I caught a brief glimpse of last weekend’s Cowboys-Eagles football game and seeing Michael Vick reminded me of a thought from many moons ago. I think most sports fans root for laundry first. We root for the team over individual players. Getting jerseys is one way of demonstrating said interest and I think, on average, the logo on the front means much more than the name and number on the back.
That being said, obviously there are cases where the purchasing and wearing of a jersey is meant as a sign of support to both the player and the team. In those cases, what happens when the conditions under which the jersey was selected change? For instance, owning an Atlanta Falcons Michael Vick jersey, as I saw someone wearing about six months ago outside San Francisco of all places, has had its meanings changed in the last few years. Maybe not to the person who bought it, but to others, and the owner is probably aware of that.
I do not own many personalized jerseys. I prefer to stick to blank ones. The very first personalized jersey I bought I got to enjoy for a whole year before the player whose name graced the back of it threw a fit in the locker room, demanded a trade, alienated the entire fan base and eventually forced his way off the team in a terrible trade. I don’t much like wearing that jersey anymore. No matter how much I know that I root for the team, not the player, it’s a constant reminder of that episode every time I see that jersey. Would you continue to wear it?
What about other altering circumstances? What about a player that changes his number? Does that annoy you? What about players that choke away an important game? How many were proud to wear their Jake Delhomme jerseys the last couple seasons? Or Brad Lidge Houston Astros jerseys? Or a Bill Buckner (if they had a name on the back) Red Sox jersey in the winter of 1986?
There are plenty of other events that could drastically alter the perception of a jersey as well. If golf was a team sport and there were Tiger Woods jerseys, would you feel different now about wearing it? At what point, if any, do you start feeling uncomfortable about the name on the back of the jersey that you wear and to what length — getting a new jersey, altering the current one, etc — would you go to rectify it?
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