Like running a marathon or driving an EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle into the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, life is full of checkpoints.
Some are formal occasions, like a Bar Mitzvah, graduation or wedding.
Some are informal occasions, like a first smooch, first pint of Guinness and eventual first relapse.
Some are inevitable occasions, like going bald or losing a pet.
(What daaaaaayaaaaa mean fish need food?!)
Then there are checkpoints where one must decide, what am I really about? And by that I mean jerseys. Namely, when do I stop wearing them? Not when do I stop wearing a jersey to the mall or to the beach, but when do I stop wearing a jersey altogether? When does the jersey cease to be a staple of my wardrobe?
This my friends, is our Weekend Debate.
Let's begin with an expert on the subject, Jay-Z.
In the fall of 2004, the rapper-cum-NBA owner told Time, "you can't be running around in jerseys when you're 30 years old."
That's a good place to start. A nice clear-cut number. Three decades into one's existence wearing a jersey becomes unacceptable.
Imagine the possibilities if this, in fact, were a rule. Being 29 and 364 days old would have new meaning. It would be like being 20 and 364 days old, but instead of doing 21 shots you'd try to squeeze on 30 jerseys. Not at once, I'd imagine.
But there are other voices to be heard. A 20-something CBS video producer in L.A. (by way of Connecticut) says, "late '30s, but keep in mind, I'm getting buried in my Red Sox uniform."
A self-described fellow curmudgeon like me and editor here at CBSSports.com says, "It's never acceptable for a grown man to wear a jersey." Another said, "I don't own one." (He actually just sold his [and what was only] custom TrailBlazers jersey on EBay to somebody in Japan. Yes, somebody across the world just purchased a Portland jersey with a random guy's name on the back.)
I move too fast. Some quick background: This all got started while watching ESPNews and seeing Dick Vitale adorning a Rays jersey while being interviewed.
Now Vitale predates America's entrance in World War II, Watergate and Twitter. But there he was, in alopecia glory, sporting a baseball jersey on a cable sports network.
Let's speed back up. There are two types of jersey wearers: those sporting a jersey with a real player's name on the back and those with anything else. We'll classify those with blank jerseys as leaning toward the former and those with nicknames or funny sayings on their back as leaning toward the latter. But they are clearly sub-sects of the two jersey genera and not their own.
Our assistant managing editor says, "Only player names on the back." I say, "Not a big deal either way." He says, "You're an idiot."
But here are my thoughts on jerseys. Basketball, football and hockey jerseys are no dice for grown-ups. Basketball jerseys are meant to be worn without anything on underneath, and the public doesn't need to see that much skin or arm pit hair. Football and hockey jerseys were meant to be worn with pads, so unless you have a hecukva set of traps, you're probably not filling out the apparel. In short, you look silly wearing a synthetic nylon top with jeans. The worst offenders are people who dress in suits or slacks and a shirt and head to the NBA arena after work with a jersey on top of their Brooks Brothers oxford.
(I'll also add, and this has since been touched upon below, that wearing the name of another human being on your back [particularly somebody younger than yourself] is a bit awkward. Wearing another human being's name on your back represents a sort of adulation of somebody's talents or persona [as expressed below in the comments] or brand [players as products] you align yourself with. Maybe it's just me, but there are few athletes I feel that strongly about. In this current sports atmosphere I align myself with organizations, not players, more often than not and I tend to find that few athletes are well-rounded enough human beings to want to show my respect for by wearing their name on my back.)
I'll leave you with my thoughts on baseball jerseys. I think they fly no matter how old or young you are. Baseball jerseys are only jerseys in the loosest sense of the word. Most of the time they are cotton (or polyester), feature buttons and a collar. In short, for a big slice of the population, it's an upgrade from the normal day-to-day attire.
Enough from the news desk, if you feel strongly about wearing jerseys regularly you should probably go enroll in Madden Nation. Or share your thoughts if you're inclined.
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