Dear Sports Fans…Stop Burning Jerseys
Dear Sports Fans,
Normally at the end of each calendar year, I make a list of things that I believe should not carry over into the new year. Previous entries to these lists have included labeling athletes Captain America, bat flips, and the Harlem Shake. A frequent mainstay of my yearly list is the Kardashians.
But as our calendar flips to July, I can't wait until late December to voice my displeasure with a trend I find ridiculous....the burning of an athlete's jersey when he dares leave town. Our own Samuel Garcia diagnosed your problem earlier this week, and I'm here to tell you exactly why this thing needs to go the way of the payphone and just die already.
The 2016 NBA Free Agency period has given average role players their very own Scrooge McDuck style money vault. We live in a society now where Allen Crabbe now makes more money per season than Stephen Curry...and no, I didn't make that name up. While this free agency period has kept many basketball player employed, it's also been a major boon to another industry....the guys who make lighters.
I don't know when or how this trend started, but for argument's sake, I'm going to pinpoint LeBron James's infamous "Decision" in 2010 as the starting point for this ridiculous phenomenon. Mere seconds after James declared he would "take his talents to South Beach", fans took the streets of the Capital of Rock and Roll, lighting their shirts bearing James's name ablaze, making the city resemble the set of an action sequence from The Thing. Never mind that these imbeciles were trying to put the ashes back together when James not only returned to Cleveland in 2014, but brought the city's its first title since the Dark Ages, but whatever.
The sensation has popped up several more times in recent years, but probably reached its peak this week, as not only did Kevin Durant, new Golden State Warrior, jerseys start several 4th of July grills and bonfires in Oklahoma City, but Dwyane Wade's threads across the South Florida area resembled the Miami Heat's red hot logo, as the Miami faithful turned his jersey red with fire, not the red he'll now be wearing as a newly minted Chicago Bull. (Our own Rick Chandler went into more detail as to why Heat fans burning D-Wade's jersey is dumb here)
Let me start by asking you, those who have partaken in this hooliganism....what in God's name are you trying to accomplish with this? Do you believe your jersey is some sort of voodoo doll that will cause the guy to trip and fall when he steps out the plane at his new destination? Do you think Kevin Durant sees some dude lighting his baby blue OKC jersey and goes "Aw Gee! That guy's burning my jersey! I guess I have no choice but to stay now!" It accomplishes nothing. No athlete has ever been swayed to say, nor has he been affected make your makeshift embers. Burning your jersey is less effective than Lil B's curse or whatever the heck that is (speaking of thing that should stay in a certain year...)
Trust me, I've been in your shoes before. As a Dallas Cowboys fan, there's a DeMarco Murray jersey that's gathering dust in my closet. Did the though of setting it ablaze cross my mind? Briefly, I'll admit. But then a little thing came to me...it was called common sense. I paid $69.99 for the thing...I might as well have taken $70 out of my pocket and lit that ablaze too. Second off, we forget that this thing is an article of clothing. Can't stand the sight of it? Do what you do with other clothes you can't stand the sight of...donate it! Surely, there's someone less fortunate than you that would kill to have an authentic team jersey, regardless of the guy's name on the back. Heck, if you want to, get (some) of your money back and stick it on eBay. People are already more than willing to make very, very, very stupid purchases on the world's biggest online garage sale, so your jersey should fetch a fine price. Heck, even the guy's scorned teammates want you to this crap, as Enes Kanter had a creative idea to not only give a Durant jersey new life, but to welcome a new teammate in as well.
Also, let's get one thing straight....these athletes don't owe you anything. You made the decision to buy that jersey. No one's forcing you to walk around in that thing. Jerry Seinfeld said it best that in the end "we're rooting for clothes". It's not like burning that jersey liberates you from some form of oppression. Besides, you the second that guy retires, it's going to be completely OK to like that guy again. You'll be wearing your D-Wade jersey in 2024 when the Heat inevitably host Dwayne Wade Night and put #3 up in the rafters. Packers fans, who had the decency not to burn Brett Favre jerseys when the gunslinger began his football odyssey in the twilight of his career, still wear Favre jerseys all around Lambeau to this day. So even if the guy doesn't come back, you look like an idiot.
Finally, to be perfectly clear...if some athlete leaving one job to accept a better is enough to make you break out into antics of the Human Torch...my friend, you have bigger issues. We live in a world where there's plenty of things to get angry about...yet you're angry that some millionaire went and took another job. It's perfectly fine to root for your team. Heck I hate when people go "imagine if people turned out for something mattered!!!!" when they criticize sporting events. It's when you get destructive...that's what I have a problem with. If the biggest problem in your life is some athlete leaving your team, consider yourself damn lucky.
So let's douse these flames and get back to positivity. Root, root, root for the home team. There's nothing wrong with that. Just don't burn the team's uni when one member walks away.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490
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