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Because We All Want to Belong

The Grab Bag section of last Saturday’s Ticker included a link to this Sports Illustrated article about the history of jersey retailing. The article, by Tim Layden (who says he mail-ordered a replica jersey by responding to an ad in The Sporting News way back in 1971!), is really, really good — well-researched, entertainingly written, informative, the works. I’m pretty sure every single Uni Watch reader will enjoy it, and I strongly recommend it to all of you.

A key thread running through the article is the implicit question of why fans like to wear jerseys in the first place. Toward the end of the piece, Layden addresses this question directly and comes up with a bit of an answer:

Why do we wear jerseys to watch others play games in jerseys? There’s a complex answer, first validated in a 1976 Arizona State study, performed by Robert Cialdini and five colleagues, that coined the acronym B.I.R.G. (Basking in Reflected Glory) by establishing that college students showed a greater tendency to wear school apparel (and use the pronoun “we”) after ASU’s football team had won than after it had lost. This concept goes further. “People have a need to belong and we want others to know that we belong,” says Dan Wann, a Murray State professor of psychology who has studied fan behavior. “But we also have the need for distinction, so you personalize your Royals jersey.”

That bit toward the end, about wanting to belong and wanting others to know we belong, hit me hard. I relate to it, and you probably do too. It seems like a very human impulse — not just for sports, but for all sorts of things. Once you see it spelled out, it seems intuitively obvious, right?

I realize many of you — perhaps most of you — buy and wear retail jerseys. As I’m sure most of you know by now, I’ve never cared about them myself (my interest in uniforms has always been centered on what the players wear, not what’s for sale). Moreover, as you’ve probably heard me say on multiple occasions, I think the phenomenon of jersey retailing has been bad for the uni-verse because it drives a lot of bad design, and I derisively refer to retail jerseys as “overpriced polyester shirts.”

And yet: We want to belong, and we want others to know we belong. I get that. I also relate to the urge to collect things, the urge to have things that seem “official,” and several other aspects of retail jerseys.

So here’s a little story I’m not sure I’ve ever told before here on the site: When I was about nine years old, I had a pale-yellow sweatshirt with maroon lettering on the front that said “Tight End,” along with the number 87. Those were roughly ’Skins-ish colors, so I looked in my NFL Action ’72 album and learned that, sure enough, the ’Skins had a tight end who wore No. 87, named Jerry Smith. I asked my mom if she could sew “J. Smith” on the back of the jersey (I thought “Smith,” without the initial, was too plain), and she did it. I wasn’t a ’Skins fan, but I was proud to wear my “J. Smith” sweatshirt while playing touch football in my front yard. It felt official, and wearing it made me feel official.

I wanted to belong, and I wanted my friends to know I belonged.

———

My biggest gripes regarding jersey retailing are with the teams, leagues, and manufacturers. But what about the fans who buy this stuff, including Uni Watch readers? I’ve never explicitly said, “Anyone who buys overpriced polyester shirts is a sucker” or “Anyone who buys retail jerseys is contributing to bad design,” but some of you who buy and wear jerseys have told me you feel you’re implicitly being criticized, mocked, or even attacked when I weigh in against jersey retailing.

That’s a fair assessment, and it paints an ugly picture that I’m not comfortable with. Uni Watch readers shouldn’t have to feel criticized just because they do something that millions of other sports fans do. They shouldn’t feel mocked for wanting to belong, and for wanting others to know they belong.

So I’ve decided to dial back my critiques of jersey retailing. I’m not going to start buying retail jerseys myself, but I’m going to stop giving shit to those who do. I’m not going to completely abandon the term “overpriced polyester shirts,” but I’m going to cut back on its use. There are still lots of things about jersey retailing that trouble me (I wish jersey retailing didn’t drive bad design the way it does; I wish a team could release a new jersey without people immediately feeling the need to say, “I’ll definitely be buying that” or, even worse, “It’s not so great, but I’ll probably buy it anyway”; I wish fans who wear jerseys to games would stop calling out non-jersey-wearers for being “bad fans” or “not supporting the team”), but I’m going to try to stop harping on them.

Remember when I wrote a few months back about the uni-verse being messed up because it has succeeded too well? That strikes me as a perfect fit for what’s happened to jersey retailing. It grew from something charming and small-scale (like Tim Layden ordering a jersey from an ad in the back of The Sporting News) into something massive and corporate, and along the way it went from “I want to belong” to “You must belong.” Or at least that’s how it seems to me.

Still, I know I’m an outlier here. If you enjoy buying jerseys — because you want to belong and want others to know you belong, or for any other reason — go for it. Obviously, you don’t need my permission or encouragement, but I promise not to give you any flak either.

And however you feel about retail jerseys, definitely spend some time with that Sports Illustrated article — essential reading.

One footnote to all of this: As I was working on this piece, longtime reader Kenn Tomasch sent me a photo of this ad, which appeared in a 1978 issue of Baseball Digest:

Much like the ads and vendors mentioned in the Sports Illustrated article, this appears to be an early jersey retailer. The business name at the bottom is “CSN Gift Center,” which Kenn explains as follows:

“CSN Gift Center” is ubiquitous in ads appearing in all the various sports “Digest” magazines. The publishing company was based in Evanston [and still is ”” PL], so the “gift center” appears to have been a subsidiary that handled fulfillment of merchandise orders from all of their magazines. No matter what you ordered, shirts, caps, posters, wallets, etc., they all (except for outside advertisers like APBA or Strat-O-Matic) were funneled through that address.

Interesting — and another piece of the puzzle for those seeking to document the history of jersey retailing.

•  •  •  •  •

And speaking of retail jerseys”¦: Two days ago I mentioned that Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was wearing a Reebok jersey at the Broncos’ victory rally the other day. That prompted the following very thorough report from reader Kary Klismet:

It’s interesting to see that Mayor Hancock wore a Reebok jersey the Broncos victory rally yesterday, because it’s not the only Broncos jersey he owns. He previously wore a Nike jersey with his name on the back to a send-off rally for the Broncos when they made it to the Super Bowl two years ago:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who preceded Hancock as Denver Mayor, also wore an old Reebok Broncos jersey to this week’s victory rally. It had “Gov. Hick” as the NOB and the number 10 (the year of his election to the governor’s office). It appears to be the same jersey he wore two years ago when he accompanied Mayor Hancock on stage for the Broncos’ Super Bowl XLVII departure rally.

Hickenlooper, like Hancock, has multiple Broncos jerseys. For last Sunday’s Super Bowl, he wore an orange Reebok jersey with his full last name on the back. This appears to be the same jersey he’s sending to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to wear to make good on a Super Bowl bet between them.

Mayor Hancock also made a bet on the game’s outcome with his Charlotte counterpart, Mayor Jennifer Roberts. The loser of the bet was required to wear a replica of the victorious quarterback’s jersey and post a photo of it on Twitter. Mayor Roberts followed through on the bet Tuesday afternoon.

During the parade and rally, several of the players wore orange Nike replica jerseys with their own numbers and a nameplate on the back that said, “Be a champion in the community.” These jerseys might have been old stock from the team store, because they had the old “neck roll” collar style that the Broncos haven’t worn since the conclusion of the 2012 season.

While the players wore orange jerseys for the parade and rally, mascot Miles stuck with his white jersey from Sunday’s Super Bowl, complete with the Chromaflex game patch.

Several of the landmarks in Denver also displayed their Broncos pride. The City and County building, Union Station, and the Republic Plaza Building were all lit up to celebrate the team’s championship.

Excellent stuff — thanks, Kary.

• • • • •

ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, the results of my Rams-redesign contest are available now on ESPN — enjoy.

Meanwhile, in a related item, remember my post from a few days ago about the Rams-redesign contest that ran in The Valley News in 1972? It turns out that the same contest, with the same template and prizes, ran in the NFL’s Pro! magazine at the time (click to enlarge):

That scan was sent in by reader Joseph Samaniego (who used it to create this design). It confirms something I’d heard from another reader, Craig Markus, he told me a few weeks ago that he remembered seeing a Pro! contest while growing up in L.A. in the early 1970s.

• • • • •

T-Shirt Club reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, the first Uni Watch T-Shirt Club design of 2016 is now available for ordering (and in response to your requests, we’ve now added a long-sleeved version). Here’s the design (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):

Here’s how it looks on a shirt:

And here’s a closer look at the jock tag graphic, which will be appearing on all six of our shirts this year:

The Uni Watch ballplayer shown on the shirt is intended to evoke a time when sports graphics and mascots were built around fun, not ferocity. And as you can see, our ballplayer really Gets Itâ„¢ when it comes to wearing his uniform. Allow me to point out some of the details:

• He’s wearing a flapless batting helmet. (I wanted to have him also wearing his cap under his helmet, but that turned out to be too subtle a detail to render.)

• He’s wearing only one batting glove, on his bottom hand — an old-school style that was popular in the late ’60s and early ’70s (and is still used today by Hunter Pence).

• He’s written his uniform number, 16, on the bottom of his bat knob. No newfangled knob decal for him!

• His jersey is modeled after our 2015 “Home” T-shirt.

• His high-cuffery, blousing, and stirrups are all picture-perfect.

• His spikes feature that old-school flap over the laces.

The shirt is available here. For further info on how the T-Shirt Club will work this year, click here. Thanks for your consideration, and thanks also to everyone who got us off to a good start by ordering the shirt yesterday — much appreciated!

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: New jerseys for Tennessee (from Jason Yellin). ”¦ Bourbon-themed jerseys — yes, you read that right — for the Bowling Green Hot Rods (from Eric Leach). ”¦ Here’s a new one (at least to me): There are now MLB team-branded barbecue grills. ”¦ New uniforms for Arizona State. ”¦ Reprinted from last night’s comments: The Blue Jays still have artificial turf, but they’re getting an all-dirt infield (from Mike Styczen). ”¦ This is pretty awesome: Astros P Lance McCullers has a tequila sunrise-themed PlayStation controller. ”¦ New cream jersey for UVA (from Rob Datoc). ”¦ New Zealand and South Africa played a World Baseball Classic qualifier yesterday, and the jersey colors were black vs. dark green (from @realstevecarp). ”¦ According to this article, the Tigers will still wear their traditional home and road game uniforms for a few spring training games, although they’ll go with the new navy spring training jersey for most of their Grapefruit League games (from Jeffrey Sak).

College Football News: Tennessee QB signee Jarrett Gaurantano announced via Twitter that he’ll be wearing No. 2 when he suits up for the Vols.

Hockey News: This is pretty awesome: The Carolina Hurricanes went curling (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Missouri Mavericks going pink in the rink this Saturday. ”¦ The Coyotes are offering a youth jersey exchange program — bring in an adult jersey from any NHL team, get a free Coyotes youth jersey. ”¦ No photo, but commenter Oakville Endive posted this on the site last night: “Watching the Senators/Red Wings game tonight, longtime Leaf Dion Phaneuf’s first game with the Sens. They showed a close-up of his gloves and talked about how Ottawa’s trainers had painted the blue part black. On close-up, you could still see traces of blue.” ”¦ The Pensacola Ice Flyers — that’s a hockey team — will wear jerseys honoring the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (that’s a baseball team) on Saturday.

NBA News: Here’s a clever way to spell out “NBA All-Star Weekend 2016” (thanks, Mike). ”¦ The Pistons retired Chauncey Billups’s number last night. The gentle vertical arching on the banner’s NOB lettering matches the format of the team’s other retired numbers, even though it’s a style that, to my knowledge, the Pistons have never worn. ”¦ Andre Iguodala of the Warriors was missing his little championship collar tab last night.

College and High School Hoops News: New sneakers for Miami (from Adam Apatoff). ”¦ New navy uni for UConn. Dan Madigan says it’ll be worn next Thursday, Feb. 18. ”¦ Whoa, check out the uniforms for this Canadian high school team. ”¦ Should the play-in games for the NCAA tourney be called the “First Round,” or should that term be reserved for the first slate of round-of-64 games? The NCAA has clarified the proper terminology. ”¦ Wisconsin once again wore their red Black History Month throwbacks at home last night. ”¦ Not sure if we already had this, but just in case: UTEP resurrected their school’s former name by wearing 1966 Texas Western throwbacks last weekend. According to this story, the throwbacks marked “the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1966 NCAA title game when Texas Western upset perennial powerhouse Kentucky, 72-66. Texas Western became the first school to start five African-American players in the NCAA championship game, a significance made more visually apparent by Kentucky’s all-white lineup.” … Texas Tech F Matt Temple is wearing protective eyewear after being poked in the eye (from Pete Broussard).

Soccer News: St. Pauli will be wearing jerseys that say “No football for fascists” for tomorrow’s Holocaust Remembrance Day match against Leipzig (from Phil). ”¦ New change kit for the Columbus Crew, and the early reviews are not good. ”¦ Stoke City will wear solid white for this weekend’s game against Bournemouth (from Jon Gausewitz). ”¦ New secondary kit for New York City FC (thanks, Phil). ”¦ I think we’re a few days late with this one: New secondary jersey for Sporting KC (from Ryan Burchett). ”¦ Here’s a critique of the 2016 MLS uniforms (from Tim Cross). ”¦ New clash jerseys for the Czech Republic, Austria, and Slovakia.

Grab Bag: Here’s something you don’t see anymore: New Jersey Generals QB Brian Sipe hyperventilating into a paper bag (from Bill Kellick). ”¦ Cricket Australia has unveiled a new version of the pink ball that will be used for day/night Test Matches in the 2016-17 season. “It features black stitching on the seam to make it easier for players to see,” says Graham Clayton. ”¦ Whoa, look at this great Natty Boh patch! (Big thanks to Brad Eenhuis.) ”¦ Good story on clever political campaign buttons throughout the years (thanks, Brinke). ”¦ Here’s a short video on the redesign of the CBS Sports logo (from Greg Franklin). ”¦ Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and GOP Presidential candidate Jeb Bush had ash on his forehead. I can’t recall seeing a presidential candidate doing that before. ”¦ There’s a design competition to create a new logo for the 2019 Island Games in Gibraltar. ”¦ New athletics logo for Knox College. ”¦ A South African potato chip manufacturer will have to change its logo because it looks too much like another company’s mark.

157 comments to Because We All Want to Belong

  • Dumb Guy | February 11, 2016 at 8:14 am |

    “Whoa, look at this great Natty Boh patch! ”

    Wouldn’t that look great on a uniform??

  • Aaron | February 11, 2016 at 8:17 am |

    Should Brian Sipe be in the baseball section?

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 8:20 am |

      Oops — thanks. Now moved to the Grab Bag.

  • WFY | February 11, 2016 at 8:21 am |

    Great post, I like the new attitude, though I wasn’the bothered much by the old one.

    Interesting story on your “87” jersey. Also, if you haven’the seen Jerry Smith: A Google Life it’s worth your time.

    I remember Brian Sipe hyperventilating in a bag, I think he’d been concussed in that game.

  • Mike Engle on iPhone | February 11, 2016 at 8:24 am |

    Belong yet be different. Holy cow that’s me. I’ll get a blank Habs jersey and get it lettered up with somebody who was on the team, but is an obscure pick. Mathieu Schneider #24 “CA” throwback from 2009? David Desharnais #58 from the Heritage Classic in Calgary? A freaking Youppi jersey with an exclamation mark? I own both of those. Also so many more, but that’s not the point.

    • Brian E | February 11, 2016 at 11:11 am |

      i used to love to do the obscure player thing, too. That’s why I have a Derek Bell Mets jersey in my closet. Dude was on fire in the first three months of 2000!

  • Mike Engle on iPhone | February 11, 2016 at 8:29 am |

    Had two for both, added another…all, not both. Sheesh.

  • Rob S | February 11, 2016 at 8:30 am |

    Astros P Lance McCullers has a tequila sunrise-themed PlayStation console.

    That’s a controller, not a console.

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 8:33 am |

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • Marc-Louis Paprzyca | February 11, 2016 at 8:34 am |

    I occasionally buy and wear an “Overpriced Polyester Shirt” and I was never offended but you’re thoughts are valid. I really enjoyed your J. Smith jersey story as well. Nice work.

  • Christian b | February 11, 2016 at 8:35 am |

    Shouldn’t the deal of the tech player with eye protection be in the basketball collum

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 8:42 am |

      Yes, thanks. Now fixed.

  • MJ | February 11, 2016 at 8:39 am |

    I never took your stance on not wearing jerseys personally. Besides, it’s your site and your fingerprints are all over it. Part of running the site is that you’re a moderator for discussion and you can have a slant.
    I don’t wear jerseys as much as I did in my 20s; work and turning 40 did that for me. But I have a nice collection. I never felt like you look down on me; it’s just not your thing. I am not all that crazy about grommets or King Corcoran stories, but it doesn’t distract from my enjoyment of the site. Do you, man.

  • WFY | February 11, 2016 at 8:41 am |

    Football becomes Google on my phone for some reason.

  • MJ | February 11, 2016 at 8:41 am |

    @MikeEngle – totally agree! All of my custom jobs are the less heralded players. I like standing out too. I got a Correll Buckhalter Eagles gamer – long story short, Reebok screwed up, I caught the error, saved $100 and got a unique authentic jersey. Even now, it starts conversations at games. Everybody had McNabb, Westbrook and Dawkins. I am the only one who has a Buckhalter that I know.

  • MJ | February 11, 2016 at 8:43 am |

    My Habs jersey is a red Saku Koivu. Much respect to the captain and for his fight against cancer. Not a Habs fan but I respect them. And I had family in Montreal growing up. One of my favorite cities in the world. Been to the Bell Centre, LOVED IT, can’t wait to go back.

  • Alex | February 11, 2016 at 8:45 am |

    So I want to give my view on your statement. The uniforms I have that I have and how I received them
    -1 Rams Reebok home Bradford I purchased
    Purchased on clearance after Nike got contract
    -1 Rams Nike away Bradford my sister purchased
    Purchased on clearance after Bradford was dropped
    -1 Rams Nike home custom my wife purchased
    Given as a gift
    -1 Rams Puma home signed Faulk jersey purchased/framed for me
    Given as a gift
    -1 Saginaw Gears Kobe home jersey I got as a kid
    Was “kid of the game” back on 10/31/1999, got for free
    -1 Pistons generic Billups promo home jersey
    Found at yard sale
    -1 Pistons Adidas Villenueva away jersey
    Purchased on clearance after he was dropped

    So I have a few, but I try to keep my costs down as much as possible. I rarely wear them in public or around town, I only wear them on big event days (Supe, Finals) or if I’m going to a game of that specific sport. They’re a special event for me. They are a bit overpriced but not more so than what some people spend on clothes (those uni’s on clearance and whatnot still cost more than most of my other clothes per item). I didn’t mind how you portrayed people who buy jerseys because they are overpriced and ridiculous in public. I actually prefer the more “normal” apparel of teams (the hoodies, t-shirts, etc.) and have tons more of those that, again most came on clearance.

  • Tom | February 11, 2016 at 8:52 am |

    I’m okay with people that wear replica jerseys, but only if it does not have the name/number of a player on it. I’m specifically speaking about adults. There is something very wrong (to me) about a grown adult wearing the name and number of someone younger than them on their clothes. There is, of course, an exception for the instances where you are related to the player, and of course kids (up through about college age) can always wear jerseys. But when I see a 35 year old man wearing a Bryce Harper jersey, I just start to feel sad for him.

    • Rich P | February 11, 2016 at 9:36 am |

      “I’m specifically speaking about adults. There is something very wrong (to me) about a grown adult wearing the name and number of someone younger than them on their clothes.”

      No disrespect, fellow uni-watch comment-er, but that’s a ridiculous take. What the hell does it matter? So for myself (35 year old man) wearing a Peyton Manning jersey would be fine by you since he’s older than me? But if I wore an Osweiler jersey that’s sad? The fact that something this trivial bothers you is odd to say the least. But, to each their own, I won’t fault you for stating your opinion, rather I’ll just think to myself that it’s a ridiculous one.

      • Tom | February 11, 2016 at 9:45 am |

        I just feel like wearing a player’s name on your back is something that you do if you look up to a player. Like how a kid might want to emulate the way that player plays. When you’re an adult, it just seems kinda silly, doesn’t it? “Hey, I’m a grown-up, but I want to hit like Miguel Cabrera when I get bigger!” I don’t know why it bothers me, but I understand I’m in the minority.

        I don’t feel the same way about someone that wants to wear the jersey of a player from their youth, like if I wanted to wear a Barry Sanders or an Abdul-Jabbar or Carlton Fisk. But something about it irks me when I see a grown man wearing a LeBron James jersey, when that guy is old enough to be LeBron’s dad.

        Unless you’re doing it because your kids want you to, of course. At that point, the rules go out the window and you do what you can to make your kids happy.

      • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 9:49 am |

        Unstated in today’s lede, but I’ll say it now: Another reason I don’t like jersey retailing is that it leads to precisely this type of squabbling. Obviously, everyone’s entitled to his/her opinion, but retail jersey culture seems to entail fans having a lot of “rules” and “violations” and judgments about other fans.

        Like I wrote, I’m going to try to stop judging people who buy/wear this stuff. But I also wish you could all stop judging each other.

        • Tom | February 11, 2016 at 10:16 am |

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really judging these folks, it is more one of those “well, you’ll never find me wearing someone’s jersey [for the aforementioned reasons], but to each their own” sort of attitudes. The things that other people enjoy and want to spend their money on is their own business, so what do I care?

          But you’re right, jersey culture (and general sports fan culture, it seems) is a cesspool of people being a-holes to each other, and it’s near enough to make someone want to quit it altogether.

        • Adam N. | February 12, 2016 at 6:53 am |

          “I’m okay with people that…but only if”
          “There is something very wrong”
          “I just start to feel sad for him”
          “It just seems kind of silly”
          “Something about it irks me”

          Yeah, you’re definitely “not really judging”. Not at all.

    • arrScott | February 11, 2016 at 9:54 am |

      I agree with Rich P that this is, in any rational terms, a ridiculous and indefensibly pompous view. On the other hand, it’s close to my own opinion. For me, though, it’s about what I’m comfortable wearing myself, not what I think others should do or not do. I am not comfortable wearing an accomplished stranger’s name on my back. Nearly all of my jerseys are blank on the back or number only. But this is a standard for me; I don’t judge others by it. (Except people wearing JETER 2 replica Yankees jerseys. Hosers. Invest the 20 minutes to get the NOB off yer pinstripes. [Mostly kidding.])

      I wear a jersey because I’m a fan of the team, or of the team’s uniform. Wearing an NOB feels to me like either childish identifying with another individual, the pretense of being actually a participant rather than a spectator, or being too much a fan of individual players in what is properly a team sport. But I know that some people really are fans of individual players more than they’re fans of particular teams, and really that’s perfectly OK. And most people who wear an NOB aren’t playing dress-up and pretending to be that guy, they’re expressing their admiration for him. And pretty much all fans, even NOB-eschewing me, tend to refer to teams in the second person – “we” won the game, “our” draft pick was a good choice, and so forth. Upholding any particular rules about decorating one’s shirt doesn’t at all change that dynamic. Refusing to wear jerseys and caps entirely might reduce the tendency to identify with a team as a participant rather than a spectator.

      Anyway, that’s also sort of how I’ve read Paul’s refrain about overpriced polyester shirts. Paul, as I’ve interpreted it, is saying that he himself would feel like a sucker if he were to buy a jersey – he’s not saying that he believes anyone else who does so is a sucker. Important to remember that it’s possible and reasonable to hold and express standards for one’s own behavior without judging everyone else by those standards. I would feel like a childish poseur wearing someone else’s NOB, so I don’t. But I don’t judge anyone else to be a childish poseur when they wear an NOB.

      • Tom | February 11, 2016 at 10:20 am |

        Thank you, this is exactly the point I was trying to make, but didn’t really word it properly. If you want to wear a player’s name and number, go ahead, but I won’t be doing it. You’re more likely to see me wearing a plain t-shirt or cap than a jersey, anyway, so it’s a bit of a moot point.

      • Eltee of DC | February 11, 2016 at 11:37 am |

        The website masthead says Uni-Watch, not the Uni-Wear rules for haters . I have no issues if someone wants to spend their hard earned inheritance on sports gear. No drama there.

        BUT…

        Holy Mr. Blackwell … your misplaced A-A-F fascist fetish about the proper how, when and where of wearing team gear is utterly b-o-r-i-n-g (knocking on the door of high school musicals and waterboarding with wardrobe kinda boring).  It could only be worse if you described what to wear for political photo shoots …nobody cares.

        No wait. That actually might be useful Jeddediah.

        Let me rephrase that. unless your name is Tom Ford,  Daniel Craig, or Jennifer Lawrence, the world does not care about what you wear. No one gives a rat’s hairy poopshoot that you garb isn’t 100 percent fanboy approved.  Although come to think of it, that would make a cool logo.

      • Mark in Shiga | February 12, 2016 at 7:43 am |

        I feel very much like this, and even though I know it’s irrational, I too think there’s something different about wearing a jersey of a player who’s older than you compared to someone who’s older.

        Earlier this year I found myself buying a game used 1990s “Team Cuba” Cubs practice jersey, in part because I remember being a young Cubs fan and looking up to those guys. I’d still buy a current one, because I love the team, but there’s something more special about having the one from your youth.

        I also would feel weird wearing a jersey with a NOB. All (I think) of my game-used jerseys have only numbers on the backs, and I was fortunate enough to acquire one from my favorite team, in a very specific year, with my favorite number, who happened to be my size — rare in this age of big players. The way I see it, I’m supporting not just that player, but whoever gets that number in all future seasons, and everyone who has worn it in past seasons. Iit’s a connection to the past and the future.

        • Mark in Shiga | February 12, 2016 at 7:46 am |

          Addendum to my own post: I also wear my game-used stuff in the league that I play in. No sense buying top-of-the-line practice wear that will be worthless if I ever quit playing, and it would be silly to have some other person’s name on the back!

    • Adam N. | February 11, 2016 at 12:10 pm |

      Making value judgements about someone with different stylistic preferences than you. Super cool!

  • DaninLA | February 11, 2016 at 8:55 am |

    A day late for this comment (sorry) …

    But what is up with the Pittsburgh Penguin’s eye ? Has it always been like that ? I know it is a cartoon, but that’s weird.

    • Eltee of DC | February 11, 2016 at 12:04 pm |

      Wow,

      Now I have to go back and check that out.

  • DenverGregg | February 11, 2016 at 8:55 am |

    The Broncos’ “champions in the community” jerseys are what the players wear when they visit Childrens’ Hospital too (probably other appearances, but here I’m speaking from experience). Maybe they wear those instead of the gamers so they’re not besieged with requests for them.

  • Brent | February 11, 2016 at 8:56 am |

    The CBS Sports video flashes the University of Georgia “G” in the middle of the NFL redesign highlights.

  • marc | February 11, 2016 at 8:57 am |

    Re: the CSN ad, could that be one of the earliest attempts at marketing throwbacks (NY Giants, Bklyn Dodgers and Mil Braves)?

    On a related note, I recall back in the 70s, I saw in my program from an Indians game that there was an Indians gift shop and they sold replica MLB jerseys. I saved my allowance, gave it to mom and asked if she could pick up a Tigers home jersey for me because – of course – it’s a great looking jersey. I hated to admit I was a little disappointed when she brought it home because, tho it was a pretty faithful reproduction (complete with real piping), the color was closer to a royal blue than navy. But still, it was a cool jersey and I wore it all summer long.

  • Gordon | February 11, 2016 at 8:59 am |

    Bowling Green Hot Rods link broken.

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 9:03 am |

      Fixed.

  • B | February 11, 2016 at 9:01 am |

    In case you missed it, the first chance to purchase this month’s Overpriced Cotton Shirt is available now!!

  • Robert Eden | February 11, 2016 at 9:06 am |

    Great stuff today. Well done yet again.

    I have always preferred a game-used jersey to a retail jersey, as they are generally higher quality, cheaper (if you stick with run-of-the-mill middle relievers and backup catchers) and inherently cooler.

    A problem has developed in recent years, however: length. In ever-increasing numbers, players are having their jerseys customized for added length. As a result, even though I am on the tallish side at a long-waisted 6’3″, these modern jerseys fit like dresses. This has left me to either go with a dress, a retail jersey or nothing at all for some new styles . . . and I have opted for the latter.

    • Adam N. | February 11, 2016 at 12:12 pm |

      Keep an eye out for the shorter guys on the team

    • David | February 11, 2016 at 1:24 pm |

      At 6’7″, I appreciate the longer game worns, and am thrilled when I can find a taller player’s game jersey on discount…

      I wear my Jon Knott IronPigs jersey with pride every time Lehigh Valley comes to Charlotte. There are always plenty of Phillies caps and tshirts around, but I am the only one in I-Pigs gear.

  • Rob S | February 11, 2016 at 9:10 am |

    I’m a little disappointed the Blue Jays article didn’t elaborate on the history of the sliding pit infield configuration. The writer didn’t even refer to the sliding pits by that name, just “squares of dirt”.

    It does mark the end of an era, though, that began in 1970 at Riverfront Stadium. R.I.P., sliding pits in Major League Baseball.

    • Dan Pfeifer | February 11, 2016 at 9:53 am |

      I agree, not so much in the disappointment (there’s only so much Paul can do at once and today’s column was dynamite nonetheless), but that the history and death of the MLB sliding pit is something that should be noted and perhaps properly eulogized, even if it won’t be mourned. It was a major part of the Major League Baseball aesthetic for 45 years, but appears to be dead and gone for good.

  • Max Levy | February 11, 2016 at 9:11 am |

    Did anyone else see the Cardinals replica jersey ad and do a double take, thinking it was a mock up with Fidel Castro?

    • Eltee of DC | February 11, 2016 at 11:55 am |

      Nah I don’t think so, It looks more like Al Hrabosky’s brother who peaked in high school and now mows the grass at the ballyard.

      Fidel really likes Military Appreciation day.  Nothing says “Support the Uni-Revolution” than fatigues and combat boots.

  • Yancey | February 11, 2016 at 9:12 am |

    Really bums me about the Tigers, always looked sharp in their home uni’s at Joker Marchant, I loved the all grey look when they played on the road too.

  • Hank-SJ | February 11, 2016 at 9:19 am |

    The one part of your excellent commentary I can say I’ve never heard (and I’ve both worn and not worn jerseys to games) is ” . . . fans who wear jerseys to games would stop calling out non-jersey-wearers for being “bad fans” or “not supporting the team”. IDK, is that more a collegiate sports fan deal?

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 9:33 am |

      The accusation about non-jersey-wearers being bad fans has been made more than a few times right here in the Uni Watch comments section.

      • Adam N. | February 11, 2016 at 12:13 pm |

        I think the criticism is usually directed to a complete lack of team based apparel, but not specifically toward jerseys. Either way, its a ridiculous criticism.

      • Chris Weber | February 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm |

        … personally, I have never witnessed jersey wearers giving non-jersey wearers a hard time at a sporting event (or online here at UW HQ). That said, it doesn’t surprise me.

        Two side notes about jersey wearing, one serious, the other light-hearted:

        First, my rule of thumb has always been that if you’re visiting the city of your fave team’s rival, you do not wear your team’s jersey. It simply is a prudent way to avoid any unnecessary, and possibly alcohol-induced, confrontation. Just wear neutral clothing and enjoy the game (especially the quiet satisfaction that comes if your team wins that day).

        Second, my other major rule of thumb is, if you elect to wear a jersey, you do not wear a baseball cap of the same team. It looks forced and, essentially, overdressed. Jersey? Fine. Baseball cap? Fine. Jersey+cap? Nope.

        (Oh, and extra demerits if you wear both AND tuck the jersey in, too. Yikes!)

        -C.

        • Rob Ullman | February 11, 2016 at 4:07 pm |

          I tend to be a “one or the other” type as well, unless I’m trying to TOTALLY go overboard and add stirrups, etc. Living, as I do, in a minor-league town, I don’t get to go to many MLB games, so I try to dress up like an idiot at least once a season!

  • Bud | February 11, 2016 at 9:24 am |

    John Kerry had ashes on his forehead when he was running in 04.

    http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/senator-john-kerry-a-practicing-catholic-emerges-from-st-johns-with-picture-id3012812

    It actually surprises me that Jeb had them, because I always thought Ash Wednesday was a Catholic-specific thing. Either it’s not and is actually a broader Christian tradition and George chose not to partake in that particular sacrament while he was in the political realm, or Jeb and George are different religions, which you don’t see all that often between brothers.

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 9:34 am |

      Jeb converted to Catholocism years ago, when he married his (Catholic) wife.

    • arrScott | February 11, 2016 at 10:02 am |

      Ash Wednesday worship and the ash on the forehead thing is not confined to Roman Catholicism. And it’s not a sacrament, neither for Catholics nor for the fewer-sacrament-believing Protestant churches. Ash Wednesday is observed by many Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Anglican/Episcopalian churches, and many Methodist and Congregationalist churches. I belong to a UCC church (Congregationalist), and we’re super “low church” in terms of formal liturgy, and yet even we do Ash Wednesday.

      In my experience, though, attendance at Ash Wednesday service tends to be much higher in Catholic than in Protestant congregations.

      • Mainspark | February 11, 2016 at 11:53 am |

        When I went to Mass yesterday for Ash Wednesday in the Homily the Priest directly addressed the fact that Ash Wednesday was not a Holy Day of Obligation yet is as well attended as Christmas or Easter Sunday.

      • BvK1126 | February 11, 2016 at 2:58 pm |

        My church, which many people would describe as Evangelical (it’s affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church of America, but sometimes identified with the “emerging church” movement) holds an annual Ash Wednesday service. It involves the traditional ash-on-the-forehead ceremony, and kicks of the church’s formal observance of the Lenten season. It’s definitely not just a “high church” thing, though it’s certainly not universally observed in “low church” Evangelical circles.

    • Mitchell H | February 11, 2016 at 3:27 pm |

      Under the category “probably more info than you want to know,” the Catholic Church technically regards the ashes not as a sacrament, but as a sacramental, i.e. an external sign of an internal devotion. One good description of the ashes: “Their reception with humility is a sign of penance. We wear them publicly to acknowledge our need to atone for our sins.” Our parish, which is Latin exclusively, had a High Mass last night – incense, Gregorian chant, the whole thing.

  • ejsteeler | February 11, 2016 at 9:28 am |

    That was a great story – thanks for the link, Paul. I do collect and wear jerseys (mostly MLB and NHL because they don’t have names on the back), primarily as a hobby. I’ve never spent $300 on one and never will – I usually get them off ebay or buy when they go on clearance.

    I have to admit I would get a little offended when you would make a dig at those who enjoy collecting/wearing jerseys if only because it felt as if you were biting the hand that feeds you, as it were. Many people feel strongly about the subjects you post, and the information you provide, and to then be chastised for an element of it felt wrong.

    I tend to agree that jersey sales are driving today’s designs, and not often for the better, but every once in a while you get a great new (old) look like Montreal’s Winter Classic unis that you might not have been able to see if there wasn’t such an interest from today’s audience.

  • arrScott | February 11, 2016 at 9:29 am |

    The NHL-team-goes-curling thing is now officially a trend. I’ve seen similar videos from the Wild and the Caps this season, so that makes three, and that’s a trend. Curling seems to be getting a lot of attention lately, especially given that we’re in the nadir year of the Winter Olympiad.

  • Dumb Guy | February 11, 2016 at 9:49 am |

    I own ONE jersey, and it’s a low-priced replica.
    -Darrell Green. My favorite guy from my favorite team.that is it.
    Stumbled on it at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx or some place like that.

    I bought my wife a Jags, Keenan McCardle replica off eBay. That is her favorite guy. She’s not even a big sports fan, but she lived in Jax when the team came to town, so that’s her connection.

    • Dumb Guy | February 11, 2016 at 9:54 am |

      I should also mention I am Cheap Guy.

  • NVHoonigan | February 11, 2016 at 9:52 am |

    Just when I wanted to let go, you pulled me back in, haha! Great story today Paul. Long story short I am a jersey guy myself and many points you brought up in your article hit home. I never felt attacked by your views on jersey sales but sometimes it did seem like you were putting down the people and not the companies themselves. I really appreciated your explanation and looking at it from our side a little bit.

    I firmly agree with you that prices are out of this world on jerseys which is why I am not a regular buyer but I have a few in my collection. Anyway your article firmed up that no matter what kind of uni fan we might be, we are all uni fans together. I look forward to your news every morning and you will have me as a loyal reader for a long time in the future!

    Cheers!

  • Big Matt | February 11, 2016 at 9:58 am |

    Honestly it always bothered me when you dumped on the over priced polyester shirts. More than once, I sat down to right you and explain the draw to purchase a jersey and the feeling associated with it. But I could never quite get the words right to express how it made me feel to have a “real” jersey.
    Kudos to you Paul for having an open mind – almost nothing impresses me more than when an adult takes the time to look at something in a new light, and actually adjust their views, even if it is just a little bit. Much respect to you sir.

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 10:02 am |

      Thanks, Matt — appreciated.

    • Munch Suchland | February 11, 2016 at 10:31 am |

      I was about to post the same thing. Good to see an open mind, Paul.

      I have a few jerseys. Griffey Jr was a birthday gift to me many years ago. Chapman and Votto jerseys were cheap Chinese jerseys. I don’t think I’ve worn any of them more than twice.
      I prefer to buy a nice looking t-shirt (or 8) or a nice team jacket or sweatshirt (or 2) instead of over-paying for a jersey I would never wear unless I was going to the game. Even then, I’m not a fan of wearing two shirts in the middle of July in Cincinnati. I prefer a t-shirt for the comfort alone.

  • Lopez | February 11, 2016 at 10:21 am |

    I have owned the same 3 Yankee jersey’s for the past 13 years. Being a Yankee fan there r not alot of new designs created, obviously. But if I were a fan of a team that’s constantly redesigning or coming out with a new alternate every three years or so I wouldn’t be one of those people who go out to buy the latest. It’s just not in my nature. To each his own. Recently I flew off the rails on Paul in the comments section. A decision I regret because it was a childish profanity-laced rant. I could have made my point in a more mature way and have apologized. Thanks for the post, Paul. Well put. You got a Uni-Watch fan here for life.

  • Rob S | February 11, 2016 at 10:29 am |

    One of my favorite possessions is the very first jersey I ever received as a gift, back on Christmas 1992 – a 1991-92 Detroit Red Wings throwback replica, which I later got customized in honor of Vladimir Konstantinov.

    My heyday for buying jerseys was around 1995-2002, and then I only ever bought hockey jerseys. My collection remains fairly small, as I primarily got jerseys for the Red Wings and Penguins. My most recent purchases came in 2008, though: I got a Tom Brady jersey prior to Super Bowl XLII (though it didn’t work out that year, it finally worked out for XLIX), and a couple of Red Wings and Penguins CCM replicas that were on clearance.

    As far as going to games, I’ll still break out a Wings jersey going down to the Joe, but I’ll never criticize anyone who chooses not to wear a jersey or team-related clothing to a game. To each their own.

  • McSean | February 11, 2016 at 10:31 am |

    I agree that Jerseys are overpriced, so any I have are gifts.

    This site has made them even more expensive though, because now my eye has been trained for the inaccuracies on cheaper versions.

    For example, my wife wanted to buy me a new Mets Jersey for V-Day, since the only one I have is BFBS and I rarely wear it. (They lose everytime I do … I know, correlation vs causation, whatever superstition is fun)

    Anyway, she asked me to pick out what I wanted, and I decided to go with a 1986 Gary Carter Jersey. But then I ran into the problem that there are so many knock off versions that are either missing the number on the front, or use a modern wordmark that leaves space for the buttons. Not to mention the name being directly applied vs a nameplate, and the lack of the anniversary patch.

    So I had to ask for the more expensive one, as the slight details that were off on the others would just annoy me incessantly.

  • 9 | February 11, 2016 at 10:34 am |

    It never bothered me when you complained about overpriced jerseys — they are overpriced. The only time I will pay full price is when I get my kids new team t-shirts for their birthdays. Otherwise, I will never pay full new retail.

    The corollary to wanting to show you belong is wanting to show you don’t belong. I wanted a Eagles jersey to wear when my friend brought me to Washington Professional’s games at FedEx. I wanted to show that I was not a fan of the Prof’s. So, I trolled around on eBay for a few weeks. I knew I wanted the green (white was too generic, and I hate the BFBS). I did not care who’s jersey I got, but I did not want to get a jersey from certain players – no McNabb or TO, and there seemed to be a lot of Irving Fryar at the time, and I don’t consider him to be an Eagle. Eventually, I found a JT Smith in excellent shape, for which I paid the grand price of $3.50, plus shipping. I wore it proudly, and still do.

  • skott daltonic | February 11, 2016 at 10:37 am |

    nothing says “family fun” than the mix of alcohol and automobiles!
    great work on the jerseys, Hot Rods!

  • Silver Creek Doug | February 11, 2016 at 10:39 am |

    No to be too nitpicky, but the soccer kits are not clash jerseys. That’s a rugby term.

    They are change strips.

  • Shaftman | February 11, 2016 at 10:39 am |

    I haven’t posted in a very long time but today’s evolution of Paul’s stance on retail jersey’s made me remember what I love about this site.

    It’s the ability for civil discourse to allow us all to grow as individuals. My own “ah ha’ moment was when I decided that the Washington Football team’s name was no longer something I was OK with. For years it didn’t bother me but the ability to see contrary view points allowed me to realize I was wrong.

    And to add a uni spin on this post – I was in a meeting with major sports team’s marketing department the other day and the amount of off field thought into how to get fans to part with more of their money is truly mind boggling.

    • Dan Pfeifer | February 11, 2016 at 10:52 am |

      “I was in a meeting with major sports team’s marketing department the other day and the amount of off field thought into how to get fans to part with more of their money is truly mind boggling.”

      Le sigh. The relentless pursuit of “more money” tires me. At some point, I’d just like to see some people concentrate on a good primary product.

      • Shaftman | February 11, 2016 at 10:59 am |

        The people in this meeting with strikingly intelligent but the goal of it was to create a world apart from the play on the field. They even mentioned (several times) that the game itself was secondary to the experience. I’d call this weird but I’ve had a few other meetings just like it.

        That being said, the idea’s being talked about were absolutely amazing and there was a clear initiative to bring the fans in the stadium and home together while bringing them all closer to the actual players through various means. I just wish there was a focus on how to accomplish all of this while allowing people to enjoy the game they should be there to watch.

        • Eltee of DC | February 11, 2016 at 12:19 pm |

          None of this is new in the world of sports marketing. It is the execution of this “Branding the experience” that at times can be truly cringe worthy.

          Done well, no one says boo about the whole brand experience… see DISNEYLAND/World. No one on the planet knows how to take money from kids and make their parents smile for it as well as the big mouse.

          When the mouse flexes it’s monetary muscles for good or bad – see ESPN, companies quivver.

        • Dan Pfeifer | February 11, 2016 at 12:24 pm |

          I kinda-sorta understand the idea of making the game an experience. Being a Brewers fan, I think about Miller Park versus the old County Stadium. The Brewers would routinely draw 6,000-7,000 fans on bad nights at the Old Co., but it was a spectacular place to get seats and just focus on the game. There are only so many pure baseball fans out there.

          On the other hand, there’s a lot of stuff you have to crawl through and around to get to your beer, brat and seat at Miller Park. Each entrance seems to have some sort of shop or kiosk or niche food stand where you can get custom uniform brioche or something like that. As a guy who just wants to be in his seat by first pitch so I have a totally accurate scorebook, it drives me a little batty. But, I also notice that the paid attendance is never less than 20,000, and the rare occasions I don’t go solo, it seems like everyone else in the group wants to hit the bar, check out the interactive games, find new food, whatever. I don’t get it, but I guess they do.

          I suppose it would only make a difference if I, and a lot of other fans like me, stopped going. Maybe then they’d provide at least one entrance to the ballpark for purists to lure us back. But I don’t see that happening — either me not going, or the ballpark changing.

  • BIll S | February 11, 2016 at 10:41 am |

    I have a two uni-related peeves that get me annoyed as well.
    1) Fashion caps. I could never get so hung up on my appearance as to need a baby-blue White Sox cap…just so it matches the color of something else I’m wearing.
    2) Bad replica jerseys. My wife wanted to get me a Walter Payton replica jersey for Christmas a few years ago. Scanning through eBay I was appalled by the number of ‘Payton replica jerseys’ that had horrendously bad stripe patterns and big ol’ block numbers.

    Why, if as today’s blog suggests, are people who want to ‘fit in’ or ‘belong’ willing to wear something not at the very least a replica of what ‘your team’ wears in games?

    I can only think its my ‘Type A’ personality. When I look at art, I love the detail of things. Works like those of Picasso I just don’t get. But keep it in context. When you do the graphics for sites like our GUD, the devil is in the detail. Not likely that we’d get many visitors to GUD if Picasso was designing our images. At least I hope not.

    • The Jeff | February 11, 2016 at 11:07 am |

      Why, if as today’s blog suggests, are people who want to ‘fit in’ or ‘belong’ willing to wear something not at the very least a replica of what ‘your team’ wears in games?

      Cost. People settle for less-than-ideal for a lower price on a lot of things. Why would a jersey be any different? The $25 fake is “close enough” vs spending $100 for the cheapest authentic replica version. It’s basically the same thing as buying StoreBrand-Cola instead of Coca-Cola.

  • Dan Pfeifer | February 11, 2016 at 10:49 am |

    Let me echo everyone else saying this column was great. The thorough dissections of designs are interesting, but I always enjoy the columns in which you discuss “theory,” as it were, especially the ones where you think deeply about why you react a certain way and, sometimes, make changes accordingly. That’s personal growth, happening before our eyes, and not something you see out of adults often enough. It’s really cool.

    I’ve never been much of a jersey guy. I own two personalized Brewers jerseys, one navy alternate and one retro, each with my own name and favorite number on the back. The only reason I got the retro one was because, at the time, it was the cheapest personalizeable option. The best thing about them has been that, with realistic pants, they’ve made great and easy Halloween costumes, plus, they resulted in what was clearly the best of all of the engagement pictures my wife and I got (https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xtp1/v/t1.0-9/11230914_10152790878511581_6540644949909880223_n.jpg?oh=daa20fdc5ff4d30829768bac34105ae5&oe=5769267D).

    Still, jerseys have always struck me as overpriced and unessential to showing one’s fandom. What does a $200 jersey say that a $20 T-shirt doesn’t? Not to mention that the T-shirt actually can be better suited to show you support the team rather than an individual player. A jersey without a number and NOB, if appropriate, looks incomplete. A T-shirt might not. I’m a fan of the teams, not the players, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned through the years, it’s that players are always just one arrest away from falling totally out of favor, even after their careers. I don’t think many people are seeking out O.J. Simpson retro jerseys.

    One thing I think is worth keying on, though: I grew up in a household where I was actually encouraged *not* to fit in. Part of this was being born to a mother with trust issues, who generally looked down on most other people and anything “trendy.” As such, I think I’ve always had a different kind of perspective. On the flip side, I think it takes a certain maturity to both recognize you don’t have to fit in, and understand and be OK with others who don’t fit in.

    While I think it’s OK to not besmirch those who feel a jersey helps them feel better about their place in the team fandom community, there was something nice about someone defending those of us who didn’t feel as though the uniform was an essential part of fandom. I will miss that interpretation a little bit, but not a ton.

    Furthermore, here’s another thought: As I’ve both become an adult and done more work in the sports industry behind the scenes, usually as an announcer or member of the media somehow, I’ve grown to prefer “professional” sports apparel, even when I go as a fan. Give me a polo shirt or even a solid-colored team sweatervest with a small team logo on the chest, and I’m a happy guy. But I then double-back and realize that’s because I’m looking to fit in a different way: I’m looking to fit in with the front-office and management types that will potentially pick me up for work. I don’t think that’s a problem, though, nor do I think that makes me “less of a fan.” If anything, it’s my way of showing I’m ready to contribute in any way that will help the team, including the ways I can help best.

    Teams nowadays offer a lot of different ways to show you’re a fan, appealing to all income levels, genders, styles and tastes. Long story short, just being a fan should be enough to help you fit in, not what you wear. Heck, I grew up in a time when being a Brewers fan in Milwaukee was a good way NOT to fit in — they were so bad, it was trendier to make fun of them than actually wear the gear and show support. I got made fun of a lot for wearing my Brewers stuff in 1994 and 1995, when the Brewers were awful and baseball as a whole was very uncool with other teenagers. As such, I’m just happy to be a part of something others enjoy, too, and I still don’t feel like I need a jersey to do it, even though I do wear mine occasionally.

    (Small secret code aside: There’s some Nueske’s bacon in my freezer right now.)

  • Brian | February 11, 2016 at 10:49 am |

    About those UConn unis, I also saw all red Ohio State ones and all black with yellow writing Oregon ones up for sale, I’m guessing it’s this years version of those Nike uniforms we’ve seen over the years

  • Adam fritzen | February 11, 2016 at 10:52 am |

    Like others have posted never was offended by your opinion.
    i started with replicas jerseys (mostly hockey) moved to authentics now I’m on game worn jerseys so I have exponentially increased my spending. Most I get on eBay so it’s significantly less than retail because let’s face it most clothing is overpriced not just jerseys.
    The only judging I do is when people buy the counterfeit Chinese knockoffs. They’re supporting something that is wrong in the way they are made that is all.

  • Jet | February 11, 2016 at 10:53 am |

    I bought my first “replica” hockey jersey, if you want to call it that,in 1970. The neighborhood sporting goods store on Long Island sold UNCRESTED jerseys for many NHL teams. In a display case, they sold crests separately!! I bought a black uncrested Bruins jersey (made of WOOL!!!!) with tie-down front, and a “B” crest which I crudely sewed on myself. Wore that baby proudly to school, grade 7.

    I can’t recall what they did for Rangers jerseys since I’m pretty sure they didn’t sell the individual letters. I think Rangers jerseys may have come with the letters on them. I never wanted the hometown team anyway. I do recall they sold the Blackhawks crest AND the crossed C shoulder patches! I loved staring at the crests in the display case. Some of the crests weren’t exactly right for a jersey. The Seals one was green letters/white outline on a yellow oval-shaped background with a green oval line around the perimeter. Similarly, the Northstars had the familiar N but it was on a white background oval with a green oval around the perimeter. I had a Northstars blank jersey too but didn’t like how the crest looked so put that and the Seals one on my winter jacket. Gotta see if I have a pic of that somewhere. They didn’t have a Seals blank at the time but I liked the Northstars green jersey too so that was good enough for me.

    A year or two later, the same place had dureen jerseys with a glossy plastic crest. I bought a Seals green and a Kings purple one.

    Later in 1974 I was at Cosby’s in Madison Square Garden and they had quite a display of fully-crested jerseys and I remember drooling over the Seals new one, the teal/yellow/white post-Finley version but it was out of my price range so maybe they were selling “pro” weight jerseys that far back…

    -Jet

  • Munch Suchland | February 11, 2016 at 10:55 am |

    Wow. After reading the article by Layden, I was reminded that I actually made a jersey when I was growing up. Maybe 1995, I would have been 15. I think I was able to buy Reds jersey’s at that time but I could never find a Reggie Sanders jersey; my favorite player at that time. So I went and found a white jersey with red pinstripes, removed the sleeves, and took it to the local sporting goods shop. Because the Reds logo on the front of the jersey was trademarked, they got it about as close as they were comfortable and that was that.
    It didn’t last real long. Sanders left the team and the red pinstripes started to fade. Years later, I hung a lot of old sports-memorabilia in my baby boys room. He’ll be 9 in April and I kind of forgot it was there. I’ll have to check it out again.

  • Jet | February 11, 2016 at 10:58 am |

    … in the late 70’s I had amassed quite a collection of dureen GAME-WORN NHL and WHA teams, some defunct, all at less than what people are paying for polyester replicas today. In a moment of madness in the 80’s, I sold them all. Today I see some of them going for tens of thousands of dollars (like a first-year Seals green). I get sick to my stomach thinking about it.

    Today I don’t have any jerseys. I hated the change to polyester. I hate the feel of it, whether wearing it casually or in a game situation. I wouldn’t mind owning a few but I refuse to pay the insane prices.

    -Jet

    • RobYaz | February 11, 2016 at 1:11 pm |

      Bummer! My dad always tells me how, when he was in Birmingham on a college trip in the 1970s (he was a coach), he visited a place that had WHA B’ham Bulls gameworn jerseys for 35 dollars!!! Who knew the market would take off? Even if he didn’t get them as an investment they’d be amazing souvenirs to still have! Never see them at that price again!

  • Joel K | February 11, 2016 at 10:58 am |

    What about the person who buys game worn college baseball jerseys on ebay (that would be me)? I like to wear them because of the individuality of it, plus college baseball jerseys are way less numerous than any of the pro teams of any league. (also the baseball jersey is most like a regular shirt and the sewing is more reinforced than regular shirts) It can also be a conversation starter (usually good). Right now I’m wearing a Cal State Dominguez Hills baseball jersey (wearing University of Pacific tomorrow), and I’m thinking that’s pretty unique.

    • Chris Cruz | February 11, 2016 at 12:13 pm |

      I’ve lived almost my entire life in SoCal and have never once seen someone wear a CSUDH jersey. That would qualify as pretty unique.

  • P. Wise | February 11, 2016 at 11:14 am |

    As a hockey fan, who has bought replica jerseys, I am saddened by the transition from replicas being closer to what the player wear on the ice (w/ CCM/Koho) to overpriced but poorer quality reproductions (Reebok). Patches use to be embroidered, now they’re just cheap prints. It also doesn’t help that new designs (in the NHL) are becoming all to basics (blocks of color stitched together, i.e 2016 All-Star jerseys). These designs are easier to manufacture and sell as the great new thing, even though the design barely reflexes the teams identity (the Colorado Avalanche moving to a Team Colorado oriented designs with their alt. and Stadium Series jersey).

    I haven’t purchased a new jersey since 2007 because they don’t reflect the team’s identity and stand more for a cash grab approach to sell to their fan base.

    I still wear my old jerseys to the games and take good care of them.

    • Eric Romain | February 11, 2016 at 12:43 pm |

      I’m in the same boat. I had a nice collection of blank retail sweaters from 1990 to 2005. As soon Reebok changed the replica, I stopped caring. I still have old ones, but in the meantime grew up too, and now hold the same view as Mr. Lukas, I might put one on for the odd game of pond/shinny hockey, but otherwise i avoid wearing an athlete costume in public.

  • Thomas J | February 11, 2016 at 11:20 am |

    Part of the individualism associated with wearing jerseys is that for me at least, the most prized jerseys have some kind of personal story attached just like the one you illuminated.

    I have a strong attachment to some of my jerseys because of the stories I have attached to them. I don’t just see my white Toews jersey, I see my brothers surprising me on my 30th birthday. I don’t just see my red Savard, I see the day I found it in the store attached to the lot while my wife and I were buying our Christmas tree.

    Its an additional reason (though obviously very far from the primary one) I remain very angry at Patrick Kane because I don’t just see my Patrick Kane London Knights jersey as a piece of clothing but as a reminder of the road trip to Canada my wife and I took while dating. It used to be an enchanted object filled with the memories of young romance. Now its tainted by something horrible.

  • Dan T. | February 11, 2016 at 11:26 am |

    Question for Paul and others who don’t like wearing teams jerseys:

    Does this apply to other uniform elements, most specifically baseball caps that are replicas or authentic versions of what MLB teams wear?

    If not, what’s the difference, really?

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 11:46 am |

      Speaking only for myself: I don’t care about caps either.

      I’ve said this before, but let me make it clear again: I’ve been a passionate Mets fan pretty much forever (for longer than many of you have been alive). I live and die with them. I care about them way more than I should. And I have exactly zero interest in wearing a Mets jersey or cap.

      It’s just not part of how I express myself as a fan.

      • Dan T. | February 11, 2016 at 12:19 pm |

        Paul: thanks. I just couldn’t remember if you ever wore baseball caps or not.

        You gotta admit though, it seems a lot of adult fans who consider wearing a team jersey to be something only kids should do have no problem sporting a cap to games.

        For the record, I am pro-cap but not really into jerseys either.

    • Dan Pfeifer | February 11, 2016 at 11:59 am |

      I wear caps, and somewhere along the line, I got hooked on the official, on-field 59/50 model. A couple things:

      1. A uniform kind of has to represent an individual, because it doesn’t quite look complete without a number, and I’m not so much a fan of the individuals as I am of the team. Until they start putting player names/numbers on hats, however, the hat represents the team.

      2. The 59/50 hats are of really good quality and very nice. A good one will last you five to 10 years with plenty of wear.

      3. I’ve never felt like I’ve had good hair. I have two cowlicks and if I’d rather cover it with a cap, I might as well make it a good one.

      I’ve said I’d like to be buried with my Brewers cap in the casket — not on, just in the casket. Love caps, don’t care for jerseys.

      • arrScott | February 11, 2016 at 12:30 pm |

        Re 1, that’s in part why I prefer jerseys without anything on the back. Yeah, the jersey looks a little incomplete. Also, I’m not a player on the team, and I’m not going to be called down from the stands to play, and even if the team announced on the loudspeaker, “Hey, you, Rogers, in Section 312, please report to the bench and be ready to play,” I would have the good sense to demur. So the very incompleteness of a jersey I might be wearing is a virtue – it reflects the reality of my relationship to the jersey and to the team.

        Also, I have a personal rule: For baseball, I never, ever wear matching jersey and cap. When I used to attend a lot of Nats games, that most often meant wearing a road cap with a home uniform, even after my one home Nats uniform became an obsolete design. Or for the Twins or Brewers, I’ll most often wear a modern team cap with a throwback jersey.

        • arrScott | February 11, 2016 at 12:32 pm |

          BTW, I don’t mean this to argue the point – I don’t think there’s a right or wrong here. I just thought that Dan’s point was an interesting insight, and one where my own preferences sort of run in a different direction.

        • Dan Pfeifer | February 11, 2016 at 12:57 pm |

          Different strokes for different folks. I can accept that.

          I just look at a uniform without a number and/or NOB and think … it just doesn’t feel complete. Better to go that route, however, than to buy a knock-off where the font/kerning/etc. are all off, which kicks my OCD in even worse.

  • MJ | February 11, 2016 at 11:45 am |

    @TheJeff – but an egregiously bad fake isn’t a fake or a cost savings. It’s a waste of money that looks bad. I am the first to say most people shouldn’t drop $200-350 for game-quality jerseys. But some of the knockoff stuff I see is a travesty. You’d be better off forking over a little more cash for something that looks proper.
    @arrScott – never understood the NOB for Yankees replicas. Why put extra stuff on there? Doesn’t seem right.
    @Paul – my uniform rules are for me only. I don’t impose them on others. But I am live and let live.

  • Mainspark | February 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm |

    Paul – Let me join others in commending you for your lede today. I agreed with your former stance but as I got older, I found that jersey-wearers don’t bother me as much and like you, I’ve learned that there are other issues to be irritated over (I’m looking at you Fashion Cap wearers!)

    I now have a couple of jerseys that people have given me over the years. I hardly wear them, if ever. My lone exception is my Pete Rose, St. Patrick’s Day jersey which I still wear at spring training in Goodyear Arizona when the Reds play there on St. Patrick’s Day.

  • Winter | February 11, 2016 at 12:03 pm |

    Terminology question in re: the Blue Jays’ infield change:

    Does infield usually refer, as in this case, only to the basepaths and areas surrounding the bases, pitchers mound and batters boxes, but also to the areas in between? I assume the end product of this is going to resemble Tropicana Field’s infield.

    • mike 2 | February 11, 2016 at 2:17 pm |

      That’s exactly right – it will look like Tropicana.

      I think it will be like this for a couple of years, then they’re going to put a full grass field in (2018?)

  • DenverGregg | February 11, 2016 at 12:10 pm |

    The jersey-wearing is part of a much broader topic of clothing as self-expression. Not that long ago (or even today in much of the rest of the world), people tended to have fewer items of clothing and there was considerably less variety. A quick glance at sports audiences from sixty years ago demonstrates quite a bit of conformity of attire. Outside of recreation, many occupations had official uniforms and more had de facto ones. Now people routinely costume themselves as a means of expression. (I forgot who said it, but one wag called the bow-tie the conservative equivalent of a neck tattoo.)

    Sports uniform elements are readily recognizable and less ambiguous than, say, a bowling shirt, which could stand for a love of bowling, a longing to emulate the less savory aspects of Charlie Sheen’s recreational life or just what the wearer finds comfortable. Also there’s been a long cultural push toward wearing them, from the Sears merch of the early 70s to the occasional sightings by rock stars or Mary Tyler Moore, to their increasing prevalence elsewhere. Superhero t-shirts (which I would have been all over at age 6 when they weren’t available) are all over the place too, or clothes that advertise the manufacturer or some pop culture trope.

    My employer has several days each year where staff are encouraged to wear Broncos-themed attire, so a few years back I bought a coach’s polo, even though I typically don’t like wearing polo shirts. This week I bought an orange western shirt and an assortment of various Bronco logo patches with which to decorate it. That way I’ll keep the theme but have something both unique and fitting (hard to do in extra-mega-jumbo sizes).

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 12:22 pm |

      My employer has several days each year where staff are encouraged to wear Broncos-themed attire…

      What if a given employee, you know, doesn’t like the Broncos?

      • dgray | February 11, 2016 at 1:02 pm |

        Paul-
        I’ll join the many others that appreciate the “big picture” column today; they’re always welcome and invariably thought-provoking.
        As a longtime reader (and especially in light of your oft-stated opinions on replica jerseys), your own experience with a personalized jersey was a revelation. But by use of that word revelation, and the rare mention of religion by several readers in the comments today, I would suggest another reason that fans wear jerseys. There is an almost religious aspect to uniforms. Those wearing them are “true believers”, and their choice of “the way” can be clearly seen in the costume they wear. Those that don’t are among the unwashed, at best.
        It is kind of the flip side of the SI article (which is pretty groundbreaking and overdue, by the way); that uniforms are essentially exclusionary, like religion, rather than inclusive, and their importance is as much based on who is not wearing them (and thereby is not among the chosen) as to who is.
        But I digress…
        Relating to your what-if question: I am not able to afford to attend an NBA playoff game, so I’m left to wonder how the home team gets seemingly 100% participation in fans
        wearing the giveaway tees they provide. Is it subtle pressure by ushers? Fan peer pressure? Is the pressure not so subtle? I see an entire section of fans wearing the shirts, and I think that realistically, there must be fans of the other team mixed in, yet wearing the shirts anyway.
        Anybody have any personal experience with this scenario?

      • The Jeff | February 11, 2016 at 1:03 pm |

        They probably buy and then wear a cheap Broncos t-shirt anyway, because it’s likely more comfortable than the actual work uniform. The same reason I wear a black Ohio State t-shirt every Saturday during football season where I work, regardless of the fact that I don’t give a shit about the team.

      • DenverGregg | February 11, 2016 at 1:44 pm |

        They’ll either go in mufti or wear something sports-related that isn’t the Broncos’ next opponent.

  • Chris Cruz | February 11, 2016 at 12:12 pm |

    The idea that wearing jerseys about wanting to belong and wanting others to know you belong really hit home for me. I’m part of a Chelsea supporters’ club where we meet up to watch matches together on the weekends (and occasionally mid-week). When we first started getting together in 2007, everyone wore Chelsea kits and people were very proud to show off the kits they already had (indicating to some extent how long they had followed the club), and people were very in to purchasing older kits (sort of an homage to the past).

    Over time, however, the core group of supporters started going away from wearing jerseys every week and many of them started wearing regular clothes or clothes that were more reminiscent of the “casual” culture (Ben Sherman and the like). I think for those of us who came to the pub every week, we no longer needed others to know that we belonged since we all knew one another and the pub began to feel like it was “ours.”

  • PoppyNurse | February 11, 2016 at 12:20 pm |

    I have a replica U of Washington Sonny Sixkiller jersey, my replica from high school football, and my jersey from high school basketball. The wife says I look “cute” in the Sixkiller jersey, and I don’t fit in the others.

    I still agree with Paul on the plethora of overpriced polyester shirts, but whatever blows your hair back.

  • Joel Manuel | February 11, 2016 at 12:21 pm |

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but I think the “jock tag” on the T-Shirt Club’s initial offering for 2016 would make a good chest logo in its own right.

  • Sean Robbns | February 11, 2016 at 12:23 pm |

    Oddly, I have replica baseball jerseys with a current player’s number on it. No name, as the current Giants home jerseys should NEVER have a name on them. (That’s another can of worms.)

    Yet, the jerseys I have for other sports are all either blank or have names/numbers of retired or HOF players. (I can finally say that about m Stabler jersey!)

  • David | February 11, 2016 at 12:35 pm |

    For the first time ever, I own an Orioles replica jersey – a gift from my sister for Christmas. It doesn’t have a name or number, which is fine with me, and I do plan on wearing it to Camden Yards several times this summer.

    In the past, I’ve worn a plain or non-Orioles t-shirt or polo shirt and one of a few Orioles caps I own, so I will be going a bit out there this summer. But then again, maybe I’ll only wear the jersey once or twice – we’ll see.

    I do own a lot of WVU merchandise – shirts, caps, sweatshirts, hoodies … and when I go to a home game (which isn’t often), I definitely wear at least one WVU article of clothing, plus a cap. Even during football season, I make sure to wear a hoodie or polo shirt with the school’s name. Superstitions die hard.

    I have never been interested in owning and wearing an authentic jersey of any team – WVU and the Orioles included. I do like old jerseys, though, similar to the ones Paul sometimes buys on ebay and features here. They remind me of playing little league football in the 1970s. If I would stumble across one that I thought would fit me and wouldn’t break the bank, I might purchase it … and end up wearing it to rake leaves or do some other outside chore.

    Paul, about the new shirts – will all of them this year have a long-sleeve option? I would prefer that, but I already ordered the baseball shirt.

  • Rydell | February 11, 2016 at 12:40 pm |

    Blue Jays infield:

    There are going to be a lot of bad bounces when the ball hits part of the turf and new dirt.
    Derek Jeter once said Tropicana Field was the worst infield he had ever played on for this reason.

  • RobYaz | February 11, 2016 at 12:49 pm |

    I am a jersey collector and have never once been threatened/insulted by Paul’s comments. They sure as f&*k are overpriced polyester shirts (even the good ones!).

    But the quality and price of today’s offerings turn me off. I recall, even as late as the mid-late 1990s, being able to purchase authentic/pro-weight CCM hockey jerseys for less than what replicas go for today – simpler jerseys such as the Canadiens and Devils went for 88 bucks or so, and more complex jerseys such as the Rangers and Capitals went for $125 or so. Air-knit replicas with embroidered crests and shoulder patches were much higher quality than today’s replicas, and went for anywhere from 35 to 45 dollars.

    So yeah, jerseys are just overpriced polyester shirts, and contemporary retail offerings are especially crappy. I don’t buy any and stick to finding good deals on older game used/authentic jerseys in the secondary market.

  • Gusto4044 | February 11, 2016 at 12:54 pm |

    Surprised no one has mention jerseys are ideal for framing, and when added with a photo, make a great addition to the home or office. It’s a fine tribute to a legendary player/team, and in another way, a celebration of success.

  • Bryan | February 11, 2016 at 12:55 pm |

    What a great looking t-shirt design! Can’t wait to see the rest of the six this year.

  • Friend to Douchebags Everywhere | February 11, 2016 at 12:55 pm |

    I’ve read this site for some time with reverence, and one thing that has always struck me as bizarre is your (meaning Paul’s) general openness to people and experiences, but then having such a strong reaction to those engaged in some of the pursuits that you find offensive from a design perspective.

    I spent a good many years working at a major sports uniform apparel manufacturer, and it always strikes me as odd when I read about “the douchebags at Nike/Under Armour/Addidas” and then try to match that up with my completely different experiences with the people who make those decisions. It is especially tough to reconcile when 1) it is written by someone whose work I have a deep respect for and 2) it is written by someone who otherwise is able to take a deep and nuanced approach to a startling wide variety of topics.

    I’m really glad to see you taking some time to consider how your words reflect on people, especially since you have such a wide and loud platform from which to express them.

    Trust me, there are plenty of douchebags at the company I used to work for, but a lot of them have a genuine interest and reverence for design, apparel, and athletics, and are genuinely good people as well.

  • Randy | February 11, 2016 at 12:59 pm |

    Sorry, but a hockey sweater is the most socially acceptable way to wear something more comfortable than pajamas in public.

  • Max Levy | February 11, 2016 at 1:06 pm |

    As a major Minnesota Vikings fan, I took to getting a jersey with my own name and number on the back (a number that’s been rarely assigned by the team and never worn by a player of any significance) due to a specific event. Prior to the 1990 season, I got a white Vikings road jersey with #75 Millard for all pro defensive lineman Keith Millard. During the 1990 home opener, he destroyed a knee and never played another down for the Vikes. That incident hammered home how players are temporary while my support for the team predated and would outlast the players. I can’t be traded and can’t be lost to injury. So as long as I’ve been a Vikings fan since then, I’ve always personalized my jerseys as Levy #2 to show my support in a way that is only dated via uniform changes rather than personnel changes.

  • Kevel | February 11, 2016 at 1:19 pm |

    Feeling the need to belong….isn’t that why we buy UniWatch T-Shirts? The need to collect inspires us to get the whole set and receive a prize.

  • Ryan | February 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm |

    Interesting bit in that CBS logo video: At the 43-second mark, an overlay of the Broncos and Panthers logos, along with text for Supe 50 is in front of a shot of Arrowhead Stadium.
    Obviously it’s from a test leading up to the Super Bowl, but still funny to see.

  • Charles Eldridge | February 11, 2016 at 1:32 pm |

    I have a fairly extensive collection of sports jerseys. But excluding my Anaheim Ducks jerseys – of which I am a huge fan – the bulk of my collection are foreign jerseys of various sports which reflect my travels abroad.

    I’ve always found attending local sporting entertainment to be a fun way to learning about a new culture and place. I’m neither trying to “belong” with the New Zealand cricket players nor the Emirati soccer teams, rather I enjoy the jerseys as a reminder of a certain time, place, and/or event since they double as well made clothing.

    And as a souvenir, they sure beat a bunch of snow-globes getting dusty on a high shelf.

  • umplou | February 11, 2016 at 1:35 pm |

    I have exactly 2 jerseys: A nice replica 1951 Mantle jersey, and an equally nice Seattle Pilots #56 (Jim Bouton – who else?) jersey. Both are real good, with great real patches on them. (The Yankee one has the 1951 AL 50th anniversary patch, and the Pilots one has the 1969 MLB 100th Anniversary patch.) I hardly wear the Mantle jersey, but I wear the Pilots jersey all the time to minor league games, or non-Yankee MLB games. It, along with a very good throwback Pilots cap, never fails to provoke at least a shout out, and sometimes great conversation.

    I was at a Rochester Red Wings game wearing both hat and jersey, when an elderly gentleman came down to my seat, and introduced himself – turned out he had worked for the Pilots’ single A farm team in Newark (close to Rochester) when it existed. Nice long talk ensued!

  • omar jalife | February 11, 2016 at 1:54 pm |

    Having around 60 jerseys of many sports (Rugby, Australian Football, NFL, Soccer, Motorsports and NBA) I have to say each one has a different reason for being in my closet.
    NFL, Arsenal, Pumas UNAM* are my main rooting teams so I have a couple of Broncos (Manning, Elway and Davis) and 5 or 6 from UNAM and Arsenal, depending solely in if I like the shirt.
    *UNAM is a professional soccer team and a University, the biggest in Mexico and where I studied
    Australian Football, Rugby and many soccer jerseys (AEK Athens, Fenerbahce, Corinthians, etc) are from trips around the world, I went to 2 AFL games and liked the jerseys more than buying a Melbourne T-Shirt
    Most Motorsport and several soccer jerseys (Norway, Parma, etc) are gifts from my dad, friends and family. They know I have jerseys and it is easy for them to get me one on Christmas or birthdays. My dad is a serious gearhead, more than I, and always gives me from smaller teams (Minardi, Jordan, Sauber, etc) as he says “Ferrari and McLaren is what everybody has. It is also fitting that I don’t root for teams on motorsport, but drivers regardless of their team.
    Then there are other jerseys I simply liked. Yes they are overpriced, but save for the NFL and a couple of soccer jerseys, I never pay full retail and wait for the clearance sales in August when the new season jerseys come out so I cut a lot of costs in most of my collection.
    About wanting to belong, there aren’t many Broncos fan in Mexico so it is difficult to belong from afar.

  • Bryan Moore | February 11, 2016 at 2:06 pm |

    A bit late chiming in on the Rams design contest, but I absolutely adore the “winning” entry. If this design were to be used (or something close to it), the kits might even surpass my Green Bay Packers as the best in the NFL (IMHO). I would even be interested in seeing a white pant with blue/yellow stripe thrown in there for good measure. Really any combination that wasn’t uni-tard blue or uni-tard yellow would be glorious to look at. Here’s hoping the fans get something as easy on the eyes as this. For the ten plus years I have been following Uni-Watch, I’m not sure I’ve seen a better user submission.

  • mike 2 | February 11, 2016 at 2:24 pm |

    As I was watching the news the other day, and I saw that Dion Phaneuf had been traded to the Senators. And I thought of (a) all the people in Toronto who are crushed that their personalized jerseys are now obsolete and (b) all the people in Ottawa who think they should run down to the team pro shop out in Carp or wherever the hell the arena is and buy a new Phaneuf jersey.

    One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about this site is that when you think something is dumb, you call it dumb, even when its not the popular view. I hope that never changes.

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 2:27 pm |

      OK, so obviously there are LOTS of things I don’t understand about buying/wearing retail jerseys…. but one of the biggies is that I”ve never understood why a player being traded suddenly makes his jersey obsolete. You rooted for him when he was on the team, you probably still have fond memories of him, etc. Why can’t you still wear his jersey?

      If I saw a Mets fan in a Jose Reyes Mets jersey, I wouldn’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I’d just think he misses Jose Reyes.

      But again, this is all part of a larger psychological profile that I obviously don’t fit, so take that with a big hunk of rock salt.

      • Charles | February 11, 2016 at 4:37 pm |

        Everything Max said below is right on.

        I would add to it that to me, a lot of the derision of wearing a traded/departed player’s jersey boils down to wasted potential. When people were buying Phaneuf Maple Leafs jerseys, or Reyes Mets jerseys, they were buying them in the hopes that that player would lead their team into a new era of prosperity, winning championships and serving as a franchise cornerstone. When that doesn’t happen, as is usually the case, the jersey takes on a sad and negative connotation for the owner.

        Then, two things could happen: (1) The team gets good and enjoys success, likely meaning many new exciting jersey option for fans, which renders their old jersey that much more irrelevant, or (2) The team continues to struggle, which will likely make the owner continue to resent the old jersey as a symbol of someone who abandoned them or helped their team descend to this level (as was the case with LeBron in Cleveland). In this scenario, over a long period of team suckage, I think fans become more likely to revert back to the glory days and wear throwbacks.

        • mike 2 | February 11, 2016 at 6:46 pm |

          We’re talking about the Leafs here. I think Option #1 is pretty much off the table.

  • Max Levy | February 11, 2016 at 2:49 pm |

    Regarding wearing outdated jerseys due players leaving the team being a negative, there are several reasons.

    – The player left on bad terms (LeBron leaves the Cavs for Miami).

    – He went to an arch rival (Favre ends up with the Vikings after a season with the Jets).

    – The jersey was bought on spec in the hope and expectation of the player becoming at least very good and maybe a star, but he didn’t pan out (Manziel with the Browns, Oden with the Blazers, Leinart with the Cardinals).

    – The jersey is of a player who was a passing fad that now feels dated (Linsanity with the Knicks, Tebow with the Broncos).

    – The player screwed up and became a target of hatred or at least a symbol of failure (pick one).

    – The guy was a role player, often one whose appeal is harder to see through the lense of history, so you don’t quite understand why you bought the jersey (every team in every sport has an example).

    – The player disgraced himself via poor personal conduct, often due to breaking the law (OJ Simpson, Darren Sharper).

    – Sports jerseys are also fashion items. Departed players and outdated jersey designs aren’t fashionable until a nebulous statute of limitations expires and these older jerseys gain classic status as throwbacks.

  • Max Levy | February 11, 2016 at 2:50 pm |

    I went beyond the scope of my opening sentence but the intent is clear.

  • Jon Rose | February 11, 2016 at 3:33 pm |

    I have some Yankees and NY Rangers authentcs from the early 90s when I was a young man. They still fit me and I still wear them occasionally. I’ve received various others as gifts over the years.

    Recently, I’ve started buying “vintage” jerseys from Ebbets Field Flannels. When they’re on sale I think the price is pretty reasonable for a top quality item. I wear them as a fashion statement, kind of like a hipster bowling shirt. They have some really cool design elements, and they manage to start conversations every single time I wear them. The added bonus is it’s made me more of a student of baseball history, especially for lesser known teams. History is cool.

    • Charles | February 11, 2016 at 4:40 pm |

      I was just looking through their offerings the other day, they really do have some great stuff available.

      • John H. | February 11, 2016 at 9:27 pm |

        I purchased a home Winnipeg Whips jersey from Ebbets Field a couple of years ago. It never fails to draw comments when I wear it to Winnipeg Goldeyes games.

  • Charles | February 11, 2016 at 4:28 pm |

    Paul, I love your fresh attitude on jerseys. The SI article was a great read, and I’m glad it made you question how you’ve handled the topic. As an avid jersey collector/wearer since childhood, I was always rubbed the wrong way by your “polyester shirt” snark, because it seemed like you were going against the majority of your very niche readership, and I did begin to take it personally after awhile.

    While I certainly understand and agree with your criticisms about the modern corporate-driven retail jersey landscape, I think in this context jerseys apply more as something we People Who Get Itâ„¢ find ourselves compelled to collect and own, as an extension of our unique mix of fandom and obsession (likely with a little bit of self consciousness). This is something I’m sure you can understand, as your own various collections and quirks have been well documented.

    I’m glad that you are always willing to change your opinion of something, Paul, as this is the mark of an intelligent and curious person. Keep up the good work.

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 6:10 pm |

      I think in this context jerseys apply more as something we People Who Get Itâ„¢ find ourselves compelled to collect and own…

      Sorry to be a pain, Charles, but you’re speaking too broadly there. Some of us — myself included — do not buy, wear, or collect jerseys but still totally Get Itâ„¢. ;)

  • Rob Ullman | February 11, 2016 at 4:32 pm |

    Great stuff today. It’s odd, I’ve always liked hockey jerseys, and a few years ago I got REALLY into collecting them…never paid full price for one, but scoured for deals, traded with other collectors, etc. The excuse always was that I’d wear ’em when I played hockey (and often did), but as I started picking up ones the were “nicer”, I’d never wear them on the rink…mainly cause I didn’t want to mess em up. Eventually, the thrill wore off, and I haven’t bought one in awhile.
    I don’t know what it was that led me to buy ’em, but it wasn’t a desire to belong, as 90% of the time when I wore one I was the only person who had one on. I guess it was fun being the oddball hockey fan, with all the obscure sweaters. I’ve mentioned it before, but a lot of the appeal for me is tactile and aesthetic…the way the numbers are stitched on, the texture of the felt on the Flames Heritage Classic jersey, the chain-stitching on the Blackhawks’ crest…I just love that stuff. I find it fascinating.
    But I do get the desire to belong. I’m not in my favorite teams’ market, so about the only time anyone talks to me about the Pens or Bucs is when I’m wearing a Pens sweater or a Bucs hat around town. Nothing serious, just quick little conversations…but it’s kinda cool.
    Anyway, I’ve never been offended or taken it personally when PL digs about the overpriced polyester shirts…hell, I agree with it. Different strokes and all that.

    • walter | February 11, 2016 at 10:09 pm |

      Rob, I think my motives for wearing a uniform are closest to yours. I like the craft of the stitching, the wittiness of the insignia, and the rebel pride of having picked a team off the beaten path.
      Shortly after I began following hockey, the Vancouver Canucks took on their Flying-V identity. When I saw them play the Rangers, my eyes must have been as big as dinner plates; “At last,” I thought, “Someone who understands!” And when the knives came out for the Vancouver “Halloween costumes”, my mission jelled. I had to purchase one for posterity! Something this brilliant couldn’t last, the masses won’t stand for it, I had to reward the Canucks for their foolish bravery: anything to put one of their sweaters on my back.
      Of course, like tattoos, you can’t stop at one. My jersey collection grew to about three dozen, the last of which was an inaugural year Thrashers’ dark blue sweater. Middle age has cooled my ardor. The last time I wore one was at a Uni Watch powwow when I had my 1982 Padres’ jersey on. But I appreciate the collection as a snapshot of what I enjoyed between 1977 and 1998.

  • Toddro | February 11, 2016 at 4:44 pm |

    great write up today, Paul. Thanks. While I own jerseys, I don’t wear them often and often feel silly when I do. I have not been able to figure out the sizes for NFL jerseys for some reason and they are always huge on me. I have a couple game work Bucknell football jerseys that I have picked up off eBay for fun, those are really my favorites.

  • Michael Emody | February 11, 2016 at 5:30 pm |

    I remember seeing small ads in “The Sporting News” (I think – or some other baseball tabloid style paper) back in the early to mid 80’s, selling used Braves jerseys. They seemed to be excess jerseys from previous seasons. The ad listed the numbers on each jersey – high call-up or spring training numbers – most above 50. These sure seemed like legit extra jerseys and the price was certainly reasonable – under $100. I want to say closer to $50, but that seems almost crazy. I’d tell myself, “Maybe next year I’ll get one.”

    • Mark in Shiga | February 12, 2016 at 8:06 am |

      I would love to see those ads if you ever find them online. I think I remember seeing something like that, but never for any of my favorite teams.

  • Matt B | February 11, 2016 at 5:54 pm |

    “some of you who buy and wear jerseys have told me you feel you’re implicitly being criticized, mocked, or even attacked when I weigh in against jersey retailing.”

    Honestly that’s how I felt every time you talked about it. I didn’t understand why you didn’t like others collecting/wearing jerseys. I’m glad you softened your stance. Its okay not to like others doing it, but it definitely came across as attacking before.

    I do agree with you that they are overpriced, and that the desire to sell more jerseys leads to bad designs. But that’s the fault of the manufacturers and teams, not the people buying them.

    I collect and wear jerseys for a couple of reasons: 1) To show that I’m a fan of a team and a specific player 2) Because I like the way jerseys look 3) Because I like the way they look on me.

  • Anthony | February 11, 2016 at 7:31 pm |

    Egads, that Crew kit. Not good, not good at all. NYCFC’s is little better.

    I love St Pauli’s kit this year, and dropping the sponsor’s logo for the antifascist message on Holocaust Remembrance Day is a great move.

    The Austrian, Slovak and Czech kits aren’t bad. Not exactly enthralling, either.

  • Dennis | February 11, 2016 at 7:47 pm |

    Paul, I’m having a giggle at you wearing ‘Skins colors……yes I know you were a kid lol

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 8:00 pm |

      I’m genuinely surprised that it took this long for anyone to comment on that.

      • Dennis | February 12, 2016 at 7:25 pm |

        I know…..I expected it in like the first few comments

  • Jacob | February 11, 2016 at 8:18 pm |
  • Brian | February 11, 2016 at 8:29 pm |

    While I’ve never felt personally attacked by your stance on jerseys, as a big jersey collector I appreciate your slight softening. It’s very interesting to me to read how many different personal rules people have for wearing/purchasing jerseys, myself included. I think that’s indicative of how it becomes part of the ritual of fandom, for better or worse. For example, I almost always buy jerseys of specific players, and have zero issue wearing jerseys of players who are no longer on the team (outside of an Aaron Hernandez type of situation). In fact a majority of my Yanks and Pats jerseys are players no longer with the teams, as my collection has built up over two decades (and at 28 I still am roughly the same size as I was at 16, so every jersey from then on is still in rotation). I also never buy authentic jerseys (the only one I have is a Lawyer Milloy Pats road jersey that I got on-sale from their pro-shop for $70 after he was cut). I generally find them absurdly overpriced and uncomfortable to wear in normal situations. I don’t mind the concessions that go with that (cheaper material on the NFL jerseys, names on the back of most of my Yankees jerseys, etc). On the sense of belonging aspect, I actually find myself really relating to that in an unexpected way. While I’m an equally big Yankees and Patriots (I know it’s a very weird mix, but it’s been me for 25 years. I even wrote a blog about it once) I find myself wearing Patriots jerseys/apparel more often than Yankees stuff (though I do wear hats of each pretty equally in almost all non-professional social situations) possibly because living in NYC I’ve felt a subconscious “need” to “represent” New England more. I’d never thought of that until reading this price.

    RE: the design contest ad: My favorite part is that there was a time that 4 NFL season tickets was an equal prize to an NFL uniform. As overpriced as jerseys are today, you could probably buy about 25-30 of them for the cost of NFL season tickets.

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 8:39 pm |

      My favorite part is that there was a time that 4 NFL season tickets was an equal prize to an NFL uniform. As overpriced as jerseys are today, you could probably buy about 25-30 of them for the cost of NFL season tickets.

      You’re missing the point: Back then you couldn’t buy an NFL uniform at ANY price!

  • walter | February 11, 2016 at 10:19 pm |

    Paul, I would never ask you to change your point of view. A big factor in the popularity of sports apparel is the coarsening of culture. Folks are inclined to part with big chunks of cash to don a polarizing garment that has little practical use. In the past, that investment would have gone toward the purchase of a practical wool suit.

  • Dan T. | February 11, 2016 at 11:08 pm |

    While I am not really a jersey guy either (I have one Panthers jersey – Stephen Davis #48 from 2003 – that I never wear but like enough to keep) I do think this repeated notion that jerseys are “overpriced” is a bit condescending.

    I mean, it’s true that’s a matter of opinion, but it also seems to hint that people who buy these items are stupid or wasteful. As if people can’t decide for themselves how much something is worth to them – a $200 jersey is a lot more expensive to somebody making $20,000 a year but not expensive at all to somebody making $200,000.

    Obviously, jerseys are priced according to what the market determines. If a jersey is truly “overpriced”, the price will drop. Just like anything else.

    • Paul Lukas | February 11, 2016 at 11:19 pm |

      Obviously, jerseys are priced according to what the market determines. If a jersey is truly “overpriced”, the price will drop. Just like anything else.

      According to this logic, nothing can ever be overpriced, ever.

      This is a great point of view if you believe the entire world runs on perfect market economics. For better or worse, however, that is not how economics actually works.

      It is also a great point of view if you believe that all business practices, including pricing decisions, are self-justifying and that “what the market will bear” is by definition a fair price. I happen to disagree.

  • Dan T. | February 12, 2016 at 12:43 am |

    According to this logic, nothing can ever be overpriced, ever.

    Actually what I’m saying is that if an item is “overpriced”, by definition it will not sell and the seller will lower the price, or take it off the market. But if a buyer would rather have a jersey than $200, and a seller would rather have $200 than the jersey, it seems like that item was priced correctly, at least for the moment.

    Paul, I guess I’m just saying it’s subjective. Since you have said you have no interest in owning a jersey, all jerseys are overpriced to you because you’d rather not spend money on them.

    It is also a great point of view if you believe that all business practices, including pricing decisions, are self-justifying and that “what the market will bear” is by definition a fair price. I happen to disagree.

    Actually, I don’t agree with that either. Human necessities, like food, shelter, and health care, should not fall under “what the market will bear” because that would mean people would starve to death and/or suffer unnecessarily.

    Luxury items, however, I think can be priced by the free market. So if you want to buy a jersey but find that they’re “overpriced” at $200, you just live without that jersey.

    Look at it this way: you like to spend your money on colorful socks. I am not really into socks, I just wear plain white ones that come 12 to a pack. I have no idea how expensive your socks are, but to me they are “overpriced”. But I still wouldn’t go around saying “Paul Lukas likes to wear overpriced socks” because that sounds insulting and frankly it’s none of my business what you choose to spend your money on.

  • Tenz | February 12, 2016 at 3:25 pm |

    In my case, I guess I’m a bit of a contrarian because I think I’ve historically worn team caps and jerseys less to “belong” than to kind of go against the grain — promote or show loyalty to a lost cause or a locally unpopular one. Growing up with a dad in the service, we usually lived thousands of miles away from my favorite teams, who through that era were mostly losing. We lived near Seattle the year the Pilots were in town and when they left and their caps were on clearance, I bought one and proudly wore it for the next year or so (before it was replaced by the cap of my beloved Phillies, who were horrible at the time and the subject of nothing but ridicule by just about everyone else on the West Coast). And all my jerseys are throwbacks of some sort except a Maple Leafs jersey I bought in the early 1990s, the year they went back to the more classic look and I wanted to show my support for that most welcome switch.

  • Chris Shockey | February 12, 2016 at 5:28 pm |

    I received my Merry Vilkmas gift today – just wanted to thank Jim again!

  • Chuck Rios | February 13, 2016 at 11:21 am |

    I never could figure out why people make such a big deal out of people wearing jerseys. Of all the crappy things going on in the world today, this shouldn’t even be brought up. Live and let live, people. I’m 58 and have a pretty large collection of jerseys, you couldn’t get them when I was younger. As far as cost, I buy them from a guy at the baseball card shows here in Chicago, and I’ve spent no where near what they sell for in a store. I bought many authentics for 10-20 dollars; yes, I know the difference, I’ve studied jerseys for many years now. Absolutely no one is being hurt by people wearing jerseys, life really is too short, just keep it to yourself and look the other way