Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Transition Game

The feature art for "Lindy's Sports Annual" this year covers a myriad of new issues facing college basketball coaches today.  Most prominently, the fact that players (particularly top players) change schools and teams these days like they're changing their shorts.  They're looking for the best possible position and prospects for themselves, but this can make it hard for coaches to build strong teams.  Part of the strength of a team comes from their ability to work both with their coach and with each other.  Part of this strength comes from building trust and familiarity, which is next to impossible when players aren't staying.

So, after burning through dozens of different ideas for this complex story, my editor and I settled on the idea of a fictional board game called "The Transition Game" (this was the original title of the article anyway, so it was a natural fit).  The game shows many of the difficulties facing the coaches of top teams including players transitioning, getting injured, getting into legal or academic trouble, etc.

The logo features a revolving door, which I thought was a great image for the rapid movement of the players between colleges.  It's often used as a negative connotation in politics, even though I don't necessarily think the revolving door deserves this disparagement.  Revolving doors are efficient ways to enter or exit buildings and, to all revolving doors reading this post, I salute your stoic, reliable work.

I was attempting to use a 1970s-like board game aesthetic with the font and the colors.  Though I'm a child of the 80s, I find the imagery of past decades pretty appealing (except for the imagery of the 80s).  I think I was only partially successful, as the result ended up being a bit of a hybrid between the classic MB board games and modern visuals.  But I still like it.

I like details.  You probably could have guessed that, even if you'd never read any of the hundreds of posts on this blog where I say exactly that.  This illustration has what I think are some pretty excellent little details:

-The "Finish" square has the words "Congratulations! Proceed immediately to the next season!"  This is a reference to the never ending grind faced by top coaches who move straight from a championship into recruiting new players.  Sometimes literally the next day.

-The jersey on the "Player Stolen!" square has the number 459 on it, which is the police radio code for burglary.

-The money features NCAA president Mark Emmert.  Written on the money are the words "Absolutely NOT for Student Athletes", which is a reference to the fact that, in spite of making an intense amount of money for the NCAA, college athletes aren't allowed to receive any compensation for their work.

-Perhaps my favorite detail is the John Calipari circle.  Calipari is often seen as the man to beat, given both his successful team and his ability to bring in top recruits.  The efficacy of his methods aren't in question, but the ethical standing of them sometimes raises eyebrows.  The idea of including Calipari as the King was my editor's idea, and I think it was a great one.  Plus, I love the drawing.  It's one of my favorite parts of this piece.

All in all, this is one of my favorite illustrations for "Lindy's".  So much work.  So much fun.


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