Commercialization Without Compensation.

Four years ago, former UNC basketballer John Henson Instagrammed himself in a shirt I made, and an item that had literally sat on the shelves unnoticed at Thrill City for the store's first two months suddenly started making national headlines.

 RUNAWAY x Youaintryan, "SCAM 2.0"

RUNAWAY x Youaintryan, "SCAM 2.0"

Though it slotted nicely into an existing narrative in Chapel Hill at the time (comprised of some pretty bogus concerns around Leslie McDonald and some not-as-bogus concerns around PJ Hairston), the SCAM design was about money and the "scam" of the amateur athlete. It was about the term "student-athlete," which was invented by the early NCAA specifically to exclude athletes from the status of employees, shielding the organization and member schools from the responsibilities that employers have in the interest of employees. 

For me personally, I had sold many a shirt completely marketed off the backs of these athletes. Not just in an abstract sense — literally referencing them. When we worked with professional athletes, we paid royalties. When we collaborated with other brands and designers from around the Triangle, they were compensated. But if I split profits with a guy because I made a shirt about him and it sold well? He would be ruled ineligible from doing the extracurricular activity he was recruited to school to do. As historian Taylor Branch, and many far more knowledgeable people than me, have already argued, "student-athletes" are the only group of people who garner this treatment. We don't bar students who are on academic scholarships from writing books or YouTube vlogging, so why do it for sports? The answer is a system intentionally and maliciously designed to extract value from the many, for the few. No college football player can take a dime home for playing in actual games, but the CEO of the Orange Bowl, Eric Poms, can take home a tidy $500,000+ salary for coordinating one. You wonder what that salary would be if the performers at his event had to be paid?

I've been selling the original "SCAM" design ever since John first got it on Deadspin — on tees, tanktops and longsleeves — without making any changes to the graphic. As a flip on the official NCAA logo, it'll always be a widely understandable, concise anti-NCAA design. But after four years (that's an entire NCAA career, for you amateur sports enthusiasts) and innumerable scandals, absurd sanctions and soulless disqualifications, it was badly in need of a re-design. Enter SCAM 2.0. 

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With the blessing and aid of my friends at RUNAWAYthe SCAM 2.0 design is coming to a long-sleeve near you. It's not as sporty of an item as I've typically done, nor is it in pretty UNC colors. It's actually quite loud, even abrasive, and I think that fits the message rather nicely. You can order yours here.

If you're so inclined, we're throwing it back to the old Thrill City/Franklin Street days with a block party at RUNAWAY to celebrate the release this weekend. The new tees will be on hand, old tees will be in stock, and likely a drink or two will be shared. If a second-round UNC game conflicts, we may just shift around the time a little bit. Thanks for supporting four years later, and look out for SCAM 3.0 in 2022.

 
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