Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fan Foul: Wearing Neutral-Team Attire to a Game

So I'm watching the Yankees/Angels game yesterday afternoon, and something peculiar catches my eye. A ball was popped foul into the stands just off first base, and I spotted a guy sitting in the 2nd or 3rd row, decked out in authentic Padres attire, hat and jersey both. I guess he took a wrong turn on the way to San Diego, wound up in Anaheim, and figured he might as well still go to a ballgame. That's got to be the only explanation, right?

Unfortunately, no. There's an inordinate number of people out there who, when attending a sporting event, find it OK to rock the gear of a team who isn't even involved in the game. If it's just a hat, that's no big deal, since a hat is everyday attire that you can pretty much wear anyplace. I'm talking about being fully garbed - hat, jacket, jersey, etc.- in team apparel, wearing your undying support for a team other than the two that are playing right in front of you. I see, I get it, we are all now aware that you are a fan of Team X even though you've somehow procured tickets to witness a game between Team Y and Team Z. On the scale of annoying fan habits, this is very high, right above kids who wear their Little League uniform to a game, and right below anyone who tries to start a wave.

I remember being at a Cowboys/Eagles game back in '94 or so and standing in the bathroom line next to some whiskey tango-looking dude decked out in Steelers gear from head to toe, and that includes those "so terrible they were awesome" Zubaz pants that were all the rage 20 years ago. The thought that immediately crossed my mind was "if this guy is such a huge Steelers fan that he feels it necessary to dress like this, then why is he here for Cowboys/Eagles at the Vet when he could be watching his own team play as we speak?" And remember, this was way before you could follow an out of town game on your phone, the only way you could find out what was going on around the league was the score updates in the Jumbotron during timeouts and between quarters. I think that's what gets me the most - wearing a neutral team's apparel has an undertone of "this isn't the place I really want to be right now."

Can someone please explain to me why people do this? Is it some form of quiet protest to the fact that you're watching teams besides your own? Is it a way to disassociate yourself from the fans that you sit among? Is it some feeling of pressing obligation to wear fan apparel whenever setting foot in a stadium or arena, like it's some exclusive club that won't let you in if you don't fit the dress code? (By the way, if you answered "yes" to that last one, then you probably wore your NFL team's jersey last Thursday night for the first round of the draft, didn't you?)

It just looks stupid, like you're trying to force your allegiances on an indifferent group of people, or you're clamoring for attention because you're being different. Oh, so you're from St. Louis, taking a summer ballpark tour up the Eastern seaboard? That's great, hope you have fun, but that doesn't entitle you to wear a Pujols jersey to a Phillies/Braves game or an Ozzie Smith throwback to a Yankees/Royals game. No one cares that you're not from around here or that you're a Cardinals fan. They didn't buy tickets in hopes of meeting a Midwesterner, they came here to see a sporting event. I know you may feel a bit left out if your team isn't one of the two in the building, but it won't kill you to just wear normal clothes.

1 comment:

  1. This is made even worse when the neutral-team attire wearer (ntaw?) shows a clear rooting interest and tries to justify anything through a weird connection.

    Case in point, at last week's Yankees-Angels game I overheard a guy wearing an LA Dodgers hat saying "I don't understand why everyone was getting on me. All I said was 'Yankees suck, Let's go Angels'" behind the bleachers. If you're an Angels fan, step up and wear an angels hat. If your not, shut up and watch the game.