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« Jets: Freedom of Placement | Main | Cruisin' Large »

December 13, 2009

Sporting Sports Figures' Names

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I see it often enough, but there was lots and lots and lots of it around when I was in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago.

Of course I'm referring to guys (and some gals too) who wear a team jersey with a player's number and last name on the back -- just like their sports hero wears on the field. I said "field" because it's football season and that's the sport being sported.

Come to think of it, at a University of Washington game in October, some fans were honoring their favorite players in the same manner.

Why this strong a degree of public identification?

I'm having trouble here because this team jersey thing didn't exist when I was in college and for quite a few years later. At best we might wear a sweatshirt with team colors to a game, but even that was fairly rare.

Mind you, I do understand hero worship. I've done it myself when I was young and idealistic (think youthful enthusiasm for John F. Kennedy). But that was mostly for political figures. While I recognized the importance of, say, the quarterback to my college team's success, I'm not sure I would have tried to quasi-impersonate him by wearing part of his uniform even if they sold such garments back in those days.

I clearly need help in this matter.

Is there an anthropologist in the house? A psychologist, too.

Later,

Donald

ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention that most of the Las Vegas team jersey wearers were over 30. And most of the rest were their children.

posted by Donald at December 13, 2009




Comments

This practice is extremely common among baseball fans: wearing a team jersey with the name and number of a favorite player. Sometimes it can get a bit embarrassing, when the player has been traded or cut.

One sees fans at the ball park with such jerseys that must be several years old.

It's also a basketball fan thing - lots of kids with Lebron James jerseys (Shaquille O'Neal used to be popular).

I'm pretty sure this has been going on a long time - at least 20 years.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on December 14, 2009 12:23 AM



Sports marketing is a huge business, and selling jerseys to fans has been ramped up along with the hype. The age of celebrity worship is upon us. It started with the Hollywood actors of the twenties, but with the advent of TV, we now see it applied to any personalities who can gain viewer attention over a period of time. But sports marketing has ratcheted this up quite a few notches, and the symptom of societal boredom seems part and parcel. Million of people have nothing better to do with their time than watch TV or have some kind of vicarious experience with sports heroes. We've all been there at some point or other. I agree that it is disconcerting to see how profoundly it seems to have seized on the imaginations of sports enthusiasts. This will be seen in future much in the same way we marvel today at the Roman penchant for various circus and coliseum entertainments in ancient times. They seem to have idolized their own charioteers and gladiators. Surely there must have been a parallel with today's jersey craze.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on December 14, 2009 9:41 PM



This is a perverse extension of referring to your favorite as “we” when discussing them. I guess in a world that is increasingly sedentary, wearing the uniform of someone who actually moves their body in a sport is the next best thing to actually doing the work yourself.

Plus, it’s a way for mediocre people to identify themselves with the winners they hoped they would be.

Posted by: Tim Price on December 16, 2009 10:27 AM



This trend is somewhat ok in kids (the hero worshhip point) but its always a little creepy when adults where the name of some player on their backs. Get a life!

Posted by: JT on December 16, 2009 12:27 PM



Wearing clothing with logos in general, be it a sports team, a band, or a business, is a trend that I wish would die. Of course, I'm a part of the problem as much as anybody as pretty much all of my t-shirts have some kind of logo and/or statement on them,albeit no sports-related items.

I'm sure there is lots to say about how we as a culture like to advertise our identity, but I don't have the time today. I will say that Tim Price is being simplistic in his characterization of the people who wear sports jerseys.

Posted by: JV on December 16, 2009 1:26 PM



I request a suspension of derision for one class of jersey-wearing adults:

Those who wear a jersey of a player long since retired, perhaps even before the modern era. This is a way of gently expressing one's disdain for the modern sporting era, although perhaps overly idealistically.

I, for example, have one jersey: It is the No. 7 Eagles jersey formerly worn by Ron "The Polish Rifle" Jaworski. That number is currently worn my Michael "Dog-Killer" Vick. See how it works?

Posted by: karlub on December 16, 2009 1:30 PM



The only reason I know who the hot new sports stars are, is those shirts. Imagine my embarrassment some years ago, trying to get someone's attention by loping behind them, calling "Jeter! Jeter! You dropped this!"

Posted by: Narr on December 16, 2009 6:18 PM



I took my 11 year old son, now 22, to a G. S. Warrior game. Although a Bulls fan, he really wanted a jersey as a momento from his first pro basketball game. After much thought, he decided on the Latrell Sprewell shirt. The following day, Sprewell choked his coach and was sent packing. We still laugh over that one. And come to think of it, although having had a successful college track career with its many free equipment and uniform perks, my son never wears anything that sports a logo.

Posted by: Scotharr on December 18, 2009 11:20 AM






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