Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How to Guide: Buying the Perfect Sports Jersey

This post was inspired by an email I received from my friend Grace, which included the following excerpt of a conversation between her co-workers. (names have been changed)
Jane: So what color jersey should I get Mike?
John: Get the blue one. Well, will the blue one make his eyes pop? (John's not gay)
Jane: So I should get Manning?
John: No, Manning’s safe. That’s like saying “I don’t careabout you.”
Jane: So I should get Cruz?
Bill: Everyone has Cruz.
Jane: So Manningham’s a good choice?’
John: Yeah, get Manningham. Manningham’s a little special.
Jane: Are you sure he isn’t going to be traded next year?
Bill: You think he’s coming back?
John: Yeah, I do.
Jane: I’m going to google this.
Jane: So, Manningham won the Super Bowl for them this year?
John: No, he made this amazing catch.
Jane: So Bradshaw won the Super Bowl for them?
For decades, many men and even some women have been faced with one of the hardest challenges in life: buying the perfect jersey. Through this guide, I will discuss many of the key deciding factors, common mistakes, standards to stick with, and personal testimonies from my jersey buying experiences.

  1. Number one rule in buying the perfect jersey: Knowing your size. In the age of Internet shopping, many people end up with jerseys too large or too small. Nothing looks worse than a jersey that is too tight on your body, which only makes people think you gained tons of weight since the day you bought that jersey. The second worst thing is buying a jersey that is oversized, leaving people to wonder if you still have your baggy jeans to go with the 90’s look.
  2. Understand there are different levels of jersey qualities and it is different for every sport. For example, NBA jerseys come in three different qualities, levels and styles: Replica, Swingman, and Authentic. Each level is at a different price point, usually seeing the largest price hike from the 2nd to 3rd level. Authentic jerseys for all sports are commonly over $200, but it could be worth it to you if you want to get exactly what the pros are wearing. My personal advice is: if you are not a die-hard fan for that one specific player or do not plan on customizing a jersey with your own name on it, stick with the 2nd level. It is close enough to the real thing and in the long run, the price difference from the cheapest level won’t kill your wallet. Also, for the ladies, don’t forget sometimes the best size is a youth size jersey, which saves you money too, or jerseys made for women.
  3. Color matters. Choosing the right color can be tough at times. Usually there will be 2 to 3 options of the current team jersey: home, away, and sometimes alternate jersey. Before buying a jersey, make sure you understand the traditions of the team. For example, all good University of Texas fans know it is preferred that you wear burnt orange to the game, so before you go out and buy the away white jersey, you might want that burnt orange in your closet first. I believe for the most part, the non-white, non-alternate jersey is always the safe bet, unless you think the color is tacky or just does not go well with your complexion or eyes.
  4. Pick a player you love or get a blank jersey. Many times people give in to getting a jersey of a player they just kind of like because he is popular or the only player they are selling at the store. Over time, you will be the one wearing that jersey and representing whoever’s name is on it. A blank jersey will never go out of style as long as you don’t change allegiances, which is a cardinal sin in most societies anyway.
  5. Choose a player with longevity and memorable success. This is the hardest rule because of the way leagues are now with trades and free agency. Clearly, who would have thought they would be burning their Lebron jersey only a couple years after seeing him bring them to the Finals? I believe it is usually safe to choose a player that played a large role in winning a championship or one who has already spent their best years playing for your favorite team. Many times it is a huge risk to buy a jersey of a young player before they sign a long-term contract. For example, many people might have bought a Chris Paul jersey only to see him ask to be traded the first chance he had. You also don’t want to buy a jersey of a player who will be forgotten 10 years after they retire, or else you will be explaining who they are at every sporting event you wear that jersey to for the rest of your life.
  6. Only buy jerseys of your favorite team unless it’s your all time favorite player, and in that case, a national jersey if possible. After a player retires and time passes, people will just assume you are a fan of the team on the jersey you own. After hours spent explaining why you bought the jersey, you will end up feeling more comfortable burying the jersey at the back of your closet than dealing with confused and annoying acquaintances.
  7. Last and final rule: Only buy a jersey you plan on wearing. Jerseys are not cheap, even at the replica level you are looking at over $50, and unless you plan on getting it signed and framed, make sure the jersey is something you will wear out to games and sporting events. Do not feel pressured to need to have a jersey to prove your fan-hood. There are many other ways you can support your team. Because nothing is worse than an unused jersey.
These are the 7 rules that I stick to when purchasing a jersey. Too bad I didn’t read this years ago. In the past, I have violated every rule listed above. For example, I have a couple jerseys that are oversized and even worse, I have one jersey that is way too small that I have no choice but to hang it up as wall d├ęcor. In high school, I broke rules one and two in the same jersey purchase. I got a large Yao replica jersey that was obviously too big, and the cut of the replica was made for people with larger shoulders. It was not a good look for me. This jersey is buried deep in my closet somewhere or at least I think it is since I have not seen it in years. I am a victim of premature jersey buying, breaking rule 3 and buying a white Vince Young jersey before heading off the University of Texas. I wore it once to a game and ended up taking it off in favor of a burnt orange t-shirt. Rule 4 I broke many times, which explains jerseys like my Carmelo Anthony jersey that isn’t a Knick jersey but a Nuggets jersey. Granted, I bought it because it was only 25 dollars in 2007, but clearly I have no idea what to do with it now, although it is a nice jersey. This Carmelo jersey also breaks rules 5 and 6. For rule 5, only recently did I find myself stuck with a Jose Reyes jersey who just signed with the Marlins. Reyes never did enough for the Mets organization to be memorable to future generations, and now all I can do is hope some other Reyes becomes a Met and finds success and also wears the number 7. I have many jerseys that I do not wear anymore, but I can say I have never bought a jersey without planning on wearing it, so I guess I haven’t broken all my rules after all. Finally, sometimes you do everything right and still end up with a mistake; for me that mistake is my Brett Favre jersey in which I may never be able to wear again. But I hope one day he will be welcomed back to Green Bay like I mentioned in this past post (link).

My all time favorite jersey I own is my authentic personalized Green Bay Packer jersey, which ironically was a gift from a group of close friends. Maybe I need to stop buying jerseys…

Yes,I know Bart Starr is #15 but my friends didn't consider that.
Good luck everyone, buying a new jersey should not be taken lightly. Be patient and willing to pay for the right jersey, and just maybe, you will be able to get the perfect jersey for you.

P.S. I forgot to even mention my two Fernando Torres jerseys. Another case of my favorite player choosing to leave my favorite team for an arch rival… just my luck.


So do you get a Lin Jersey or not?

I plan to get a Lin jersey when the Swingman version comes out.

You're totally right, a jersey is an huge investment. In terms of regret, I definitely do feel yah, when it comes to one of my jerseys. I bought my BURRESS jersey during the the middle of the 2007 regular season, in which the Giants went on to win it all with Plaxico catching the game-winner, so I definitely felt like I made a great investment. But after he shot himself in the leg the season after, my jersey's been sitting in my closet for 4 years now. Luckily, I bought a Superbowl STRAHAN jersey, and I'll always wear it proudly. But I do definitely have a regret when it comes to waiting. I really wanted to buy a #12 McCoy Texas jersey, but I kept waiting and missed the chance. Now that his # is retired, not sure if I can get a new one ever again, haha (I'm sure it's possible to still find one, but it's def harder)

McCoy will always have a special place in my heart, I just hope he's not forgotten over the years since he never won a national championship =/

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