Who Are You Rooting For?

I have six Terrible Towels. The regular one, the black one, the Myron Cope special edition, the Super Bowl XL edition, you get the point.

Obviously I only have two hands, so why the hell do I need that many?

Sports merchandise seems to be a great microcosm for consumer society. There are over $400 worth of jerseys in my closet. Which is to say, there are three of them. And I have no idea when the last time I wore one was.

I bought all these things and much more that I have since given away. Multiple stuffed Steelers footballs, two foot-long plastic Penguins hockey sticks, twenty-five bobble head dolls, a different shirt for every division, conference championship, and Super Bowl or Stanley Cup the Pens and Steelers have won, a 2-inch pig wearing a helmet that rode around in a football while holding a Steelers pennant. OK, so that last one was unique.

As I was buying all this stuff I was telling myself I was a bigger fan of the team than before. And a bigger fan than people who did not have whatever it was. This is, of course, insane.

I must not be the only one who told myself this because every professional sports team sells memorabilia. And yet, nobody needs any of this stuff. Fandom is about emotion. Victory or defeat is no sweeter or painful because of the shirt or the underwear you are wearing (I still have Pirate and Steeler boxers, but only because they are clothes).

So the next time you go to buy something with a logo on it, ask yourself if you really need it. Nobody is going to question your fandom if you do not have it, at least not if you are rooting hard enough.

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