Monthly Archives: December 2019

Nike selling LeBron James Ohio State ‘alumni’ jersey

As has been well documented, LeBron James didn’t attend college.

But if he did, the 4-time MVP claims he would have gone to Ohio State.

“Absolutely, I wouldn’t have gone nowhere else,” James said during an appearance on ESPN’s “College GameDay” in Columbus in 2008. “I would have been right here wearing this red and this gray, baby.”

But while James said he would have been a Buckeye and has been one of Ohio State’s most public supporters and fans, it’s again worth noting that he never actually attended the school, opting instead to jump straight to the NBA out of Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in 2003.

Nevertheless, Nike — which has ties to both James and the Buckeyes — is now producing a replica James Ohio State basketball jersey, which is available for purchase on Fanatics.com for $119.99.

While Nike has expanded its “Alumni” football jersey collection in recent years, the James Ohio State jersey is just one of two basketball jerseys currently available for purchase in the line. The other is a Vince Carter North Carolina jersey, which serves as a nod to the 8-time All-Star’s college career in Chapel Hill.

Despite James having never actually played for Ohio State, that hasn’t stopped the Akron native from proclaiming himself a Buckeye. And it also likely won’t stop his new replica jersey from becoming a popular item in Columbus and perhaps all across the country.

While Nike has expanded its “Alumni” football jersey collection in recent years, the James Ohio State jersey is just one of two basketball jerseys currently available for purchase in the line. The other is a Vince Carter North Carolina jersey, which serves as a nod to the 8-time All-Star’s college career in Chapel Hill.

Yet despite James having never actually played for Ohio State, that hasn’t stopped the Akron native from proclaiming himself a Buckeye. And it also likely won’t stop his new replica jersey from becoming a popular item in Columbus and perhaps all across the country.

Zion Williamson Is Not Invincible and That Is Okay

For years, he wasn’t human, he was just Zion—a one-name prodigy, who possessed such a magnificent talent that no one could be blamed for re-thinking Newton’s laws of gravity.

In high school, we were mesmerized by his countless rim-shocking dunks that filled our Instagram feeds. We watched as Drake and Odell Beckham Jr. wore his Spartanburg Day jersey, and we observed how a singular talent made a small private school in South Carolina one of the hubs of the college basketball recruiting circuit.

He joined Duke, a school with a history of hosting college basketball’s most villainous figures, and made it not only must-watch, but nearly must-love. As he stat-stuffed box scores, we learned that at one time he was a “hell of a poet,” that he enjoyed studying the history of hip hop and that he undertook a semiotic analysis of Disney films. He became the third freshman to win the Naismith National Player of the Year award. Accolades, however, don’t describe the visceral excitement of watching him play.

“Zion Williamson seems like an outstanding young man as well as an outstanding basketball player,” President Obama tweeted about future No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson in February of last year.

But consider, the context of that tweet. The fact that it came on Feb. 20, 2019, the night that with America watching, Williamson blew through his left Nike shoe, spraining his right knee. “Wishing him a speedy recovery,” President Obama added in the same message.

It was on that night, that it became crystal clear that the man who might have been from Mount Zion, was more mortal than we once thought. Months later, as the calendar turns over, it’s even more apparent that behind the multiple facets of Zion Williamson the person, there are multiple facets of Zion Williamson the player. Among others, there is the high-flying, gravity-defying freak coupled with the player who is rehabbing an injury akin to any layperson—or at least normal NBA player.

At the start of NBA Summer League, the Pelicans prepared to face off against the New York Knicks. A sellout crowd entered the Thomas & Mach Center expecting to see one kind of earthquake, and ended up witnessing another. But besides the literal tectonic shift, the Pelicans also felt the slightest of waves. In the first half against the Knicks, Williamson took a knee-to-knee hit and suffered a minor knee bruise. He was shut down for the rest of the competition.

A few weeks later, the NBA announced that New Orleans would be booked for a franchise-record 30 national TV games, including on opening night and on Christmas. Excitement justifiably persisted.

When the preseason began, Williamson’s summer hiccup was overlooked almost immediately. His generational physicality was on display as his strength and explosiveness led him to perform as few rookies ever had—albeit in the preseason. But Williamson was held out of the Pelicans’ fifth exhibition game with knee soreness.

A third of the regular season has progressed and the NBA world is still waiting on an arrival years in the making.

On Dec. 18, it was reported that Williamson had returned to full weight-bearing exercises and had participated in a shootaround. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said that Williamson had made “really good progress” in his rehab process after needing a late-October meniscus surgery on his right knee. “I think we’re a little ways away yet, but today was a really big first step,” he said on Pelicans’ TV broadcast that night.

It was one small step for a man once considered not to be from mankind.

At 9-23, the Pelicans have one of the worst records in the NBA. They are again in the bottom third of league attendance. When Williamson hurt his knee at Duke, countless pundits and NBA players alike told him to end his college career months in advance. Isaiah Thomas tweeted “Zion sit you a** down lol…” Trae Young wrote “Zion Need to Chill Out the Rest of Season.”

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to feel that way again—or at least that the team ought not to rush him back—as we enter 2020. A surprising number of former top picks have missed large portions of their rookie seasons in recent years: Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and Blake Griffin, to name a few. Plus, New Orleans is seemingly out of the playoff hunt, forcing the team to weigh the short-term with the long-term.

Any conversations about Williamson ending his rookie season before it even begins are likely for naught. Last year, he showed last season that he doesn’t care what the national punditry says about his status. Despite the countless calls for him to rest, he continued playing. Even after Duke lost in the NCAA Tournament, Williamson was spotted days later rocking the basketball support of a campus gym.

Plus, it’s clear from recent news he wants to play this season. ESPN’s Jorge Sedano reported Christmas night that the team is teaching Williamson how to walk and run differently, “working on the kinetic chain of his body.” He’s eager to return, Sedano and ESPN’s Andrew Lopez add, but the team needs to him to partake in a few full practices before he sees game action. He hasn’t participated in 5-on-5 drills yet, but the increasing number of video clips showing him shooting around show a debut will be coming down the line.

When he does return, whenever that day comes, he will again re-claim his one-name status and will likely continue flooding Twitter and Instagram with electrifying moments.

Williamson will soar again, but any aura of invincibility has vanished. When he does put on his No. 1 Pelicans jersey, there will be no debate, Zion Williamson is human after all.

Detroit Pistons done in by Blake Griffin’s stinker of a game vs. 76ers, 125-109

Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose were available Monday night.

The result was the same for the Detroit Pistons.

And it was a former teammate doing significant damage in the Pistons’ fifth straight loss.

Former Piston Tobias Harris scored 35 points in leading the Philadelphia 76ers to a 125-109 victory at Little Caesars Arena.

After missing two straight games — he has missed 15 total — Griffin’s struggles continued this season, as he had eight points on 2-for-14 shooting.

Griffin’s frustrations grew as the game wore on.

After getting tangled with Harris — the main player in the 2018 trade that sent Griffin to the Pistons — both players were hit with technical fouls.

On the Pistons’ next possession, Griffin was fouled while driving to the basket.

Praying for the plus-one opportunity, he yelled, “Make a (expletive) shot, Blake” as the ball rolled off the rim.

The 76ers (22-10) controlled the game from the outset, fully taking control in the fourth quarter.

Furkan Korkmaz scored 21 points and Ben Simmons had a triple-double with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 17 assists.

Andre Drummond outplayed his tormentor, Joel Embiid, on the stat sheet.

Drummond, who didn’t start because he missed the morning shootaround, finished with 27 points and nine rebounds while Embiid scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

The Pistons were out-rebounded by 18 — the third straight game they have been out-rebounded by at least 15.

The Pistons’ average margin of defeat during the five-game skid is 15.2 points.

The Pistons (11-20) were missing Luke Kennard (knee) and Bruce Brown (calf).

Slow start

The 76ers are a quick-starting team so Casey mentioned the first quarter as key.

“We’ve got to be very conscious of taking care of the ball, making sure we throw it to the same-colored jerseys,” Casey said. “There’s so many fundamental issues we’re fighting through with team — who’s playing, who’s not playing, who’s in, who’s out — that we have a lot to take care of.”

The Pistons still started slowly.

They committed five turnovers, which led to seven points for the 76ers, who also shot 50% in the quarter.

But Morris and Mykhailiuk were a combined 3-for-3 from 3-point range to keep the Pistons within shouting distance.

Harris’ 10 points paced the 76ers to a 30-23 lead.

MLB expected to make over $1 billion in Nike uniform deal — and jersey sponsors seem inevitable

If you’ve seen a new MLB uniform unveiling or an introductory player press conference this winter, you’ve likely noticed that the Nike swoosh now can be found prominently on the front chest of every jersey across the league. The addition of the swoosh comes as Nike takes over as MLB’s official uniform outfitter. It is part of a 10-year deal that began this offseason. Majestic had previously handled MLB uniforms.

Plenty of people aren’t happy with Nike putting their logo on the front of every jersey, especially when it comes to some of the timeless classic uniforms like those belonging to the Yankees and Cardinals. Some think the swoosh could have less intrusive placement, like on a jersey sleeve, while others want it gone completely.

But MLB will weather the storm and have few regrets regarding their decision if the financial reward is anywhere near what it’s expected to be. According to the New York Post, the 10-year agreement between Nike, MLB and Fanatics is valued at over $1 billion.

In addition to the monetary benefit, it’s also believed that the unavoidable presence of the swoosh on MLB uniforms is going to help the league appeal to a younger audience.

“Demand is up significantly based on adding the swoosh to the uniform and is bringing in younger consumers to the sport and a marketing halo from Nike,” Fanatics founder and executive chairman Michael Rubin told the Post

Purists may be up in arms over the swoosh, which is the first manufacturer’s logo to ever grace the front of a MLB uniform, but they should probably get used to it. Not only is Nike’s logo unlikely to go anywhere, but it will likely lead to MLB putting additional branding on jerseys in the near future. MLB executive president of business and sales Noah Garden said it’s “inevitable” that jersey patch sponsorships are coming.

“We’re examining the patch, but clearly we have things to work through first,” said Garden, via Sports Business Daily. “I’d say it’s inevitable down the road, but certainly not immediate. This is something that requires a fairly long runway. There are lots of things to take into consideration, but I think we will get there.”

It’s believed that jersey ad patches could arrive as soon as 2022, when the league enters a new labor deal with the MLBPA. As the league seeks to lay the groundwork for jersey sponsorship, players could use it as a bargaining chip in CBA negotiations as a way to gain concessions.

That means MLB would be following a similar path as the one the NBA has taken in recent years. Nike became the official outfitter of the NBA in 2017 and made sure the swoosh was prominent on the front of jerseys. Soon thereafter, the NBA also saw a rise in jersey sponsorships. The jerseys ads were initially met with resistance from fans, which is to be expected, but the pushback eventually died down. Fans got used to is. As of 2019, all 30 NBA teams have a sponsorship patch on their jersey.

It seems fair to expect a similar sort of progression with MLB, though the resistance may be a bit stronger considering the prominence of baseball purists. It’s a sport that’s heavily rooted in history and tradition, and one that doesn’t have a fantastic track record of being progressive or kind to change.

But whether you like it or not, baseball jerseys are changing. Tht little Nike swoosh may just be the beginning.

For the Army-Navy game, every Mids player wears a military patch, and every patch tells a story

In every way but one, this military patch looks like all the others that have been affixed throughout the years onto the flight suits of those in the Naval Aviation Schools Command. On a background of olive green sits a navy-blue triangle jammed with symbols: an anchor, a shield centered on a pair of wings, a lit torch and two swords whose tips meet to form a point.

The only element that distinguishes this specific patch from its siblings is the black bar that has been stitched across it. The bar bears not a name but a date — Dec. 6, 2019.

That was the day a Saudi airman opened fire on a classroom at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people and wounding eight. Among those killed was Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in May and who last month reported to Pensacola to begin aviation training.

On Saturday, Navy senior outside linebacker and team captain Nizaire Cromartie will honor the victims of the shooting when he wears the NASC Memorial Patch on his uniform, just below his left shoulder pad and just above his heart, in the 120th installment of the Army-Navy game.

“When I asked him if he wanted to wear it, he sent me a message back and I explained to him the situation,” including that one of the victims was an academy graduate, said Greg Morgenthaler, Navy’s associate athletic director for equipment operations. “His words — it was true leadership of a Navy captain: ‘I would be honored and blessed to play for this young man.’ ”

All Navy players will wear a patch honoring a military unit for the game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, where Navy (9-2) will play for its first win against Army (5-7) since 2015.

Midshipmen players have worn unit patches on their Army-Navy game uniforms for at least 29 years, a tradition that has become so deeply embedded that no one in the athletic department knows when it actually started. Each fall, every player dressing for the rivalry game gets to pick a patch to wear. If they don’t have a one in mind — it’s common to wear the unit patch of a loved one who has served — players can choose from the team stockpile.

Not every patch is worn in remembrance like the NASC Memorial Patch will be Saturday. The Midshipmen pick their patches for a variety of reasons — some wear patches from ships named for their home states, some choose the patches of former players, and some choose solely based on colors.

But make no mistake, there are rules to the selection process. Wearing patches from Strike Fighter Squadron 154, which coincidentally shares the nickname “Black Knights” with the Army football team, is outlawed. Players also aren’t allowed to wear patches of Army or Air Force units without having a family tie or another good reason; this year, quarterback Malcolm Perry was one such exception.

Sometimes players are asked to wear a specific patch. Vice Adm. Sean Buck, the Naval Academy superintendent, requested this week that a player wear the NASC Memorial Patch.

“Those are the ones that I push to guys first — not that I force it on them, but I’ll explain the situation, then leave it up to them,” said Morgenthaler, who keeps patches of units that will be deployed while the Army-Navy game is played in his desk drawer. “If they look good, the kids are going to want to wear them. But, yeah, there are limits. The whole purpose of doing this is to honor Navy and Marine Corps units in one of the most visible ways possible.”

Beginning around late October every season, the Navy football equipment offices are turned into a patch buffet. Hundreds of patches of different colors and shapes are spread across tables for players to peruse, with ships or weapons or animals — dragons appear frequently — depicted on each one.

Morgenthaler, whose staff oversees the patches, likes to keep a stockpile of between 300 and 500 in storage containers year-round. When the supply runs low, Scott Strasemeier, Navy’s senior associate athletic director for sports information, will put out a call on social media.

“We probably got around 400 patches this year from that alone,” Morgenthaler said.

Some of the patches arrive with handwritten notes, usually from former football players or Naval Academy alumni, and units or ships will often send patches in bulk so the team has them on hand for future games. The service members sending patches aren’t tearing them off uniforms; they’re usually purchased in a ship store or online.

The equipment staff gives players until around Thanksgiving to make their selections. Then their work begins.

This year, equipment staffers Peter Ford and Shari Mangas were tasked with sewing not just one but three patches onto every uniform — one for each unit, one for college football’s 150th anniversary and one for the American Athletic Conference. That came out to 375 in total, with each patch taking between five to 10 minutes to sew.

“The circular ones? Those are Pete’s favorite ones,” Morgenthaler said. “No weird edges.”

While the players aren’t necessarily privy to the labor that goes into preparing the Army-Navy jerseys, they do know that patch selection can be serious business. Having a patch featured on a nationally broadcast football game is a huge source of pride for those within the unit.

Perry, the starting quarterback, was presented with his patch this year when the 105th Attack Squadron, a Tennessee Air National Guard squadron nicknamed “Old Hickory” that is based less than an hour away from Perry’s hometown of Clarksville, Tenn., invited the team captain for a special tour of its drone facility over the summer.

Ford Higgins, another senior captain, also had his selection sorted before the season began. The center will be wearing the patch of the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines, dubbed “America’s Battalion” for how many major conflicts it has been involved in, because he was asked to by a mentor, former player Adam West, when West visited fall camp.

West “wore number 72 before me. He’s an infantry Marine now, and he sent a nice letter along with his patch,” Higgins said. “He was a huge influence on me, and you take pride in who wears the number before you and who comes after.”

There is one patch that the athletic department gets onto a jersey every Army-Navy game: the SEAL Team 3 patch from former Navy lacrosse and football player Brendan Looney.

Looney was one of nine service members killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2010. Since his death, Stacie Michaud, an assistant athletic director for sports information who works with both the lacrosse and football teams, has asked the player who best embodies Looney’s leadership characteristics to wear the patch.

Michaud, who keeps a SEAL Team 3 patch in her press box credentials during the Army-Navy game, knew for years she would ask linebacker and captain Paul Carothers to wear the patch his senior year.

“It was pretty cool,” Carothers said. “Miss Stacie asked me about it, told me what it meant, and she felt that I was able to wear it proudly and carry on Brendan Looney’s legacy well. Of course, it was a yes.”

Christmas Day Basketball Jerseys Are Gone But Will Never Be Forgotten

It all started with a snowflake on Christmas in 2008. Scheduling a slate of five games throughout that day for the first time ever, the NBA showcased their best and brightest stars on the hardwood, all donning jerseys with a simple white ice crystal design surrounding their iconic logo. Before then, the NBA only featured one or two games on Christmas, a practice that started in 1947. The teams involved would wear their usual uniforms with no nod to the holiday. But that changed in 2008, when an understated snowflake design first appeared on the upper left chest of the jerseys of the teams playing. And just in case the snowflakes were too subtle, the NBA also scheduled one game that year where opposing teams wore hallmark Christmas hues of green or red as part of their uniforms.

That was the standard holiday attire until 2012, when the league and its then-uniform partner, Adidas, took a dramatic approach to Christmas jerseys, spearheading the “Big Color” campaign. Sans snowflakes, 10 teams sported monochromatic versions of their unis that year. Bold, garish, and hard to read with tonal lettering, they were eyesores on HDTVs across the country. But those 2012 uniforms marked a significant change in how the league differentiated franchises worthy of balling in the Yuletide games.

“[The NBA] decided to introduce new Christmas designs as a merchandising gimmick,” explained Paul Lukas of Uni Watch. “New uniforms on the court, new product to sell at retail.”

Every Christmas Day since 2012, Adidas tried out new jersey designs in hopes of securing the bag and finding something that resonated with fans. In 2013, superstars like Kevin Durant, then an Oklahoma City Thunder player, and James Harden of the Houston Rockets, wore sleeved jerseys with big team logos on the chests, but these “Big Logo” jerseys weren’t exactly popular. Steph Curry straight-up called them “ugly” after a loss that year, while Dallas Mavericks’ legend Dirk Nowitzki took to Twitter to deem the sleeved jerseys “awful.” Former Blazers’ big man Robin Lopez even called for “a mass burning of these sleeved NBA jerseys” on his social feed.

LeBron James didn’t co-sign them either, but his concerns were less aesthetic and more basketball-oriented. Days before his Miami Heat took the court on Christmas Day, James told journalist Joseph Goodman, “I can’t have my shooters out there worrying about some sleeves and not shooting the ball.” Eventually, James’ frustration with the NBA’s Christmas uniforms peaked two years later when “The King,” by then back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, literally ripped the sleeves off his jersey during a primetime game to improve his shooting motion. “The whole sleeved thing, whether on Christmas or for any other game, never worked,” Lukas tells Complex. “Keep it buried.”

The following year, Adidas cut the sleeved jerseys and scaled back the big logos, but added players’ first names on the backs of the uniforms. It was cute, but not quite what fans or players wanted. Still, in 2015, the NBA and The Three Stripes finally found a design that stuck. That year, players wore jerseys with their team names in old-fashioned script, recalling holiday cards of yore. That looked stayed for 2016, but once Nike took over the NBA’s apparel contract in 2017, the mini-tradition of Christmas-specific jerseys ended without so much as a press release explaining why. The news basically broke on the courts as people tuned in for the Christmas games. And fans weren’t in a jolly mood. “Nike not having Christmas unis this year is wack AF,” said content creator and host of the Flagrant 2 podcast, Kazeem Famuyide, in a now-deleted tweet. And that pretty much summed up fans’ reaction to the lack of Christmas gear that year.

Even though Nike hasn’t created uniforms for any of the last three Christmases, the company has pioneered its own holiday tradition of sorts, introducing “City Edition” jerseys in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. This year every team (minus the Memphis Grizzlies, who haven’t explained why) unveiled snazzy new uniforms that incorporate city zip codes and cultural elements into each jersey. And they had the media and fans buzzing with excitement.

Some, like the Denver Nuggets’ modern take on their classic ’80s rainbow skyline jerseys, were considered a drip and “just beautiful,” as Sports Illustrated gushed. OKC scored points for their social consciousness with uniforms honoring the victims and survivors of that city’s 1995 bombing. Graffiti and hip-hop culture influenced both the Los Angeles Clippers’ Old-English Mister Cartoon-designed uniforms and the Brooklyn Nets’ Notorious B.I.G. “Bed Stuy” jerseys, created by graf legend Eric Haze. Despite those successes, a few City Edition uniforms have been headscratchers. Let’s see a show of hands from people who knew that Milwaukee was called “Cream City.” And then there are the “WTF” uniforms, like the Dallas Mavericks’ Fresh Prince of Bel-Air-style anomalies.

But sadly, outside of wearing special edition warm-ups on Christmas Day, which an NBA rep confirmed will occur this year, there will be no special jawns for the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and the rest of the sport’s superstars to don by tip-off. Still, if there are special warm-ups on the horizon, they might be a sign that Christmas Day unis will be resurrected soon.

However, as it stands, that’s not officially in Nike’s or the NBA’s plans and that’s a real shame. No other sport competes with basketball on Christmas, so watching our favorite players in some exclusive ish just adds a special feeling to an already cherished day. Even though the concept was in its infant stages by the time Adidas’ apparel contract ceased, it became a beloved custom for hoops fans to look forward to, like spiked eggnog or walking the snow-covered streets with a mistletoe strapped to your head. Wearing City Edition unis, or any of the other standard designs, just doesn’t give off that “once-a-year” aura since teams will wear them throughout the season and the playoffs. Sure, a few designs from the past should be left there, but the way Nike has been churning out creative joints since teaming up with the NBA, there are likely no bounds to the flyness The Swoosh could add to some Christmas uniforms. But if they won’t do that, at the very least, please bring back the snowflake.

Lotto-Soudal become the latest team to reveal their 2020 kit

Not only is it the season to be merry, it’s also the season cycling teams reveal the kit we’ll spend hours watching on our screens or at the roadside during the coming season. With more black and blocky colours, this year’s offering from Lotto-Soudal is set to be among the most striking we’ll see during 2020.

With Vermac designing the new kit the Belgian team have stayed to the faithful to their compatriot company who have added far more black than previous designs.

The team don’t just have a men’s squad, but also boast an under-23 development squad and a women’s team. Indeed the women’s jersey differs slightly from the men’s, the main sponsors’ names swapping places.

In total four British riders will wear the new jerseys in 2020. Abby-Mae Parkinson and Danny Christmas will be representing the women’s squad, while both Jon Dibben and Matt Holmes have signed for the men’s WorldTour outfit.

The team have been on the up in recent years and the new kit will also adorn some big international names, with Australian sprinter, Caleb Ewan chief among them.

In his first year at the Belgian squad, Ewan bagged 10 of the team’s 23 victories. Three at July’s Tour de France were the standout results, with the final stage on the Champs Elysées the most obvious success.

While team stalwarts like Tim Wellens and Thomas de Gendt are set to continue bringing success in the new kit, the team have recruited well.

This year’s Paris-Roubaix winner Philippe Gilbert is returning to the squad he spent two successful seasons with nearly ten years ago. And if their classics squad wasn’t strong enough already, John Degenkolb, another Paris-Roubaix winner, also makes the move.

U.S. women’s national soccer team named TIME’s 2019 athlete of the year

The 2019 TIME athlete of the year isn’t a single person after all. Instead, the publication looked at the entire sports landscape and concluded that all 23 women on the U.S. women’s national soccer team were deserving of the honor.

There was simply no other choice. No other athlete or team captivated and impacted the world in 2019 more than the USWNT.

The choice wasn’t just about on-field results. Yes, the women won the World Cup in dominating fashion. A 13-0 drubbing of Thailand kicked things off, and a 2-0 victory against the Netherlands in the final completed that run.

On the way, the USWNT inspired and ignited folks around the world — and in the United States — both politically and socially. The team’s fight for equal pay became a rallying cry among both casual fans and those powerful enough to create legislation that could alter soccer’s status quo.

Megan Rapinoe was the talk of the event, not just because she scored six goals and received the Golden Boot award, but also because she stood up for her beliefs and did not back down when President Donald Trump came after her.

And while some were angry about the women’s willingness to speak out on issues they believed were important, the numbers suggest many embraced — or were at least interested by — the team’s message and approach.

The team’s jerseys became the highest-selling soccer shirts in Nike’s history. On the online retailer Fanatics, U.S. jersey sales spiked 500% over the 2015 World Cup. Global viewership of the tournament more than doubled per match, and a combined 1.12 billion viewers worldwide tuned in to coverage of the event across all platforms, a new record. On Halloween, young boys as well as girls were spotted around the country dressed up as Rapinoe and [Alex] Morgan.

While TIME’s award only focuses on 2019, the USWNT isn’t done fighting just yet. The equal pay fight will extend into 2020. The gender discrimination lawsuit the team filed against U.S. Soccer will go to trial in May. In July, the team will take part in the 2020 Olympics.

All of that creates a scenario where it’s easy to see the USWNT contending for the TIME athlete of the year award again in 2020. Compared to everything the team accomplished in 2019, taking home the award two years in a row shouldn’t be a challenge.

Why There’s No Reason to Freak Out Over Nike Swooshes on Baseball Jerseys

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Color Rush uniforms are back.

The team tweeted Tuesday that the uniforms will be worn for Sunday’s home game against the Buffalo Bills.

It will be the second time the team wears the special uniform this season. While sports uniforms can seem simple, they’re a bit more complicated in practice. In one sense, they’re just a commercially produced piece of clothing, worn by players during the action and fans supporting their team. In another, they’re an obvious outward representation of the club. That dichotomy is coming to a head in Major League Baseball, where Nike swooshes will start appearing on jerseys this season.

Unsurprisingly, many baseball fans aren’t happy with the deal. But do they have a legitimate gripe, or are they trying to fight city hall?
The history of baseball uniforms

While baseball is a game grounded in tradition, uniforms have changed quite a bit over the years. Some of the earliest teams took the field in oddly formal attire.

In 1849, the New York Knickerbockers became the first team to wear uniforms; every time they hit the diamond, they donned blue wool pants, white flannel shirts, and straw hats. Most Teams wore full-length pants—each squad had a different color, which helped them differentiate between teammates and opponents—but some, like the Cincinnati Red Stockings, wore shorter knickers with distinctive socks.

Over time, however, uniforms started to evolve. Teams slowly began wearing pinstripes and other patterns. Soon after, “shield front” jerseys were replaced with more conventional logos; collars began to shrink before disappearing for good. Playing accessories also evolved, with conventional baseball caps and cleats replacing straw hats and soft leather shoes.

Despite those changes, baseball uniforms have generally remained consistent since roughly 1910. While there have been some notable attempts to shake things up—like the Chicago White Sox’s infamous shorts or additions of kelly green and burgundy to the color pallet—the simple cap, jersey, and pants have become part of baseball’s timeless charm.
The Nike Swoosh comes to baseball uniforms

Since 2004, Major League Baseball uniforms have been made by Majestic. When teams first take the field in spring, however, they’ll be wearing Nike-branded attire.

While Majestic only stitched a small logo onto the sleeve of each jersey, Nike will not be taking a similar approach. Instead, the company’s iconic Swoosh will sit on every team’s chest. No organization, not even traditional clubs like the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers, will be exempt from the branding.

Given the sport’s affinity for unwritten rules and tradition, many baseball fans had a visceral reaction to the Nike Swoosh. Angry posts flooded social media; the logo was decried as awful, tacky, and ruining the sport.

An additional logo isn’t the end of the world

Sports are an incredibly personal thing for all fans. Relationships with teams can go back generations and tie disparate groups together; someone may love the Yankees, for example, because their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all fans of the club. While that makes the reaction over a simple Nike Swoosh understandable, it’s still a bit overblown.

At the end of the day, a jersey is already a piece of branded apparel. Every time you put one on, you’re becoming a walking billboard for the team; whether you’re donning a Cardinals jersey or a Toronto Blue Jays hat, you’re promoting the club and major league baseball. Having a small Nike Swoosh on your chest won’t materially change anything other.

When it comes to tradition, it’s easy to miss the forest through the trees. Your fandom, however, is all a matter of perspective; in theory, you love the team for what it represents, not the shirt it wears. That identity won’t change because of a branded logo.

Solicitors to sponsor GB ice hockey team jerseys at world championships in Berlin

The current jersey sponsors of the Manchester Mayhem Para Ice Hockey Team, will have their name on the world stage.

For PLS Solicitors have been given the opportunity to sponsor Team GB’s jerseys for this year’s World Championships in Berlin.

Proud PLS sponsor Dan Hickey explained: “As sponsors of Manchester Mayhem we have seen, first-hand, the dedication and hard work these athletes put into their challenging sport. They really are an inspiration to those who have been fortunate to watch or play.

“We also know the fundraising challenges they face and we hope this sponsorship can help the squad focus their attention on the ice to do us proud in representing our country at the World Championships in November.”

Getting to the World Championships is expensive and each player and their teams are tasked with raising enough funds to enable them to compete on the world stage.

This is only possible with the support of sponsors and fundraising events.

Karl Nicholson, captain of the Manchester Mayhem and alternate captain for GB said: “It’s always a proud moment to don brand new shirts for a tournament.

“To have our own sponsors PLS Solicitors step in and provide these superb shirts for the entire GB team is wonderful. Knowing that we have the support of such sponsors is a real boost to our confidence and our drive to win.”

Tyler Christopher, team GB’s new captain, is just as equally impressed as he said: “The new jerseys provided by PLS Solicitors look great.

“This sponsorship represents us moving into a new era and thanks to PLS Solicitors we can look forward to wearing our new strip with pride at our first game.”