Sports culture: A jersey here, a jersey there


It hangs in the corner of your closet. It has sentimental value to you. You feel proud to wear it. You know its game time. Yep, the official sport jersey.

The vast majority of us have one. Which sport remains to be seen. Is it hockey? Is it football? Baseball? How about soccer?

But the contrast in how North Americans wear jerseys in contrast to us Brits is astounding.

First and foremost, football and hockey jerseys are a hell of a lot heavier than soccer shirts. The weight of the logo, the numerous numbers and name plates are massive compared to what we see on soccer shirts. The stitching alone adds a few pounds to your back.

Soccer shirts? Well what you see in the store is what you see the players wearing. None of this authentic nonsense you see on that costs an extra $100.

Nope. The stuff we buy in the official team shop for 40 quid is what those players who make 100k a week wear too. It’s the same when it comes to rugby and cricket shirts.

The looks are so different too. The big difference though is the sponsors. Basketball, baseball, football and hockey jerseys have zero sponsors. Soccer shirts are a different story. There’s the primary sponsor on the front of the shirt and often, especially in the lower leagues, teams have secondary and sometimes third sponsors. Rugby shirts are filled with sponsors; ditto for cricket.

You know what though, I like sponsors on shirts. It tells you how old your shirt is for a start. Plus it adds to the look.

Don’t get me wrong though, soccer shirts are a disadvantage too. Every team changes the look every off-season. It could be adding a stripe, a slight colour change, or a new sponsor. And us fans are suckers for it. Each year we buy the new kit. We can’t help it.

And that’s where North America has the advantage. Besides the NFL switching to Nike last season for their jerseys, fans rarely need to buy a new jersey because nothing changes otherwise. Besides the player on the back.

And now suddenly the advantage swings back to soccer. I’d guess that 90% of soccer fans buy their shirts with no name or number on the back. In North America, I’d say 90% of jerseys have a name and number on the back.

I find it very odd that it’s hard to buy a hockey, basketball or football jersey that isn’t printed. But props to baseball for allowing us the option for the most part.

But where do you wear your jersey?

At games? Absolutely; it’s a crime not to! Doesn’t matter the sport. If you have a jersey, you’ve got to wear it to the games you go to.

On top of that, I wear mine while watching my team on TV. I have no shame in admitting that.

But besides that, you’ll rarely see me with a jersey on. Every now and then I’ll bust out one of my soccer shirts, but it’s a rare site.

I’m sure I’ve been brainwashed by the North American way. In England, I use to wear footy shirts in public all the time. To non-uniform days at school, to going out at night, I would often be seen in my footy shirts. Not so much now.

I think that’s why I find it so strange to see someone in their hockey jersey going to class. It looks so out of place. Wear a hat, wear a sweater, wear your player t-shirt. But a full jersey to class? Really? No dude.

Look, jerseys can define us. It can say a lot about you without you saying a word; where you’re from, or where you like to go on vacation, or which team you were raised supporting.

Jerseys are a part of us. You wear them during times of happiness and anguish. They give you long-lasting memories.
The jersey makes us.

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