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Why Do We Wear What We Wear To A Game?

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Good morning, Uni Watchers! I hope everyone had a pleasant weekend.

ICYMI, last Friday — in what was a somewhat-later-than-usual article — I posed the question “What kind of a fan are you?”, which essentially dealt with what kind of attire we wear to sporting events. If you didn’t read that, it might be a good precursor for this morning’s article.

In the comments section of that piece, “ChrisMatic” posted this:

Long time reader, first time post…

Not to get into too much pop psychology, but I’d be interested to dive into **why** we wear what we wear when we go to a game.

For many people, our daily choice of clothing is affected by how we think we’ll be perceived by others. Perhaps this plays into our decisions of what to wear to a game?

I’m in my 50s now, and realized around 20 years ago that I was mostly opting to wear obscure throwbacks, jerseys from once-popular but now somewhat forgotten players, and items not easily found at retail stores, presumably in the hopes that someone would come up to me and say “oh my god, where did you find that Glen Wesley All-Star Game jersey?”

I’m guessing that the “I’m Calling It Shea” t-shirts, choices of player names on the back, and era of the clothing we choose is at least somewhat influenced by how we think other people will react to them.

Do others consider this as well?

First of all, Chris — welcome aboard!

After reading that, I paused for a long time. For all the articles I’ve written and covered, I don’t know that I ever gave much thought to why I wear what I wear to games. I mean, it’s kind of intuitive, no? You’re going to a game, so you want to wear something that supports the team in some way, right? Certainly most fans who are attending a game, unless they’re coming straight from work, probably do give some — or a lot — of thought to what they’re going to wear to a game. I know I do.

But Chris raises excellent points — and his example of hoping a fan will ask about a specific jersey is a great one. The only jerseys I own were gifts, but other than hockey, I’ve never worn a jersey to a game. So Chris’ point about some random fan asking about an obscure jersey wouldn’t apply to me…but would it apply to you?

Likewise, Chris’ point about the ICIS (I’m Calling It Shea) shirt I will wear to games did make me think: Did I wear it due to the semi-irony/snark of the shirt or is it because it’s Mets-related? Am I expecting someone to stop me and say “Love that shirt!” But on more than one occasion, other fans have either stopped me in the concourse or passed me by and said just that! I certainly didn’t think about that when I bought the shirt, (I just loved Paul’s idea of Naming Wrongs — and that was the first one he ever produced; I wore it to the first game I ever saw in the Mets’ new ballpark, and dozens of times since.) Yet, to this day, if I’m wearing the shirt almost anywhere, inevitably someone will make a comment. But I seriously never once thought about the comments it might generate, whether it be at the ballpark or just walking in my neighborhood.

I’ve also worn Uni Watch gear to games, and I’ve had people say “I LOVE UNI WATCH” in passing (there have also been those who clearly don’t Get It™ and have asked “what is Uni Watch?”). But I honestly never thought about the “publicity” aspect of the shirt when I put it on. Yet, in thinking about it, at least subconsciously, did I put that on because I wanted to promote my UW bona fides, or did I just like the shirt?

The 7-Line Army, pictured above, have made a name for themselves at ballparks around the majors, buying up a giant block of seats with everyone (or almost everyone) sporting the same t-shirt. I’m guessing those guys both want to stand out AND fit in. “I’m part of this big group in your stadium!” But have any of them ever thought, “I don’t really want to wear the special game shirt, but how can I not?”

But that’s a special case/circumstance. Do you think regular, everyday fans not part of a big group are just hoping to “fit in” by wearing team gear…or looking to stand out, especially if, like in Chris’ example, their gear is special, rare, or just thought-provoking?

Most of us have been wearing “casual” clothing or gear to ballparks for decades. But there was a time when fans were much more formal.

The above photo is from 1956. Notice there not only is no one dressed in “team gear,” but about half of the men are wearing hats, as well as ties. The younger men are sans-chapeaux (and ties). The few ladies in the photo are in what I’d call “Sunday best.” Obviously very few patrons will “dress up” to go to a ballgame now, but back in the day it was de rigueur. While some of them may have “come from the office” to catch the game, I’m guessing most were there on their free time. Would we have considered their gameday attire — which was no doubt also their “street” attire — even dressing up? And why did they dress that way? Were they just all wanting to fit in?

Consider this photo from a Phillies game:

I’d say that represents a pretty good cross-section of fans for any given baseball game. Plenty of jerseys (authentic and replica), but also a full gamut of t-shirts and shirseys; some folks in home pinstripes, while others are sporting powder blue or burgundy shirts, plus a few cream jerseys mixed in. Did every single person there select his/her attire because it was just Phillies-related, or were they thinking about what others might think of their gear?

So what about you guys? I’ve already asked you what you wear, gear-wise, to a game (and if you didn’t participate in Friday’s thread, feel free to drop a comment there). But have you ever thought about why you wear what you wear to a game? Will you purposely select an oddball or obscure jersey, hoping someone will ask you about it? Will you wear a shirt with a slogan or saying, also hoping for fan feedback?

There are no right or wrong answers here. But I am genuinely curious: why do you wear what you wear to a game?

(And big thanks to first & long Chris for posing the question!)



Reminder: Big Uni Design Competition

In case you missed it, the University of Hawai’i and Uni Watch are partnering on a Women’s Basketball uniform design competition.

All the details are here.

The Grand Prize winner will receive a cash prize of $1,500, roundtrip airfare for one to Honolulu, and accommodations, for the basketball game slated for January 25, where the winning design will be worn and showcased to hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide.



Guess the Game from the Uniform

Based on the suggestion of long-time reader/contributor Jimmy Corcoran, we’ve introduced a new “game” on Uni Watch, which is similar to the popular “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” (GTGFTS), only this one asked readers to identify the game based on the uniforms worn by teams.

Like GTGFTS, readers will be asked to guess the date, location and final score of the game from the clues provided in the photo. Sometimes the game should be somewhat easy to ascertain, while in other instances, it might be quite difficult. There will usually be a visual clue (something odd or unique to one or both of the uniforms) that will make a positive identification of one and only one game possible. Other times, there may be something significant about the game in question, like the last time a particular uniform was ever worn (one of Jimmy’s original suggestions). It’s up to YOU to figure out the game and date.

Today’s GTGFTU comes from Steve Bauer.

Good luck and please post your guess/answer in the comments below.



Guess the Game from the Scoreboard

Guess The Game…

…From The Scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Charlie Ryder.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date and location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.



Uni Tweet of the Day



And finally...

…that’s gonna do it for the early morning lede. I’ll have a few additional articles today, plus we’ll have Jamie’s Ticker later this morning. BYU is supposed to be unveiling a new football uniform today, so I’ll also have that. And obviously, if there’s any other breaking uni news, I’ll cover that as well.

You guys have a good Monday, and I’ll catch you all back here tomorrow.



Comments (48)

    What great memories from the NL All Star team photo in the Uni Tweet of the Day!

    Nice to see that we’re talking about fan merch more on this site now. Paul used to crucify people for even mentioning the subject.

    Paul didn’t purchase team jerseys for himself but he never “crucified” anyone for discussing them.

    Maybe “crucify” is too strong, but he definitely looked down on people who wore sports merch.
    Guess they weren’t hip enough.

    I will give him credit for softening his stance a little in the last couple years before retiring from the blog. But the way he’d dismissively call jerseys fans wear “overpriced polyester shirts” was a tiny bit off-putting, I felt.

    I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s when the most “team gear” you might see at a ball game was kids and some adults wearing the cap of their team or a t-shirt. Most fans were still dressing in their “regular” clothes; polo shirts, blue jeans, khaki pants/shorts, t-shirts unrelated to the team or baseball. NFL games were the same. You might see some stocking caps with the team’s name/logo on them, but most people just wore what would keep them warm in cold weather or cool in warmer weather, but very few in “team gear”

    I am in my 50s and I will wear a cap to keep the sun off my face, but I don’t own any jerseys or t-shirts of my favorite team. I just get dressed in “regular” clothes and head out to the game. I don’t have a “sports costume” as I call it.

    A lot of this is that people weren’t as relaxed with their attire. When they went out, they dressed up.

    The other factor is that team gear wasn’t readily available for purchase until at least the 1970s in all sports. That’s probably a big reason for why fans weren’t color coordinated in the home team’s colors back in the day.

    This is a good point. I have a hard time remembering my dad (born 1940) ever wearing a T-shirt; I feel like he even mowed the lawn in a polo shirt. Rarely a hat, and until I went to college, I don’t think he ever had anything remotely approaching team merchandise.
    I (born 1975) got to a point around the age of 40 where I had a hard time going out in public wearing shorts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine if you’re at the beach or running errands on a hot day. But if my wife and I are going out for a meal, a good linen sportcoat and pants works fine.
    My dad always said that if you’re going to be judged for how you dress, be judged for dressing better. Standing out as the slob was never an option. It saddens me to see how overly focused on comfort we have become. It’s totally fine if you want to rock a jersey or T-shirt at a game, a concert or just hanging out somewhere. But I have patients come to my office in pajamas and slippers. I see people come into church in stuff I wouldn’t wear to bed. Show a little self-respect and dress for the moment.

    I grew up in 70s and 80s and this was my experience too. People wore “regular” clothes to games.

    We were lucky enough to have been given Broncos 1977 season tickets the year of their first Super Bowl (friends of ours were out of the country, so let us use their tickets). The orange crush phenomenon included fans wearing orange at the games. I desperately wanted a Tom Jackson jersey, but we’re were poor and my parents wouldn’t buy us something as frivolous as this. We did get broncos tshirts for Christmas.

    Since then, I’ve always resisted buying a new jersey— they are just too expensive. I do have tshirts from thrift stores and will wear these to games.

    I started going to baseball games in the 60s and the only team merch that was readily availability were home city caps and those were not widely worn. I don’t remember anyone over the age of 12-13 years old wearing them and never saw an adult wearing a cap.

    I wear jerseys to NFL and MLB games where I’m supporting my teams (GB and MKE) because it’s fun. Going to a ballgame takes me back to being a kid and because I’m 38, part of being a kid was wearing jerseys. I do tend to wear older, more obscure jerseys that I find on eBay or sometimes game used I buy from the team (lower level players). In both cases the quality is usually superior and price much lower than what you’d buy at retail. My one quirk is I won’t wear a jersey of someone younger than me- feels weird, though I’ve made one exception with a Giannis jersey that I’ve worn to a game once and then usually to the pool or beach. I haven’t worn a jersey to a college game since I was 12. Usually wear a polo and maybe a hat. Would have seemed super odd to wear a jersey of someone I went to class with and it just wasn’t common when I was in school.

    GTGFTS: September 15, 1974: Eagles at Cardinals. First time the Eagles wore the uniforms with too many sleeve stripes in a regular season game.

    No such thing as “too many stripes” for the 1970s Eagles. My first Eagles jersey was a Wilbert Montgomery #31 replica with longer sleeves and all the stripes.

    I agree that the Eagles’ sleeves were too busy but it’s still a nicer jersey than the current ones.

    I very much used to be the type to wear a jersey to the game, though I wasn’t one to have multiples, but rather just one of a favorite player. Now I do still wear them occasionally, but definitely put comfort first, so since baseball jerseys are heavier than a tshirt I don’t find myself wearing one as much in the summer when it is hot out at baseball games. Ditto football, if it is early in the season and hot or late in the season and cold I just dress comfortable rather than specific team gear.
    I think also I am just becoming cynical of professional sports and greed, I am less included to throw teams money by buying their gear, and also just not as big a fan of the teams, so now I really don’t care about wearing team merch or colors to the game. I find myself dressing for games the same I would for any other social outing.

    Both Giants jerseys that I wear to games are retired players but not at all obscure. A NNOB number 28 Giants jersey is really only going to be a Buster Posey jersey. And when I wear my number 22 80’s road jersey, nobody will mistake it for a Mike Matheney jersey. (Few will remember that he ended his career in San Francisco.) It’s of course Will Clark.

    Why do I wear them? I don’t know. I guess because I always have. I’ve always worn baseball caps to a game, but the jerseys came along when I could afford a decent replica. I almost never wear them anywhere else.

    Living in Houston I’m usually watching my teams in person as a ‘visiting’ fan. I wear Orioles gear to see the Birds at Minute Maid because I enjoy the connections I make with fellow Orioles fans on the streets heading to the park and on the concourse inside. Fist bumps, ‘Let’s Go Os!’ ‘Hey, great shirt!’,.. all of that makes me feel like part of a ‘family’ that only gets together infrequently. And as childish as it sounds a small part of me believes the Orioles will play better with us in the stands showing support. The same applies when I head to Dallas to see my (NY) Rangers play the Stars. That’s a one-night-a-year reunion and there is always the same ‘us against the world’ vibe when you high-five another fan wearing a Rangers sweater. The last time I was actually IN Baltimore to watch the Orioles I was by myself and wore tees that indicated I was an Orioles fan from Texas and they were conversation starters.

    I tend to favor authentic jerseys because I can spot a fake a mile away. (I passed this on to one of my daughters, who also Gets It™️). But I always take the less common players. Sometimes, I go with longest name; sometimes, it’s just a favorite player. Everybody has Schmidt, Carlton or Pete Rose from the maroon era, I went Garry Maddox. Everyone goes Utley, Rollins, Howard and Hamels from the 2008 Phillies, I wear Carlos Ruiz’s #51 because Chooch is my favorite player. He’s CHOOCH. If I get something from this era, I would pass on Harper, Turner and Realmuto for Ranger Suarez. Maybe Schwarber, since #12 was my number in baseball and football. My wife wears a Schwarber, just not in my size.
    For the Eagles, I avoided McNabb, Dawkins and Kelce (my son’s jersey).
    Flyers, Rick Tocchet, then Simon Gagne when I outgrew that one.

    I believe that fans dressed more formally in the past because people simply didn’t own as many clothes as we do now. They were more expensive relative to the average income back then, so people didn’t have tons of casual clothes stuffing their closets and drawers like we do today. Even if team t-shirts and jerseys for fans existed back then, most people couldn’t have afforded them. I don’t think that line of merchandise really took off until the late 60s and early 70s.

    As for the way I dress when I go to a game, I tend to wear authentic jerseys to football games (with a hat that looks good with it), but only a t-shirt and hat to a baseball game. I wear authentic jerseys because, somewhere in my mind, I believe all die-hard fans own one, and I want to show I’m a die-hard. I’m not as passionate about baseball, and I stopped watching MLB at all since they started changing rules and putting ads on jerseys. Even if I were passionate about baseball, I would never go for MLB jerseys, because I think they’re a rip-off.

    Love this article – it puts to words a lot of mental prep I put in before attending a game. I often try to match the colors being worn by my preferred team (the Mets), so I’ll wear a home white if I’m at Citi Field or wear an away/alternate if Mets are on the road. Alternately, if Mets colors are too similar to the opposing team colors (ie. Cubs blue, Royals blue, etc.) I’ll wear an accent color (Orange or Black shirt/jersey) to differentiate myself from the opposing team. I also enjoy wearing some “deep cuts” that only certain fans will appreciate, like a Shea neon baseball player cap or throwback shersey occasionally. My gameday wardrobe is a combination of aesthetically complimenting what the team wears while indicating to other fans that I’m a diehard member of the Mets community.

    I suppose this is where I’m at when I pick a hat for a Red Sox game: I like to signal to people that I know that the Sox wore red hats in the 70s, or that I pay attention to the farm teams.

    I’ve never owned a jersey of any team I root for, mainly because they’re so expensive. I went to college in the early 2000s in the South, so most people would dress business casual for football games, ie, polos in team colors with khaki pants and a team color baseball cap. I never joined a fraternity but a couple of my roommates were, so they always had to wear a coat and tie to home games. When I go to games now, other than just being older and a little heavier, I pretty much wear the same thing.

    I’m more into collecting and wearing baseball hats than I am jerseys—as a bald guy hats are much more practical on a daily basis, though I wore baseball hats long before I lost my hair.

    I tend toward minor league and throwback hats most of the time, and I think that harkens back to when I first started collecting hats when I was a kid: I liked finding things that nobody else had. My current rotation is a couple Portland Sea Dogs hats, a few throwback Red Sox hats, a collection of alt/BP Mariners hats, and a handful of others (mainly some Ebbets reproductions).

    I have always put thought into what I wear to a game. Usually just a t-shirt and hat of the team I’m supporting, I guess just to fit in. I’ll sometimes wear gear for other teams to my local minor league games, but always the same sport.

    When I went to a game at Wrigley (bucket list opportunity) last summer, I thought about what to wear for days before. I don’t own any Cubs gear, wanted to show I love the game, but didn’t want to offend the Cubs faithful. I settled on a shirt and hat for my local minor league team, then bought a Wrigleyville shirt at the game.

    Lastly, the most uncomfortable I’ve been at a game was when I went straight from the office as was mentioned in the article. I was almost embarrassed to be wearing a button-down shirt and slacks to a game and really felt like I stood out in a not-so-good way. Too bad they weren’t throwing back to 1956 – I’d have fit right in!

    I love going to day games in work clothes! Feels like a huge flex to anyone still toiling in the office to munch peanuts and keep score in a button-down.

    As a Cleveland fan living in Pittsburgh, I always wear a jersey and hat to Cleveland games but have shirseys and other fun swag for Pirates games so I look and feel the part — unless they’re playing the Guards, of course.

    Interesting! I always bring a change of clothes if I have Phillies tickets after work. My work attire is either scrubs (in the hospital) or suits (in the office). I HATE going out in scrubs, I just don’t like being That Guy. And I don’t want to sit out at the game for another few hours after work in a suit. (I do change out of my suit when I get home from work.)

    If I have a jersey I’d think wear that, otherwise just a shirt, but I actually don’t have too many jerseys. Or if it’s minor league baseball the shirt from the MLB I support (even if it’s not relevant). If I don’t have one piece of clothing that’s relevant I’ll go get one.

    But to me most games are so expensive that I would go out of my way to plan my outfits for the few I go to. Since going is fairly rare I want to make sure I look cute in all the pictures I’ll take.

    GTGFTU – Game 5 of the 2003 NBA Finals, 6/13/03 at the old Meadowlands Arena (at the time bearing the name of a now-defunct airline). The Nets broke out their throwbacks, but the Spurs would win to take the series lead back to San Antonio where they would clinch their second NBA title.

    It’s especially noticeable how long the shorts are here compared to when the uniform was originally worn in the 70s and 80s, as noted by how low the two stars are in the blue stripe.

    I definitely prefer obscure references or something more hardcore fans will recognize. That stuff is usually a good conversation starter. I often wear my Baseballism, state of Iowa “Is this Heaven?” shirt to ballgames. Some people ask about it because they don’t understand what it means. Others get the Field of Dreams reference and will give a compliment. Either way, it tends to get people talking.

    For me it’s . I wear what I wear to games becuase more often then not the team is wearing the same thing I am. If it’s the Phillies minus the cc jerseys. But other wise I’ll wear any jersey of the team if im going to see the eagles. As of right now I don’t have jerseys for the 76ers and or sweaters for the flyers so I just end up wearing team merch in those cases

    The why of dressing to attend a game is a good question. To be honest, I think for me it’s probably an excuse to dress up, to wear a bit of a costume. I’m a very introverted person in terms of energy and comfort, but I also can be a bit of a social peacock, if only briefly and on rare occasion. So back when I used to live in DC and had Nats season tickets, I most often wore a reproduction 1950s Senators throwback jersey with 24 and no name on back. Some of my favorite ballpark memories are the conversations I’d have with old timers who’d see my number and speculate about which dimly remembered player from their childhood I was commemorating. (The truth was nobody; 24 is just my favorite number, and at the time also the year of Washington’s last MLB championship.) Currently, the sport I most frequently attend is minor-league soccer, and dress pretty loudly most game days. Pink kilt, team jersey, blue-and-pink Irish-style flat cap, team scarf. I get a lot of spontaneous contact with strangers, sometimes just offering a compliment, sometimes seeking a longer conversation. That’s one of my favorite things about gameday.

    I recently attended some Cricket World Cup games in St. Lucia, including an Australia-Scotland game. Seeing Australia play was the real highlight for me; despite the Aussies’ eventual kind of embarrassing departure from the tournament, their squad is one of the best collection of cricket players ever assembled. But I’m also a huge fan of Scotland, the place, so I wore an old Scotland national team soccer jersey to the game and cheered for Scotland, who almost pulled off an amazing upset. Most fans in attendance who were wearing support were in green-and-yellow Aussie gear. While most of the locals were supporting Scotland just because Australia are rivals of the local West Indies team, few were wearing Scotland merch. The fact that I was wearing a Scotland shirt got the attention of TV producers, who pulled me into a pregame fan-in-the-stands segment, and that was a highlight of the whole trip for me.

    My 2 biggest fan items are my M&N 1976 Jack Lambert jersey and 1966 replica O’s cap. The Lambert jersey I wear on most game days. My middle name is Lambert and I hated it growing up but when I heard it announced on a football game in 1974 I became an instant Steelers and JL fan.
    I was born in 1966 and have been an O’s fan since I can remember. When I saw they won their first WS in ’66 I started gravitating towards the ’66 bird logo. I also favor the “O’s” logo as my youngest daughter’s name starts with O.

    As to why I wear it to A’s games, I think my Kelly green “SELL” t-shirt speaks for itself.

    For me it purely depends on the weather. But it’s pretty much always team-related. In the wise words of David Puddy, “Gotta support the team”!
    I have a slight addiction to T-shirts of all kind. And in Ohio heat in the summer, that’s usually my go-to for a Reds game. I also have a similar addiction to zip-up hoodie sweatshirts, which is a little more cost-prohibitive. But I usually have a few of every team I root for to wear that if the weather is cooler. And as a Browns fan, in late fall and early winter, I’ll wear whatever I have in my arsenal to keep me warm!

    I remember an episode of Leave To Beaver when they went to a baseball game. Beaver, Wally and Ward wore suits and ties.

    A lot of the games I went to as a kid were part of a little league outing to the ballpark. We would all wear the uniforms from our little league to the stadium. We all knew we were rooting for the home team, in my case the Dodgers, but we also were proud of our little league team.

    My dad stopped wearing ties to work when he was about 50. When he wore ties to work he would typically wear them to the game when we went.

    I think a lot of people have “lucky gear” and feel like that has some impact on the outcome of the game.
    my brother had “lucky” socks that he would only wear for big games… he was a jets fan so they weren’t very lucky.

    I always wanted to wear the “opposite” color for a stadium takeover. like me and three friends wear red to a Penn State “White Out” just to be an ass. i wouldn’t wear a stadium giveaway over my clothes at a game, but I think stripes and color outs look great on television.

    “Consider this photo from a Phillies game”
    What? Not 1 Columbia blue-clad Judge Guy? : (
    Kudos to the fan in the Neshaminy Creek Brewing shirt.

    I don’t necessarily wear team gear to a game but when I do it makes me feel more connected to the game, more focused on the field of play. Other times I’ll wear something out of left-field, so to speak. Back in 2019 I wore my Uni-Watch rainbow guts shirt (and an Expos tri-color cap!) to a Nats game, hoping to get spotted by any fellow uniwatchers. That never happened. I was a sartorial mess but I enjoyed the experience. I had a similar experience a few weeks ago at a minor league game in Knoxville. I wore my Brooklyn Branches T-shirt (thanks Ron Ruelle!) but didn’t get any response. And several years ago I went to a Tigers game in Detroit while wearing my Hebrew Tigers cap which I had purchased at Cooperstown years before.

    Also, happy Bobby Bonilla Day to those who celebrate!

    Just realized that it was Bobby Bonilla day, came by to check because I didn’t recall seeing a mention, and sure enough, there was none until down here in the comments!

    I think that more people wear team gear now is simply that it is more available. I know when I was growing up in Kansas City in the 70’s it was hard to find things from far flung teams. My favorite team was the Seattle Mariners and you could find nothing from them locally. I remember when I was 11, my mom went to visit family in Portland, Oregon and even there all she could find was a set of Mariners wristbands. I felt like a king wearing them.

    I’m telling you guys, the most fun is buying cheap plain shirts, acrylic paint, and little foam paint rollers from the fraft store. All super cheap stuff. I make a quick design on the computer, print it out on cardstock, then cut it out with an Xacto knife. I then carefully roll the paint onto the shirt, let it hang dry, then throw it in the washer and dryer. One-of-a-kind shirt for a few bucks, and my kids love it. It’s not as crisp as a shirt from the store, but I call it “delightfully imperfect.”

    A few things are at play here. One, people are dressing more casually (I would say sloppily is more accurate). Two, people think they’re somehow part of the team, rather than simply spectators. And three, more and more people are engaged in an extended adolescence, so they dress like they’re still 12 years old.

    I think a lot of fan gear choices comes down to your age. I’m 45 and have a 14 year old son. We attend many Yankee, Ranger, Knicks and Jets games. He is very particular about what he wears. He weighs what the team is wearing that day (to the extent he can find out), what players are in the line up, who is hot, what the weather is, etc., etc. I, on the other hand, will wear a team shirt, but not a player shirt. I’m a grown man. I don’t want to be wearing a jersey or shirsey with another grown man’s name on my back. Except…if it’s an old school player that I grew up watching. My Brian Leetch Rangers jersey, my Don Mattingly grey away jersey and my Patrick Ewing jersey, all from when I was a kid, are perfectly acceptable (to the extent that they still fit :)). But wearing a Brunson or Judge or Shesterkin jersey wouldn’t fly for me.

    Another factor is the general availability of all kinds of team/player gear. This wasn’t so when I was a kid. You had to work a little harder to get it.

    Being a fan is a projection thing: the team on the field/court/rink is you times the number of players it takes to make up a team. When they score, you score, when they win you win, when they lose, you lose. Add to that the tribal mechanisms that come into fandom and you have a mix of emotions non-fans will never understand. It also meands that what you wear signifies how close your projection rate is to the actual players: wearing the exact jersey and hat means you are ready to step forward when called upon. You take fandom very seriously. The more casual the attire looks, the further the distance these fans keep from that I-could-step-in-if-only-they-would-call-me attitude. One look at me and everybody knows I could never substitute anybody but the team mascot so I hardly wear authentic jerseys to games. I wear them in front of the TV during important games.

    The scoreboard is at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and it’s the opening game of the 1974 season, won by the Cardinals 7-3 over the Philadelphia Eagles. Hall of Fame tight end Jackie Smith is at the far right, and ‘74 was his final year with the Big Red.

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