About a year ago, I went out on a blind double date with a friend of mine, his girlfriend, and her friend. It was bound to be an awkward night, and as someone who is often painfully shy, I was especially nervous about making conversation.
To my surprise, things actually started off really well. I kept up with discussions on everything from school to movies to philosophy, without saying anything too weird, and I quickly began to loosen up.
But then my date noticed the hockey game playing on the TV behind us.
“I like those red jerseys,” she remarked innocently, looking at the Calgary Flames uniforms. Now, I can’t recall exactly what I said in response, but I’m pretty sure it went something like this.
“Oh, those are their new thirds. They’re definitely a step up from their primaries. I mean, at least they don’t have that horrible piping or those flag shoulder patches. They’d look a lot better with the flaming “C” as the crest instead of that wordmark, though. I also can’t say I love the collar. Obviously they should go back to their ’80s look, without the black, full-time. . .”
I’ve never seen a face go so blank.
I quickly laughed and shifted to another topic, as I suddenly remembered that that level of passion for sports uniform aesthetics was something I normally kept to myself.
Of course, I’m well aware that most people couldn’t care less about the way athletes dress, but as strange as it may seem, the study of sports logos and jersey design is one of the greatest joys in my life.
Having enthusiasm for something, independent of what other people think, is a wonderful and unique feeling.
I first really got into sports aesthetics in my early years of high school, after I discovered online communities of like-minded weirdos. Researching and creating my own jersey ‘concepts’ quickly began to take up a lot of my free time as a teenager. It was definitely an odd obsession, and one I didn’t talk about.
Even though I would frequently spend entire weekends in 11th grade doing nothing but photoshopping together complex uniform ideas, I pretended to spend my time doing something a little more normal instead, like playing basketball, watching TV, or riding my bike.
But having a secret passion that was completely my own thing was precisely what I loved about being into sports aesthetics. Everything else I did — whether it was schoolwork, creative writing, or playing sports — felt like I did so primarily hoping to seek the approval of others.
Sports design was something that no one I knew had even the slightest interest in; it was, and continues to be, an interest based entirely around my own personal passion. Having enthusiasm for something, completely independent of what other people think, is a wonderful and unique feeling.
Although university has certainly limited the amount of time I can spend obsessing over and designing sports uniforms, I will never stop loving it. I’ll always be more excited about the chance to see the Pittsburgh Penguins wearing their throwback jerseys with real gold than I ever will about the chance to see Sidney Crosby playing in a game.
I know most people won’t understand that, and I really don’t need them to. If I want to relate to people, I still have plenty of knowledge about sports, movies, and Breaking Bad to rely on. My thoughts on how wide the stripes on the Carolina Hurricanes socks should be, on the other hand, is something I know I’ll probably only entertain myself with. And I like it that way.
I should probably wait until at least the third date to bring it up, though.