When Should Grown Men Stop Wearing Sports Jerseys?
In a world full of burning questions, endless debates and lingering issues, I never thought that the stuff in hangs in such abundance in my closet would become part of a national contretemps.
I heard a national radio sports-talk host broach the subject the other morning: "At what age should a grown man stop wearing sports jerseys?"
I literally rubbed my ears before punching in another station. The question burned my cochlear nerves and offended my senses. I didn't want to hear the answer, because the fact that such a query is in play means there are some who think the staple of my wardrobe is a huge fashion no-no. A simple Google search turned up a CBSSports.com column on the debate, and it seems I'm a committee-of-one when it comes to thinking it's okay to sport a sports jersey.
I've worn sports jerseys for most of my adult life. At work. At home. And of course, to games. I've never had anyone take me to task, at least not to my face. A few of my more exotic pieces have become great conversation starters, especially when my son and I take to the road for our annual baseball trips. A vintage jersey suggests a long-term affection for a team--you were there, through thick and thin, and you're not afraid to show it on your back. Any bandwagon-climber can buy a current jersey on EBay and act as if he's been a fan forever, even if he couldn't name the team's starting shortstop on the lives of his children.
I prefer a well-done, authentic jersey to some of the crud I see other fans wear to games. Unless you're young, ripped and shredded no man looks good in a two-fisted-slobber tank top. There's NEVER a good time for nut-hugger gym shorts from the wearer's long-past high school days, or the newest crime against fashion, the jort.
...or that classic 80's look, the coaches' short.
Nobody looks good in a basketball jersey unless his name is Jordan, Bird, Jennings. Bryant or James (Cleveland or Miami versions). . Hockey jerseys combine form AND function: with proper layering, one can eschew the wearing of cumbersome winterwear to the rink, and not have to worry about squashing said coat into a folding seat. And, a guy should NEVER wear sports attire OVER business/casual clothing, the way new managers do when they're at the news conference accepting their latest gig.
Then there's the issue of a man wearing another guy's name on his back, to which CBS's Kane writes, "wearing the name of another human being on your back [particularly somebody younger than yourself] is a bit awkward. Wearing another human being's name on your back represents a sort of adulation of somebody's talents or persona [as expressed below in the comments] or brand [players as products] you align yourself with."
It certainly is a gamble, investing all that cash into an authentic jersey and hoping that the jock in question will:
a) stay with your favorite team, at least for the life of the shirt
b) won't get arrested or...
c) suck out loud.
I'm guessing it's pretty hard to find a Johnny Jolly jersey at the Packers Pro Shop at Lambeau this week. If you're looking for one, just ask for the "Tony Mandarich" section. Because humans are frail and subject to the ways of the flesh, I've found it much wiser to invest in the attire of legends: Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, and Bart Starr are trusty buys. Aaron and Starr are proven performers, on and off the field. Williams is dead, and only his relatives could sully his name with their post-mortem freezer antics.
There is a certain homo-erotic tinge to Kay's take: "awkward" could be construed code for "alternative lifestyle". While I really like Derek Jeter, I don't want to take him out for dinner and drinks. An "NY" pinstripe is a classic, made even cooler if it sports a Yankee Stadium Farewell patch on the left sleeve. And, like DiMaggio and Gehrig, he'll be a Yankee for life.
That said, nothing looks worse than an ill-constructed, inaccurate jersey--like a Yankees home with A NAME ON THE BACK.
Historically vulgar and just plain "ew".
Crappy knockoffs abound in this, the day of EBay.
Didn't know sewing machines came with fonts, much less ones permanently set on 'BOLD". Maybe your jorts will distract observant fans who actually bought something that looks like what the team really wears.
I thought I was on the cutting edge when I started wearing jerseys all those years ago, but I turned out being an accidental trend-setter. Racks and racks of them dominate the Brewers Clubhouse Shop and stadium stores all over the country. Aforementioned EBay provides you with the most obscure shirt you could ever imagine. And, teams started cashing in on the trend: notice how often a franchise will alter it's "look" or add an alternate jersey? That's not just fashion fatigue. They know we're buying the merch. Jerseys are big, big sellers and new ones are hard to keep on the shelf. Have you ever heard as much about a sports fashion tweak as you did when the Packers rolled out their next batch of old-schools for 2010?
The team didn't do all that just to make sure fans know who the Packers are when the team wears them for the first time against the 49ers December 5th. They want to make sure there are lots of them swaddling the fans in the stands that day, too, all purchased at fine retail prices.
There are many crimes against sports fashion: the cheesehead (stopped being funny after the first game they were trotted out) the baseball helmet/beer can holder (a true cry for help--just join AA and be done with it), and of course, the knit beer hat.
My eyes are burning.
Then there's the whole debate about when it's right (if ever) for a grown man to bring a baseball glove to a stadium. That's a subject for another blog.
My wife is holding a rummage sale this week and I'm at a very delicate tipping point as I go through my wardrobe, adding things to her pile. Do I hand over most if not all of my sports attire, or do I stand firm in my fashion statement? Or, do I pay my jerseys the ultimate sports compliment, and hang them in the rafters of the mancave, permanently framed and displayed, tacked to a wall where they can do no more harm to someone else's sense of style?