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An Interesting Development Regarding Uni Unveilings

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The Panthers unveiled their new uniforms last night. I like them. You can read why in this ESPN piece, which went up last night.

The unveiling was in Florida; I covered it from Brooklyn. I sometimes cover uniform unveilings in person (last spring, as you may recall, I took a little Rust Belt excursion for the debuts of the Bucks’ new logo and then the Browns’ new uniforms), but more often I stay put and handle things from Uni Watch HQ. There are two reasons for this:

1. Being at an unveiling in person doesn’t always result in better information or visuals. The setting is often more hectic, which can make it difficult to write, and the logistics can be unpredictable (there’s nothing worse than covering a live event and hearing, “We’re having a little trouble with the WiFi”). True, I can sometimes talk to an athlete or team official if I’m at the unveiling event, which can be useful, especially I have questions that weren’t addressed in the team’s press release. For the most part, though, I feel like I can usually do at least as good a job by streaming the video of the event, or even just by looking at the press photos and/or mock-ups.

2. Travel budgets are tight, so I don’t like to ask ESPN to let me get on an airplane unless there’s a really good reason for it. Basically, I don’t want to use a bullet if I don’t have to. (I was actually planning to do this for the Diamondbacks’ unveiling last December, because I knew the uniforms were going to be very unusual and thought it would be good to see them in person, but I had some personal business that prevented me from traveling on that date.)

I mention all of this because something new has been happening: On two different occasions in the past month, a team (the Panthers) or league (the CFL) has offered to fly me to their city for an unveiling event. I’ve had teams and leagues encourage me to attend their unveilings before — that happens semi-regularly — but these are the first two times anyone’s ever offered to pay my way.

I’m not the only uniform writer on the receiving end of these offers. In one case, Phil was also offered a free trip. And over on, Chris Creamer’s piece on the Panthers’ new uniforms includes the following: “Full disclosure, the Florida Panthers did cover the expenses of my trip to Sunrise to attend this event.”

The Panthers extended that same offer to me, but I declined it. As I explained to them, ESPN, like most serious media outlets, forbids its writers from accepting free travel and lodging. There are some outlets I know of that won’t work with a writer who’s ever accepted these types of freebies. (A few years ago, for example, I was doing a story for The New York Times and had to sign a statement affirming that I’d never accepted free travel as part of a story. It was a new rule they were enforcing after questions had been raised about some of their writers going on junkets.)

The reason for these rules is, I hope, obvious: A journalist who accepts largesse from a source is, almost by definition, compromised. Access should never come gift-wrapped with a bow on top. No matter how sincere or principled your intent, you end up feeling some goodwill toward the people who are footing the bill and treating you nicely, and those people start feeling like friends and partners, not as the subjects of a story you’re working on. And of course you don’t want that spigot of nice treatment from those people to stop. All of which inevitably has an effect on your reporting.

I don’t mean any of this as a criticism of Chris C. for accepting the Panthers’ offer. He’s a completely independent operator, with nobody like ESPN to underwrite his travel expenses. I think his public disclaimer about having accepted the free travel is a solid gesture of transparency and accountability. It’s not a perfect solution to the problems I just outlined (it would be easy for that type of disclaimer, if repeated many times over months and years, to become a rubber stamp that ends up having very little meaning or power, sort of like the surgeon general’s warning on cigarettes), but it’s a good middle ground, and it puts teams and leagues on notice that Chris’s first responsibility is to his readers.

But here’s my real concern: There are parts of the media world — parts that are not taken seriously as journalism — where these types of freebies are fairly common, especially in the realms of celebrity gossip, fashion, lifestyle, travel, food (sometimes), entertainment (sometimes), and probably a few other categories I’m forgetting. Magazines and websites that cover those industries often have very symbiotic relationships with their sources and end up serving as little more than mouthpieces or extensions of the publicity hype machine.

All of which leads me to this: On the one hand, I’m glad that teams and leagues are taking their unveilings seriously enough — and taking Uni Watch seriously enough — that they’re willing to pay to have me there. On the other hand, I sure don’t want them to start thinking of their uniform programs, and the media coverage of those programs, as being in any way akin to those other industries I just mentioned. A team would never provide a beat writer’s airfare (that’s the newspaper’s responsibility), so why should they provide mine? The whole thing is unsavory, and I think it’s ultimately bad for the uni-verse, because it treats our beat like fluff, instead of like a serious beat covered by serious journalists.

All of this has me wondering once again if the uni-verse is becoming more and more like the fashion world. Hope not. I believe in transparency, so I’ll keep you posted if I receive any more offers like this.

Update, 9:30am: Chris Creamer has sent me a quote/comment/etc. to add to the discussion, as follows:

I understand the concerns one may have with a journalist accepting free travel in exchange for story coverage. I share some of those concerns, and up until the last few weeks I personally had footed the entire bill for all of my trips to cover an unveiling. I set conditions with the team or league before finalizing these plans, the most important of which is that they do not get any say over what we write about in the post(s), and of course the full disclosure disclaimer you mentioned. It’s far from perfect but it addresses some of what would be my main concerns as a reader.

The entire reason I make the trip rather than staying home — home is nice, I don’t mind staying there too — is that it allows the opportunity to get very detailed information and photos that only “uni-nerds” like us would ever notice. (It’s not uncommon during my interviews that the answer begins with, “You’re the only one who would ask about that!”) The ultimate goal is to get as much information as I can get in order to put together a piece I know the reader will enjoy.

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Friday Flashback: Earlier this week I had the scoop on the NBA’s 2016 Christmas uniforms. My weekly Friday Flashback column on ESPN follows up on that by looking back at how the league has handled Christmas uniforms in years past (including the unfortunate “Big Logo” set from 2013, shown above). Check it out here.

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Annals of modern illiteracy, Vol. 973: The Indians and Royals will be playing a throwback game tomorrow at Progressive Field I still call it the Jake. KC will be wearing powder blues and Cleveland will be wearing the navy uniform you see above. Here’s how it will look from the front.

The good news is that they’re including the bicentennial patch that the Indians wore in 1976. The bad news is — well, see for yourself:

A classic apostrophe catastrophe — sigh. (For those unfamiliar with the problem, look here.)

And how did the patch actually look in 1976? Here are two examples — one from a game-used navy jersey and one from a game-used red jersey:

Interesting to see how cheapo those original patches appear to have been — not many threads per inch. The throwback repro is actually a much higher-quality patch. But they ruined it by botching the apostrophe.

The Orioles were unavailable for comment.

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Membership update: Reader RC Courtright may have set some kind of record yesterday. He placed his order for a membership card based on the Panthers’ new home jersey yesterday afternoon — several hours before it had even been released! As you can see at right, we quickly accommodated him.

I have one more slot open on the current batch. So as soon as we get one more order, I’ll get this batch printed, laminated, and shipped.

As always, you can order your own custom-designed membership card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and you can see how we produce the cards here.

• • • • •
Uni Watch Hit Parade: This week, due to a random reference not worth explaining, I’ve been listening a lot of songs by the 1980s indie-rock group Game Theory, especially their 1986 album, The Big Shot Chronicles.

The band’s frontman, the late Scott Miller, has serious devotees who consider him to have been a pop songwriting genius. I was never in that camp (I always found Miller too inconsistent, and he had a weakness for certain songwriting tropes that he leaned on too often), but Game Theory definitely nailed it on a handful of tunes. Here are the ones that I’ve been particularly enjoying this week:

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: The Kansas City Star put together a gallery where readers can give a yay or nay to 10 unis the Royals wore over the years (from Trent Guyer). … Yankees P Michael Pineda had a couple of shiny spots on his belt last night. Here’s another look (from George Falkowski). … Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh wore a Hank Aaron jersey while hosting a football camp in Atlanta yesterday (from Douglas Ford). … The uni-verse is largely negative towards two-in-one stirrup socks, but how about two-in-one socks-and-sandals? (From Jason Reed.) … The West Michigan Whitecaps will wear jerseys for Zombie Night next Saturday. … The Astros used to have a star on their stirrups (from Pro Football Journal). … The Forest City Owls, a summer collegiate team in North Carolina, have tequila sunrise jerseys and American flag jerseys (from Timothy Phillips). … Mariners closer Steve Cishek’s left stirrup loop came loose again last night. That’s at least three times this season that this has happened to him. Get that guy some athletic tape! … Eastern High School in New Jersey wears rugby-style hoop-striped jerseys (from Michael Driscoll).

NFL News: The Eagles took their name from the Blue Eagle symbol of the National Recovery Administration during the 1930s (from @Univers47). … ESPN created personal logos for 10 NFL players. Most of them were pretty clever, like the ones for Odell Beckham, Jr., and Darrelle Revis. A few were a bit obvious. … Packers WR Randall Cobb said that he won’t wear a microphone during games anymore. He said a battery pack caused an injury.

College Football News: Miami’s new practice jerseys have a retro touch. There’s obviously the lettering, but the block numerals evoke memories of the powerhouse teams of the 1980s (from Joe Wingard). … Here’s a good history of BYU uniforms. The Cougars look so good in royal blue. They should never stray from it (from @Cougar_Center). … Also in that BYU gallery, Matthew Toy spotted an odd-looking facemask.

Hockey News: The Coyotes will unveil a 20th-anniversary patch at an NHL Draft viewing party on June 24 (from Joe Farris). … Also, the Coyotes’ new AHL team in Tucson will be known as the Roadrunners. Delightful!

NBA News: Warriors coach Steve Kerr shattered his clipboard out of frustration during Game 1 of the Finals last night. [Imagine what he would have done if they had lost! ”” PL] … The Oakland Raiders bought a full-page ad to wish the Warriors luck in the NBA Finals. … The Santa Cruz Warriors planned to wear several Golden State Warriors-inspired fauxbacks this season before the D-League nixed the idea. … Chris Howell’s wife made Warriors-colored cookies, and Sean Spitzer found that Ohio bakers are producing Cavs-themed cookies. … A Redditor put up a Cavs tree for the Finals. … Cavs G Matthew Dellavedova inked a shoe deal with Peak. He’ll even get his own signature shoe. … Pacers F Paul George will be on the cover of NBA 2K17. … Not uniform-related, but the New York Times caught up with 99-year-old Minneapolis Lakers coach John Kundla, who still watches basketball. … New NBA Draft caps for the Kings and Pistons. … GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump apparently thinks the Warriors play in San Francisco.

College Hoops News: North Carolina freshmen received their jersey numbers. We can assume Tony Bradley, as pictured, will wear a JrOB jersey: Larry Drew II went RNOB a few years ago (from James Gilbert). … New court for Wisconsin. … Buffalo will receive these rings for winning the MAC title (from @ScottyBeats86).

Soccer News: Atlético Madrid’s Juanfran missed a big kick in the penalty shootout in Saturday’s loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Afterwards, he wrote a heartfelt letter to the fans, thanking them for support. His jersey sales have increased eightfold and he is now the team’s best seller. … Thom Gibbs ranked the 48 home and away kits for the teams participating in Euro 2016. … Manchester United’s new kit may have leaked (from Joe Mislan).

Grab Bag: Here’s a good history of how watch manufacturers have become so intertwined with Olympic sporting events (from Drew Stiling. … PGA Tour golfer Kyle Reifers wears some exceptionally large advertiser logos (from Douglas Ford). … Wal-Mart is bringing back its 1990s “Smiley” logo to some stores. … Two lifestyle apparel company notes from Tommy Turner: Under Armour named fashion designer Tim Coppens creative director of its new Sportswear division, and Nike, Adidas, and Converse are all launching gay pride apparel lines. … NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski lost eight pounds during the 600-mile race at Charlotte. “Keep in mind that drivers today are wearing a more breathable Nomex that was introduced in the last 15 years,” says David Firestone. “I’d love to know how much he would have lost with the older version.”

Comments (99)

    Typo at the end of the Basketball ticker. You kind of trailed off after Kings.

    So the “debunking” of the new Pistons logo rumor has now also been debunked?

    Paul, as someone whose 70s and 80s music knowledge is lacking, I always appreciate your posts on bands/artists. I’m often curious about what you’re listening to and what you have listened to in the past, so I want to say thanks.

    The Eastern High School link is broken (it was from me, sent it from my other account).

    I loved the old Panthers unis. Loved loved loved them. Probably my favorite of that era’s expansion unis. The detailed busy-ness of the leaping panther was a feature, not a bug for me. So I was kind of worried about the simpler treatments that appeared in store for the new Panthers unis. Despite that background, I really like what the Panthers have done here. On the whole, I think I still prefer their previous unis, but only just barely. And I wish the band on the front wrapped around the back. But the biggest thing for me is the well-executed color scheme. Red and gold is a vastly underused color scheme, and rarely used well when attempted (2005 Nats for example). The new Panthers unis look as good to me as the late-1980s 49ers.

    And I hope the NHL insists on regular C and A patches on the front in addition to the cool little shoulder patches.

    A friend of mine got a picture with Ed Jovanovski at the launch last night, and Ed’s jersey had both the sleeve patch and a normal C on the chest.

    This was specifically addressed in Paul’s article:
    “Viola said the team had considered not using the traditional “C” and “A” jersey designations and just going with the “Captain” and “Alternate” sleeve banners. That would have required a waiver from the league office because the NHL rulebook mandates the use of the “C” and “A.” But when team officials explored that possibility, they were told there would be no exceptions, so the letters and sleeve banners will both be used.”

    Thanks – I thought when I read Paul’s report last night that NHL approval of that was still an open question.

    Im not one for new uniforms but I think the Panthers got this right. Their new uni’s look great!!!

    “A team would never provide a beat writer’s airfare (that’s the newspaper’s responsibility)”

    In fact, I think that was pretty common until the ’70s, when papers started to care a lot more about keeping some distance from the institutions they covered.

    If you’re a team that would like the coverage, and the local papers (or other media) don’t think it’s in their interest to pay to send a reporter on the road, offering to cover those expenses makes sense. These days, most media value their independence too much to accept, but there are probably cases where such arrangements exist. In decades past, when relationships were cozier, everyone was happy to let the writers travel with the team at the team’s expense.

    In Uni Watch’s case, we know that Paul or Phil will cover unveilings of major league teams’ uniforms pretty thoroughly. If the club wants to make sure, though, or it’s a team that’s afraid its new unis will be a mere Ticker item, offering travel is understandable. Of course, so is the firm refusal to accept those offers.

    If you’re a team that would like the coverage, and the local papers (or other media) don’t think it’s in their interest to pay to send a reporter on the road, offering to cover those expenses makes sense.

    Of course it makes sense — *from the team’s perspective.* Just like bribery makes sense from the briber’s perspective, kickbacks make sense from the kickbacker’s perspective, and so on.

    But it’s not the way things should work.

    Regarding the Florida Panthers new unis, they kind of give off a soccer vibe with the crest and the stripe. Like the Kings, Capitals, NFL Dolphins, and others, they got it right from the beginning, no significant change was necessary.

    Speaking as a journalist (and devil’s advocate) I’m not sure there is a huge difference between accepting travel and accepting a freebie that comes through the mail.

    In my previous job I had to declare to the company anything I’d received as a gift or hospitality that cost more than £300 ($436). If it was for something I had to review or write about (say flights, hotel and meal for a travel story or a piece of consumer electronics) then this didn’t need to be declared. It all stemmed from bribery self-regulation after the Leveson Inquiry here in the UK.

    I tried to take the kc royals uniform survey but the first 4 pics were b&w which made me think I was making an uninformed uniform decision and I’m all about integrity when I vote so I stopped mid-survey.

    It reminded me of this classic C&H strip


    Is one of the Tony Romo logos a depiction of a guy with a cap and a clipboard? Seriously, what is that supposed to be?


    personally I would have gone with a silhouette of a guy getting the Heimlich…with a Starter cap on.

    Proofreading: Royals and Indians will wear a patch on the throwbacks. “The Orioles were unavailable for comment.”

    Not sure why they would have a comment ;)

    Wow!!! I had no idea. I have always been baffled by this apostrophe phenomenon, but that application is so small I’m not surprised I never noticed. I am very surprised, however, that I missed hat article.


    Typo: “Warriors coach Steve Kerr shattered his clipboard out of frsutration during Game 1 of the Finals last night.”

    Bittersweet about the death of press junkets having been an unlikely recipient once, but good for you to stand up for what you believe in Paul.

    As noted in today’s text, press junkets are still common in certain media circles. Just not among real journalists.

    Indeed, though some of that “press” has been replaced by “celebrity” or worse “influencer” (like some kid who gets a lot of views on Vine)

    My fave feature of the new Panthers jersey is the four hole lace collar. I realize they probably used this so they could create the X with the laces, but I think the four hole looks better than the usual six hole design.

    typo in the 2008 paragraph: “red-versus-blue matchup on the count.” I think you meant “red-versus-green matchup on the court.”

    I trust Paul completely but would laugh my ass off if the Vikings or Rockies had a uniform reveal for which they paid him to attend and he wrote a column the next day on the “gloriousness or purpality” (or would it be PURPLITUDE?)

    keep up the great work and objectivity, Mr Lukas!

    The shiny spots on Pineda’s belt are simply the result of light reflecting off the patent leather. Seems like more Yankees have been wearing the patent leather belts this season.

    Interesting that the belts get shinier just as the batting helmets turn matte.

    As someone who has done some very, very basic car writing for just a short time(and not many funds to do it with) I have not taken any money from other media outlets, manufacturers, dealers, or groups and although I could use the cash if offered it would ruin the honesty I try to put on my site.

    I’m really surprised how far the Raiders have gone to be accommodating to the other teams in town recently after they, from what I remember, were pretty much a nobody exists but us and enemies mentality.

    “Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh wore a Hank Aaron jersey while hosting a football camp in Atlanta yesterday (from Douglas Ford)”

    It may have had Aaron’s name and number on it, but the Braves never wore that particular jersey when Aaron played for them in Milwaukee or Atlanta. The Braves had numbers on the front of their jerseys during their Milwaukee days and for most of Aaron’s time in Atlanta except from 1968-71 when they wore pinstripes at home. And they switched to the infamous softball tops in 1972.

    link — Milwaukee (1955-65)

    link — Atlanta (1966-74)

    Nice attention to detail, Harbaugh. Stick to football.

    I admire your stance on accepting travel and lodging. This is a common practice in technology as well. At first there were independent bloggers but most were either hired by companies or became “hired guns” by attending every conference out there as a guest of a company with the understanding they would create several blog posts on what the company was promoting. In many cases this is a cheaper advertising method

    In many cases this is a cheaper advertising method.

    Bingo. It’s back-door advertising, which of course is bullshit. Yet another form of advertising that needs to be called by that name (see: sponsorship), and yet another front in the war against corporate influence.

    I’m pleasantly surprised at how straight-up good these new Panthers unis are. The shield looks great, the leaping panther logo is a fantastic update to the original, the stripe looks really good, captain’s shoulder patches are very cool, and the little Florida flag string tie touch just works.

    Agreed. I think it’s one of the most successful makeovers we’ve seen in quite some time. As I was taking it all in and writing about it, I found myself thinking, “This all seems so easy. Why can’t everyone do this?”

    This is a point I wonder about all the time. With all of the money and resources available to teams, plus the importance on many levels of coming up with a successful design, why don’t I like most new uniforms? I think the Panthers new look is decent but I don’t think it’s a home run.

    Is it even possible to come up with a great design? Maybe my expectations are too high. Maybe I remember when I was younger and got really excited about new designs – the San Jose Sharks comes to mind.

    Trying to think of a newer jersey design I think is really great. Only one I can come up with is the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL.

    The Panthers did what the Jaguars should have done. I would guess they learned from that fiasco and didn’t want similar bad press. I think their new uniforms look great. Well done.

    I went to the Panthers unveiling last night and it was interesting to listen to the owner’s son: John Viola. He admitted to being “a complete uniform and sports logos nerd”…or something along those lines. In other words, I think he Gets It. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the one who was heavily involved in your invite down to Florida. And I don’t think he extended the invite as a way to sway your perception of the re-design, although I get your point on how it affects a principled journalist. I just think John Viola wanted to have “uni-centric” folks like him in the crowd because he knew he had done his homework and had a winner on his hands. But kudos to you for sticking to your principles.

    I interviewed John and quoted him extensively in my ESPN piece. He is absolutely one of us, and I suspect that may have a lot to do with why this redesign was so successful.

    About this:

    I don’t think he extended the invite as a way to sway your perception of the re-design…

    I don’t think so either. I didn’t say that, and I certainly didn’t mean to imply it. But even if the offer was made in good faith (and even, for that matter, if I had accepted it in good faith), accepting it would still be inappropriate.

    As for “sticking to my principles,” there’s more to it than that — it’s against ESPN company policy (a policy that I happen to support and agree with).

    My question is this: after so many teams/businesses have botched the apostrophe, why is it still happening? One of those nagging questions that perpetually bother me.

    1) Many, many people are not good at grammar or punctuation. That is particularly true regarding apostrophes.

    2) Companies of all sorts, including sports teams, used to routinely have copyeditors who looked at all of their written/printed communications, including their patch designs.

    3) When budgets are slashed, copyeditors are usually among the first to go.

    Generally not. A HUGE part of the problem is the proliferation of software that’s smart enough to know to use open and closed quotes where appropriate when typing a quote, but not smart enough to recognize when you’re not typing a quote and only an apostrophe is needed.

    Gotchya – Idk what professionals use~ I guess I was thinking if I had to recreate the look of that patch, I’m pulling up illustrator. Using Ariel for a font. Then knowingly having to flip the thing upside down.

    The fact that the Panthers’ chest stripe doesn’t wrap around reminds me of the 1926-27 Toronto St. Pats’ sweater, which had a similar treatment. Though, personally, I would’ve liked to have seen the full wraparound.

    Also, this is the first time a team’s home and road uniforms will have numbers on the shoulders since the 1980-88 Pittsburgh Penguins. Though I never understood why they did that, since the 1980 jerseys was based on the preceding 1977 navy and Columbia blue jerseys, just with different color arrangements, and the 1977 jerseys had the numbers on the sleeves.

    I always thought the Pens put the numbers on the shoulders so the colours of the numbers would be the same as on the back. This is due to the upper sleeve being yellow on both jerseys.

    Not a hard solution to come up with different numbers for the sleeves but back then maybe it wasn’t a consideration.

    Hey, let’s not forget about link.

    On second thought, perhaps we should just go ahead and forget about them.

    “a team’s home and road uniforms” – meaning REGULAR home and road uniforms, not thirds (like Edmonton this last year with their WHA throwbacks), not special one-offs.

    Speaking from experience, the numbers on the shoulders read much better from the cheap seats. In that sense, moving the numbers to the cutouts was a disappointment.

    The numbers on the shoulders was a bit of a fad in the late 70s and early 80s.

    77-78 Cleveland Barons and 82-83 LA Kings come to mind. They did this on the home and road unis.

    Great discussion here in the comments on the potential conflict of interest piece.

    I tend to believe objectivity in journalism, while a virtue, is also something slowly disappearing for a few reasons:

    1. Broadcast rights are so valuable. I’ve been a part of stations, and have noticed stations, who change the amount (more) and tone (more positive) they use in talking about teams in the weeks before broadcast rights are coming up, thinking such coverage could sway decision-making. It’s sad and it’s bad ethics, but there are beancounters and people in charge who got to be beancounters and people in charge by not caring about such non-revenue concepts like ethics.

    2. There’s so little money in the rank-and-file media anymore, particularly any written form and radio. You’re telling me the journalist who barely makes enough to pay his rent, much less feed his family, isn’t going to listen if he’s offered something extra to write a fluff piece?

    3. Objective media is withering because of the multiple channels available now. It’s essentially a third-party that’s sometimes being cut out of the process. Once upon a time, the media had the power and the teams didn’t. The teams needed the press coverage to get out the info about what the team was doing. Now, though, every league and team has a website and social media channels where they can deliver highlights, stories, columns, et al., to fans without needing the media, not to mention they can put their own “spin” on things and not have to deal with that pesky objectivity thing.

    I do some media work on a freelance basis, It’s nowhere near enough to survive on. I have a day job and my media work only adds up to about 10 percent of my day-job income. I will fully admit that I have worked for some of the teams I cover, though never at the same time I’ve been covering them. For me, it’s a matter of who signs the paycheck for the work I’m doing in that moment. I might cover a team one day, then work for it the next. I make it clear to everyone that I have to do what’s best for who’s signing the check — that means being objective and negative when warranted about the team if I’m covering them, but positive and upbeat about the team when I’m working for them.

    I often times struggle and acknowledge that the specter for conflict of interest is there. Yet while it’s important to me to do everything possible to avoid it, in the interest of both growing my career by taking every possible opportunity and just because of the income, I feel like it’s a balancing act I have to try and execute, and I think a lot of other journalists probably are in situations where they feel the same.

    At the same time, those who can and do have the ability to avoid such scenarios are doing the right thing.

    We live in an age of “advertorial” content, though it’s not new — I interned at a TV station 10 years ago, and it was amazing to me how important it was, on a day there were a couple bigger breaking sports stories going on, that we *absolutely had to* send a camera to a signing event for some no-name cyclists at a bike shop that just happened to be a station advertiser. But, like anything else, part of why I love this blog is because it knows “profitable” and “the right thing to do” are two separate things. Keep it up, Paul.

    Good, thoughtful commentary.

    But about this:

    I often times struggle and acknowledge that the specter for conflict of interest is there. Yet while it’s important to me to do everything possible to avoid it, in the interest of both growing my career by taking every possible opportunity and just because of the income, I feel like it’s a balancing act I have to try and execute, and I think a lot of other journalists probably are in situations where they feel the same.

    If you can justify something because it’s “growing [your] career” and/or “just because of the income,” you’ve basically rationalized ethics out of the equation.

    Dan, you and I have met, and I don’t think you are an unethical person. I don’t mean to sound accusatory or personally critical, and I’m hoping this was just some unfortunate wording on your part. I just think it’s important to point out that career ambitions and $$$ are precisely the issues at the root of this problem. If you treat those two issues as justifications, you’ve basically turned the ethics on their head.

    … this is one of those moments where I kind of hang my head in shame, because … well … I wish I could justify it more or better, but I can’t.

    It’s not so much the money, because I’m not necessarily out on the street begging, not to mention that I do some freelance work voluntarily. For others I know, though, I’m guessing that might play in. I have journalist friends who have to make some really major life sacrifices — living with parents until long after folks should, taking mass transit in areas where it’s not always safe to do so to get to work, etc. I was stunned at some of what I saw folks do at some other stations just to stay in the biz.

    But I’d be lying if the scratch-and-claw to try and get further, to earn respect, to not close doors, to just have the chance to prove what I can do, to try and offer more for less and to just “stay in the game” doesn’t play in.

    Sometimes I wonder if I’m actually helping myself or not. I did once get blowback for being negative on social media about a place where I do work while working for another outlet. I tried not to let it affect my content, but I know it affected my psyche.

    But … I dunno. When you feel like you might be good at what you do, you have a dream to do it at higher levels, and you seem to be good at finding ways to do it at a variety of low levels, but not at getting to the level you desire, it’s difficult to close doors, even when you know you might be putting yourself into compromising positions.

    It’s more than fair for you to call it out, Paul, and I wish I had a better explanation. All I can say is how conscious of it I am and how much I try to be fair. Maybe that’s not possible. But I also feel like giving up the smaller pieces would be potentially giving up a little on trying to get someplace bigger. I wish I could find a way to make it better than it is, but maybe I have to settle for the fact I’m sacrificing some of my own ethics, for now, while I try to get to the point where I don’t have to do so. But maybe that isn’t any better.

    [shrug] I’m trying to do the right thing, but I also acknowledge the Dunning-Kruger Effect, i.e. the more I know I might not be doing the right thing, the more I wonder if I am. It’s not an easy or comfortable conundrum.

    The Kansas City Star put together a gallery where readers can give a yay or nay

    Psst, Mike… It’s yea, or nay.

    My opinions:

    I would have no problem having you accept a team-sponsored trip to cover an event IF it results in a better, more detailed story for your audience/readers/trolls. If you feel that you can create the same content remotely, then I support your position.

    From time to time, you float the idea of Uni Watch become a pay site. If it gets to that point, I would much rather you take corporate money instead of our money.

    If it gets to that point, I would much rather you take corporate money instead of our money.

    And your reason for that preference is..?

    Because I love this site and I want it to remain part of my daily reading, but I would not pay for that privilege.

    So you’d rather run the risk of having me sell out my ethics (and sell out the integrity of the information I provide to you) than pay to avoid that risk.

    Hey, at least you’re honest about it.

    And I also have confidence that you could create the same content without compromising the integrity

    But if you want to use this case as a hypothetical example, how do you think your article about the Panthers’ unveiling would have changed if you accepted their trip?

    Can’t say — too hypothetical. But on some level I’m sure I’d end up thinking of the team and its staff more as friends and partners, instead of as a subject to write about. And that’s precisely why such an offer should not be accepted — it affects the writer’s psyche, which in turn affects his/her reporting.

    For my buck, the pastel blue KC road pullover was their best look. It ought to be brought back as an alternate, maybe updated with a belt and buttons.

    The FLORIDA and PANTHERS on the sleeve seem backward to me. It’s opposite of the baseball standard with the city on the roads.

    They already have the state name on the front of the road jersey and the nickname on the front of the home, so it makes perfect sense to do nickname on the road sleeves and state on the home sleeves.

    The Panthers unveiling also raises a question, do any other teams have that sort of “earn your stripes” modification to their preseason jerseys? I know the Wings don’t arch their nameplates for preseason games, but do any other product teams do something similar? (Not counting Spring Training jerseys in MLB)

    I always thought that was for the convenience of the equipment staff rather than any concept of players “earning” them.

    too bad they couldn’t add a second logo to the other side of the helmet! Can’t stand that quirk.

    Although I didn’t entirely agree with the rankings of the Euro 16 kits, I loved the commentary. And having Spain’s home kit in the # 1 spot? ¡Sí, claro!

    Great job on the Panthers by Reebok but I’m a little confused, isn’t Adidas taking over in the NHL?

    Not until 2017-18. Same season that Nike takes over the NBA (with roughly the same very large number of fans mistakenly thinking the changeover is coming this fall).

    But that raises me another question, how and where will adidas add their stamp to these?

    At least the BYU uni history covered the early years better than the Arkansas one from yesterday. The Arkansas history jumped right away to modern years.

    The BYU history was fun to look at.

    That picture of Larry Dierker is the first time I’ve seen the Astros with McAuliffe numerals on the back. What season was that?

    Paul, You didn’t meantion it, but the new Wisconsin court has some new logos on it that might be a hint of some changes with the coming Under Armor change.

    Today’s entry really connected with me. Without getting to specific as to avoid being identified outright by any potential employers, I currently cover the comic book industry on a freelance basis for several culture websites. While I’ve never been offered any type of free trip or what have you, I have spent a lot of time talking to comic professionals and inevitably getting to know them on a somewhat personal basis. I have never let this interfere with any of my reviews (though truth be told there is a certain writer whose stuff I won’t review because they’ve become a bit of a mentor to me and I don’t feel it would be ethical) but I can see how others might. Especially since many of us who write about comics are doing so to try and break into the industry and some will give good reviews out of fear of burning bridges. While I have never compromised a review or opinion piece for any reason such as that, I can see where the temptation comes from. I greatly appreciate Paul speaking about the subject so openly.

    On to actual uni-matters, I must say I disagree on the Panthers uniforms. I find them to be utterly generic and greatly prefer their former design and crest. That said, I did appreciate the reference the owner’s son made to Spider-Man for reasons that should be obvious.

    Interesting lede today.

    Can I ask a question?

    I understand and support completely your position on taking benefits from someone you’re supposed to be covering. You’re a journalist and I would be shocked if it were any other way.

    But how does it work for ESPN as an organization? ESPN is both a news organization reporting on the NFL, and a broadcast partner of the NFL. There are plenty of stories about the NFL influencing coverage on stuff like concussions.

    Is there ever a conflict between “organizational” ethics and individual journalist ethics?

    I imagine this is not an issue for the NYT and other “pure” news organizations that are not also broadcast or promotional partners of leagues. But I stand to be corrected on that.

    I think it would be fair to say that ESPN’s relationship with the leagues it covers is complicated. The same is true of CBS, NBC, ABC (which owns ESPN), Fox, TNT, and all the other networks that both cover and broadcast sports. Ditto for all the local TV and radio outlets that cover leagues and teams while broadcasting their games. It’s all very fraught.

    The situation is even more complicated for the new generation of networks that are *owned* by the teams they cover. Example: I’m a Mets fan, and most of the Mets’ TV coverage comes from SNY — which is owned by the Mets. Just how free are the team’s broadcasters to criticize the team?

    I can’t speak for any of those other outlets, because I haven’t worked for them. But I’ll say this: The standards and policies at ESPN are spelled out very explicitly.

    It’s also worth noting that ESPN — primarily thru its “Outside the Lines” program, but also thru more “normal” reporting channels — has broken many, many stories that have been critical of, and detrimental to, its broadcast partners. Just last week OTL had the latest in a long run of exclusives on the NFL/concussion issue. It’s not a stretch to say that the concussion issue would not be part of the current public dialogue if not for OTL. So for people who say ESPN is totally in bed with the leagues and can’t do any hard reporting on them, the OTL content suggests otherwise.

    Big thumbs up to the Panthers new jersey, I was always a bit annoyed at how the old uniform flipped flopped between gold (metallic) and yellow. i.e. logo gold, jersey trim yellow.

    I did really like the old logo, and wonder how it would look on the new design.

    I’m a big supporter of the Montreal Canadiens stripe, I’m on the fence as to whether it needs to wrap around. I kind of like making numbers simple and clear.

    I just think it’s great you and Chris and what you do, has gotten notice to such an extent that teams/leagues want you there. I do find it amusing that the CFL offered to fly you – that’s a league that doesn’t have a whole lot of money, so you should view it as quite a complement.

    In regards to yesterday’s ticker item about Jose Bautista’s issue with the Pirates’ 2008 rule about socks,
    I can’t seem to find any proof that the rule was actually enforced. Game photos from that year show a mix of of players showing socks and going pajama style.

    As a Panthers fan since day 1, I’m sad to see the leaping Panther logo get replaced. It’s a classic and I look fwd to its eventual return. While it is nice to see non-FL fans liking the new stuff, this fan doesn’t like change. My Marlins and Dolphins also downgraded to uglier logos, so this isn’t making me want to buy new stuff either. Plus I don’t like new owners barging in and changing everything they can. Let good things be, especially when you’re copying it from other teams and the Army.

    That said: Go Panthers!

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