The Wonky Case for the University of Oregon's Football Uniforms

Plus: Texas A&M's long, slow retreat from the Big 12 is only just beginning

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Today in sports: the University of Oregon's many football uniforms as seen through the lens of the "attention economy," Venus Williams withdraws from the U.S. Open, and Texas A&M is only starting to withdraw from the Big 12.

  • The next time you hear a college football originalist grouse about theUniversity of Oregon's latest eye-popping alternate uniforms, tell them that in addition to being harmless and fun, the Ducks' Nike-designed alternate uniforms are a necessary evil, because we're living in what Michael Goldhaber called the "attention economy" in a 1997 Wired article. This seems wonky and dry and a bit of a stretch, concedes Grantland's Michael Kruse, until you try naming another school that's gone from regional doormat to National Championship runner-up in the span of 15 years without uniforms that have made them look like, among other things, robotic birds of pray, background players in Saving Private Ryan, and 85 football-playing Tom Wolfe clones. Can't be done. [Grantland]

  • On the difficulty scale, wihdrawing from the Big 12 conference ranks somewhere between abdicating the British throne and mapping the cosmos. Texas A&M University president R. Bowen Loftin alerted the conference in a letter that the school intends to leave for the Southeastern Conference by June 30, 2012, assuming the SEC accepts A&M's application to join. The remaining ten months will be spent haggling over a fair exit fee, studying the conference's new TV contract with Fox Sports to determine if the departure voids the $1 billion-plus deal, and jockeying for the best possible spot if the SEC realigns its divisions. [ESPN]
  • Venus Williams abruptly withdrew from the U.S. Open before her second-round match against 22-seed Sabine Lisicki today, citing a recent diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease "in which a person's white blood cells attack the moisture-producing glands," says to The Los Angeles Times. Williams announced the diagnosis in a statement to the press: "I'm really disappointed to have to withdraw from this year's U.S. Open. I have recently been diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease which is an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy level and causes fatigue and joint pain, I enjoyed playing my first match here and I wish I could continue but right now I am unable to." She added, "I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon." [The Los Angeles Times]
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