Wednesday, August 24th, 2005, 12:33 pm
I only caught the last fifteen minutes of the Limit (or was it Pot-Limit, as my cable info window said?) Hold-Em event last night, but I saw enough to make this one pronouncement–it’s virtually impossible to wear a basketball jersey and look sharp, unless you’re actually standing on a basketball court. Eric Froelich won the bracelet and the title of Youngest Ever WSOP Winner, and I know that jerseys are fashionable among the kids. But tell me he didn’t look ridiculous, either in his scarlet Lebron James Cavalier jersey or the one he inexplicably wore at the final table, a Kobe Bryant USA jersey. We can debate whether Bryant is a rapist or not, but after reading the transcripts of what he told police there’s little to be gained in saying that he isn’t a colossal scumbag. I certainly wouldn’t want to be associated with him in any way, shape or form.
I don’t knock Froelich because he’s a bit rotund and doesn’t look like he’s capable of serious hang time. Truth be told, even if you have guns that look like Michaelangelo sculpted them you’re gonna look a bit silly wearing that Allan Houston (Allan Houston?) jersey. Because, and I know this is an obvious point, basketball jerseys have no sleeves. And for a man, maintaining your dignity in most social situations is difficult when you’re bare-shouldered. On the beach, sure. On the court, naturally. Loafing with your buddies, OK. But whether you can do 60 pushups in a minute or you never lift anything heavier than twelve ounces, if you wear a tank top around people who are wearing sleeved shirts in anything but the most casual of settings, eventually everyone is going to think that you’d look more appropriate dancing in a cage in a gay nightclub.
Froelich (and other people I’ve seen wearing hoops jerseys, including Phil Ivey) finesse this point by wearing a T-shirt underneath. This only complicates matters. Let’s say you’re wearing an authentic Larry Bird Celtics jersey. What color T-shirt should you wear underneath? Green? Yeah, I guess, though good luck finding a T-shirt that exactly matches Celtic green. Oh, you could just buy an official Celtics T-shirt too, but chances are it’ll have logos and script on it as well, and it might show through the jersey, and whatta dork you’ll look like THEN. How about white? No, ’cause then you run the risk that all that white will blend together into one besleeved whole, and it’ll look like the Celts patterned their unis after the Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team. Gray? Nope, too dingy. Black? Sure, wear black against white, and every stray hair, fuzz ball, and fleck of dandruff will stick out like you’re under a microscope. Pretty soon you’re standing in front of a mirror for 45 minutes deciding what goddam $8 T-shirt to wear under your $350 authentic game jersey. Teenage girls do that. It’s not for me, Jack.
Think to some of the great masculine heroes both in life and fiction. Humphrey Bogart didn’t wear a muscle shirt as he outmaneuvered the Nazis in Casablanca. Sean Connery did not sit at the baccarat table stylin’ in an Oscar Robertson jersey. Patton didn’t storm across Germany in a khaki tank top. And Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name wore a serape, not a sleeveless top.
I belabor the point, I know, but I’m fighting against the cultural tide here and I need to bring out the big guns. Football jerseys, yes. Hockey sweaters (they’re not jerseys, eh), definitely. Baseball unis, OK (and yes, I know lots of teams wear sleeveless shirts, including my Pirates, but they already have T-shirts designed to go with them and, besides, they cover the shoulders). Those are all fine for all occasions, save weddings and most funerals. But I ask that you think things through, carefully, before you pull that Carmelo Anthony jersey over your head.
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