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Kings County, Meet Prince George’s County

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I don’t know about you, but when someone else says, “Maryland,” I immediately think, “Brooklyn!” And having lived in Brooklyn for over 25 years now, I can say with some authority that nothing says Brooklyn like Maryland.

Confused? Me too, after seeing the basketball uniform that the Terps will be wearing on Nov. 9, when they’re playing against Kentucky at the new arena down the road from my house. According to a quote from Under Armour designer Adam Clement, “We worked with the school to do something that showed the appreciation for sports in Brooklyn.”

“Sports in Brooklyn” apparently means “Dodgers,” because the resulting uniform has a baseball-ish script and faux-flannel fabric (presumably something similar to the Legend Gray fabric I wrote about in this 2010 column).

So: a basketball uniform meant to look like a wool flannel baseball uniform. Doesn’t make much sense, but I like it, at least conceptually. Not fond of the square collar format, though, and the Maryland flag pattern on the collar clashes badly with the rest of the design.

Now that the gauntlet has been thrown down, what will Kentucky wear for this game — repurposed Brooklyn Cyclones uniforms? Or maybe they’ll come out onto the court brandishing stickball bats? At the very least, I expect to see them chowing down on Junior’s cheesecake during timeouts. Let no bogus nostalgic cliché aspect of Brooklyn culture be left unsaluted!

(As an aside, this is a true story: Yesterday morning, a few hours before the Maryland uniforms were released, some friends and I were trying to organize an outing to this Maryland-style crab house in Brooklyn. So it all evens out.)

Meanwhile, there are also new uniforms on tap for Northwestern, Auburn, and Texas Tech. You can see them by scrolling down past the Maryland uniforms on this page.

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Cupspiracy update: The Gatorade hits keep on coming. Our first comment comes from a reader who asked that I not use his name:

I used to work as an intern for the Cubs, and about once a month we had to go to the clubhouse when a new water shipment came in and pull off all the labels off the Aquafina water bottles, because Gatorade was the official sponsor and had the dugout rights. There was a glass-front refrigerator right in the front of the clubhouse and it was full of bottles of water without the labels, and we always got asked questions about it when giving tours. There was something kind of cool though about the way the fridge looked with just clear water bottles in it, very pure. The ironic thing is Aquafina are Gatorade are both part of Pepsi, but we had to do it anyway.

Next we have an NHL public address announcer who prefers to stay anonymous:

Between periods of one of our playoff games, an NHL official came down into the penalty box area (I sit between the boxes at ice level) and straightened the water bottle holsters that are suction cupped to the glass. The holsters have big Gatorade logos on them. The NHL person said that NBC requested this. Not sure how true that is.

Next up is an anonymous MLB beat reporter:

Right before we started one of the pregame interviews for the Division Series, one of the pitchers came in to be interviewed. He sees the Gatorade bottle and says, “How much do you think I’d get fined if the first thing I did was take a swig, spit it, out and say, ‘This sucks’?” Pretty funny.

And we conclude today’s cupspiracy tales with a note from reader Peter Greenberg, who has a story that isn’t about Gatorade, but it’s definitely related:

I have a friend who worked PR for the local NBA team, and one of the broadcasters was a fan of Pepsi. But Coke either had the facility contract or the team contract, so he had to remove the labels from this Hall of Famer’s soda bottles before they made it courtside.

Many of you have probably had your fill of this topic by now and have already moved on to the Ticker, which is fine. But for those who want to discuss this subject, I’m imposing a new rule: Comments that include the term “It’s just business” will be deleted, and comments whose arguments essentially reduce to “It’s just business” may be deleted as well. Yes, we know it’s business — duh. But business practices are not self-justifying, and the mere existence of a transaction or contract does not inherently make that transaction honorable or above critique.

This doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with me, but it does mean you have to do better than “It’s just business.” That’s not an argument; it’s a non-argument, a way to avoid the issue, a way to shut down the discussion without engaging it. If you want to defend the practice of telling a grown man pour his water into a Gatorade cup (and all the other nonsense), you’ll have to defend it on the merits, not by saying, “It’s what they signed a contract to do, so they get to do it” or “They invested millions in this sponsorship, so of course they’re gonna get their money’s worth.” That kind of existential rationalization won’t fly here.

You might start by asking yourself why so many people — including the reporters who tweeted the bits about the cup shenanigans involving Raúl Ibañez and Davey Johnson — instinctively have a negative reaction to said shenanigans. If it was “just business,” this wouldn’t even be a story, because nobody would care and we’d all just move on. But many people intuitively understand that these practices don’t pass the smell test.

And here’s something else to ponder: When I wrote a short piece about all of this for Business Week two days ago, it quickly became one of the most-read and most-emailed stories on their site. Is that because their business-savvy readership viewed Gatorade’s shenanigans as “just business”? Or is it because their readers — readers who you’d expect to be more accepting of corporate bullshit than the average person — recognized that Gatorade had crossed a line?

And when one of Bloomberg TV’s producers saw the Business Week piece and asked me to come in and tape an interview segment about it (I’m told it’ll go live on their site tomorrow), is that because the producer viewed all of this as “just business”? Or is it because the producer — a guy whose job is to find newsworthy topics for a business-savvy audience — recognized that Gatorade had crossed a line?

“It’s just business” tell us why Gatorade is doing this, but we already know why they’re doing it. The point I’m raising — and therefore the point that’s open to discussion — is whether it’s ethical, honorable, and recpectable for them to be doing it. Let’s please stick to that. Thanks.

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PermaRec update: A century-old Western Union telegram form found in an old library book is the focus of the latest entry on the Permanent Record Blog.

ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my latest ESPN column is about a start-up company that will rent you a jersey.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: The very last sentence of the very first Uni Watch column, published in the Village Voice in 1999, was “Can the postgame interview cap be far behind?” Now a little birdie tells me that the Mets (and presumably all MLB teams) may have ” “locker room/interview cap” next season. Moral of the story: Be careful what you (rhetorically) ask for. … A British gas company has chosen an unfortunate location for its sponsorship of a UK diver. ”¦ The goalie for the Chicago Wolves has a pretty cool-looking new set of pads (from Chris O’Connor). … Now that’s how to modify an NOB (from Brady Phelps). … How do you know when a football glove is too sticky? When it can do this (from Matt Mitchell). … A third-grader in Omaha is dressing as a different historical figure each day. It’s a great story, plus there’s a uni-related punchline at the end (thanks, Kirsten). ”¦ While I was taping a Bloomberg TV segment yesterday, I stopped in to chat with my Business Week editor, Keenan Mayo. Turns out he’s a lifelong Braves fan, and he told me something I’d never heard before: He said the current version of the Braves’ chest insignia was designed by a student at the Virginia Military Institute, and that he cleverly included the initials “VMI” in the tomahawk handle. Interestingly, he said he first heard it from a Braves minor leaguer. I had never heard this before, but hey, I don’t hang out very often with Braves minor leaguers, so I Googled it and came up with a few mentions of it on message boards, including one that labeled it an “urban legend” and “malarkey.” I suspect those descriptions are accurate (sorry, Keenan), but I’m wondering if any Uni Watch readers have heard and/or told this story over the years. Anyone..? ”¦ UCLA will be wearing a solid-navy fauxback-ish jersey on Nov. 24 (from Jeff Legaspi). ”¦ Nicholas Lund has noticed that some U.S. military units have logos that draw heavily on sports logos. The VMGR-352 Marine Refueling Squad, for example, has a Raiders-esque logo design. And the logo for the 4th Squadron of the 6th Cavalry borrows heavily from the Mavericks. ”¦ Whoa, never seen Roger Staubach wearing this type of facemask before! Okay, so it’s just for an ad, and they probably used the same helmet for both photos, but still (nice find by Brendan Slattery). ”¦ Southern Miss is letting fans vote on the school’s new marching band uniforms (from Brent Becker). ”¦ Here’s something truly awesome: an NOB that’s script and subscript! That’s Dwight Jones of Cincinnati, circa early 1980s. It’s from this slideshow of Cincinnati’s top 50 basketball players (awesome find by Mark Fightmaster). ”¦ Want to see what’s under a girl’s clothes? Now you can, thanks to Nike. If you can read the text without cringing, you’re stronger (or more jaded) than I am. ”¦ Hey, look what the Wilmington Blue Rocks sell in their team store (from Nicholas Schiavo). ”¦ Here’s more info on Michigan wearing those Michigan State helmets during practice. ”¦ Tom Hirt was getting a tour of the Oracle Arena and spotted this NBA uni-guidelines poster. My favorite rule: “Left and right sneaker must match.” ”¦ Cash-strapped soccer teams in Greece are turning to some unusual sponsorship partners. Don’t they know they can rake in the cash if they just eat their Greek yogurt out of a Gatorade cup? (From David Jacobs.) ”¦ When Matt Carpenter hit that big home run for the Cardinals yesterday, he did it bare-handed. Also of note: Neither he nor teammate Chris Carpenter has FiOB. ”¦ Here’s a slideshow of the Chargers’ powder blue game jerseys. If you look at the close-ups of the tagging, you’ll see that they’re using at least four tailoring cuts: lineman, linebacker, skill, and QB-K. This contradicts the claim from last month that Nike was only offering three cuts. Makes more sense, too, since the implication from that earlier claim was that linemen were being forced to wear the linebacker cut (good spot by Radovan Marinkovic). ”¦ Someone has put together a good analysis indicating that Ichiro wears a special low-profile cap (from G. Girard).

Comments (208)

    I prefer the term “insignia” rather than “logo” for military unit graphics. They don’t really function like a commercial logo, and broadening the definition of “logo” to include this sort of design use renders all kinds of other words obsolete, including “flag.” That is, if a military unit patch is a logo, then the Stars and Stripes is not the American flag, it’s the USA’s primary logo.

    Worse, defining something as a “logo” increases the odds to close to 100% that it will eventually go BFBS. I, for one, don’t want to live in a world where the US flag has special “warrior” alt versions with black stripes, but calling a military unit insignia a “logo” all but guarantees that outcome.

    “Heraldry” is the word I was trying to recall (just drinking the morning coffee right now, so brain not fully engaged). Military unit insignias are a modern form of heraldry, just as are national flags, and the purposes and uses of heraldry have very little in common with those of commercial logos. To the extent that there’s a similarity in form, it’s akin to how sharks and dolphins have superficially similar forms – yet despite the external similarities, dolphins aren’t fish.

    Though a counterargument might point out that sports uniform design is rooted in a heraldic, rather than commercial design, tradition, and only in the last 60 years or so fully crossed over into logo-ism. And certainly, the US armed forces do have insignia that are deliberately designed and used as commercial logos.

    You went back and forth between “insignias” and “insignia” as the plural construction of the word, Scott. (Both are acceptable, although “insignia” is preferred.)

    I find both versions unsatisfying and hereby propose “insigniae.”

    that’s great insight! i’ve been out at the 171st Air Force base here in Pittsburgh painting the Boom Operator patch on the wall of their offices. all this time i’ve been referring to it as a “logo” just knowing i was slightly off with that description. i’ve also told people i was “painting their patch” as well, which kind of works for what i’m doing. will definitely use “insignia” in the future to describe such things though.

    not finished with the painting just yet (one more trip out there will do), but if anybody would like to see some of the process, here are a few links:

    also, one last thing pertaining to the U.S. military units that draw heavily on sports logos. here is the squadron patch for the 171st Air Refueling Wing (2nd row down):

    Lower down on your last link is the 190th Kansas Coyotes. That first patch is just awesome. Better than most sports team logos! And great work on that wall painting.

    I taught a class last night, to a Boy Scout troop, on US flag etiquette. It was amazing how much stuff that we accept as perfectly OK actually violates the US Flag Code.

    At least 80% of the commonly accepted uses of the flag are actually illegal.

    Word power! My favorite subject. Can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve gone to the thesaurus looking for the perfect synonym for “logo”. I can’t warm to the word, perhaps because I don’t remember hearing it before 1976-ish. Insignia, crest, shield, badge, monogram, symbol, doohickey, mark; I try my hardest to fit them all into my lexicon.

    “My vocabulary used to be small… now it’s big!” -Harvard Lampoon

    If I ever own a pro sports team – which is possible, assuming a sequence of events similar to those that made John Goodman monarch of Britain in “King Ralph” – I’ll definitely insist that the team has primary, secondary, and tertiary doohickeys, not logos. And the cap doohickey will definitely feature interlocking letters.

    When I was a kid, I always used the word “emblem” in place of “logo”. The first time I ever heard of the word “logo” was in 1971 when PBS first used that thing where the “p” was shaped like a leftward facing image of a face.

    I also recall when the NHL called their logo on the front of the jersey a “crest.” And of course, the Brits call those things on the fronts of the game shirts “badges.”

    I’m surprised that you didn’t know about the VMI link to the Braves tomahawk since you’re drilled into so much else uni-related But yeah, it’s true that the VMI initials are in the Braves Tomahawk. This goes way-back to the Boston Braves days. I first learned this from a Braves employee back in the 80’s when they were bringing back the tomahawk to the jersey front.

    I see it more as saying “vivi” and then a upside-down Reebok logo!
    (actually I see it simply as leather binding)

    I call hooey on the VMI thing!

    Actually, looking at it, I believe the VMI thing.

    The logo uses |/|\/|(, which doesn’t seem to be a very consistent pattern. It should be something like |X|X|( or |/|\|/|(.

    So, you’ve got |/ = V, |\/| = M, ( = I. It’s a little abstract, but it’s definitely there.

    Actually, it’s |/|\/|).

    I would love the story to be true, but I doubt it. If the strap pattern on the handle seems irregular, it’s more than matched by the pattern on the head.

    i see |/|\/| and to me, i interpreted it as |/= V, |\/| = M and | (last straight end of the M) as I, not the )

    that’s just me.

    I’m a graduate of VMI and also played baseball there for a couple of years. I can tell you that it’s a story that is constantly repeated at the Institute but I’ve never found any confirmation as to whether the rumor is fact or not. I actually emailed Uni-Watch about this when the topic was Uni Myths and never got a response. As a graduate of VMI and a huge Braves fan, I would love to know the truth.

    Football gloves these days are quite tacky (by both definitions). I’ve seen many plays where a guys head got pulled, twisted, etc. Probabaly more injuries on the hroizon from exactly that.

    I’m sure the JerseySquare guys did their market research, but the idea still puzzles me. I understand how someone might need to rent a tuxedo or a stylish dress for a particular event. But a uniform jersey? It’s not like you need one to attend a game. If you don’t want to buy one for full price, there are usually departed players’ models available on clearance or on ebay. I just can’t imagine the situation where renting one would seem like a good idea.

    The only reason I can think of for renting a jersey would be for something like a homemade hip-hop video or an amateur model photo-shoot.

    I applaud their enthusiasm but I think it’s an EXTREMELY niche thing to go for. I personally own four jerseys, two of them were gifts and two I bought at a thrift store. Any other sports-related wear I have is a sweatshirt or T-shirt, again a thrift store purchase. I just don’t see the concept of wanting a “new” jersey (basketball at that!) every month. Which reminds me: cool, windy, maybe rainy weather here today. Off to the thrift stores!

    Agreed. If I am going to a sporting event and want to wear the team’s jersey but don’t have one, I just won’t wear one.

    Say I decided to go to the Cowboys game once I get home for winter break as I do every year. I don’t own any Cowboys jerseys, and only own 1 Cowboys t-shirt. Even if I really wanted to wear a jersey to the game, $20 doesn’t seem too bad (again, assuming I really wanted to wear one). But what do I gain from it? Being part of the 75% of fans who is also wearing a jersey, I’m essentially just paying $20 to fade into the crowd, which I’ll do anyways with a regular t-shirt.

    I can’t see this succeeding.

    I think it’s fair to say that the kind of person who cares enough about uniforms to read Uni Watch is not their target market.

    I’m not saying they’ll succeed; I’m just saying that people who read this site are probably not a fair focus group.

    A friend of mine recently moved from Seattle to Baltimore. He’s a big sports fan but not rabid, and doesn’t own a ton of Seahawks/Mariners/Sonics gear.

    However, in Baltimore, he wears a Ray Lewis jersey on Sundays because (in his words) he was tired of people asking him where is Ravens pride was (when at a bar, or grocery shopping on a sunday, etc) and invariably getting a hard time when explaining he wasn’t FROM baltimore.

    So for him, it’s a bit of armor. There are some places where wearing team colors is important socially (such as Malcolm Gladwell’s “class ring”) and Seattle is near the bottom of that list (as is New York in general)

    Okay. The JerseySquare idea has intrigued me since I read about it on here yesterday. A 1 year subscription costs $200 and I believe they said in their interview with Paul that customers can trade in for a new jersey twice a month.

    So, theoretically, you could get 2 different jerseys a month at $200 per year would work out to about $8 per jersey, and you can wear it for two weeks…it’s a decent deal. Good for people who want to wear a different jersey than what they already have but not shell out a ton of money for it. As it has been said, they are catering to a very niche market but I think they’ll get some business. Especially with Halloween coming up (costumes).

    Plus there is the option for them to expand to ball caps in the future.

    re: Ichiro’s cap – they do make low crown 5059 New Era caps, but even those aren’t that low. His looks even more low profile than the ones I have. I like it.

    funny this is in the ticker today. New Era just contacted me about 2 weeks ago. they told me it has been a year since i’ve ordered custom hats, and asked if i wanted to put in another order. i asked her if they offered a low profile option, and she said “5950 can come in Low Crown or Open Back”

    thought those options were pretty interesting… and now the gears are turning… lol is a store based in Anaheim that is the only one I’ve found that sells them. Enjoy!

    I once was watching a game on TV and the camera caught Ichiro taking off his cap. It seems that he 1) Probably uses the low-profile model of the 59 Fifty, and 2) I think he (or someone) removes the reinforced mesh/material that New Era puts on the front.

    The Low Profile caps don’t look the same as Ichiro’s. His looks tailored to that round shape.

    I don’t think it’s a New Era he’s wearing. I suspect he has his custom made. Would be interesting to see if there are Japanese cap manufacturers that have caps with a similar shape.

    I wonder how many of the comenters on that blog actually wear the caps the way they’re supposed to be worn i.e. bending the bill, breaking it in, etc.

    I would guess that most of them like the Brooklyn style because it looks better with the flat brim and the stickers all over, relatively speaking. But I personally prefer the low-profiles and have gotten rid of all the Brooklyn style caps I used to own because with the curved bill the low-profiles just look better IMO.

    I thought maybe it was an American Needle Cooperstown Collection style, but doesn’t really look like that cut/style on closer inspection either.

    I hate the 5950 cut/style, looks horrible on my head, and the CC style, looks just right, good thing I prefer vintage hats.

    I can confirm that New Era does indeed make a low-profile, unstructured 5950 cap for MLB players- I’m wearing one right now. I came into one of these last year, and it’s fantastic.

    I’ve got a “standard” low-profile 5950 from MLMD that I pulled the buckram/webbing out of, and this one is not like that at all; I believe it was never intended to have the webbing in the first place. It fits like a ’47 Brand Franchise cap, without any extra fabric in the crown, and I have not had to hack/shrink it at all. Fit like a gem from the get-go. On the inside of the sweat band, it’s got the New Era and the Low Profile/size tags, but instead of the MLB Authentic Collection tag, there’s an MLB Genuine Merchandise tag. Strange.

    I’ve never seen these for sale anywhere in person or online, but I suspect that this is the cap Ichiro wears. If New Era made these available to the public, I think they’d sell like crazy.

    New Era does offer the Low Profile with the buckram as you mention and they do not sell very well, but some of that can be due to lack of exposure. It seems that Lids took over New Era’s web site this summer and the Low Profile hats have not been listed since then. is a good legit seller with a selection of low profile New Era authentics.

    NE has tried a couple of times to sell the more vintage style in the 19Twenty style but it didn’t sell well in the states. They also made some Cooperstown versions in the early 2000’s which are rare and hard to find. I am lucky enough to have a couple.

    I love the vintage cut of hats and if NE would make more of that style with today’s fabrics I would be all over it.

    I think it would have been nice if Maryland stylized their uniforms after the Brooklyn Lions/Horsemen of the AFL/NFL instead of the Dodgers. Of course, that’s next to impossible at the moment, but that’s aside from the point.

    The Stella Ehrhart story is awesome! I must admit as a parent I was horrified at having to help out with a costume every school day. I gotta give it up to her ‘rents.

    “Powder Blue” for the Chargers? Unless I’m color blind they look more sky blue to me. I think of powder blue more like North Carolina or a baby blue…

    This is becoming the new gold/yellow debacle. And speaking of pale blue, I’m guessing the navy-colored UCLA jerseys will look pretty neat. Their light-colored ones look like ass.

    Yeah, they look pretty saturated for “powder”, kind of like the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1973-77.

    It could’ve been a combination of lighting and camera settings, though. The pics of the unis in action Monday night on look much more “powder” blue.

    I think powder blue is starting to mean “any shade of blue lighter than Royal that doesn’t already have a special name like Columbia or Honolulu”.

    For one, I’ve never even seen blue powder. Maybe in a Pixie Stick? Second, isn’t what commonly referred to as Columbia Blue more or less the same color as what’s commonly referred to as Powder Blue? Maybe it’s just a regional thing. I’ve seen light blues like Columbia’s, UNC’s, San Diego’s retro and the like called Collegiate Blue as well.

    The military is not the only one who draws their insignia inspiration from sports. Fire Departments across the country draw from all sorts of sources for their insignia. The FDNY Special Operations Units, more to the point, the Rescue Companies draw from the military. Rescue 1 in Manhattan draws their logo from the SEALS, while Rescue 2 in Brooklyn takes theirs from the Marines. Rescue 3 calls itself “Big Blue” and Rescue 4 uses Popeye. Some departments use the number style of NASCAR on their units and many others use cartoon characters.

    Sometimes, it is much easier to adapt another logo than come up with one on your own.

    It’s cool that Ichiro wears a low crown cap. I bought one of the new O’s Cartoon Bird caps and cut the lining out of the front panel in order to reduce it’s height. I will now look for a low crown option to purchase my next cap.

    How did you do that? I love that idea! I always purchase 5950 on field caps and wear them once or twice because I dont like the structured look. If the sell low crown hats I will be all over that.

    It is funny how many people (even those who work directly with New Era hats in retail stores that only sell hats) don’t know New Era makes a low crown 5950. I asked about them one time at Lids and the worker flat out told me that I had no idea what I was talking about. The low crowns are nice, but the selection on the New Era website is hit or miss at best. I hope they aren’t discontinued though!

    As a guy who went to high school in the ’90s/college in the aughts, and played baseball through it all, I was extremely grateful for our school’s Coke/Pepsi sponsorships. At a lot of small high schools and colleges, those are the lifeblood of the smaller athletic programs. In HS, our Coke sponsorship paid for us to have uniforms and travel. In college, the Pepsi sponsorship paid for our scoreboard and field. So when people my age say “it’s just business”, it’s a good chance that they’re coming from that perspective.

    However, I was never at a school big enough to be on television, and my gratitude to those companies probably would have gone out the window if someone had come through adjusting my powerade bottle or asking me not to spit seeds in an empty one. This mess goes over the line of “we’d like to thank our sponsors” into giving these companies a level of control they should not have. Doesn’t negate the good they do at small schools, though.

    And Paul, for some reason I thought you were raised in Brooklyn. Are you originally from another borough?

    Paul, for some reason I thought you were raised in Brooklyn. Are you originally from another borough?

    My parents are both from Brooklyn, but they’d moved to the suburbs long before I was born. I grew up in Blue Point, Long Island, namesake of the bluepoint oyster (and now Blue Point beer, although that didn’t yet exist when I was growing up).

    Im sure this will be mentioned again, but there are many others other than Ichiro who wear the low crown 5950. Scherzer, Lowe, Carpenter are a few for starters.

    Thanks, Tom Daley! At least as far as Uni Watch is concerned, you have Title-IX’d women’s volleyball shorts. Who gets to throw out the first fig leaf?

    “How do you know when a football glove is too sticky? When it can do this”

    and THAT, my friends, is the #1 problem with a matte finish helmet!

    Back in 2009 when the All-Star Game was in St. Louis, my son and I had the opportunity to be stand-ins for the players during rehearsals for the pregame ceremonies. This was the day before the game and again the day of the game. The Cardinals are sponsored by Ice Mountain water, which is what they gave us to drink during our long waits. But, the MLB and ASG sponsor was Aquafina. So, we were asked to remove the water bottle labels — even though we were nobodies in an essentially empty stadium.

    for the most part, i don’t have a problem with Gatorade brandishing their logo on the cups. don’t delete this, but “its just business” is exactly my view on it. that’s not my argument, its just my point of view that allows me to be so blase towards it. I don’t pay attention to what is on the cups. in fact, until i read the stories yesterday, i just assumed they were all Gatorade. I had no idea that Dasani and VitaminWater were in the mix.
    what i have an issue with is the story about the team manager getting chewed out because his coach wasn’t using a Gatorade cup. unnecessary. I’ve been chewed out at work for ridiculous things, i know the feeling. how the team manager didn’t tell the sponsor to go fuck himself is a true exercise in self control.

    The problem lies in actually forcing people to pour another drink into a Gatorade branded cup. I mean, I think we can all understand the scenario where the only visible brand has to be Brand X, but when UNBRANDED items are also banned…? C’mon man.

    Blase, damn, why didn’t I just say that?

    Totally agree with the self control part too. I would have said, “Who are you again?” and then walked away.

    I think the real question is why and how Gatorade are in such a strong negotiating position to demand these seemingly capricious actions. There are a few possibilities. First, that Gatorade paid a great deal extra for 100% exclusivity than they would have otherwise (i.e. if they allowed unbranded items). Second, MLB (or whatever league) accepted these terms as standard in a beverage sponsor contract). Third, MLB didn’t pay attention to the strong language in the deal and let it slide in spite of its apparent absurdity.

    Since we’re stuck with the current state of affairs, I at least hope that MLB dug its heels in on this point during negotiations and extracted serious concessions or dollars in exchange for agreement. If Gatorade walked in on day one and said, “100% exclusivity or no deal” and MLB caved, that sucks.

    Arguing for or against the practice of extreme exclusivity isn’t really useful unless we know what the bargain is. I dare say that anyone who thinks it is ridiculous that MLB goes to such great lengths to ensure Gatorade is the only visible cup couldn’t say that such a situation does not have a fair price. The real argument is what that price is/was.

    If this practice is just par for the course then everyone is right in saying that it doesn’t pass the smell test. I hope it isn’t.

    If Gatorade walked in on day one and said, “100% exclusivity or no deal” and MLB caved, that sucks.

    I think we first need to define what “exclusivity” means in this context.

    Using the “reasonable person” standard, I think most people would agree that “exclusivity” means “You can only have our products in the dugout [or in the press area, or wherever].” I think most people would also agree that making someone pour his bottle of water into a Gatorade cup goes far beyond the conventional notion of exclusivity.

    I think television exposure is the key issue. Maintaining “exclusivity” on TV requires different standards then we’ve come to expect. I went to the first ALDS game at Camden Yards. I was in the nosebleed section and saw no evidence of Gatorade exclusivity. You can bring whatever unopened bottle of whatever beverage you want in the stadium – no one was stopped and made to rip their label off. Camden Yards is covered with ads for various sodas, beers, -ades, etc. No ads were covered up. The concession stands carry Coke products. That was not changed. The marketers weren’t interested in what was happening at the stadium if it wasn’t going on camera. That was the only zone in which they cared about exclusivity. And they are going to long and sometimes absurd lengths to maintain that facade of exclusivity for the TV cameras and the millions of people watching the TV. This is standard for the medium of television. Networks always film scenes around town for coming in and out of commercial breaks. In Baltimore its always some historic ship, the harbor lights, a big pile of steamed crabs. That’s not “real”. Life in Baltimore is not a 24-hour-a-day crab feast. But that’s TV reality. That’s the image that is selected to be broadcasted. Gatorade is trying to create a TV reality where it is the only beverage that can help you win the game. So, for me the question isn’t if Gatorade is right or wrong for trying to control our behavior because anyone who has attended a playoff game can testify that they are not. It’s a question about what sort of control of reality we can expect when we turn on the television.

    I’ll criticize MLB first and foremost. This is what happens when you declare everything even tangentially related (or completely unrelated) to your sport and league up for sale under the guise of being fan-friendly.

    The professional leagues have lost all credibility with these endless lists of official sponsors. The NBA is the leader in the clubhouse for considering putting each individual franchise up for sponsorship.

    “…Gatorade is trying to create a TV reality where it is the only beverage that can help you win the game…”

    So do they also make the losers drink out of Gatorade cups?

    let’s say it is “just business” – is it to the point where it’s BAD business?

    On one hand, all publicity is good publicity; but on the other, thanks to Twitter et al, the era of monolithic control of images that corporations once had – ie the illusion that a sporting match was somehow different than the ballet or orchestra or an art gallery – is over.

    “Just business” cuts both ways. Can we put a gatorade logo on the bags they give you to cover your booze at Atlantic Terminal?

    People, to repeat: “They paid a lot of money for that sponsorship, so of course they’re gonna do whatever they can do to enforce it” (or words to that effect) is not an acceptable argument. In fact, it’s no argument at all (it’s the sponsorship equivalent of saying something is too big to fail). Comments that put forward this line of thought will be removed.

    If you want to defend the shenanigans, please feel free to do so on the merits. I can think of many, many lines of approach for this. But you can’t just say, “Hey, their contract says they get to be douchebags, so yeah, they get to be douchebags.” We’re discussing the merits of the thing, not the existence of the thing.

    Think of it this way: The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech — but if your speech is offensive, it will be criticized by others. That’s how the marketplace of ideas works. Similarly, Gatorade has the legal right to do this stuff — but if it crosses a line (as many of us feel it has), it will be criticized. Saying, “It’s just business” or “Hey, that’s what they paid for” is like saying, “Hey, that guy with the racist T-shirt [or whatever], that’s just free speech.” Yes, of course it is — and now we’re discussing the merits of that speech (or the merits of a certain marketing plan, as the case might be). So let’s please move past the obvious statement that they’re free to do it — of course they are. The question at hand is whether they SHOULD be doing it.

    *Should* you be removing comments that you interpret as non-arguments? Some people don’t think so. But it is your blog so you can do with it what you please. When Gatorade signs a contract with a league/team/stadium, they see that space for that game as their site with which to do as they please. Their response is to remove the offending beverage, just as your response is to remove the offending post.

    Ah, the classic argument of last resort: When you can’t argue the case on the merits, try to make it about me.

    But it’s a poor analogy. Gatorade is profiteering; I’m just trying to curate a discussion.

    If you want to post “2 + 2 = 5,” I’ll remove that comment too, because it’s false. Saying that “It’s just business” is a self-justifying rationale for any corporate behavior is also false, and is therefore not welcome here.

    Viewpoints counter to my own are welcome! Go ahead and defend Gatorade on the merits. But “It’s just business” is not an argument, and will not be entertained as such.

    I understand perfectly why you want to see a discussion deeper than “it’s just business”, but you cannot claim that “it’s just business” is false. I am totally open to the idea that business should take social responsibility and be good citizens. Even when they do so they are still “just businesses” and need to do the thing that businesses do. There are many socially responsible corporations but none of them operate at a loss. How much profit is “enough” is a fine debate to have, but claiming that too much profit is too much does not sever the business-doing aspect of any corporation from its mission. So, profit rationale is not enough for you. Great. But it is not “false”.

    you cannot claim that “it’s just business” is false.

    I can — and do — claim that “It’s just business” is not a self-justifying rationale or excuse for any and all business practices. That notion is false.

    “It’s just business” may explain why certain things happen, but it does not excuse why they happen. And that is the point under discussion here.

    I never claimed that “just business” is an excuse for everything. Although it is not an excuse for “all” business practices, it is a rationale and excuse for some business practices. So to make the argument is not “false”, it is just not to your liking.

    How long is the debate over justified a company’s advertising tactics going to go on without actually investigating the company? How is Gatorade doing, business-wise? They are a big company, so the premise here has been that Gatorade is making more than enough money to satisfy its balance sheet and trying to enforce its contract with MLB is unnecessary douchebaggery. Is Gatorade making tons of money? Is a “ton” enough to cover their research, development, advertising, and administrative expenses? Was the contract necessary, from a “just business” perspective, to cover this year’s budget? Were Powerade or Vitamin Water angling for the exclusivity deal? Would that have put Gatorade in a position where it could have lost (not “not made more” – actually “lost”) money? The Business Week piece doesn’t address this. I’m not sure the sharing metrics for that article indicate anything substantial about Gatorade’s corporate health, maybe just that it was something news to most people and people like reading about baseball during the playoffs.

    Maybe staying in “business” while going up against an upstart challenger like Coco-Cola is important to Gatorade and that’s why they chose to enforce their exclusivity contract. If you were running a business and your major challenger was the world’s most valuable brand, would that be enough “excuse” for you?

    So I just Googled “Gatorade profits”. The top result is a Wall Street Journal article from July 2009. Excerpt:

    “Gatorade’s recent makeover, launched in January, marks the second marketing stumble in six months for the company under Chairman and Chief Executive Indra Nooyi, who pledged last year to boost weak North American beverage sales with hipper marketing.

    In February, Pepsi ditched new packaging for Tropicana juice after consumers railed against the generic-looking carton that replaced the familiar picture of an orange with a straw.

    Now, consumers complain they are confused by the Gatorade “G” campaign, which was meant to reverse a sales slump that began in 2008. In January, Pepsi replaced the Gatorade name on its label with a big letter “G” and shrunk its signature lightning bolt.

    TV, print and online ads asked consumers “What’s G?” A Super Bowl ad featuring Muhammad Ali and other athletes revealed that “G” was Gatorade, “the heart, hustle and soul of athleticism.”

    The idea was to make the brand cool again but it misfired. “They asked ‘What’s G?’ and the problem was, people weren’t sure,” said Bill Pecoriello, chief executive of market researcher ConsumerEdge Research LLC.”

    So, Gatorade tried to re-brand and it failed, confusing customers about what they were buying. So, maybe Gatorade thinks the most important thing it can do right now is to promote its brand.

    How is Gatorade doing, business-wise?

    Please explain why this question — or the answer to this question — is relevant.

    Deceptive business practices are deceptive business practices, the end. The status of the company’s balance sheet has zero bearing on the deception, or the unsuitability of same.

    Your implication is that it’s OK to cheat when you’re losing. Why? Let me guess: It’s just business.

    Fuck that.

    Oh, come on. Your argument has never been that Gatorade is “cheating”, your argument is that they are corporate douchebags. I argue that Gatorade thinks promoting their brand is crucial because their biggest problem is *brand recognition* and now fuck me because I haven’t acquitted them of false advertising?

    Oh, come on. Your argument has never been that Gatorade is “cheating”, your argument is that they are corporate douchebags.

    I invite you go to back and see how many times I’ve referenced “deception” or “deceptive practices” over the past few days. That’s been my gripe all along.

    Alright then, here’s my justification for what you call “cheating”: Gatorade has no prior “relationship” with its customers. Beyond some trend data it collects, it has no way of knowing who is buying its product. Gatorade does not know if or why *I* buy Gatorade. It could be because I’m an athlete and I’ve noticed that my performance improves when I drink Gatorade. It could be because baseball players look cool when they drink Gatorade and I want to look cool too. So Gatorade uses a multitude of approaches to market its product to all possible customers. One approach is distasteful to a segment of the population. Cool. They shouldn’t buy Gatorade. Other people want to and their justification – no matter how stupid you think it is – makes them happy with the product they have just purchased. I am not a rich man and I do not own anything other than a two-bedroom house and a compact car. So it is not from some wild Romneyesque capitalist obsession that I say that some people will inevitably spend their money on stupid things for stupid reasons – and we have to be okay with that – and it is not cheating for a company to give someone a stupid reason for buying something. Stupid, yes. Deceptive, no.

    Now nothing in my argument gives Gatorade the right to break the law. I’m not a lawyer but I seriously doubt that Gatorade is violating trade law by asking the MLB to ask players to pour things in other cups. Post-game interviews are not advertisements. They are not subject to federal law.

    Is Gatorade *lying* to people watching someone drink water our of Gatorade cup? I say no. Like I said, there is no relationship between Gatorade and its anonymous consumers. To imagine a relationship between me and Gatorade is like imaging a relationship between me and the girl across the bus. I can imagine that this person cares about me deeply and only wants whats best for me and wouldn’t ever do something crass to me like make me change my cup because theirs is cooler. But if I don’t communicate with them about our relationship, that person has no responsibility to give me the time of day. You can’t deceive somebody you have no expectations with. I expect Gatorade to try and sell me colorful crap and not break the law doing it. Other than that, I am kidding myself to have any expectations of a company trying to make money.

    This doesn’t mean that we can’t establish a relationship with a company, at which point we might have a right to be offended when they used practices that some of us find offensive. #NoUniAds is one example. Where’s #NoGatoradeCups?

    Where’s #NoGatoradeCups?

    Working on it.

    I think it’s kind of sad that you have to tie yourself into so many knots to defend the indefensible. I’ve never claimed that what they’re doing is illegal, but it sure isn’t ethical, honorable, or responsible. That’s what this is about. All this other stuff about “establishing a relationship” is just noise. If you can’t establish a relationship with someone without lying, it’s probably a relationship that the other party is better off without.

    You have assumed from the beginning of this controversy that a certain corporate practice going on in the middle of a corporate event is “indefensible,” so of course people trying to defend it can do nothing but tie themselves in knots. Oh well. Hopefully a new camouflage helmet will come out tomorrow and the discussion will be easier.

    Simple question: Is the routine with the cup ethical, honorable, or respectable?

    If so, why? If not, why are we having these long back-and-forths?

    You challenge me with those words as if they are the sole criteria for something’s defensibility. This is your blog so I guess you choose the framework for the discussion. I just don’t accept it.

    You challenge me with those words as if they are the sole criteria for something’s defensibility.

    First of all, it doesn’t look good when you dodge an open invitation to defend something’s honor. Speaks volumes.

    Secondly, those are the criteria I’ve been using all along! So yes, those criteria form the parameters of the discussion. More to the point, they’re good criteria — business practices should be ethical, honorable, and respectable. If you don’t like those parameters, that speaks volumes too.

    You can take your ball and go home and say, “Booo, you set unfair rules!,” but what exactly is unfair about asking Gatorade to behave honorably instead of deceptively?

    Surprisingly few people would argue that it’s in a company’s legitimate interests to make what legal profits they can. That’s not really telling anybody the news. Whenever some commercial actor does something tasteless or deplorable, we can count on a chorus of people counter-protesting “but it’s LEGAL!” Congratulations; have a gold star.

    It’s entirely possible to A) be licitly engaged in seeking profits for the good of one’s company and one’s shareholders, and B) earn the justified disdain of large swaths of the public for one’s (admittedly legal) actions. The two are not contradictory.

    Therefore, calling Gatorade’s actions a sound business tactic may not be false, but it is an incomplete argument, and less than wholly relevant as a standalone statement. If a number of shallow reasoners keep making regular variations on this largely idle observation, it adds nothing to the discussions, and subtracts markedly from their quality and readability. Surely it’s in Paul’s interests to avoid vitiating his product? It’s just business.

    What I am more interested in is the money in college. Clearly with MLB and the pro leagues the money is going directly to the fat cat owners and no one else. To illustrate that point, I remember in the 2011 NBA playoffs Dirk Nowitzki walked into a press conference and took the Gatorade off the table and said “Gatorade doesn’t pay me.” He was kind of joking but kind of not. It’s loathsome that these companies are even getting free advertising from the players, not to mention the slave-like “volunteers”

    But at the college level, where is this money going? The money in college athletics is insane, but a large portion of these colleges are state institutions, i want to know where does that money go? The University of Texas made $25 million in profit last year. For what? There are no CEOs or board members or shareholders at UT, it’s the state! At a time when schools across Texas are having huge budget problems, there is a state football team raking in cash a using it for mahogany lockers(?) or a lazy river?

    Additionally, there is no realm of sport that feeds off of free labor as much as college sports. So when Gatorade pays X Gagillion dollars for sponsorship of the Egg Bowl, or whatever, who is keeping the money? It and event entirely made possible by those volunteers and “student athletes.” I sure hope its not just going to TV execs or i may have to stop watching all together.

    It’s not just the sports world that suffers from drinks-based douchebaggery. Some years back, I worked a summer at an amusement park where all soft drinks were supplied exclusively by Pepsi. Whilst we could drink whatever we wanted in the staff room, whilst we were on duty or in public areas we were only permitted to drink either Pepsi products or water from a clear, label-free bottle. I was actually given a verbal warning one day for using an empty Coke bottle for my water – even with the label removed, the distinctive shape gave it away…

    I’ve been thinking about the Chargers unis and after 5 years of thinking that they were cool, I’m kinda done with them. There are a lot of nice elements there but somehow the color arrangement isn’t working. Putting the powder outline between the gold both and the navy outline gives the bolt an almost green color when not viewed close up. It’s really distracting that the colors bleed together like that. It might work if they switched the navy and powder outlines but in general I think the blending of the classic 60s Chargers with the 90s era just doesn’t work. Its time to pick a lane. Two uniforms, great on their own, not so great blended together.

    It really is a horrible uniform. The white helmets just don’t work full-time without the number underneath the bolt they way they had it in the old days. The current bolt sits way too high and leaves too much empty space. The empty white space is distracting in a way the blue never was on the previous helmets.

    Then you have the unfortunate byproduct of the disapperance of sleeves on football uniforms in that the shoulder bolts now sit below the number rather than wrapping over the top of the shoulder they way they used to. The number font goes without saying.

    They’re previous uniform was better looking on pretty much every level.

    I think the problem is the white helmet being paired with the navy jersey. Even without the numbers on the helmets, the white helmets look great with the powder blue jerseys. IMO, it is the navy jersey that destroys the look, not the white helmet.

    Perhaps if they put numbers on the helmets, they wouldn’t need the TV numbers on the shoulders.

    “The only reason I can think of for renting a jersey would be for something like a homemade hip-hop video or an amateur model photo-shoot.”

    Hallowe’en or generic costume party would also seem like acceptable reasons. Im a fan of team x, but i want to dress up and do a costume based on team y.

    The levels of absurdity to this story just run deeper and deeper.

    First off, bottled water. Really? Plastic, non-decompasable bottles. Of… water. The same stuff I’ve been drinking from faucets across America for over fifty years.

    Secondly, corporations competing to sell bottled water. Natural. Fresh. Spring fed. Mountain sourced. Clean and refreshing. Pure. It’s…water.

    The transfering of the contents from one label to another to ensure more exposure and sales of the…water.

    What a world. I think my head is about to explode.

    I think part of the argument is what qualifies as a competitor to Gatorade. Obviously there’s things like Powerade that are direct competitors to Gatorade. If a gatorade exec spotted a player with a bottle of powerade in the stadium, he’d go ballistic and (i guess) rightfully so.

    But, bottled water for instance. Is a bottle of water in direct competition with gatorade? What are gatorades competitors and where do they end? Is caffiene free Diet Coke a direct competitor of blue Gatorade? What do I want, diet sugar free carbonation or electrolyte laced sugar water…hmmmm…

    What about a cup of coffee? What if the manager wanted a hot cup of coffee during his post game interview, would that have been required to be poured into a gatorade cup too? Is hot coffee in direct competition with gatorade?

    Good questions, one and all.

    And here, I think, is the answer: Gatorade is the official isotonic beverage of MLB. It is not the official beverage, or the official liquid — just the official isotonic beverage. So its competition, from a sponsorship standpoint, is other isotonic beverages (Powerade, e.g.). Not water, not Diet Coke, not coffee.

    Here’s something else worth considering: Back in 1986, the NY Giants popularized the ritual of the Gatorade shower by upending a jug of Gatorade onto Bill Parcels at the end of each victory. At the time, people in Gatorade’s marketing dept. said, “We’re getting great exposure out of this — but our logo on the jug always appears upside-down, because they tip the jug over to pour the Gatorade onto Parcells. So let’s put the logo upside-down on the jug, and then it’ll look right-side-up on TV when they tip it over.”

    A high-ranking exec — maybe the CEO, I don’t remember — said, “Don’t you dare do that. Enjoy the exposure, but don’t make it look orchestrated or calculated. As soon as people perceive that we’re orchestrating all of this, we’ll lose any sense of goodwill in the public mind.”

    I guess 1986 was a long time ago.

    Gatorade may be the official isowhatever beverage of MLB, and water may not be an isowhatever beverage. But. The soda companies that sell products like Gatorade very much do regard water as a competitor. Possibly their no. 1 competitor. And in fact for most amateur athletes engaged in things like working out or taking a 20-mile bike ride or playing pickup flag football or whatever, water is actually a better performance and recovery beverage than Gatorade or any of its peer sugary drinks. If you’re not doing Iron Man or Ragbrai, your need for electrolytes just isn’t all that acute, and there are better options for carb replenishment.

    People who are inclined to consider a sports drink generally will not substitute a carbonated soda. Or at any rate, they won’t do so twice. So if Pete F’ing Kozma sat down for a post game interview with a big ol 20-liter of Coke, Gatorade would not actually risk losing any customers. But if an athlete wins a title game and then shows up in interviews drinking water, even from an un-labeled bottle, he’s sending a distinctly anti-Gatorade message to consumes.

    But it seems that the obvious solution is for Gatorade to brand and sell water, beer, and champaign, and then no matter what an athlete wants to drink or spray around the locker room, he can do so with an actual, non-pretend Gatorade product.

    Those new Maryland hoop unis are a joke. They remind me of the Oxford Grey trimmed tank tops we used to sell in the late 1960s. Because they were cheap the style was used for intramural and church league basketball. Too bad that a major university like Maryland now looks like they represent an underfunded parish team in the CYO league.

    Also if you look closely at Roger Staubach’s jersey you’ll note that the body is mesh while the sleeves are knit. The numbers are tackle twill. The stripes are feathered. The jersey was made by Southland Athletic of Terrell, TX, east of Big “D.”

    Now, see, the very thing Terry most objects to is the thing I like most about the Maryland Brooklyn unis. They may be the most un-slick NCAA hoops jersey of the twenty-first century. Which seems like a good thing to me. Goes to show how tastes differ.

    Beyond that, the flaggy trim is the one other element that doesn’t bother me. It’s certainly no clashier than the Nets new herringbone trim. But the Maryland script. Ugh. It looks like a cheap foreign knockoff, and in no way makes me think of the Dodgers, even with the offset contrasting number.

    I hate the script as well.

    The way they cut out a piece of the flourish (is that the right word for the big underline thingy?) to accommodate the tail of the Y kinda ruins the jersey.

    I think I’m OK with the way rest of the uniform looks, though. But I’ll have to see how it looks on the court, of course.

    Can somebody tell UCLA they already have one of the most unique, iconic, and gorgeous football uniforms out there? Because they apparently don’t know that.

    Really like those Northwestern hoops jerseys. Its nice to see the incorporation of Northwestern striping, especially in a clever manner that doesn’t overwhelm. Now if only we could make sure the ‘Cat wear purple pants with those black jerseys.

    Replace all the black on those NU unis with white(or, if you must, gray) and that’s a great look. With the black, they’re just OK.

    I have no idea if this had anything to do with the Maryland “Brooklyn” uniforms, but there is a well-known area of town not far from where I grew up in Baltimore that has Brooklyn, Brooklyn Park, and Brooklyn Homes clustered together. It’s on the south side of town and is pretty no-nonsense, blue-collar, so I could see the old grey unis being a nod to them.

    It’s been a pretty good investing philosphy to go short on any company that decides to drop money of a stadium naming rights deal.

    Uof Fx only exists because Intel needed “graduate degrees” for employees in Chandler in order to give them promotions. Other businesses caught on and it was a joke of a post grad diploma mill. Now that Intel no longer accepts their “degrees”, due to the lack of value for money, they’ve hit hard times.

    Nothing wrong with learning online, just not how they do it.


    Corollary to Alec: Always short companies whose parent firms sound like a cheap sci-fi movie villain corporation. All you really need to know to determine that U of Ph is basically a scam is that it’s run by Apollo Group. Pretty sure James Bond defeated the Apoloo Group sometime in the Timothy Dalton era.

    Also, do any of the for-profit colleges have sports teams? Since athletics is supposedly the profit-earning part of a real university, and let’s be honest here that NCAA football and basketball at least are in fact professional minor leagues, shouldn’t the absence of an affiliated athletic program be a red flag for any profit-seeking college?

    If you’re a history buff you may associate Maryland with Brooklyn and even with Brooklyn sports. It was at the “Old Stone House” in Brooklyn where on August 27, 1776 the Maryland Regiment under Col. William Smallwood fought a vicious battle against British and Hessian soldiers taking many losses and buying time for General George Washington who observed the fighting from high land nearby. This was part of the Battle of Brooklyn, the largest battle of the war and the first one following the Declaration of Independence.

    The Old Stone House eventually became the clubhouse of the Brooklyn Superbas baseball team, who played their games across the street and later changed their name to the Dodgers.

    Today a reconstructed version of the Old Stone House stands on the same spot, which is just down the street from the Barclays Center.

    I’m trying to be careful with how I write this, I don’t want to be taken the wrong way. I don’t agree with all these tactics Gatorade is using. However, I really question the amount of space this topic has taken up on the blog over the past days/week. The NBA uni ads, while the subject doesn’t interest me per se, it’s perfectly relevant to the topic of sports uniforms. I realize the lines between sports business and Uni Watch are blurred sometimes, but I really feel like these stories, while offering great insight, would belong better on a sports business type of blog.

    I’ve been a fan/follower of this blog for a long time, as many of you know, so please don’t pepper me with “start your own blog kind of posts”. I expect and welcome non-uni related topics in the ticker. If it’s something I feel I might like, I click, if not, I don’t, no biggie.

    My intention isn’t to be a troll or be disagreeable for disagreeable’s sake, I’m just offering my humble opinion on this site, a site I love dearly! Let’s get back to basics!

    Point taken, Doug (and don’t worry, you’re not being the least bit disagreeable).


    1) It’s not the lead item today. I led with the Maryland hoops uniforms, and there’s a robust Ticker. The cupspiracy is an ongoing sidebar. If it’s not your thing, what’s the problem with scrolling past it? I actually acknowledged in the text that many people would probably do just that.

    2) I’m no longer looking for this story — it keeps looking for me. People keep sending me their tales of absurd beverage branding rules. And as long as they do, I’m going to keep printing them.

    I realize you may not see this as core Uni Watch material. But Uni Watch is many things to many people, and I see the branding issue as being closely related to logo creep, ads on uniforms, and so on. In any case, like I said, it’s not the lead item, so it’s not as though this topic is monopolizing the site. What’s the problem? I don’t mean that sarcastically — I mean, honestly, what’s wrong with pursuing a sidebar topic that everyone can scroll past if they want?

    And point taken with you Paul… I really just overlooked the tie-in of logo creep with the Gatorade story and you’re absolutely right, there is definitely a connection. That’s possibly because logo creep really isn’t a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, so I geniunely overlooked that.

    I guess I was looking at it more from a standpoint of corporate issues in sports, and more akin to say, product placement in movies and television shows.

    My underlying point that making someone pour water into a Gatorade cup, no matter how dickish it is, has very little to do with sports uniforms and athletic aesthetics to me… and yes, this site is many different things to many people, I’m just one person voicing an opinion.

    Good, civil discussion though. I appreciate it.

    The Gatorade nonsense is tasteless and wrong, but nothing will be done until a notable athlete or coach raises a huge stink about it at a press conference. These people can certainly afford to say F.U. to millions of dollars. The bad publicity will make Gatorade cave.

    This is already happening, only instead of “making a big stink” of it, players and coaches are starting to joke about the absurdity of the thing. Which for the sponsor, is probably worse. Vaclev Havel used to say that the communist system was doomed the moment it could no longer stop people from ridiculing the absurdities of life under that system. In this case, what’s more likely is that the notion of sponsorship becomes devalued to the point where competitors run ads making fun of Gatorade for its fakery, and at that point Gatorade would probably have to back away from the most risible elements of its behavior here.

    “I don’t always drink water, but when I do, I pretend it’s Gatorade.”

    Well stated. And what I’m trying to do here is help create a climate in which it becomes more and more acceptable — or even likely — for people to joke about the absurdity.

    Mixing metaphors, we need to reach a point where people no longer drink the Kool-Aid about Gatorade.

    I haven’t drunk Gatorade since it was still in glass bottles that said “Stokley” on them. It tasted like sugar-sweetened sweat. Hated it.

    I haven’t watched a baseball game since Craig Biggio retired. I certainly haven’t watched any post-game press conferences lately.

    Over the last three days, just on this site, I have seen the word “Gatorade” approximately 4.3 million times. And sitting at my office, I just thought, “Hey, I wonder if Gatorade still tastes like sweat! Maybe I’ll pick up a bottle on my way home.” And yesterday, when my son said he needed some drinks for soccer practice, I said, instantly, “I’ll get some Gatorade.” I haven’t. But the thought has crossed my mind.

    So I’m either EXTREMELY malleable, or the discussion here is actually helping promote Gatorade.

    not a big “band uniform” connoisseur, but i’d hope USM went with the 2nd choice. the eagle logo looks sleak and professional imo

    USM is due for some payback, particular if they visit the Texas schools of CUSA-West. I wouldnt send the band to UTEP; they might remember what some of the band said to that KSU player.

    i have not read every comment, but…
    if the team/league sells the rights, so be it, the label for that company should be the only one seen. that being said, not allowing blank bottles, or making someone pour a water into a cup that has the sponsor logo is over the line. that is when it moves from business to creepy if i am trying to be objective.

    i personally think it is all stupid, it all makes me sick as a topic, but if we didn’t have a team/league sponsor, imagine the wild west of money grabs each individual player would be going for a la jim mcmahon and his roos headband in the super bowl. so instead of ibanez innocently drinking his blank water, maybe he goes back to his locker for his sponsor coke and brings that into the press room, hold it up and says, “i guess there is nothing like a coke and a smile”. or whatever their slogan is now.

    so is making players, mascots, coaches, etc pour blanks into sponsor cups wrong, you bet’cha, but only allowing the sponsor to be seen other then blanks just might be the lessor of two money grab evils. i hate to say the chimp is out of the zoo on this one, but looking for product placement is going to force someone to douche it up either way be it the team/league or the player.

    It’s the deception of pouring non-Gatorade drinks into Gatorade packaging that bothers me. The pretense. But honestly, I’m bothered even more by individual athletes pretending to use equipment they “endorse” but don’t actually use. The fake-drink thing is so visible and so absurd that the pretense probably can’t last. But the whole thing with pretending to use equipment not made by one’s contracted endorsee seems like dishonesty in its purest form. If I were commissioner of a league, I would push to require athletes to use equipment provided by any company whose on-field equipment they personally endorse. And then I’d get out my straw and I would drink your Gatorade.

    That’s what I thought about it. The players sell themselves as marketing tools, and will endorse a sports drink or soda or whatever… but that was the player’s choice. If the player wants to only endorse products they actually use, they are free to make that choice to turn down offers from companies whose products they do not use. But in this case, the league is saying to all the players “You drink Gatorade.” Even if you don’t, you do now. That’s where the line was crossed for me.

    If we choose to think of the cups as another ad space–much like the banner behind the person giving the press conference, as a matter of fact–then it makes sense for a beverage to place their ad on a cup.

    Right now I’m drinking coffee from a cup that says “102.9LiteFM.” I neither work for them nor support them. But…there it is. Their cup. On my desk.

    Sometimes, a cup is just another billboard.

    (This NOT intending to spur debate, just saying there might be more than one way to wrap our minds around the press conference cup decisions and requirements).


    I tried to make a similar point below. It’s not a Gatorade cup, it’s a cup with a Gatorade logo on it. I have a beer glass from a local microbrewery her in PGH. I use it to drink beer out of, but not just that brewery’s product, any beer I may be drinking at the time. Will people assume that gatorade is the only thing in those cups, most likely in most cases, but Gatorade shouldn’t be required to have to put out a pre-press conference disclaimer about cup contents either. They are letting people draw their own conclusions, granted, they know what conclusion is going to be drawn for the most part.

    But I DO think there is a difference between the backdrop and the cup. Nobody uses the backdrop. It’s just there, a flat billboard. The cup does exactly what Gatorade wants it to do. We might know, logically, that an athlete is more likely to be drinking water than Gatorade after a game, but subconsciously your mind makes the connection that the player is drinking what the label tells us it is. The iced tea in the Jack Daniels bottle trick, if you will. By using the item in such a public way, the implicit assumption is endorsement. Drinking from a coffee cup with a radio logo on it at your desk doesn’t necessarily mean you support the radio station, but what if Ichiro drank out of that cup at a press conference. Wouldn’t you wonder what his connection to the radio station was?

    They don’t give a care if athletes and coaches drink Gatorade. They care about having the word “Gatorade” appear in as many places as possible, because each exposure to “Gatorade” increases the possibility that some schmuck in the hinterlands, when finding himself or a loved on thirsty, will reflexively say, “I must buy some Gatorade.”

    That’s what they’re paying for: they are paying for the privilege of saturating the mopes watching the game to be saturated with the name of their product. Put water in the cup. Put vodka in the cup. Put muriatic acid in the cup. Just use the cup.

    Under Armor sells clothing for newborn babies. Is that because they believe newborn babies need performance sportswear? Or because they know the quicker you get exposed to the logo, the faster you’ll be habituated to consuming the product.

    Did you read that article about Brooklyn basketball in this week’s Sports Illustrated? Nearly every bit of the story about Atlantic Yards was a lie. But it was reported as fact, and Marty Markowitz and Bruce Ratner and the Russian oligarch who’s bankrolling things were portrayed as selfless heroes and visionaries. Because if you say something often enough, people accept it as fact.

    We live in a dirty, awful world.

    I’m normally one of those that say “Its just business” and “Paul’s overreacting again…” but Gatorade is defiantly taking it too far. I’m fine with them getting rid of Powerade and other similar beverages, but you’ve got to let people drink water, coffee or soda in the actual containers, or at least blank cups.

    To me (and I don’t believe its been brought up before) but is forcing someone to put Diet Coke in a Gatorade cup false advertising? I mean couldn’t this actually be illegal?

    I know I should be offended by the idea of a postgame/interview hat, but I’m not. I’m completely intrigued about what that concept means. That is to say, they market the batting practice cap stating that it is a “performance” cap, whatever that means. What would the marketing point be for an interview cap. Just “cool design?”

    Also, I wonder if this is a way to further hedge in to the New Era monopoly in MLB. The “Champions” caps worn in the locker room this year are 47 Brand… could this be a 47 Brand initiative too? I guess we’ll see.

    If it’s a plastic snapback cap, though, I hope the players burn them on camera.

    Haven’t had time to read everything today, but this entire “cup” thing reminded me of something, and I’d like the opinion of people here.

    Around 2000 or so, there was an important national golf tournament near one of our clients, a large destination-style casino. We knew the weather was going to be brutal. Hot. Humid. One of those almost unbearably still and sweltering summer weekends.

    So, we had a vendor print the casino logotype on a literally a small truckload of paper fans. Casino employees came out and gave them away in the parking lot as people walked toward the gates.

    When the tournament aired on national TV our client’s logo showed up in virtually every crowd shot as spectators fanned themselves. Sometimes almost filled the shot.

    Now I ask…

    Were we evil?

    Or smart?

    Were we evil?

    Or smart?

    First of all, those two things are not mutually exclusive.

    More importantly, you didn’t do anything deceptive. Gatorade did.

    Anybody pick up the cup and say, “I drink Gatorade”?

    Sometimes, as I commented above, a cup is just a cup. If we choose to see it as press conference ad space, that is.

    On the other hand, if a guy wears a Porsche baseball cap intending to make women think he drives one…

    It looks Paul didn’t like my first attempt on why it’s fine that Gatorade is doing what they are doing. Got the ole’ Lukas Kibosh. So here is my second attempt and it’s much simpler. MLB is allowing them to. Of coarse what they are doing is stupid and petty. But the MLB is letting them get away with it.

    If it was my league I would say stop bothering my personnel with this crap. Feel free to plaster your label here and there, but don’t ask a manager to do something like this after he just lost a game 7 and is on his way to do interviews.

    There is no rational justification. It is happening because the MLB, and other sport orgs, is allowing it to happen. Now players and other personnel have to deal with it as the norm. Just like how the ridiculousness of the paparazzi is part of everyday life for celebs, making sure you have the properly branded liquid is now everyday life for athletes. It’s what you have to deal with when you sign up to play ball for millions of dollars (or hundreds of thousands at least). It’s part of the machine that allows these guys to reach the heights of popularity and wealth they enjoy.

    To address directly Paul’s point of them being deceptive I can only come up with this. They aren’t telling you it’s Gatorade in those cups. You are telling yourself that. Gatorade has never said that they are the only drink being used at these games and that any liquid that is being consumed is Gatorade. You are drawing the conclusion on your own that if you see a cup with a gatorade logo on it, it must be Gatorade inside. I have beer glasses with different brewery logos on them. Does that mean that the only beer that is drunk out of them is that specific brand? No, not always. That’s the best I got.

    They aren’t telling you it’s Gatorade in those cups. You are telling yourself that.

    You are now setting the bar of acceptable behavior so low that you’ll pretty much need to dig a trench.

    Look: We all know this doesn’t pass the smell test. Why are some of you trying so desperately to tie yourself in knots to defend the indefensible? It’s sad.

    I’m not. This stinks worse than a dirty diaper full of burnt hair. I’m just trying to play DA.

    I actually agree with Mike V. For years my wife would watch American Idol (seriously….it wasn’t me) and they have those awful red Coke cups that the judges drink out of. I never once thought that any of the judges would be drinking actual soda from it. I figured it was either water, coffee or booze. It was what I would call “3D marketing” meaning it’s not a billboard, it’s not a backdrop but another medium to get their message across. And yes, I’m sure that they would have been forced to pour anything from another bottle into their cup like the current situation with Gatorade.

    Overall I don’t feel deceived by either one because it would never dawn on me to think that every single cup had Gatorade in it. If others do then I guess their not as jaded as me.

    Ever since the Yakima Bears announced the name change to Hillsboro Hops (love it!) I am having trouble finding any Bears merch., Lids,com, all coming up empty. Anyone have any other places where I could find it? I figured it’d be discounted, like to swoop in and save some $$$.

    Grantland did a “new uniform power rankings” article today (at ), and while I don’t have any comment on the story, that’s the first I’d really paid attention to the new black-less Knicks uniforms.

    Are the shades of orange in the letters and numerals really different, or am I just seeing them differently because of the effects of outlining? Seems rather odd to use two different tones of such a bright color when it’s not for shading/gradient purposes.

    You disagree? Excellent! Please tell us all why the cup nonsense is ethical, honorable, responsible.

    Not why it’s legal (we already know that), not that it’s just business (we already know that), not that other people do it too (we already know that). No — tell us why it’s ethical, honorable, and responsible to engage in deception.

    And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my bike ride.

    Y’know those big tubs on the sideline with a Gatorade logo?
    I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re tricking us.
    I’d bet some of them might occasionally be filled with plain old water.

    Point being, I rather imagine most of the audience now simply sees it as a beverage logo, not necessarily a description of the vessel’s contents.

    Say, like, if all the coffee cups on a morning talk show said “Maxwell House.” Some would think they’re drinking Maxwell House, sure. But I think more would see it as just another ad.

    Y’know those big tubs on the sideline with a Gatorade logo?
    I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re tricking us.
    I’d bet some of them might occasionally be filled with plain old water.

    Probably. Still, that’s different than telling a grown man to transfer his water to a Gatorade cup.

    Your example is what we might call passive deception; the latter example is active deception.

    I guess my major point was about Maxwell House.
    I can see a morning show host, or guest, being asked to pour his orange juice into a Maxwell House coffee mug…because the show has a deal with Maxwell House…and no one involved feeling ordered around or used, or that they were being deceptive.

    I got this story first hand from someone “in the know”. At least one NFL team (the one my contact works for) receives the full Gatorade shipment, pours out the Gatorade, and refills the container with flavored Pedialyte (the stuff given to infants to prevent dehydration when they have diarrhea.) Apparently studies have shown Gatorade isn’t more effective than water at preventing dehydration but Pedialyte is. I suspect that’s what other teams in other sports are doing as well.

    Why does Gatorade put out full bottles during the baseball postgame interview? It sticks out like a sore thumb as forced product placement. I think it would make more sense to put out a half-full(half-empty?) bottle so it looks like the player/manager has been drinking it. It would also add to the ridiculous annecdotes. Can you imagine a volunteer or student manager getting chewed out for setting out full bottles?

    I don’t know if any has said this but on the NBA uniform guidelines link, it said that there shall be no text on the mouthguard. LeBron had XVI(16) on his mouthguard throughout the playoffs. I’m not sure if it would be a fine or make him ineligible.

    You are asking me to defend deception. I won’t defend deception. I tried to tell you why I don’t consider Gatorade’s behavior to be deceptive. Instead of engaging me in that debate you said I was tying myself into knots. Not an answer. I’m not taking the bait.

    “What’s that Mom?” Oh, gotta go home now. Can I have my ball?

    I tried to tell you why I don’t consider Gatorade’s behavior to be deceptive.

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we can agree to disagree on that point. OK, so we agree to disagree — you have your position (it’s not deception) and I have mine (it is deception). Two opposing but equivalent positions. A stalemate.

    But here’s a thought: If your position were correct, nobody would even care about any of this stuff. The reporters would never have tweeted anything about it, dozens of readers wouldn’t be sending me similar examples of similar behavior, Business Week wouldn’t have let me write an article which then became very popular, I wouldn’t have been invited on TV to talk about it, etc., etc. If Gatorade’s behavior wasn’t deceptive, none of those things would have happened, because Gatorade’s behavior would not be newsworthy.

    But in fact, all of those things happened (and, in the case of readers sending stories to me, are continuing to happen). And why is that? Because people clearly perceive Gatorade’s behavior to be deceptive. They smell a rat. That’s why it’s newsworthy in the first place — BECAUSE IT’S DECEPTIVE.

    Now, it’s true that an opinion’s relative popularity (and/or the media response to it) doesn’t necessarily make it correct. I’ve certainly had my share of unpopular opinions over the years, and I recognize that it can be a lonely place to be. But tell me: If there’s really no rat here, why do you think so many people smell one?

    I’m sorry if I’m an NBA player I’m not letting them tell me I have to wear Adidas underpants!

    In regards to the NBA uniform policy I’m assuming these rules are often broken. I feel like I always see different compression bands and headbands and what not

    im not sure which was classier…comerica selling those inflatable brooms or the fans buying them

    Arizona State blacked out their pitchfork logo on the helmets and the field for tonight’s game.

    I like the Ducks unis tonight. Was thinking the unis would look better on Ohio State if the numbers had a tinge of scarlet.

    best costume they’ve worn in over a month (excluding last week)

    they do THE better than THE does THE

    Not saying I hate the look. It’s the best since the opener. But what’s the hangup with the gray/silver this season? Have they gone green/yellow in a week other than the opener? At least if they don’t use the same looks twice it’s wiping out all the gray early. Not too bad though.

    Because people have a wide variety of different experiences that affect how they perceive the world. Some people FEEL deceived by water in a Gatorade cup. Some people either never had any expectations or just don’t care, so they don’t feel deceived. There are obviously deceptive statements (2+2=5) but not everything can be definitively categorized as a deception or non-deception. If you feel deceived or shocked or surprised by something it’s news. If you don’t it’s not.

    If you feel deceived or shocked or surprised by something it’s news. If you don’t it’s not.

    Duh. Again with the existential reasoning. You’re basically saying, “Some people think it’s deceptive because they think it’s deceptive.” That’s not an argument.

    Let me put it another way: Why do you think so many people (including both Uni Watch readers and Business Week readers — two very different sample sets) seem to agree with my assessment of this topic’s newsworthiness rather than with your assessment of its “Eh, no biggie”-ness?

    (I beg you, please don’t give an answer that reduces to “Some people agree with you because they agree with you.”)

    Oregon is a very good football team. I would be fine with the Ducks winning the title this year.

    im shocked…SHOCKED mystified that they’re actually ranked 3…

    fuckin SEC bias

    just play the damn playoffs right now, and put them up against florida…for the right to play bama

    now that’s a game i want to see

    Being a Pittsburgh Panther fan I admit to a southern bias as well. But it’s towards the ACC not SEC. I do like the Gators & hate Bama with a passion but I admit to loving watching all those Pac 12 games.
    Florida has no right to be #2 but it’s early and anything can happen. I’m hoping the Bama-Oregon game will work itself out at the end. On the field they’re clearly the top 2 teams by far this season. What a game that could be.

    I haven’t been paying much attention to this over the last several days, but it is kind of hard to avoid reading today’s entries. So I read Paul’s Business Week item and gave the whole thing a bit of thought.

    I work for a large “drinks” (i.e. booze) company, and I can tell you that this is part of the current generation of business execs’ mania with “the brand”. That term means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but a key element of the definition usually includes getting the corporate brand as much exposure as possible. Note that it doesn’t always mean actually getting people to use the product. The thinking seems to be that if you show the brand in all sorts of situations where it is somewhat plausible that those involved might be consuming the branded product, then there is some probability that some percentage of the Joe Sixpacks watching at home might think they actually *are* using the product and, by extension, some lesser probability that Joe might actually be influenced to buy the product the next time he goes shopping, or maybe at some other future point down the road when the planets align… or whatever.

    Yeah, I know, it’s hard to believe that people get paid for this stuff.

    But it’s hardly new. When I was a kid my folks had a 1940s or ’50s vintage Coca-cola ice chest, a heavy metal thing, painted red and white in the Coke style with the logo on all sides. I don’t think anyone seeing them with it actually would have assumed that it was full of Coca Cola. Certainly not after seeing mom reach in and hand us kids one of her chicken sandwiches on white bread wrapped in wax paper. But there it was. And I think back to Roger Kahn’s “The Boys of Summer” and his account of listening to Red Barber call Dodger games on the radio in the 1040s, and having Red tell the audience after Dolph Camilli hit a home run that he was going to roll a carton of Old Gold cigarettes down the backstop screen to good ol’ Dolph as a reward. Did Dolph actually smoke? And if so, was he an Old Gold man? Who knows? But the audience, or at least some part of it, was supposed to be influenced and by extension, some added sales were supposed to result.

    Obviously, athletes have endorsed products in commercials for years. There has never been any guarantee they actually used those products. But I see a difference here, in that celebrity endorsers are compensated for that directly, even if they are lying, whereas in this situation, the only link to the individual involved is added revenue for the league, in MLB’s case, which presumably trickles down to the clubs, and again by extension, may lead to a fatter contract for the individual next time around. A tenuous connection at best.

    It has been going on for years, but has gotten worse over the last decade or so. I saw it first in Nascar, where drivers always had a bottle of their sponsor’s drink in their hand whenever they appeared on camera, and especially if they were lucky enough to win and go to Victory Lane, where the sponsor’s drink was everywhere. I guess we should consider ourselves fortunate that back when they were sponsored by Winston cigarettes, everyone in the shot wasn’t lighting up.

    Circling back, there is one odd anomaly that occurs in the drinks business. In my part of the world, beer companies provide bars with logoed glassware in which to serve their beer to customers. But the breweries get very upset if a competitor’s product is poured into one of their own logoed glasses, just the opposite of the Gatorade situation. I am sure there is a marketing theory that supports that too. One thing is for certain: in the business world, there is always some marketing person who can spin a yarn to justify whatever story they wish to sell you.

    We know that when a certain large-sized New York sports radio talk show host visits Debits Field, Highlander Park or the New Swamp, he has to pour his Diet Coke into a blank or vendor cup. They’re Pepsi places [too bad]

    For all of the University of Maryland at College Park’s uniform eccentricity, one thing that has remained as constant is that they’ve remained true to the four colors of the Maryland flag which they call their own: Red, white, black and gold. By delving into gray, they stray from that path.

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