Frank: Max, here at The Renaissance Fan, we are sports fans. More importantly, we are fan fans. Our raison d’être, is the celebration of fandom. Being a fan of something is beautiful thing. However, how one expresses that love is not always a beautiful thing. Take, for instance the widespread phenomenon of sports fans wearing the jerseys of their favorite players. I’m talking about adults. In public. Is it OK for adults to wear sports jerseys?
Max: Absolutely. It’s a pure expression of fandom. It commits you to that team. There is no ambiguity about your loyalties while you are wearing a jersey.
Frank: Yes, but you’re also an adult in the world and, with apologies to Kevin Smith, a hockey jersey is a stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid garment.
Max: Well maybe the problem then is that they should also wear the pads so it fits right.
Frank: Sure. Look, I think we can agree that there is an appropriate time to wear a team’s jersey and that is while the game is happening and you have been rostered by the team.
Max: Well, I think it is more appropriate to wear a jersey when at or watching a game. But I disagree, they can be worn whenever. You don’t stop being a Pittsburgh Penguins fan when the season ends! Rock that jersey for the whole calendar year.
Frank: You cannot be serious. I admit that I overstated my point, I do think there are some exceptions. Allow me to express how I feel about the individual sports’ jerseys:
Baseball: The most socially acceptable jersey. To be worn only during the season only at games or at the most casual of events.
Basketball: Only at games, watching games with a crowd, as loungewear, or at the most casual of outdoor events.
Football: Only at games or watching games with a crowd, but you’re really pushing it because football jerseys are a terrible looking garment. Exception: bottomless photoshoots for fall issues of Playboy.
Hockey: Never appropriate ever.
Soccer: Go ahead and wear it to that British pub you like, you pretentious poser
If you must wear a baseball or basketball jersey in public, get something cool, something vintage, make a statement.
Max: I’m going to have to propose my own list of standards because your fashion fascism is going impact real hard working American sports fans:
Baseball: It’s a button up shirt! Classy! Summer weddings of close-ish friends, family reunions, oh and baseball games. But not just pro games, any level.
Basketball: Anytime it is warmer than 70 degrees F and you are outside. Done.
Football: Anytime you and your friends are featured in a Doritos ad. And preferably one of those weird generic jerseys with no official logos or player names, just numbers!
Hockey: This is where you are missing out. Hockey jerseys are mad comfortable. Can be worn for any occasion less formal than a third cousin’s funeral. And yes, they look ridiculous, nobody could possibly pull that off:
Soccer: Yeah, generally agree. I would add: Not allowed to wear it unless you can find the team’s city on a map in less than 30 seconds.
Frank: Ugh, you cut decency to the quick. Okay, I can get on board with a cool baseball jersey, it is a button up, after all. But if you must, must, wear a jersey, show some dignity by wearing the jersey of a player who is older than you, who played when it was appropriate for you to look up to athletes as heroes. The only person older than Lebron James who should wear a Lebron James jersey is Lebron James’ mother.
Max: No way! That’s one of the beauties of sports. As we age and our bodies become useless there is always a new star coming up to admire and distract us from our impending confrontation of mortality. Get the young stud’s jersey, revel in their vitality!
Frank: You goon! Will you not admit that there is something inherently weird about a forty-year-old man wearing an Aaron Rodgers Jersey?! Tying to emulate a person eight years his junior?!
Max: You’ve picked a terrible player to use as an example if you are trying to get that point to sink in with me. I could look at a llama wearing a Rodgers jersey and think “great choice llama, you look dope”. Then I would fist bump with that llama. Meanwhile, a Teddy Bridgewater jersey looks stupid on anyone, regardless of age or species.
Frank: Teddy Bridgewater looks great in his Teddy Bridgewater jersey.
Max: Damn! You’ve found the one exception.
Frank: Exactly. You’re right, I picked the wrong example, The Aaron Rogers jersey is your idea of Garden Party Formal. You bust out the Christian Guzman for black tie events.
Max: It’s a sharp jersey and it matches almost anything my wife wears. But the point here is not that we wear jerseys to emulate the player. We wear jerseys to demonstrate our identity. When you’re a little kid you wear shirts with dinosaurs, unicorns, trucks, princesses, whatever you are into. It’s your expression of identity. Jerseys are the adult version of that. We don’t want to be Aaron Rodgers (we totally do actually, but we also understand the laws of reality), we want to convey that we think Aaron Rodgers is cool. Which he is.
Frank: Yes when you a child you wore a t-shirt with a truck on it to show that you thought trucks were cool. You did not (typically, at least) dress up as the truck. You are correct in pointing out that wearing jerseys is the adult version of something incredibly childish.
Max: That’s like saying white Russians are an adult version of something childish. Still, clearly, OK for adults. Now, if someone wears the accompanying football pants and helmet with the jersey, that’s a problem. But a shirt is a shirt. Jerseys allow you to diversify your expression of fandom. I for one am glad people do it. As opposed to the dystopian future you describe where fans of the home team are allowed to wear a white crew neck t-shirt and those for the away team wear a gray crew-neck t-shirt.
Frank: Those Miami Heat fans look great in their white button ups!
Max: They kind of look like a cult. But yeah, it’s OK.
Frank: All I’m saying is yes, by all means, show your team the love, but, especially when it comes to football and hockey, save the jerseys for while the game is happening. Our motto here is “Always Represent”, and I urge you to do so, just do it with some damn dignity.
Max: Fair enough. And on that note, I would add that when you make that big jersey purchase (because these things are expensive!) make sure the player in question is a safe commodity. There are some dusty John Rocker jerseys deep in some closets out there. Another fun debate Frank. See you soon, I’ll be the one in the hockey jersey.
Frank: I’ll be the one in my “Venture Bros.” sweatshirt. While we’re on the subject, let’s stop pretending that wearing a jersey for your favorite team, 16, 82, or 162 times a year is any less nerdy than dressing up for a “Star Wars” movie three times a decade. Always represent, Max.