We’ve all been there, the Critical Gear Decision that accompanies every pre-game ritual where the stakes are high: it’s the playoffs, a heated rivalry, field-level tickets or simply the culmination of an entire off-season’s worth of smack talk. Whatever the circumstances, this is the time where you gotta fly your flag higher than the other guy’s. You are laced head to toe in your team’s colors. Nobody’s gear is more rare/authentic/throwback/goes harder than yours. There’s only one problem: your team blows mighty chunks and you are now Property of Loserville Football:
Not a problem, you say? You were indoctrinated in the womb and your fandom borders on jingoism? You would wade neck-deep into far-flung foreign swamps in support of your team regardless of the W-L column? Alright. What about this:
Sports fandom in modern America is gang warfare, people, and you’ve got to protect the two most precious things you possess: (1) your pride (2) your spendy-ass gear.
I’ve endured more than my share of sporting event walks of shame, where I’m all drunk and belligerent up in Ted’s or at the ballpark, my team gets crushed and I’m forced to slink away, suffering the slings and arrows of the superior team’s minions.
Here’s a list of options to minimize humiliation while rooting for the greasy dumpster fire that is your favorite professional sports franchise:
1. Ancient/weird/alternate logos: Throwback is all the rage, and that’s a problem for those who want to keep it on the down low. You’ve got to dig way way back in the annals to find a logo that few will recognize as belonging to a previous incarnation of your team. This is especially effective in regions dominated by people whose primary interest in sports is how many free brews they can hustle in their corporate sponsored luxury box.
2. Just colors, no logos. For the stealthiest fan of bad teams, it’s pretty safe to just don the old faded, tight-fitting orange t-shirt, seal brown skinny jeans, white loafers and call it a day. Not only can you hold your head up when you get waxed by the Pittsburg Steelers for what will be the 66th time in the rivalry’s history, but you can hit the club right afterwards in what doubles as ironic hipster finery.
3. Your local purveyor of sports gear…and Hennessy. For us urban dwellers, the liquor store on the corner is the perfect place to grab some gear without breaking the bank. It will always be good for a $5 sweatshop ball cap or $7 t-shirt (though sadly the collection is limited to the local team(s)), sandwiched between the ‘do rags and incense at the front counter. This way when you’re being pelted by insults from the not-sucky team’s goons, you can rest easy knowing you only paid $12 + tax for the pleasure.
4. Minor league affiliate gear. Obviously this is only relevant to baseball and hockey, unless you really expect a grown-ass person to believe you’re going to spend even one thin dime on D-League swag. The best thing about minor league teams is their names (and the versatility of having more than one team to choose from.) Who wouldn’t want to rock a ball cap of the Single A Clinton LumberKings?
5. Keep it under wraps. You’ve made it this far in the article, so I beg your indulgence for just a moment longer. I’m not explicitly advocating the wearing of aqua and orange BVDs, especially if you have or ever hope to acquire a significant other. However, I can’t think of a better way to shove it to a smug yet unsuspecting New England Patriots fan than to drop trou and reveal to him the full glory of your team spirit.