Whose Colors Are You Wearing?

by J.B. Cash

12 November 2004

A good indicator of the popularity of a sports player, or team, is in the amount of "teamware" clothing and associated items that can be sold with the player or team's name or colors. The proliferation of clothing that carries the logos and names of professional and college teams and athletes is an odd signature of our times. The market for clothing of this type is in the billions of dollars. You cannot walk into any department store, athletic store, drug store, gas station, or virtually any place where people shop without being bombarded by the assortment of team-related items for sale.

Supporting the home team is not new but it has been taken to an extreme level in the last 20 years. It is one thing to wear the scarlet and gray or purple and gold to the game but quite another to show up for interviews, courtrooms appearances, and weddings dressed in an LA Lakers basketball tank top. And therein lies the problem. A sincere desire to show support for one's team is not a license to live in their game jerseys. And speaking of licenses, pro and college teams make a substantial amount of income in licensing and royalties on the various articles that bear their likeness.

Teamware sales are an indicator of popularity amongst fans and the amount of a player's or a team's jerseys hanging on the racks at the local Wal-Mart is an indicator of what the masses are being fed. And what the masses are being fed is an endless stream of black athletes to worship.

This all seems a bit unusual to me. When I was young, about 30 years ago, there were virtually no team items of any kind available. As an example of how rare they were, as a kid I cut out my favorite baseball team's letter from a piece of felt and bugged my mother to sew it to my baseball cap. The cap was an old wool baseball cap, sized to fit, and it was the only one I had. I now own dozens of baseball hats and periodically have to throw some of them away. Baseball caps, once worn only for baseball, are the modern age equivalent of the fedora, worn by every man everywhere no matter how proper or improper they may be for the occasion.

Also when I was young nobody wore the "official" jerseys of the local team unless they were an actual member. It just wasn't done. As I remember, it would subject one to ridicule to wear for example, a NY Yankees replica jersey because if you did not play for the Yankees you had no business walking around in their uniform. In those days a uniform was meant to be worn by the people that had earned the right to wear it. Nowadays of course you can find aged, overweight, men and women sauntering around in full team regalia as if really means anything that they are wearing it.

When I played CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) baseball as a kid they supplied full baseball uniforms to each boy (and only boys could play). Each team had a uniform somewhat modeled on a major league team of the day. Of course in those days a team often just had their names in block letters across the breast, no fancy script, colors or logos.

I can still remember how it felt putting on that uniform. Special in a way children of today will never know. Another unusual thing about it was that each uniform was expected to be returned at the end of the season. The parents, Mom actually (in those days nearly every one had a Mom and a Dad, and just one of each) was expected to wash, iron, and mend if necessary, the uniform, so that the next year some other kid could wear it again. This is slightly different from the multi-colored $80 uniforms I am expected to buy for my kids today, which they toss on the floor in their rooms because what the heck, it's just one of the dozens of pieces of clothing they own with a team name on it. I also don't understand the desire to provide free advertising space on my clothing for multi-million dollar companies like Nike or Adidas. They seem to be doing quite well enough without every sports fan walking around in "swoosh" embroidered clothes. In fact almost every piece of clothing has some logo or emblem on it. At least in the old days they paid you to wear an "Eat at Joe's" billboard. Nowadays you have to pay them, and pay them well to wear their company embossed clothing.

A visit to my local store gives me an idea of who clothing manufacturers think are the top players to emulate. Number one right now is Michael Vick. Vick's "7" jersey is available in stores in every city in the country. So popular is this jersey that it is available in other colors besides the Atlanta Falcons'. Thus someone can wear Vick's number in his own team's colors. Very odd!

Other popular jerseys are "McNabb" and "McNair" and "Culpepper." Hmmm. Those Irish guys must be very good players to have their shirts in stores across the country. Don't tell me the system isn't desirous of seeing black quarterbacks succeed when the only shirts a kid can buy have the name of a black quarterback on them.

I also noticed a few "Rice" Oakland Raider jerseys on the clearance rack. I suspect there will be little demand for these. They will probably end up being shipped to some third-world country to clothe starving people. How ironic. Shirts that say "Rice" worn by people without any. Maybe they can turn them backwards and use them to beg tourists for food.

Speaking of Rice, I understand when he was traded to Seattle that Seahawks great Steve Largent was "asked" if he would mind if Rice wore his number 80, which had been retired. Largent reportedly assented but what was his choice? He's a politician and in these PC times how could a politician possibly refuse a minority request no matter how selfish and demeaning. The press would have skewered him if he had said no. The black populace would probably have punished him at the voting booth.

In the case of requesting that a player allow his retired jersey to be worn again I wonder: Who makes that request? How do you ask somebody that has been specially honored by the ceremony of having his number retired that you are reneging on the deal?

"Mr. Legend, you know that tribute we paid to you a few years back for being one of the greatest athletes ever to wear this number for us. We take it back. We have a washed up selfish black player that insists in wearing a certain number and he wants yours. So is it OK with you if we cancel out the honor previously bestowed upon you?"

Ridiculous. Why retire the number if it wasn't a sincere enough gesture of honor to keep it retired. I have been told that a similar request was made by Joe Montana, maybe the greatest QB ever, to Len Dawson of the KC Chiefs, when Joe was finishing up his brilliant career in Kansas City. Dawson said no. Maybe he said "Hell, no" or maybe he said you can take the number and stick it up your ungrateful butts. Either way the Chiefs wisely let Montana's career fade to an end in a different-numbered jersey. Montana though is white. White athletes can be dissed, trashed, dumped upon, and ridiculed. Rice however is black, thus he has to be honored, catered to and appeased.

What is really driving the teamwear fad is its popularity among black youth. I recently saw some ganstas in a large urban area and one of them was wearing an Edmonton Oilers official teamwear jacket. I doubt he had ever seen a hockey game. He just knew that it was "official" and "teamwear" so he wore it. Black culture worships sports and their prominent place in it. Thus the popularity of sportswear. Hip hop and rap singers are usually clad in some version of teamwear. A whole culture has sprung up around various versions of teamwear.

Especially popular are jerseys from the past that are no longer worn by teams today. "Authentic" copies of those jerseys are very popular, and very expensive. A 1970s Houston Astros rainbow-colored jersey is an example of a popular jersey. Also jerseys of specific players, such as a Jackie Robinson Dodgers shirt, is popular. So are Negro League jerseys although I've seen some of them and I don't think they are original replicas but rather a modern designer's version of what it would have looked like had it been designed by someone today. I recently saw a NAMATH jersey from his college days with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Price: $90! It was merely a red football jersey with NAMATH sewed on the back.

Perhaps the cost of these jerseys is what drives the desire to wear them in places where they just shouldn't be worn. During a recent visit to court I noticed a majority of the black youths there (and there were lots of them) wearing teamwear. It seems extremely bad manners to wear this type of clothing in a courtroom, not to mention the effect it must have on the judge, but no matter, there they were in full team uniform. I guess they figure if you are paying hundreds of dollars for an article of clothing, more then for many suits, you must consider it your best, so why not wear it to the courtroom?

All this illustrates the decline in civility in our society as engendered by the popularity of sports and the effect it has had on the black community and everyone else. The black "takeover" of modern sports has created a situation where the styles and ethics of that portion of society have worked their way into once-respected institutions of our culture. It seems as if we will all be wearing our favorite teams colors as the culture and society our forefathers built comes tumbling down upon us. This is a sad commentary on our modern world. Caste Football is here to help point out to sports fans the problems created by this negative trend. Please support us in this effort.

Comments? Write the author:



Mr. Cash Writes for Caste Football.

Back to VNN Main Page