I’ve been thinking a bit lately about teams telling their fans what to wear to the game. I’m not sure when it started (although I’m sure some of you do), but I figure it began when college teams started doing blackouts and white-outs and orange-outs and all the rest, and they told their fans to dress accordingly.
Then, a year or two ago, Oregon began telling Ducks fans what to wear to each game. And that’s sort of funny, because it plays into Oregon’s uni-wackiness. Like, “We wear something different every game — and so can you!”
But now it’s starting to spread. Ohio State is telling fans what to wear this weekend so they can create a striped effect in the stands. “I think it is lame and trendy,” says reader James Dupler. “They announced it about 50 times during last week’s game, so it will be interesting to see if anyone actually follows through with it and how it will look. Seems like another event to try to sell T-shirts, but at least the shirts aren’t Nike-produced.”
And Old Dominion — an FCS school (although they’ll be moving up to FBS next year) — has provided fans with a “What to Wear” schedule. “I would say this is a silly marketing ploy to sell more ODU merchandise,” says Jonathan Leib, “but I do admit to having worn a white shirt to the game last Saturday.”
Now, you all know what I think about spending $200 on polyester shirts — and that goes double if you’re doing it because some chart tells you to. But even being told to just wear a T-shirt of a certain color kinda bugs me. I’ve been thinking about why, and here are some of the reasons I’ve come up with:
• Although you could presumably find any old orange T-shirt in your dresser (or black T-shirt, or whatever), many fans will probably take the occasion to buy a team tee. So this color-out trend feels like the latest in a long string of instances in which being a “good” fan really means being a consumer, which I find disappointing. I’m obviously not the only one who thinks this, as you can see by the comments from the readers who told me about the Ohio State and Old Dominion situations.
• Even if they gave me a shirt for free, I don’t like being told what to wear at a game. I’ve already (over)paid for the ticket, the beer, etc., and I’ll wear what I damn well please, thank you very much.
• Somewhat related to the above: It would be fair to say that I’m not a great joiner. I live by myself, I work by myself, and I’m generally used to doing things my own way. That’s not to say I can’t be a good team player (I think most of the editors I’ve worked with would say I am), but I tend to be instinctively suspicious of groupthink, and that’s what these “Let’s all dress alike” things feel like to me. It reminds me of the wave, and I’ve never liked that either.
• I think it’s easier for a town to rally around a certain color when there’s only one team. In Kansas City, everyone wears red for the Chiefs; in Baltimore, the whole city is purple for the Ravens (shudder); and so on. But I live in New York, where we have multiple teams for every major sport, not to mention a very diverse, headstrong populace. So maybe the whole “Let’s all dress alike” thing doesn’t translate well to my mindset as a New Yorker.
• I’ve never been a huge college football fan; hell, I attended a college that doesn’t even have a football team. So to the extent that everyone dressing alike is a college football thing (which isn’t entirely the case, but college football seems to be what’s driving this trend), maybe I just don’t get it. On the other hand, I don’t wear Mets gear when I go to a Mets game either.
What do you all think of this? I’ll admit that the striped seating effect that Ohio State is going for could look pretty cool. But can’t they just hand everyone a placard or something, instead of telling people how to dress?
Big thrill for me yesterday, as I got to meet one of my heroes: Jamie Jensen, author of the definitive travel guide Road Trip USA, now in its sixth edition. I first encountered the book while preparing for a cross-country road trip with my then-galpal in 1997 and quickly realized it was the travel guidebook I’d been spending my whole life waiting for. It’s no exaggeration to say that the book has had a huge effect on my life over the past 15 years (plus I’m proud to say there’s a quote from me on the back cover).
I occasionally e-mailed with Jamie back in the late ’90s but hadn’t heard from him in years until last week, when he got in touch to say he’d just moved to New York, so yesterday was the first time I had the privilege of meeting him in person. Everything from GPS to Yelp has put a serious dent in the market for guidebooks, but Road Trip USA remains a strong franchise. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he’s a fan of my work, too — Uni Watch, Permanent Record, Beer Frame, the works — so we ended up having this mutual-admiration dialogue that I’m sure was nauseating to everyone within earshot, but whatever. I’m genuinely excited to have met him, especially now that he’s a New Yorker. We’ll go bowling soon, Jamie!
PermaRec update: A 98-year-old message in a bottle, shown at left, is the subject of the latest entry on the Permanent Record Blog.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Here are the Knicks’ new uniforms. I’m glad they ditched the black, but those solid waistbands seem like a bit much, and I’m seriously disappointed by the reduction in the arching on the chest insignia. … Syracuse will apparently have new uniforms Saturday’s
loss game against USC. … The Steelers have announced that their throwbacks will be worn on Oct. 28 vs. the ’Skins and Nov. 18 vs. the Ravens (from Mike Viola). … The Ravens will wear this memorial helmet decal for Art Modell for the rest of the season. … The Wellsboro Hornets in Pennsylvania use a helmet design with stylized antennae (from Gerry Dincher). … Vikings will be wearing purple shoes this weekend (from Tony Tengwall). … Full breakdown of what the Bears will be wearing this season — which will not include the orange pants — here (from Adam Grad). … The Pope has special socks for fishing trips (from Joseph Nguyen). … New mask for James Reimer (from John Muir). … I knew Bryce Harper sometimes went high-cuffed and sometimes went low, but I didn’t know he was following a day/night protocol, like David Wright (from William Yurasko). … Dolphins coach Joe Philin — formerly the offensive coordinator in Green Bay — has announced that he’ll name captains on a weekly basis. “I’m assuming this means that, like Green bay, Miami will not be wearing the captaincy patches during the regular season this year,” surmises Frankie Parish. … “I saw an ad for MLB the Show today with a picture of Adrian Gonzales in a Bosox uni,” says Blake Parker. “I was curious if this is the first time that a video game cover boy has ever been traded mid-season?” Good question. Anyone..? … Looks like Mississippi State hoops player Wendell Lewis was wearing a prototype jersey with a placeholder NOB for a photo shoot (from Joey Harvey). … The Sporting News has ranked all 30 NHL uniforms (from Timothy Tryjankowski). … New third jersey for the Rochester Amerks (from Joe Lombardo). … Northwestern’s end zone design now matches their jersey motif. “I love it,” says Tim E. O’Brien. … The Mets will wear first responder caps during batting practice on Sept. 11 — but not during the game. … There are apostrophe catastrophes and then there are apostrophe catastrophes (from Johnny Woods). … Special uniforms on tap for the New Mexico men’s soccer team.
Stirrup Friday reminder: If you’re wearing stirrups today (to work, to school, or just around the house), feel free to take a photo and send it to Phil, along with a quick explanation of the team you’re wearing and why. Thanks.