When I was in kindergarten I had a difficult time with some of the activities many of my classmates excelled at. I was awful at cutting in a straight line (and still am), had fairly lousy handwriting (still do) and could not properly complete a coloring assignment for the life of me.
This last obstacle was a big one for my teachers for some reason. They would tell us to color a picture in blue and yellow and I would turn in something purple and green. No matter how many times they tried to show the difference, I wasn’t catching on.
My teachers, for some reason, thought I might have autism. My sensible and calm parents, however, decided to give the optometrist a try first.
Well you know that book with the numbers drawn in a circle of colors? I couldn’t read a single one other than the purely black and white page. Throw in a third color and 2 might as well have been a 9. The optometrist said I was about as colorblind as it gets while still being able to see colors. I mix up blues and purples and quite often red, green, orange, pink, brown can all look the same. I was handed a list of jobs I would not be able to do.
I couldn’t be an electrician or a pilot or likely even a soldier, which is pretty heartbreaking for a 5 or 6 year old. I also couldn’t be an astronomer (confirmed by a later summer camp at FermiLab), which really broke my little boy heart before I realized I wouldn’t have enjoyed the crazy math anyways.
So I have gone on to live all 27 years of my life seeing the world in a different way from most people. I got made fun of a bit for it, until it became cool in high school and people wanted to see me do that trick where I pick white gum out of white snow. Wasn’t hard since snow looks more bluish (at least my version of blue) than white.
But a few months ago I did see the world in a different way. This company, Valspar Paint, was in the process of developing glasses for colorblind people that would let them see the world as it really was. The company heard my story, asked me to take a quiz, came to conclusion I was pretty darn colorblind and said their product had about a 75 percent chance of working for me.
They said the glasses would only work outside and only in sunlight. I would need to wear the glasses a few hours before I saw a difference. And it worked. I never knew grass could be so vibrant. That sounds funny, but it was kind of breathtaking. I wish the glasses could work inside and I could see more colors I never experienced, but I’ll take what I can get. The sky and grass is pretty awesome with those glasses.
People think colorblindness is cool because maybe it means snow doesn’t look white. And sometimes it is a little fun and quirky like that, but the reality is everything is just really dull. Colors don’t pop and it all blends in. The spectrum is severely limited.
Because of Valspar Paint, I get a glimpse of what so many see. And it really meant a lot to me. They didn’t need to give me a $500 pair of glasses for free, but they did. All to make a small but meaningful difference in my life. And to give me an experience I never thought I would have.
So with that that, I am glad Valspar Paint is the new shirt sponsor for my favorite soccer team. I actually have an emotional attachment to the company, unlike Quaker (no offense Quaker, I like granola bars fine and all). I look forward to some of the cool things I know the company can do in this partnership.
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THE ACTUAL SOCCER ASPECTS OF THE DEAL
So now that my meaningless back story is out of the way, let’s get to the news.
According to reports, Valspar Paint is the new kit sponsor for the Chicago Fire and it is believed to be a three-year deal worth $2.5 million to $3 million per year. That is in the top half of the league, according to Crain’s, which is really good considering dwindling attendance and poor results on the field. So chalk that up as a win for the much maligned front office.
The deal also includes some awesome perks. First, Valspar Paint is going to hook up supporters groups with supplies to make some awesome banners and tifos. This is a really cool idea and I hope beyond hope that it doesn’t come with the caveat of using said supplies to only create front-office approved banners. Hopefully they can provide some cool colors and tools and supporters will continue to abide by the rules of decency without limiting their messages.
The second perk is the opportunity for staff, players and fans to paint murals in Chicago neighborhoods. That’s just awesome. If you don’t love that, then I don’t know what to tell you. It’s probably a better art program than most schools at this point.
And if all this wasn’t awesome enough, preliminary kit renderings show the Fire might be going back to that all-red shirt with the white stripe. It’s like Valspar Paint is run by a Chicago Fire fan or something.
This is literally the most excited I have ever been about a shirt sponsor. I hope this partnership leads to some awesome things and you all are excited too.