When attending games, fans often wear clothing affiliated with the home team to show their support. They’ll put on a hat, t-shirt, jersey, or their favorite player’s hair to show that they’re proud to be a fan of their local team.
Likewise, courageous fans of the visiting team often wear clothing representing their squad to make sure that everyone in the stadium knows where their loyalties lie. It’s a sign of a true fan that you’re willing to wear your team’s logo knowing that you’re going to get booed for the majority of the game.
But there is a third type of fan—a fan who inexplicably wears the gear of neither the home team nor the visiting team. He or she is the victim of Annoying Fan Behavior #4: Sporting the Apparel of a Team That’s Not Even Playing.
And for some reason it’s always the last team you would think of. Who shows up to a Lakers-Celtics game wearing a “Washington Wizards Basketball” long sleeve Dri-Fit?
As with any rule, there are a few possible exceptions.
First, if you have ever played for, or worked for, any professional team, you are always entitled to wear any free gear that you were given by that team. If that item is something you can only get by working for the team, you’re almost required to wear it.
Second, if your favorite team has some vested interest in the game, even if they’re not actually playing in it, you can show your support by wearing their stuff. For example, when the Red Sox lost to the Orioles on the last night of the 2011 season to complete their epic collapse, it would have been appropriate for a Rays fan who happened to be in Baltimore to wear a Rays hat to the game and join in on laughing hysterically at the Boston fans who made the trip down.
Third, wearing the gear of any other local team of a different sport is also permissible*. For example, if you go to an Atlanta Hawks game but you’re not really a huge basketball fan, it is okay to wear a Falcons jersey. At least you’re still supporting the city and showing that you at least have some idea about what’s going on.
*Obviously not the same sport. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t be wearing White Sox gear to a Cubs game unless they’re playing the White Sox. Or if you feel like getting beer poured on your head.
Basically AFB #4 highlights those who show complete disregard and disrespect for the teams playing by choosing to wear indiscriminate sports apparel to a game.
Sometimes it’s a guy who owns one jersey and is determined to wear it no matter what the circumstances. A lot of people jumped on the Heat bandwagon when LeBron James signed there, so I see a ton of LeBron jerseys at games that have nothing to do with the Miami Heat.
More often than not it’s a young man whose hat’s primary purpose is fashion and not fanhood. I remember distinctly when my friends and I went to a Phillies–Nationals game in Philadelphia a few years ago. None of us are Phillies or Nationals fans (my buddy was in grad school in Philly), so obviously we wore neutral clothing. My friend from St. Petersburg, a huge Rays fan, saw a twenty-something man wearing a Rays hat and shouted, “Yeah! Go Rays!”
The guy stopped, looked at him like he had no idea what he was talking about, and kept walking. It was obvious that the gentleman’s hat selection had nothing to do with the team it displayed. He probably didn’t even know he was wearing a Rays hat.
That man is the impetus behind this rule. If I knew his name, I would name it after him.
So when you go to a game please be sure that you’re wearing the apparel of the home team, the visiting team, or no team at all. There’s nothing wrong with a standard navy blue polo shirt and some khakis. And if you really, really, have to wear team gear, just pick up a $5 t-shirt from the guys outside the stadium. It will save you way more than $5 in embarrassment.