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Fair warning: this has nothing to do with anything. Haven't come up with a Power Ranking! category, and I'm watching the Germany-Turkey game tonight on tape.

One of my favorite blogs is the Uniwatch blog, about sports uniforms. Our friend Kenn Tomasch frequently sends in bits of information. Recently, the subject was the big, ugly ® symbol on the Chicago Cubs' uniforms. Apparently, out of all NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL teams, the Cubs alone sport a registered trademark symbol on their actual, game-worn uniforms.

I wondered why that seemed wrong to me - then it occurred to me. Every MLS team sports TM or (R) marks, and has from Day One.


New England, with two "TM"s.


Luciano Emilio.

Tyrone Marshall. Yes, even Toronto FC, steadfast in their disrespect and scorn for our American legal system, feels the need to protect itself against unscrupulous American copyright pirates. Speaking of piracy, when you see links instead of pictures, it's because I was unable to steal the images.

Sacha Kljestan, in a Red Bulls jersey.

It's much easier to see the mark on the black Crew uniforms than on their home bananas.

Weirdly, the RSL logo is trademarked, but the Xango wordmark isn't.

Duilio Davino, and another dual trademark shirt.

Chivas USA seems inconsistent with it, and it's impossible to see on their home jerseys, but it's there, as this shot of Guzan proves.

Jimmy Conrad and Christian Gomez.

Kimure.

Whitey.

Houston in happier times.


You were expecting someone else?


And yes, it's always been this way.

Yes, this is unsurprising in a league that has allowed advertising on the uniforms since 1996, and very unsurprising in a sport that has given in to uniform marketing since the 1970's. But it's impossible to claim that the Big Four are any less devoted to capitalism than MLS is, so it's weird from our perspective to hear fans complain about one team's transgression...and even weirder that no one else in the Big Four saw what the Cubs had done, and followed suit.

The punch line, of course, is that it doesn't seem to be necessary.

So why is MLS doing it, as a matter of policy?

I'd ask the league, but they know better than to call me back by now. So here's my theory. The trademarks, ironically, prove that they are "major league," even though only one other major league team goes to this trouble. Soccer uniforms are much more prevalent in daily life than most other uniforms, and they're almost always seen on children and amateurs. Sports jerseys worn for fashion, at least before Beckham, were always teams that you had heard of...soccer jerseys were almost always obscure (to Americans) or Little League. Putting a TM or an ® on the shirt says, first and foremost, "We paid a lot of money to develop and market this name and logo, and we consider it worth something even if you don't. We went to the trouble of registering something as silly as 'Tampa Bay Mutiny' with the Federal Freaking Government, so there."

The TMs and ®'s don't bother me, and don't bother you. But we've been conditioned not to notice it. Just another example of the culture divide between us and normals.