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Just Keep at It

In the era when athletes and their BFF sports commentators promote every single shot, assist and human movement as the greatest feats the sport and world have ever seen, it seems fitting essential to travel back in time to the ’90s for a reality check.

The year was 1999, the sponsor was this small upstart called Nike, the advertising agency was Wieden+Kennedy and the player was Michael Jordan. Yes, arguably the greatest basketball player ever.

For a star athlete to look at basketball, sports and life that way would be quite the leap these days.

Happy Throwback Thursday. 

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Announcing a Flat Formation

At the end of a metaphorical 90 minutes (more than 20 years literally), this is what U.S. Soccer and Nike came up with:

a.espncdn.com

  • A crest with 13 vertical stripes of red and white under a blue field is a traditional American style.
  • Seven red and 6 white stripes come directly from our flag, demonstrating that the crest is rooted in the history of our nation.
  • Uses the traditional field of blue to celebrate the three most important letters in the vocabulary of our fans, from stadiums to watch parties to the local bar – U.S.A.
  • The colors stay true to our nation’s colors with the red and blue drawn straight from the flag.
  • Notably, the new identity no longer features stars or a ball. In soccer tradition, stars are placed above the logo to represent World Cup victories. The WNT crest will prominently feature the three stars earned in 1991, 1999 and most recently, the historic 2015 victory.

(U.S. Soccer)

The new crest has uniquely American features (as listed above), yet it lacks imagination and declarative strength. This is the symbol of this burgeoning sport in America and the first impression is strikingly plain and boring.

Where is a bald eagle in striking position? The snake nobody should dare tread on?

There are countless creative design ideas that could have/should have been brainstormed for this branding endeavor.

Where is the ingenuity, that defining characteristic of soccer and this country? What does this crest convey to ourselves and our competitors? How does this new crest represent our heritage and a future of excellence?

There are 13 stripes, yes. The colors are red, white and the right shade of blue this time, yes. However, how did a design team at Nike, a company that prides itself on creativity and branding (cough cough Oregon football), submit this idea without it being April 1st? What does this crest possibly inspire for new jersey designs?

The United States of America broadly, and soccer in America specifically, has always been about a brighter tomorrow. But the new crest is a straight-forward graphic that doesn’t really tell us anything about yesterday, today or tomorrow.

U.S. Soccer desperately needs a vivid and cohesive identity on the pitch.

Flat and humdrum has already been done.

From Sea to (Shining) Sea

America’s shining, beautiful soccer jersey?

The 2015 away kits have been revealed for the USMNT and USWNT. The human Bomb Pops appear to have finally melted away its final steady defender (sort of like the real USMNT) in favor of a jersey that features shades of blue, blue and blue.

(Footy Headlines)

(Footy Headlines)

The above design is virtually the exact same for both the USMNT and USWNT, with the primary exception of the two World Cup stars for the women. Also, the design is the same on the front and the back. Considering the fact that the shade of blue closest to the one stitched on the American flag is the darker portion at the bottom, that seems like a really peculiar miss for Nike. By the way, did Nike run out of the color red or is that going to be more prominently featured in a new home jersey? It’s kind of a great color. After all, the U.S. is the red, white and blue.

Speaking of which, what was wrong with the “Where’s Waldo?” jersey?

As has been mentioned on this blog before (as starting points), the collar should be blue to represent a gritty, relentless blue collar work ethic with a jersey design that is sharp to symbolize a cool and innovative white collar style of play. This would encapsulate the spirit and identity of America and its daring declaration of independence, from its inception in 1776 through today and into the future.

The new jersey is better than the Bomb Pops, but it looks like a training shirt. When the designers and the brightest minds at Nike Soccer have the American flag, its beautiful combination of colors, our nation’s history (soccer and non-soccer) and lots of time, it’s a sincere mystery how this becomes the final product.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh, except I don’t think I am. It may look a little better on the field with names and numbers, but it still begs the question of what the design could (and should) have been.

Most of all, I wish American ingenuity had been a component for this new soccer jersey.

Next Title Up

42-20

For so many in Buckeye Nation, we’ve always felt like the permanent underdogs, as well as singled out for excessive criticism by the national media. However, we’ve always risen above it and have always gotten stronger no matter the obstacles. That’s what we do and will continue to do. And now, we even have a new mantra beyond the traditional Buckeye chants:

“Ohio Against The World.” 

It feels right (especially in the t-shirt I’m wearing with those letters on it).

In addition, Nike gets it.

(Nike)

(Nike)

2002 was an unforgettably amazing year and equally amazing national championship. I remember being on a family vacation in London at the time and my parents coaxing an employee of a bar that was showing the game between The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Miami Hurricanes to let us in from the cold to see it (FYI – we were literally watching the game from the outside window).

OH-

How about an IO for relentless dedication?

The reason why this was a problem was because yours truly was underage by a few years…But once they understood the importance of the “other” football, they seated my family in front of the big screen inside. They put us there partly to be accommodating (though there were some obnoxious Miami fans behind us) and partly to keep an eye on me and my beverage being held in my right hand.

All I’ll say is that Coca-Cola really hit the spot.

The Buckeyes shocked the world that night and won the national championship in double overtime against the Goliath of college football. It was an instant classic for its sensational back-and-forth nature, intense drama and moments that nearly resulted in a heart attack. But they did it and Ohio State were the kings of college football.

Fast forward to the 2014 season and the 2015 championship game between Ohio State and Oregon in Arlington, Texas at the coliseum-like AT&T Stadium. This was a battle of speed, flash and something shiny and new versus strength, speed and tradition. In thrilling fashion, the Buckeyes won with relentless determination and skill. Cardale Jones was incredible (despite a couple understandable bobbles). The receivers made athletic catches and speedy getaways, the offensive line was dominant, the secondary players contained their marks, the linebackers were flying, the special teams did their job and the defensive line made life uncomfortable enough for Mariota and Co. for the Buckeyes to stall a late game comeback.

Oh, and this running back named Ezekiel Elliott ran through the parted Scarlet Sea with dynamism, toughness and a 4th-gear drive for a bowl record 246 yards. He was hungry and he proved to be the ideal complement to Jones in the backfield against the aggressive, speedy Ducks defense.

Once again, in true Buckeye fashion, Ohio State shocked the college football world with a dominant 42-20 win against Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and the Mighty Ducks of Oregon in the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship…as the fourth seed.

While a breakdown of the key stats could be highlighted, it seems a little more fitting to shine a light on what this season and championship game means in the micro, as well as the macro:

  • Ohio State is now 9-0 against Oregon, including the last two wins against the high-flying Ducks squad everyone knows today (played in California and Texas)
  • The Big Ten representative won the National Championship for the first time since the 2002 season, signifying a conference comeback. Also, the bowl season became a national statement thanks to key wins against tough opponents (and remember that Jim Harbaugh was recently hired by That State Up North and Penn State is coming back)
  • Therefore, the myth of “Big Ten Inferiority” is (finally) coming to an end and a bright future awaits the conference
  • The Buckeyes beat the #1 team in the country in the SEC (the best conference for the past several years) in Alabama in the heart of SEC country
  • Urban Meyer and his coaching staff are motivating and strategic gurus
  • The talent level in Columbus is stellar and the top recruits will continue to make Ohio State their collegiate home for the foreseeable future
  • “Ohio State’s victory in the first championship game of the College Football Playoff produced ESPN’s highest overnight rating ever” (AP)
  • The Buckeyes have risen from the abyss from a few years ago and are officially entering an era of golden success under Ohio-native Urban Meyer
  • Plus, there is serious strength and serious speed in the Midwest, the Big Ten and, specifically, in Columbus, Ohio

The Ohio State Buckeyes are THE National Champions for the 8th time in school history!

Right now, Ohio St8 is number 1 in college football.