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Basketball Uniforms: You Know My Name...

sleeping baseball fan
...Look up my number!

As I anticipate another snoozer of a MLB All Star game it struck me that I--perhaps unlike others-- let me know, have no idea what my favorite baseball players numbers are. Do you know yours?

The flip side of that is how almost emblematic--a part and parcel, if you will-- I associated basketball players with their numbers. Being from Philly and of a certain age, if you will, there is no other #6 than Julius Erving. (Dr. J) And never will be.Larry Bird and Julius Erving

I'm sure others out there feel the same way about Michael Jordan (#23), Magic Johnson(#32), Larry Bird(#33) and Kareem Abdul Jabbar (#33). Ooooops!

Numbering basketball uniforms. It's a slippery slope, wrapped in a riddle, with a whole boat load of merchandising money attached to it all. Not to mention a much trickier thing to deal with than it really should be. Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Irvin

And WTF up with #00?!?!?

First off, my all time "#00" (double loser, is one Benoit Benjamin, who somehow, someway miraculously hung in and around the NBA for 14 freaking years. That's 98 in dog years. A I'll be damned if I can think about a bigger dog ass player than Benoit. (FYI: Here's a cool link to a site to search for players by number)

Any who.

In AAU ball, it seems like every 5-6 years they rethink the regulations concerning numbering. (Here's a link to the 2009 Rule book (I haven't personally been able to allot the time required to get thru it yet (Folks at my company are religious readers!). But for cripes sake James Naismith invented basketball in 1891. You'd think we'd have the freaking numbering figured out by now. (And don't get me started on the differences that rules that run the hoop leagues in Europe! (Those wacky Croats, Serbs, Spaniards, et al.)

Michael JordanAny who.

as some of you know, I worked for the LA Lakers way back in the day. And Shaq was #34and Kobe #8. 'Member? Life was simple.) But even that fond, numeric memory has been set asunder. (i.e., Both players now wear different numbers and, well, you prolly heard they haven't been BFFs for a little while)

Basketball numbering will never be easy. As Barbie used to say "Math is hard"!

Sports Uniform Guy


Football Uniforms and Lingerie

Lingerie Football League
I feel obliged to note the upsurge here in Philly concerning the Lingerie Football League (maybe "concerning" isn't the right word..whatever.) News has been rampant regarding the "Philadelphia Passion" joining this one year old league. An all-female football league.

True Fantasy Football!And, yes, you read right, that's LINGERIE Football League. Teams are made up (7-on-a-side) of young women who wear lingerie (actually short-shorts & bikini tops) while playing tackle football. A dose of harmless entertainment for the fellas? Or another sign of the impending apocalypse? You judge. Lest you be judged. Huh?

Say what you will, when the tryouts were held here in town the sports media was out in force. A 3 hr. tryout session has resulted in no fewer than five photos in the two daily newspapers (What are those things again?). I wonder why the enthusiasm? (duh!)

The commissioner of the league, a questionable lad named Mitch Mortaza, makes no bones about the fact that the sole raison d' etre for the whole league (now 10 teams) is...well, for lack of a better term, "true fantasy football"!

Basic cable as a little skeeved outThe league is an off-shoot of the Lingerie Bowl. This was/is (???) a Super Bowl halftime viewing option in "select markets", for those uninterested in Springsteen, Sting & the like. Apparently last year's event was not fit for TV, as it was apparently held at a nudist colony. And the "locals" felt the need to come as they are...and, well, even basic cable was a little skeeved out by that. (You can't make this kinda crap up!)

There's a real case to be made for why this is an awful development. With Title IX still in the news, with school budget cutbacks and the obvious moral issues that leap out at you. The issues have been debated, defended and debunked for a long, long time.

But it is unusual for these lascivious matters to creep their way into my team sports uniform space. So there you have it.Lingerie Football UniformPink and Black is where its at!

Sports Uniform Guy


Mis-Decorating Uniforms -- What's a "Mistake"?

You may have caught sight of the Washington D.C. baseball team's decorating snafu (Shown here) It seems downright wacky & nearly impossible to comprehend, right? How the hell could anyone misspell "Nationals" in our nation's capital?!?

Well, when you've been around the team sports uniform block a few times like I have, this is understandable, albeit still almost unforgivable. Then again, didn't we have a vice president of the country once who misspelled "potato" in front of a 1st grade class? (see: Quayle, "potato" with an "e")
Parking Fail!
But what separates a fixable "little snafu" from a bonafide, "Damn, gotta RE-DO all of them-type Mistake"? Ain't as easy

I remember growing up that the Harlem Globetrotters always played a team that came from Washington (The Generals???). That's what I first thought off when I saw the spelling error for the Nationals. (Probably not a good thing to have come to mind for any MLB team)
The Harlem Globetrotters current roster, give or take a century
That is, by definition a "Mistake" of the Magna Order (or something really serious). But what if it was a Little League team's t-shirts that were paid for by a sponsor?

My personal screw-up of this variety involved a prison. That would be Folsom Prison, of Johnny Cash song fame. And a small town in California, or section of a bigger town, still not sure, named Fulsom.

As you might expect, the folks in that town (or section) are VERY sensitive about being confused with the prison of a similar name. Suffice to say, when I delivered a 100 or so t-shirts for the parents to the TOWN with the name of the PRISON, they were none to happy. That was a RE-DO type thing.Hulking out

But what if PLAYER's NAME is misspelled. Most folks would think, of course, that a re-do, too. But the piss of it is that, to completely re-do the jersey (and shooting shirt in basketball) rather than just fix the NAME, is insanely expensive. With all the set-ups that are inherently involved, it's gonna cost a company about the same price as getting --almost -- a whole new team's worth of jerseys. YIKES!

That's a big "no can do re-do". Now the proud paying parent ain't gonna be too happy with that as a resolution. (I speak from experience, fortunately few, but "heated" debates nonetheless) But it is the only rational way. They're doing amazing things with solvents these day. With a heat-sealed player name (the most common method), you can get the misspelled name off with almost 100% clarity.
An eye witness composite sketch of the debate
And that's a good point, too. All misspellings are not the same. The tackle twill split front, full button Nationals' fiasco is SO complicated as decoration goes, that it's probably easier to just chuck it and start anew. Unless the whole team's have been misspelled.

Margins have always been tight. And mistakes are always gonna happen. It's just never absolutely black & white as to when a "Mistake" has been made. Nor is it ever gonna be easy to determine what is the one & only "best" thing to do when they do happen.

(Oh, and lastly, please forgive any spelling mistakes in this post.)

2 kule fer shcool

Your Thoughts?

Sports Uniform Guy


The Penn Relays – So Much History, So Much Modernity

The Penn Relays – So Much History, So Much Modernity

I grew in Philly, home of the Penn Relays. This annual event, for the uninitiated, is arguably America’s foremost track meet. It was 1st held in 1895!
The Speed Boys stick together
While I had a brief and unillustrious track career as a member of my jr. high school’s 440 relay team, self-dubbed “The Speed Boys” (Yes, I was the slowest boy), I always had an appreciation for the Penn Relays and respect for the athletes who competed there every year. It was hometown pride, too.

Thirty years later (I’m 48 now), my respect is unchanged and my appreciation has matured. Age (and bad knees) will do that.

I’ve lived a good part of my adult life in New York and Los Angeles. I returned to Philly 8 years ago to start Team Sports Planet. Honestly, prior to moving back, I’d kind of forgotten about The Penn Relays. It’s cool that my appreciation for them has been reinvigorated.

If any of you have the chance to visit Philly for this event, you’ll definetly get a kick out of them. It’s a festival for the senses. Great sights, sounds and the occasional pounding of the heart. All taking place on the University of Pennsylvania’s storied campus, just minutes from the historical heartland of Philly’s downtown area.

What’s new and exciting about the event – or more so the athlete’s—is the parade of ultra modern fabrications that are represented, in a wide and colorful swath each day of the event (Okay, the occasional thunderstorm, can dampen the display, but nonetheless…).

Ultra modern Under Armour track speed suitPerhaps second only to swimming in the need for ergonomic sensibility, track uniforms have been at the forefront of modern fabrication technologies and design architecture. In particular for sprinters, where wind resistance is the enemy.

Go to Franklin Field during the Penn Relays this year (they start on April 19th), and you be treated to a smorgasbord of styles, in bright colors, reflecting the efforts of hundreds of schools, thousands of coaches, athletic directors and, of course, the athletes themselves as they fight the foe that is, in a word, wind.

Blends of Spandex, Lycra, Nylon and more are calibrated to wring peak performance from the nation’s best track performers. While Olympic aspirations justly fill the minds of some participants, almost all can proudly strut their stuff in the fashion forward world of modern track uniforms.

And every year, for….oh, about the past 114 years or so…they’ve done it in my hometown…in Philly @ the Penn Relays.

Sports Uniform Guy


Basketball Uniforms -- The Sweet 16 Battle is On!

Looking for the Best Basketball Uniforms? Click Here for More!

Midget Basketball Players
Being in the Sweet 16 @ the "Big Dance" is an enormous accomplishment. An honor for the participants. And...well, the best damn place in the world to strut your basketball uniform sense of style. (This is admittedly probably a minority point of view on the subject of the NCAA tournament, but...hey...It's what I do here.)

With all the eyes of the basketball loving universe upon them, the top college teams are sure to be wearing their Sunday, goin' to church best, right? So let's take look at this year's Sweet 16 competitors. The early favorites to move on the the "Fashion Final Four". And the sad sack Cinderellas drably waiting for their coach to turn into a pumpkin.(That's "coach" as in horse-driven carriage.)

Please remember that betting is strictly prohibited in this pursuit (although rampant and fun as all get out.) Let the "catwalk on the courts begin"!

First off, Nike is all OVER this group and for those that say it's "all over" for Nike (see Under Armour), the timing might not be so coincidental. Unlike in years past when the mighty swooshsters seemed to design basketball unis with one eye tied behind their backsides, this years crop is pretty impressive and diverse in their impressiveness....but I digress.

Let's start with the "Sour Suckers of the Sweet 16":

#4. Kansas. So middle of the road, middle of the country, middle of muck & mire. They look like the pattern TV use to pop up with the national anthem, when TV "went blank" for the night. (I swear kids, this used t happen!) Sa-Noooze.

#3. North Carolina. "Old school" is kinda cool. Same old Crap...? Not so cool. The diamond, plaid-esque design on the side panels pixel ates with violence on my 52" HD flat screen. These unis were made with B&W "rabbit ear" TV sets in mind.

University of Pittsburgh Basketball Uniforms#2. Pittsburgh. Steeltown, USA. Yeah, I get it. But do your unis have to look like some coal miner's daughter's Home Ec class project?! Knit one, pearl two. Okay, nap time now, kids.

And this year's biggest NCAA Tournament FASHION DISASTER...

#1. Gonzaga. Looks like someone on the team's Grandmom volunteered to make uniforms for the event. And she had "lots of old braiding and piping and swatches of a whole different color of fabric over here that would look nice...." Tries WAY TOO HARD. And somehow manages to fail 3 times over in the process.
Basketball Uniform Fail!


Now, the "Fashion Final Four" the Best Dressed @ the Big Dance:

#4. Louisville. Had to get an Adidas team in here and they did it up right. Wide shoulder cut, good use of construct.

#3. Oklahoma. A surprise to even myself. These do the Sooner state proud.

#2. Villanova. Really cool use of alternating, two-tone trim around neck and more. That Jay Wright knows from style.

And my pick for the #1 best dressed team @ the Big Dance....

#1. SYRACUSE. Or The Orange. Or more simply: ORANGE. The simple statement made bold with color. Even the home uni. Proves that you don't gotta get all jiggy wit' it to take home the prize.

Syracuse Basketball Uniforms are Awesome and Orange!
Syracuse Basketball Uniforms look damn good!

Sports Uniform Guy


Great Socks Make All the Difference

Socks are an important part of a lacrosse / LAX uniform
I just got back from the US Lacrosse show in Baltimore, MD. It was really great. We talked to lots of coaches and had a blast to boot.

Lots of talk about lacrosse uniform innovations and, well, because we were "in the belly of the beast", lots of those conversations mentioned Under Armour (They are headquartered there.) Also not surprising because they have been at the forefront of a lot of these innovations, particularly those involving fabrication advancements.

One thing that almost never came up was the subject of socks. And/or their profound importance to the sports team uniform ensemble.

Let's be honest, unless there's a real problem with your socks, you almost never think about them. Maybe, like an offensive lineman in football, that anonymity is a good thing...but only to a degree.
Let's talk about socks, baby. Let's talk about you & me. Let's talk about it...

I brought up socks a couple of times at the LAX Show because I was standing in our booth for hours on end. It's a recipe for foot pain. And sure enough, by the end of the first day, my "dogs were barking!"

But not as much as they could have been. I did the first 6 hour stint pretty much straight on through. Sure, my back was killing me, too; but the feets were manageable. BECAUSE I was wearing a truly awesome pair of socks!(from Pearsox if you must know)

At one point I felt compelled to pull up my pant leg to show a coach that I was wearing these great socks. She agreed immediately & enthusiastically. Great socks rock! And added,
"You can never have too many pairs."

It's the kind of reaction you almost always get when you bring up the importance of great socks to almost any athlete. Basically, they'll gush about the last great pair of socks they wore and then proceed to "verbally limp" about the last time a pair of crappy socks ruined their day.

Whether it's because we feel somewhat silly broaching this subject or we only do so as an afterthought or whatever, the reality of the situation is pretty straightforward. Footwork is an absolute necessity for skillful participation in most team sports. really cool looking foot tattoo
Yes, I know there are exceptions so spare me the angry missives. Footwork is fundamental. But why is footWEAR(shoes, cleats, etc.)given SO much attention & consideration & yet talking about SOCKS is a rarity. The informed coach trods on this less traveled path. And does so more comfortably.

Let's talk about socks, baby. Let's talk about you & me. Let's talk about it...
Lets Talk About Socks!

My idea of happy feet

Sports Uniform Guy


Softball Uniforms - Style Over Substance...Or Not

As I'm sitting in the frozen tundra that is my office, I find it difficult to realize that spring's fastpitch softball season will be here before we know it. I may have to go through a massive thawing out period between now & then. But the latest styles in fastpitch unis...(with an homage to Paris Hilton)...They're HOT!

Fastpitch uniforms have undergone a dramatic stylistic surge in the past 5-6 years. Long gone are the days when female athletes were reduced to playing in what were essentially men's bar league-esque knock-offs or baseball unis with drawstring pants. Manufacturers have awakened from their "style slumber" to seriously address the unique needs & desires specific to fastpitch softball played by female athletes.

But have they sacrificed "substance" at the altar of style?
There's no denying the fact that female athlete's have --in general-- a greater interest in wearing stylish uniforms than their male counterparts. That's not to say that ALL female athlete's are so sartorially inclined, nor that there aren't many male, uniform divas. It's just an demographic assessment culled from my decade or so of seeing the unis for thousands of fastpitch teams.

I will admit that I have sat through more than one viewing of the movie "A League of Their Own". I can't say that it was because I was a huge fan of the WWII era uniforms featured therein. No, this was back when I still found Madonna mildly interesting and Rosie O'Donnell almost bearable. (That's so 1993!) My how timers have changed. (Did Geena Davis fall off the planet?) Any way...

The fastpitch unis of today (and certainly for this upcoming season) have performance fabric options, a broad swath of color options & honest to god attention to the needs & interests of the female athletes, both young and, er, older athletes who actually play the sport.

Example: Low-rise sliding shorts. These very popular items did not exist just 5 years ago. That's progress.

But is it style over substance? I think not.

Another case in point: Jerseys with a racer back cut. Granted, they look good on some players and, well, maybe not so good on others. But the intention of the design is to improve the athlete's performance. In others words, substance.

Kind of anti-intuitive but true is the fact that the biggest "stylistic" growth has been in stock uniforms. Many manufacturers now offer a wide selection of unis with trims, piping and braiding in their "off the shelf" styles. Again, 5 years ago, the words "stock softball uniform" were synonymous with "Plain Jane". That is simply not the case ---not at all-- these days. Again, that's progress.

Add to this the increased interest in & usage of sublimated unifoms. Here multi-colors abound. And team emblem designs are limited only by one's imagination.

That's a potent mix of style and substance.

Sports Uniform Guy