia, which had an ad patch on this year’s NBA All-Star jerseys, as a “sponsor.” And of course the use of “sponsor” in the sports world is not limited to the NBA. People who follow soccer often refer to “jersey sponsors” or “kit sponsors”; companies that buy the naming rights to a sports venue are sometimes called “stadium sponsors” or “arena sponsors” or “naming sponsors”; companies are also referred to as “sponsoring” a certain part of a stadium; and so on. (Continue reading)