How to Buy a Sports Jersey

Good, Ehh, Lol, Ehh, So Fitting, Ugh, See No. 3

Good, Ehh, Lol, Ehh, So Fitting, Ugh, See No. 2

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. Never buy a fashion jersey. Never.
  7. Never buy those weird–and sometimes ridiculous–championship jerseys.
  8. Nothing says “FRONTRUNNER” like a jersey with a World Series, Super Bowl, or NBA Finals patch.
  9. Never personalize a jersey. It is always lame. Let me repeat: It is ALWAYS lame.
  10. 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.
  11. High school jerseys of professional players are never cool.
  12. Never buy a jersey of a team in the wrong sport. These jerseys don’t make any sense.
  13. Throwbacks of team greats never get old. They also never come cheap.
  14. 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.

12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by lawgorrhea on June 21, 2009 at 3:52 PM

    HAHAHAHAHA hilarious!


  2. Well, what if I had attended Oak Hill Academy? In this instance, would it be acceptable for me to wear a OH Nolan Smith throwback?


  3. Posted by Tim on June 21, 2009 at 6:49 PM

    We both know any Nolan Smith jersey is just an overstocked Josh McRoberts one. But yeah, go ahead and wear the jersey of the guy who was like the sixth-best player on his high school team.


  4. Posted by janechong on June 22, 2009 at 12:03 AM

    Tim, you are fantastic. I’ve wanted a jersey purchase how-to for a solid year.

    Favorites: caveats 1, 12
    Point of clarification: 6. Halloween costumes? Surely anything (pink) goes.


  5. Posted by Tim on June 22, 2009 at 1:08 AM

    Jane, your point of clarification will likely be taken up in the much-anticipated second part of this guide: “When and Where to Wear Your Sports Jersey.” Coming soon.


  6. Posted by Alex Bellis on June 22, 2009 at 1:47 AM

    the only thing this post is missing is a line about the jersey dress, see below, which is basically only ok if you are a cheerleader or dancer of some sort for the team


  7. Posted by James Schneider on June 23, 2009 at 1:15 AM

    What if you bought like a Ricky Rubio jersey from the team in Spain?


  8. Posted by Jamal on June 24, 2009 at 12:20 AM

    What about fantasy jerseys of players in another sport?

    LeBron James Browns Jersey
    Kobe Bryant barca shirt


  9. Posted by Tim on June 24, 2009 at 8:04 PM

    James: How many times have you seen Ricky Rubio play for Spain? Once? Yeah, this falls under No. 10. The caveat: His jersey has “Ricky” on the back.

    “Jamal”: I’m okay with the LeBron jersey, just because he would probably become the best player on the Browns if he wanted to. I refuse to believe Kobe Bryant could play soccer, let alone for Barca. (And it’s not like we’re so overrun with soccer jerseys that we can’t find legit ones to wear.)


  10. Posted by John S on June 25, 2009 at 1:53 AM

    In James’ defense, I think he qualifies under the caveat of having “attended” Spain.


  11. Posted by Josh on June 30, 2009 at 1:54 AM

    This should ALSO have the tag: generalizations of otherwise idiosyncratic preferences.


  12. Posted by Tim on June 30, 2009 at 2:01 AM

    Yeah, the thing about that is, it does.


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