Friday, February 24, 2017

Evaluation of American Ultimate Disc League 2016 Jerseys

Eli Neugeboren [@enoogs] was recruited to critique American Ultimate Disc League team jerseys from the 2016 AUDL season.

Intro: Having worn and played in a Boon jersey I can say that they are silky smooth, lightweight (though not breathable enough for a 95 degree humid Brooklyn day - what is, really?), and the sizing seems great and consistent with other North American jerseys. I say that because, having worn early jerseys from Gaia, VC, 5, etc., there have been some startling inconsistencies in sizing and cut. None of those problems with the Boon jerseys. The sublimation (printing) results in bright and rich colors, and the assembling is consistent across seams.

AUDL teams with fully developed brand identities are able to take advantage of having a system of type, logos, and color to work with really stand out compared to teams that only have a single logo and/or wordmark that cannot be broken up. I'd like to see these teams take advantage of the one simple jersey design tradition that most professional sports teams use is to have the team name on the home jerseys and the city name on the away jerseys. Too many of these designs include both city and team name on both jerseys which leaves them cluttered and confusing visually.

Reviews: Teams that have simply reversed their light/dark options will just get one writeup rather than two. It would be redundant otherwise. Teams are ranked, within each division, from best (at top) to worst (at bottom) jerseys.  A previous AUDL jersey review was conducted in 2014.



Montreal Royal
DARK: Classic conservative almost preppy look for these. I’d like to see them with a little mini collar like some soccer kits get. Nice color balance and the shield logo stands out thanks to solid design of the shield itself and the nice bracketing on the orange sash.

LIGHT: Similar to the dark jersey from Montreal only this has a bit more pizzazz: the large type logo used instead of the shield, still breaking the sash, only this logo is centered across the chest not on the left breast. The word Montreal knocks into the cut sash in an awkward way, and I wonder if bringing the cut up level with the bottom rule under the city name so they lined up would help resolve that? I also like the bird logo on the side but think that could be a bit smaller to give more space between it and the sash.

D.C. Breeze

DARK/LIGHT: While I am still not a fan of the B logo (the disc flying against the type is very awkward) but...this is a well-designed jersey. It takes advantage of all-over printing by including a duotone star pattern in the background. The vertical stripes and stars on the right side break the color up and balance the logo on the front left side. The number does not seem lined up with the logo and I would worry about jersey numbers being so low - I think they might get lost and not be visible to spectators and commentators when a player is cutting and throwing.

New York Empire

DARK: Simple. Minimal. But each element is well-designed and perfectly placed.

LIGHT: Classic pinstripes. Not much has changed since 2014. Home/away reversal for team and city names. New York is making smart design decisions.

Philadelphia Phoenix

DARK/LIGHT: Great overall design and use of color. The sunburst is a nice way to work the background though it works better in monochrome on the dark than the harshly contrasting red/white on the light jersey. The cityscape at the bottom reminds me of one of my all-time favorite unis, the FelipĂ© Lopez St. Johns jerseys that had the NYC skyline on them with the Empire State building going up one side. The skyline should not repeat above the team-and-city-name logotype.

Toronto Rush

DARK: The orange lines give a nice energetic feel to this jersey and also remind of the flight paths a disc will take during a game. The Rush logo is too large (and too busy) but that's another story from another review. If you make the logo 30% smaller it would allow the jersey to really shine. Same for the size of the number on the back, just make it a bit smaller. And remove the black stroke from player name to be consistent with the numbers.

LIGHT: The checkerboard pattern lacks the thematic consistency that the lines on the dark jerseys have and are a tad confusing visually. Otherwise the jersey is perfectly okay.

Ottawa Outlaws

DARK: So busy and inconsistent. The pixel pattern seems to be there just as space filler. All the type and logo elements are crashing into each other and the result is a jumbled mess.

LIGHT: Ottawa's light jersey feels slightly less busy than the dark version, but it is not much better.



Pittsburgh Thunderbirds

DARK/LIGHT: Strong work with the lightning bolt that turns into the accent sleeve. The Thunderbird is a bit too big across the chest with the potential of the beak getting lost in a few armpits. The team name is totally lost down low on the side hip.

Chicago Wildfire

DARK/LIGHT: Nice balance through contrast here: vertical type and horizontal numbers with a nice swath of negative space in between. The city name gets buried in these images and could get obscured during gameplay, but the team name is bold and legible. The orange lasers shooting out of the E and on the shoulder are meant to be Willis (nee Sears) Tower antennas - similar to Chicago Machine jerseys. Seems like a missed opportunity to add some sort of ...I don't know...a fire graphic maybe? The Chicago flag stars on the sleeve and jersey tail are nice accents.

Detroit Mechanix

DARK/LIGHT: The only real differences between light and dark Detroit jerseys are the background stripes and the color of the logo. The team name of "Motor City" is a great typographic homage the old metal car names that were used to be emblazoned on Chevy's and Ford's back in the day. The problem is that it is not very legible, even up close, and definitely not from afar. It will either blend into the background or just smooth out into a horizontal line. Plus, it's a shame the "r" in 'motor' looks like an "n." The red sleeve rings and stripes down the side are good accents on the whites.

Madison Radicals

DARK/LIGHT: The ombre fade from blue to green is a nice touch but I think they should have started it a bit lower. The lightning bolt that turns into an accent sleeve is also really strong. The logo is the right size and nicely centered on the chest. Dicals, though… Dicals?

Minnesota Wind Chill
DARK: This is way too busy - there are three design elements that are all roughly the same visual weight. Two are crowding each other on the left and they ultimately cancel each other out by turning into visual mush. Not helping things is the fact that they are accenting white number with light gray stripes.

LIGHT: This is 99.9% better than the dark jersey. The
M' is clearly defined and all of the other elements in the design move your eye to it, so even though it is small it is emphasized. I'm not sure what the design accents are supposed to represent. They do not necessarily make me think about cold things or windy things or cold windy things.

Cincinnati Revolution
DARK: Great use of sublimation to have the fleur-de-lis wrapping around the side and going up onto the sleeve. It is recognizable as a symbol and balances well with the type even with the overlap. See the opening statement about breaking up the team/city names to help alleviate visual clutter.

LIGHT: The bold black stroke surround the team name is totally unnecessary and really gums the whole thing up here. Did they do this because of the white stroke around the team name? Why not just change that stroke to black or remove it completely? Doesn't seem very well thought out.

Indianapolis Alley Cats
DARK: The Indianapolis logo feels like a beer-league softball logo and these two jerseys are right in line with that aesthetic; it is not terribly drawn but it is terribly designed. What is that circle around the cat's head? Why are all these elements completely inextricable?

LIGHT: I do like the monochrome cat on the back of the light jersey. However, the light jersey reinforces the beer-league softball teams with its raglan style collar + sleeves.



Austin Sol

DARK: The best. Looks and feels so professional as to almost not feel like an ultimate sport jersey. There's nothing hokey or jokey going on here, no inside jokes (although there is a ton of symbolism in the logo). The diagonal flag pattern in the background takes full advantage of the sublimation technology in a way that not enough AUDL jerseys seem to do.

LIGHT: It's nice to see a fully contrasting jersey design for the lights and darks, as compared with many teams who just reverse the color from light to dark while keeping the design exactly the same. This is one more benefit of having a fully comprehensive brand identity as compared with a low budget online logo design contest and some badly designed type. They have a system to work with and it shows up professionally. The logo will look great up close and across the line or from the stands. The accent sleeves are nice as well.

Dallas Roughnecks
DARK: While I like this jersey on some levels there is just way too much going on and it is not balanced: we have a logo, logotype (city and team name!), an oil derrick, split-color, silhouette of the state of Texas, stars, sponsor logos … and all of these things are roughly the same size and competing for space and our attention. My first advice would be to get rid of the hard hat-wearing frisbee-throwing Roughneck, and only use the city word. Dallas large across the middle of the jersey with everything else remaining the same would be an improvement.

LIGHT: As with the dark jersey, I think this would benefit from removing the city name. The Roughneck mascot has problems I've enumerated elsewhere, but it could stand to be separated from the logotype - this is not a masthead, it's a shirt. The oil derrick on the front-right side is not competing but also not completely lost. It is recognizable and iconic. The split-color accent sleeve that flows into a flag of sorts on the back of the jersey is a very lyrical touch and gives a real sense of movement.

Nashville NightWatch
DARK: Really enjoy the monochrome sublimation happening on both the lights and the darks. The team's logo positively pops with the background design when worn.

LIGHT: Keeping it simple and minimal, yet every element - team name, numbers, logo on the tail - is well placed. Nice distinctive switch-up from the dark so they're not just inverted designs.

Jacksonville Cannons
DARK: Another instance where the whole design process is limited because the city/team/logo are all permanently mashed together. The additional "JAX" disc sponsor logo helps but is almost an afterthought as it is squeezed up into the corner. The acid-wash pattern - a Google Earth map image of Jacksonville, Florida - to the background is at odds with the clean cartoon-y feel of the logo and type. Less is more.

LIGHT: This feels like a classic ultimate jersey. Everything all together, centered.

Charlotte Express
DARK/LIGHT: Another example of same design with the color reverse. There are a few tiny details that differ from light and dark but it is unfortunate that a team with a great brand identity doesn't use all that they have to their best advantage. Where is the train logo?!? The two crowns that peek over the shoulder and around the side are okay but don't really do much visually or thematically, and they lose their visual meaning by being broken up and rotated: they don't read as crowns anymore.

Atlanta Hustle

DARK/LIGHT: Both light and dark Atlanta Jerseys are a bit bland. There's nothing bad about them or their design but there also isn't anything particularly interesting. The oversized numbers on the back seem unnecessary and clash with the horizontal stripe. The beveled, dimensional design of the Hustle logo on the sleeve is at odds with how flat the jersey design is.

[NOTE: Atlanta earned some major jersey points with their 2016 sunset alternate jersey.]

Raleigh Flyers

DARK/LIGHT: I think the designer missed an opportunity to add more flight-themed elements to these jersey by opting to go with the skyline. I don't think of an iconic skyline when I think Raleigh and this element does nothing to change my mind. Both light and dark are simple and straightforward, nothing too striking but also nothing offensive. (Something else about their logo - when using an italicized font you don't need to put the type on an angle, that's already taken care of. It throws the whole balance off of the logo.)



San Francisco FlameThrowers
DARK/LIGHT: Here is an abstract graphic pattern that works well with the overall design and is conceptually linked to the team name because it is reminiscent of a flickering flame. The font choice for the numbers goes well with this pattern but both of these don't really feel like they are from the same world as the excellent shield logo. Composition of elements is balanced and the horizontal cutoff at collarbone level is a fine choice.

San Jose Spiders

DARK/LIGHT: Feels like an FC-type jersey with the stripe but it is balanced and cohesive.  This "simple and solid" jersey has stayed pretty (much the same) since 2014.

Seattle Cascades

DARK/LIGHT: The lightning bolt shapes, even though they are pulled directly from the Sasquatch design, have a 90's tribal tattoo feel to them and don't really add anything to the design, which means they are taking away by distracting. What do they represent and why are they there? The jerseys are already split-toned so what are these doing but adding visual noise to an already balanced layout. Nice work using different elements - city & team name and city & logo - for home and away.

Vancouver Riptide
DARK: There are a few too many things going on, though the design is very balanced and the scale of each element is well contrasted to the others; so, compositionally it works. Why is the word "Riptide" twice so close to each other? Does there need to be an "R" on the sleeve on top of the wave elements that are already there? If the waves were closer in color to the background it might not be as distracting. The lattice is a nice design element and conceptually links itself to the force of a riptide.

LIGHT: Similar to the dark version there are just a few too many things going on here: get rid of the wave/wing element at the bottom and make the waves on the sleeve darker to they don't stand out so much. The lattice is such a visually complex design element the jersey gets a bit too busy when you add more stuff around it.

San Diego Growlers

DARK/LIGHT: Muddy color combination and uninspired graphics. San Diego's tops are pretty basic besides the peculiar font choice for the numbers, which I like. The white jersey does pair well with the dark Growler shorts.

Los Angeles Aviators

DARK: Happy to see the team and city names are separated, but flip them on the light and dark! There is a really nice vertical takeoff feel to the background graphics and the grey does not compete or clash with the red or the letters and numbers the way the red does on the light jersey.

LIGHT: There is something very jarring about the red sash and white stroke where the 'ELE' type goes over it. Viewed from the front, the red sash looks like a seat belt (especially when tucked in). Rather, if the angled sash is half of the letter "A" on the front and the other half of the "A" on the back, then That's Not A-Okay.

[NOTE: Props to LA's cool stealth alternate jersey, but the overall jersey design still doesn't quite fly.]


Purchase AUDL replica jerseys at AUDL's Online Store.


1 comment:

Greg McClure said...

Our Roughnecks darks are so bad. Pretty sure they are changing for 2017. Thank the maker. The whites are good. Not perfect, but good.