My wife, a career fashionista, has a name for grown men who actually appear attractive when adorned in a sports jersey. She calls them "professional athletes!"
Spring is in full swing, major league baseball is upon us, the NHL and NBA playoffs are on the horizon, and millions of American male adults are shedding their winter jackets to once again reveal their beloved authentic and replica sports jerseys.
It's perfectly understandable when an adolescent wears the faux uniform of Robert Griffin III (currently the most popular NFL jersey according to NFLShop.com -- followed by Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers garments), Derek Jeter (MLB's top replica sales according to USA Today), Claude Giroux (currently the most vogue NHL player jersey as per the NHL Director of Communications), or Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James (the top two NBA garb grabbers says NBA Store).
After all, young folks have yet to develop their own identities, so they seize fashion cues (and miscues) from famous individuals who inspire them. However as I travel the country, and reside in America's most populated and sports-crazed metropolis -- New York City -- I have duly noted that the majority of sports hero worshiping haberdashers are... grown men!
Oft times I have risked physical assault when asking my fellow male sports fans at drinking establishments why in the name of Chad Ochocinco do they insist on dressing up in clothing that, quite honestly, makes Lady Gaga's sirloin and plastic wrap evening gown appear downright practical. The typical rejoinder from my boozed addled buddies: "I wear this to support my team!" Even prosperous dudes who can afford the finest clothing -- namely Spike Lee, Jay-Z, and Russell Simmons among others -- regularly appear in garish, ill-fitting Yankees attire in public. I dare not approach them as they too support their team -- along with their armed body-guards.
Men wearing sports jerseys face numerous obstacles that cannot scientifically, structurally, and physiologically be overcome. Hockey and football jerseys are designed to accommodate padding, thereby rendering the casual wearer awash in extra material. This sartorial fact works to the advantage of beer bellied gents who need to mask their girth, but that leaves the rest of us looking akin to Ichiro Suzuki in a Chanel dress. Basketball jerseys are constructed to allow for intense sweating and ease of movement, hence the appearance of a pro hoopster's toned, naked skin beneath the cotton dry-fit blend does not offend. However basketball jerseys on middle-aged fanatics are sartorially profane as our hair moves progressively downward whilst our musculature transforms into fat as the years progress. Dress shirts or crew necks under a basketball jersey scream varsity team sixth grader!
Baseball jerseys are the most practical -- no pads, no overly exposed skin, the cut is fashionably relaxed, t-shirt support is visually acceptable, and the all-important presence of buttons signifies a semblance of maturity. The only downside is that without the rest of the uniform -- cap, trousers, stirrups, and cleats -- we essentially are adult males in pajamas. Intelligent women have yet another reason to avoid us.
Authentic jerseys are the most in-demand items and fetch a considerable amount of the sports memorabilia dollar. Here are your average prices: $250.00 for an MLB top, $329.00 for an NHL sweater, nearly $300.00 for an NBA jersey, and $284.00 for an NFL jersey. Add the names of the top players and the ducats you need to purchase such goods rise faster than a Roy Halladay fastball.
As we live in a society which glorifies celebrity -- I doubt that the phenomenon of adult men in sports jerseys will ever subside. It's a significant part of our American cultural fabric -- pun intended. In the spirit of multi-tasking, another fact of life in these United States, wearing a sports jersey has the unique ability to afford recognition to causes near and dear to our progressive hearts. So, if you must wear a sports jersey for whatever reason , why not make a socio-political statement rather than simply "support your team?"
For those who wish to champion labor unions, I highly recommend Curt Flood, St. Louis Cardinals #21. If racial profiling of Latinos offends you, consider wearing Roberto Clemente's Pittsburgh Pirates #21. Gay rights advocates will win friends and influence their progressive neighbors with a snazzy retro 1964 San Francisco 49ers Davy Kopay #43 jersey. Jackie Robinson's Brooklyn Dodgers #42 or Willie O'Ree's Boston Bruins # 22 are fine examples of fashion which express the ongoing struggle to achieve racial equality. And if you're in favor of offensive speech, I'm sure you'll garner attention aplenty with John Rocker's Atlanta Braves #49 -- just be advised to cover yourself on the 7 train to Citi Field.