The 'West Virgina' NIT Tournament Champions Tee Shirt: If 'I' Did Itby Richard Kennedy
What's in a name? Or more accurately, what's not in a name? In this case, it's 'I', as in the third 'I' in 'West Virginia'! (See image, below)
Newspapers, TV and radio stations from across the country, as well as bloggers, sports websites and online forums from around the globe have picked up the Case of the Missing 'I', bringing West Virginia's outstanding win over Clemson (78-73) Thursday night in the NIT's Championship Game to worldwide attention.
Why all the fuss over a misspelling on a tee shirt? Normally, there wouldn't be any, especially when NIT licensed vendor 6th Man Sportswear had only produced 25 of the shirts, just enough for the new NIT Champions to wear on-court immediately after the closing buzzer. Which they did.
There were photographers there, of course, and the AP, SI and ESPN....and lots and lots of fans. Most of these people know how to spell (except some of the newspeople, see below), and the next thing you know, the 2007 NIT Champion West Virginia team is immortal, and 'I' did it! The missing 'I'.
See what fun you're missing if you don't pay attention to the NIT? I'll guarantee millions of fans will watch the NIT Season Tip-Off in November, and the NIT Postseason Tournament in '08. Sure, they'll tune in or buy a ticket to watch the great basketball action, but I'll bet they'll be spell-checking the tee shirts, too! No one will leave 'til the champs are on-court, wearing their NIT Championship Tees.
Based upon the hundreds of emails 6th Man Sportswear has received from memorabilia collectors since Thursday night's game, these Missing 'I' Championship Tees are in hot demand!
Here's What Happened
The NIT Tournament has a very fast-paced schedule, and it's less than 48 hours from the end of the semi-finals to the closing buzzer of the Championship Game.
The vendor, 6th Man Sportswear prepares two sets of Championship Tees from two of the four designs they've made in advance of the four team semi-finals. This year, there was a set of 25 shirts for Clemson, and another 25 shirts for West Virginia. Both sets of tees are sent off to the NIT in New York to be readily at hand for the Champions to don on-court, whichever team wins. Both sets of shirts arrived in Madison Square Garden about 1 PM on Thursday (game day).
The four designs prepared prior to the semifinals are sent from the graphics people to 6th Man Sportswear, which then sends them to their web guy (me). All four graphics are readied in advance so that the winning team's graphic can be uploaded onto the website within minutes of the closing buzzer of the Final Game.
In the case of the 'West Virgina' design, the graphic design people didn't notice the missing 'I'. Neither did anyone at 6th Man Sportswear. The web guy (me) didn't notice either, nor did any folks at the Garden. The Final Game ends, West Virginia triumphs, the shirts go on, and the rest is history. For sure.
FYI, I pulled the erroneous graphic as soon as I had a corrected version early Friday morning. I had already posted a disclaimer on the webpage, noting the misspelling and assuring customers that the correctly spelled shirt would ship, not the error. And guess what? In my disclaimer, I typed that I had posted 'in incorrect' graphic (rather than 'an' incorrect one). Figures. Well, now at least we know what happened to the missing 'I'.
It is important to note that no tee shirts were hurt in the making of this story, and that West Virginia's Mountaineers, The 2007 NIT Championship Team, deserves its place in NIT basketball history for playing like the champions they are, and not for the missing 'I' on their tee shirts. We hope our error has not caused them embarrassment, and we apologize profusely.
Apparently, We're Not Alone
I did a quick Google news search yesterday on the term 'West Virgina', which returned several pages of results, and which included misspelled Virginia and West Virginia headlines previously appearing on some of the same sites which are now pointing out our grievous misspelling error. All I can say is that mistakes happen with the best of us, even the press. (That's why they created that little box labeled 'Corrections').
Today's news search for 'West Virgina' is dominated by tee shirt stories. We're number 1! For information about how we can leave a letter off of YOUR tee shirts and increase your website traffic 10-fold, just give us a call.
P.S. The AP (Associated Press) is not immune from misspelling "West Virginia" either, as evidenced on it's own website. Go to the drop-down list on this AP webpage and see for yourself! I took this AP screenshot just this morning (04/01/07)