Pro sports teams and the death of design

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Last Friday, the Toronto Blue Jays unveiled their new look to the world, a look that many fans were already familiar with. They have decided to put the “blue” back into the organization.

And while the general reacton to the announcement seems to be a positive one, the new old-look Jays seem to be a rarity when it comes to good sports design nowadays.

Trying to start anew with a name change and a brand new look, the MLB’s Miami (formerly Florida) Marlins have, in my mind, redefined what it means to have a terrible look.

With their use of pastel blue, yellow and orange in their logo, as well as the modernized fish attached to the beginning of “Miami,” their new appearance seems more like that of an 80s night club logo than that of a feared baseball team.

Now, of course, with the simplified, classic looks of teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox, I’m well aware that it is not common-place for baseball teams to try and evoke fear in their rivals through their jerseys.

However, when your logo reminds me more of retirees sipping mei-teis than it does a threatening baseball team on a diamond, I think your plan has gone awry.

It’s somewhat hard to slight baseball teams for their unoriginal designs though when the majority of their existence dates back over a century. They revert to “classic” looks above all else. And while I may not be the most well-rounded baseball fanatic, you can be damn sure that my hockey and design background make me qualified to comment on NHL teams, which have no such excuse.

Franchises have consistently altered and improved their look every few years since the NHL started at the turn of the 1900’s.

In my mind it is fair to call the league the predominant leader in team style.

Well, it would have been fair until 2007, when Reebok took over the uniform design for the organization and all hell broke loose.

Taking a page from the NBA assumingly, more teams have been foregoing putting their actual logos on the fronts of their jerseys and have instead replaced them with simple text and a number.

Look no further than the latest offender (and inspiration for this article), the New York Islanders’ third jerseys.

Rather than come up with some unique alternate logo, or playing around with their current one by changing up the colours, the team has decided to go minimalistic with a navy blue base and “Islanders” plastered on the front above the number of the player wearing it.

Why? No, I mean really, why?

Are players on the rival teams complaining about not being able to identify who they are currently up against?

Are they sitting on the bench saying “Thank God that these guys have their numbers on the front AND back of the jersey. When they just had the logo, I was almost always confused.”

Come on people. A hockey jersey is a canvas for open creativity.

As one of the few advocates of the mid-90s “Fisherman” logo, the Islanders would be better off going back to that than reverting to text. At least the “Fisherman” was something.

Alas, the Islanders aren’t the only offenders.

The Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks are keeping the “trend” alive.

Evidently, someone thinks that fans would rather have words representing their team than a badass, crisply designed logo.

I think what it comes down to is that in professional sports, original design seems to be dying.

The NFL has always been very minimalistic in its jersey conception but helmet design is miles behind that of the college leagues.

Even in baseball, the Jays have reverted to a familiar look as opposed to trying to come up with something new to define them as a team.

That’s why it pains me when I see NHL teams giving in to this idea. The league needs to realize that they have the ability to create something of value with their look, and should stop going the lazy route in order to just get the name across.

We need more mustard yellow Nashville Predators jerseys in the world and less of this basketball-esque font bullshit.


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