Published October 07 2012
What does your Minnesota sports jersey say about you?
On Wednesday night, the team plays an exhibition game against the Indiana Pacers, and it’s likely that many fans will be wearing their Love and Ricky Rubio gear in support.
At jersey store Sports City in the West Acres Shopping Center, owner Ron Gorde says he’ll soon be moving Wolves attire to the front of the store, expecting it to be a popular request in the days leading up to Wednesday night’s game.
It wasn’t always that way though. There was a time when wearing a Timberwolves jersey was more an ironic statement or throwback to the
past than support of a team that consistently stunk.
During the post-Kevin Garnett era, when the Timberwolves were among the worst teams in the league, many sports fans wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a Timberwolves jersey (if they could find one – things were so bad that most stores barely carried jerseys or shirts at all, Gorde says).
Until last year, that is.
With the emergence of Love as an elite player and the what’s-not-to-likeability of Rubio, the team is young and popular. Fans (finally) have favorite players to cheer for and attire around stores like Gorde’s is a little bit more plentiful.
The Wolves aren’t the only professional sports team worth cheering for, of course. Between the Vikings, Twins, Wild and yes, even the Lynx, there’s a lot of fan apparel out there.
But beyond simply rooting for a star player, what does it say about those who sport their favorite team’s color?
At Sports City, Gorde says Vikings, and other football, jerseys, are his best sellers, reflecting the sport’s immense popularity.
“You could add up (the sales of) all the other sports and it wouldn’t be close,” he says.
Vikings attire is the most commonly worn, but what kind of a statement are you making by wearing it?
For starters, fans who wear a Christian Ponder or Percy Harvin jersey could be seen as trendy – the team is off to a solid start this year, and those two players have had big roles in the success.
At the same time, wearing a Vikings jersey is definitely the safe choice – you’re almost certain to blend in with a sea of purple at the local bar on game day.
Even if you go with a lesser known, or more ironic, player such as Daunte Culpepper or Onterrio Smith (remember the “whizzinator?”), as long as it’s a Vikings jersey, you won’t be making that big of a statement.
The same thing goes for wearing a Twins jersey, which Gorde says is the second-most popular team attire at Sports City, selling consistently throughout the year.
Even though the Twins have had back-to-back miserable seasons, fans
still support the team. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau jerseys are still consistent hot buys (Mauer gear particularly among women and sideburn aficionados).
As the 2012 season came to a close this past week, though, some fans may have pulled out jerseys from a more successful time (think Brad Radke, Torii Hunter or Kirby Puckett), almost asking, in a quiet, sad and ironic way, “Remember the good old days?”
Hockey jerseys also sell pretty well at Sports City, Gorde says (particularly among Canadians who come down to shop over the weekend, he adds).
This year might prove different because of the National Hockey League’s lockout that just resulted in the cancellation of the first week of the regular season, which would have started Thursday.
Oh the promise that this season once held for Wild fans, thanks to the signing of big-name free agents Ryan Suter and home state hero and former University of North Dakota star Zach Parise.
Instead of buying jerseys to support their favorite players on a talented team, now fans choosing to wear Wild gear might be making a different kind of statement: Hope, that the season is not lost, and that their favorite player will once again take the ice.
Even though the WNBA’s Lynx are the biggest winners of Minnesota’s pro-sports these days, you don’t often see a Lindsay Whalen or Seimone Augustus jersey out on the street.
That’s probably because the team isn’t as well-known as other Minnesota pro sports teams, despite its march towards a second-straight WNBA championship (the Lynx recently beat the Los Angeles Sparks to advance to the WNBA Finals).
So, if you’re trying to make some sort of ironic statement by wearing a Lynx jersey as you might have done with a Wolves jersey in the past, you’re more likely to elicit a shrug than a laugh from passers-by on the street.
But perhaps you’re simply supporting your favorite player on your favorite team because you like how they shoot, throw, tackle or skate. That’s OK, too.
If you go
What: Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Indiana Pacers exhibition game
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Fargodome, 1800 N. University Drive, Fargo
Info: Tickets range from $12 to $190 and are available online at www.inforumtix.com or by calling (855) 694-6367.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535