We’ve all seen them. We’ve all laughed at them. We’ve all wondered the process behind wearing them. Hell, we all own at least one.
They are Bad Sports Jerseys.
Here are the 14 basic Do and Do Not Do’s of sports jersey purchase:
- Never buy the discounted jersey of someone who has just left the team. There is a reason the jersey is on sale. This is acceptable if and only if it is a well-crafted joke. For instance, a Plaxico Burress Giants’ jersey—down to $20 last year—would make a great gift for any friend with a poor history of gun control. Even better: complement the gift with a pair of loose-fitting sweatpants and the promise of a night at The Latin Quarter. Then slowly reveal the Antonio Pierce jersey you bought for yourself. Nothing can go wrong.
- Never buy a jersey that isn’t actually worn by the team. This is mainly a problem in the NBA, where most replica jerseys have wider sleeves and simpler striping than the real ones.
- Do not buy a rookie’s jersey unless you’re REALLY confident in him. Recent rookies that qualify: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Alex Smith. That’s it. You don’t want to be stuck looking like this guy, or, God forbid, this guy.
- Never buy a throwback jersey of a player that is currently on the team. This one takes some clarification. It is acceptable to buy such a jersey if the team actually wears it as a throwback from time to time (see: the Cavaliers). It is not acceptable if the player in question has never worn the purchased jersey (see: Dwyane Wade and Marquette).
- Do not buy the jersey of a newly acquired player that is more identifiable with his old team. Especially when he steals the number of your franchise’s only legend and proceeds to suck. Bonus example here.
- Never buy a fashion jersey. Never.
- Never buy those weird–and sometimes ridiculous–championship jerseys.
- Nothing says “FRONTRUNNER” like a jersey with a World Series, Super Bowl, or NBA Finals patch.
- Never personalize a jersey. It is always lame. Let me repeat: It is ALWAYS lame.
- College jerseys of professional players are cool, as long as you saw that player in college. I’m looking at you, 16-year-old wearing a Jordan Carolina jersey. Caveat if you attend(ed) the college in question.
- High school jerseys of professional players are never cool.
- Never buy a jersey of a team in the wrong sport. These jerseys don’t make any sense.
- Throwbacks of team greats never get old. They also never come cheap.
- Be irrationally superstitious about the jerseys you buy. If a trend of injuries or mysterious declines becomes remotely apparent, go retro. This is why, after realizing that none of the five Giants’ jerseys I owned were still on the team (Hampton, Sehorn, Barber, Shockey, Strahan), I made this my last purchase.