KRYSTEN OLIPHANT: As someone who grew up owning at least two different T-shirts representing all of my favorite teams (I now cannot count the number of LSU shirts I have…literally, I have one drawer completely devoted to them), I’m glad to see there’s some variety being put out there. I personally cannot stand the idea of taking a plain old T-shirt with a team’s logo and turning it pink, then calling it a girl’s shirt or jersey. (Thanks, Jessica Simpson, for setting us all back 25 years). I’m not really all about wearing the Texans’ or Saints’ logo on the butt of my jeans, just like I’m not cool with wearing sweatpants that say “Juicy” on the butt. Something about people staring at my butt to “read what it says” just doesn’t sit right with me, although I came to the disturbing realization the other day that I have some yoga pants with writing on the waistband. But I digress…
Anyway, I do like the idea of expanding NFL apparel to include more female-friendly patterns and logos. There’s a misconception that all women who like sports are big and ugly and butch, but we all know that’s not true. And while, sure, some women still feel more comfortable wearing a regular-sized jersey or T-shirt or sweatshirt to a game, there should definitely be the option to sport your team’s colors in something a little more flattering. Look, I’m all about t-shirts and sweatshirts. For Christmas one year, the best gift I got was a an old (original, not throwback) puffy Astros jacket in the God-awfully-awesome blue with orange, red and yellow stripes I still reminesce about seeing on the field. The jacket is huge, shiny, slick and puffy, and I freaking love it, even if I do feel a little bit goofy when I bust it out of the closet.
But I also buy purple-and-gold “game day” dresses and black and gold jewelry by the bag full for my normal, every day attire as well as my Saturday and Sunday teamwear. Call it sexist or whatever, but it’s genius, especially teaming with companies like Victoria’s Secret to sell it. Because it’s totally sexy now to be into sports, and nothing says sexy like Victoria’s Secret, right?
AKIE BERMISS: I find it kind of strange that its taken the NFL this long to put real effort into making good team apparel for women. Like Krysten, I find logos and words written across the butt to be alarmingly crass (I can’t imagine why anyone who wasn’t a stripper would want to wear a pair of pants that say “Juicy” across the butt!), but I do think there is something to be said for making something a little more… perhaps the word I’m trying to avoid is: feminine.
According to the Miami Herald, women make up about 44% of football fans. So, just a few percentage point shy of half. I think marketing to them is a no-brainer. I gather that the assumption that footballs is only for guys has a lot to do with the social conventions of the previous generation. These days its much more acceptable for women to be into sports. I grew up in a household where both my sister and mother regularly work sports jerseys. And not just on game day. Also, in Brooklyn, a lot of us grew up rooting for the Knicks and the Mets and the Giants and, indeed, the Yankees. And we all had Starter jackets, hoodies, sweaters, tee shirts — everything. Boys and girls. Now that works when you’re 12 and younger, but when we got older the girls basically had to choose between oversized jersey’s made for men or cutesy hot-pink renderings of their favorite team logos.
So I’m glad the league is teaming up with experienced Womens wear retailers. Hopefully this means we can avoid embarrassingly out-of-touch sexist designs (though you can never rule that out). And, personally, I like it when Womens wear becomes part of the picture. As classy attire starts to be part of the routine for women, maybe there will be some classier Mens options as well. You know, so its not just a goofy Knicks tie and a cap when you want to look nice but still support the team.
I say this is a great thing. Its long over-due. And, hopefully, no one botches it up. Maybe there will be fewer ridiculously sexist commercials during the superbowl.
Ok, probably not.
NAVA BRAHE: The first time I remember seeing a pink NFL t-shirt was my first semester of graduate school. It was 2002, and I was beginning the second leg of my “adult” education at Hofstra University. At the first meeting of one of my classes, I noticed a cute, petite blonde girl sporting a fitted pink New York Jets t-shirt; and a diamond engagement ring the size of a marble. She seemed nice enough, and I didn’t give it a second thought. It wasn’t until later that same day when I ran into the Chair of the English department, and was asked, “Is Wayne Chrebet’s wife in class with you?” My answer was, “Yeah, I guess she was the one in the pink Jets t-shirt.”
Pink and NFL attire generally don’t belong in the same sentence. I always thought that if you wore apparel sporting the logo of your favourite sports team, it was unisex. It never occured to me it would have to be “feminized” for the ladies. Now, there are women’s versions of NFL and other sports apparel; hell, I’ve even seen satin nighties with sports team logos on them.
Having never been a “girlie” girl, I can take or leave the whole NFL attire for women cateogry. Even the sound of it makes me think of one thing: the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Football games are the bastion of sweatshirts, jeans and sneakers. If you happen to be from Green Bay, add a foam rubber cheese-head to that list. In Dallas, I think all Cowboys apparel (not counting the cheerleader uniforms) needs to be scotch-guarded so it doesn’t get ruined from the inevitable projectile vomiting that is sure to ensue from 5 or 6 beers too many. It’s a bundle up or freeze your ass off proposition, and I’ve only been to 4 NFL games in my life. One of them happened to be in Buffalo in late November. Girlie attire doesn’t quite go with a stiff breeze blowing off the Niagara River (or is it Lake Erie? My geography sucks).
Give me an authentic jersey or cozy sweatshirt any day. And, please; not in pink.
SHANNON MCCARTHY: It used to be you didn’t have very many options for team apparel if you were female; you could go for a larger men’s jersey or you could opt for the largest youth size, but either way, you were getting a dress, and not an attractive one either. When retailers finally came out with jerseys and shirts that were more fitted for the female form, it seemed these only came in pink (or if not pink, baby blue). Why is that? Look, just because I’m female doesn’t mean I’m a fan of pink. And I don’t want any glitter or bedazzling (I’m looking at you, Alyssa Milano), and I don’t want a logo or team name across my booty either. Give me my team colors and just make the cuts more flattering for the female form – and not just the size zero, stick-straight form either (some of us have curves, you know).
Growing up with two younger brothers and strictly guy neighbors, I was a tomboy for the longest time, and I still love my jeans and and team sweatshirts, don’t get me wrong. But I also enjoy looking more feminine. Variety is great, which is why I love that there’s finally a focus on team apparel for women that doesn’t look like a five-year-old attacked it with her craft box or only comes in cotton candy shades. There’s also a difference between flattering and too sexy for the tailgate; I don’t want to wear something out of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’ locker room, either.
For the most part, the new female-focused NFL attire strikes that perfect balance. So bravo to the NFL for finally catching up. Now if we could only clue in the many guys who are still shocked to learn a woman not only likes sports, but actually knows a little something about them too.