Sunday, January 21, 2024

23 and Me: How and Why We Wear a Sports Jersey

One of my favorite scenes in "Silver Linings Playbook" is when the main character Pat Solitano, played by Bradley Cooper, asks his therapist for wardrobe advice. Thanks to IMDB, the conversation is here. 

Pat: Hey, my friend Ronnie is having this party on Sunday night and it's like a real hoity-toity thing. And his wife Veronica is a real stickler for... I don't know. My mom got this Gap outfit she wants me to wear, but I want to wear a jersey that my brother Jake got me from the Eagles.

Dr. Cliff Patel: Which jersey?

Pat: DeSean Jackson.

Dr. Cliff Patel: DeSean Jackson is the man.

Pat: Well, that settles that.

Choosing what to wear is one question, but when it comes to donning a sports jersey—deciding who to wear is another. And, as a sports fan, I think it is one that deserves careful consideration. Here's how. Here's why.

On Saturday, January 20 the San Francisco 49ers played the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional playoff game. Instead of joining friends at a local bar or my golf club. I caught all I could at my parish crab feed. I knew the dress code varied—semi-casual to slightly dressy—but I felt the time was now. Move over DeSean Jackson, it was time for #23, Christian McCaffrey.

I received my first and only football jersey this Christmas from my brother. When he asked what I would like for Christmas I suggested a couple of options related to the Niners. I thought he would opt old school, but instead he went big. So big, that I brought his gift with me to school to show my students. I was nervous and I was excited. As I unfolded the red and white, several of them said "that's sick." Read: awesome. Thank you, Mark!

I don't have it in me to wear clothing or gear of a team that I cannot stand behind. I won't wear anything with the name of a another school; I know who I am and I know who to whom I am loyal. For example, last weekend when I traveled to Duke University, I enjoyed my time in their bookstore but no purchase was made. One might want to get a hat or a shirt as a way to remember their trip—I get that, but it's not my style. Therefore, wearing something as official and specific as a player's jersey means a lot to me. 

I wrestled with several options, before I committed to the CMC jersey. I like so many of the players—past and present. I thought Should I go with a legend? or a player with a connection to Notre Dame? Am I partial to offense? Why not go defense?! I took my time and thought about who I want to represent. I asked myself, Who can I stand behind?

In short, I love McCaffrey's game. I don't know how the man makes so much happen on the field. His scoring, rushing, defensive and receiving stats are off the charts. His athleticism is unparalleled. I am in awe of the ways he breaks the tackles and gets open, how he gets back up time and again keeps moving. While I'm not a Stanford fan, I do appreciate what one of his former college coaches said about him. "Christian does the small things incredibly well. It's no surprise to me how all of that adds up. His game is the way it is because of his incredible attention to detail." I love his insight and admire his observation. From that point on, I decided: No DNA required, it's 23 and me.

After mass today, I saw the head chef and leader of the St. Vincent de Paul men's club crab feed. I thanked him for a great meal and another wonderful gathering. He said "I loved your McCaffrey jersey." An alum of St. Ignatius, I told I brought it to school and showed my class. He replied, "it is sick. It's awesome. Let's go Niners."

Photo Credits
Pat Solitano