I’d like to preface this with a small anecdote.
In my family, we are huge Seattle Seahawks fans, part of the infamous 12th Man. If we lived closer to Seattle, we would be season ticket holders. We display our 12th Man flag proudly, directly underneath the 6′ chainsaw carving of the Seattle Seahawks logo. Neither myself nor my mother missed watching a game this last season – including those during the two weeks I spent in Tennessee. So when she asked for a jersey for Christmas, my father and I were going to do our best to get it for her.
“Which player’s jersey do you want?” I asked her, repeatedly. She could never decide. This wasn’t her first Seahawks jersey – Hasselbeck, Tatupu, Trufant, and several more hang in her closet. The problem she had is they all moved on to other teams and she was loyal strictly to the Seahawks. Sure, she still wore those jerseys proudly still, but she wanted something that would remain current for the next few seasons.
We eventually decided on a #12, the Seahawks’ “fan” number. Not because she thought Wilson, Hauschka, or Lynch wouldn’t be “cool” but for the fact that it holds meaning, season after season.
To bring this back to hockey… Since the moment I laid eyes on the game, I have been a Vancouver Canucks fan. My first live game was the Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators. I’ve shed tears over this team. I’ve finished more than my fair share of alcohol over this team. I have gained and lost friends over this team. I dare anyone to say that I’m not a fan of the Vancouver Canucks. A “real” fan. Proudly hanging in my own closet are Burrows, Kesler and… wait for it… Luongo shirts. And that last one I continue to proudly (some may say defiantly) wear. Furthermore, my favorite player, since the minute I watched him struggle back into the NHL from his back injury, is Mason Raymond.
I am a fan of hockey as well. I woke up before 4 am during the Olympics. I got caught up in the hoopla of TJ Sochi, held my breath as Kristers Gudlevskis put on a goaltending clinic, watched avidly through the Canadian gold model ceremony. Though my team is out of the playoffs, I have watched 95% of the entire run. I pay attention to the major juniors, and if I ever make it down to Portland, you can bet I’ll be doing my best to track down a Winterhawks’ Leipsic jersey.
I’m rapidly approaching 30. Years away from the “mid-40s and over” generation that Ronnie Shuker discusses in his “Why it’s not cool to wear the jersey of a player who’s younger.” However, I am older than the Canucks’ Dalpe, Hansen, Jensen, Kassian, Matthias, Santorelli, Schroeder, Sestito, Zalewski, Edler, Stanton, Tanev, Corrado, Weber, Lack, and Markstrom. Should I refrain from wearing their numbers? By using Shuker’s logic, it would only be okay for me to wear Kesler, Bieksa, either of the Sedins, and so on.
That said, if you really must have a name on the back – and, please, only if you must – at least wear the jersey of a player who’s older than you.
By this logic, I can never be seen in my Nashville Predators Shea Weber hoodie again. Or do his rules only apply to jerseys? Shuker is very unclear on this. Perhaps hoodies, t-shirts and other assorted gear are okay! Or perhaps they’re the worst form of showing your support, because you won’t shell out the hundreds of dollars for a jersey!
I don’t pick and choose my favorites based on their age. I choose based on their skill, personality on and off the ice, etc. I imagine most “laymen” fans are exactly like me. They’ll be impressed by Kane’s hands, Landeskog/Toews/Crosby/Stamkos’ (insert young Captain of your choice) leadership, Skinner’s skating, Seth Jones’ ability to make things happen, Raymond’s speed, Guldevskis’ goaltending magic tricks.
To me, it’s just not at all cool, in any way whatsoever, for a middle-aged fan to wear, say, a Jonathan Toews jersey. (Players’ parents are exempt.).
First of all, I was unaware that at when it comes to hockey we are all fifteen again and that having our parents wear the same thing we want to is the WORST. So totally uncool, I can’t believe they do that to us!!!
Second, who are you, Ronnie Shuker, to tell anyone what they should and should not wear? Who are you to define what’s cool or not?Who are you to tell anyone who they are allowed to support by wearing their jersey? All based on what you think is not “cool” or “fashionable?”
Further, why do you care? Why should anyone care that any adult is wearing a jersey to support a player on a team? They have the money to spend; if they choose to spend it on a jersey that has MacKinnon, Nichushkin, Barkov, Monahan, or anyone else who is still in their teen years, let them. I don’t care, and you shouldn’t either.
Only to sports fans are jerseys cool and I don’t think anyone anywhere would call them fashionable by the industry’s standard. Unless, of course, some model takes one and wears it as a dress; though in my mind that’s still not fashionable, that’s fetishizing a look for horny men.
When it comes to being a fan, there’s a fine line between support and idolatry. Wearing a jersey of your team is support, wearing the jersey of a player who’s 20 years younger is idolatry.
You can be a fan without idolizing, you can appreciate a player without being a fanatic. You can support the player but not the team, just as you can support a team but not the player. Saying otherwise is ignorant and speaks volumes as to how you view fans.
For the most part, we’re all mature adults, comfortable with who we are. Is anyone really still striving to be “cool?” I don’t know about the rest of you but I left that behind me; over a decade ago in high school. If you want to wear your favorite player’s jersey, go right on ahead.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with this quote from Ronnie Shuker’s Twitter.
A huge, huge thank you goes to @isaturtle for handholding and editing. This couldn’t have been done without her! Further, she informed me that @wyshynski was the person that brought Shuker’s article to light, so thank you to him as well.