One of the coolest things about being a soccer fan is that your wardrobe gets an upgrade almost every year. It’s not uncommon to see fans wearing their favorite jerseys to their local watering hole to take in a match and discuss the team’s form with fellow supporters. Some passionate fans have kept their kits for several seasons, while others opt to upgrade annually.
But why do we participate in the same ritual every year? As we continue with SB Nation’s Jersey Week, we dive into this topic of an annual jersey update that is so common in sports.
If you take a step back and think about the practice from an outside perspective, it’s really quite amazing. Clubs marketing departments appear to have supporters convinced that certain jerseys and team apparel have a life circle and are irrelevant when a new season begins. It becomes almost ritualistic.
The logical person knows this to be false. The fact is that the garment hasn’t gone past its life cycle. In fact, it’s perfectly fine. But the thought has entered your head that it might be time for an upgrade. You don’t want to be the only supporter in the bar not have the most updated jersey, do you?
Why are soccer fans so willing to commit their hard-earned money into a new shirt each year? What underlying reasons justify a fan’s investment?
Soccer fans have the luxury of seeing their uniforms change nearly every year. Some clubs experience a complete overhaul, while some iconic teams like Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus manage to keep their uniforms fairly consistent. However, these power clubs aren’t afraid to get creative when it comes to their second or third kits.
Just a few seasons ago Barcelona released a highlighter yellow kit for UEFA Champions League play. A far call from their traditional uniform but it gave fans an excuse to spend their hard-earned money to look like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, or Neymar.
While soccer jerseys don’t come cheap, they also aren’t the most expensive clothing on the market. The average replica jersey retails for between $80-$90. Authentic jerseys retail for approximately $150. This is certainly not chump change but justifiable if you are an intense supporter with some disposable income.
These tend to be a driving force in shirts sales as fans try to keep up with their club on and off the pitch. Soccer fans are loyal. If a company is willing to spend capital and put their name on the front of the shirt, diehard fans will reciprocate by purchasing the new top and sporting the new sponsoring companies brand front and center.
Keeping up with the Joneses
Game day doesn’t only signify a competition on the field but in the stands as well. Fans often compete to see who can be the most decked out and passionate supporter in the stands. Some may feel guilty about repping last year’s shirt to a match and thus feel obligated to upgrade the next chance they get.
We all know this person. You worry about their safety each time they open their closet as their shelving might not be able to support the sheer weight of soccer gear they possess. They are harmless but you respect their ability to crank out an Arsenal jersey from the early 2000s in the morning for Premier League action before switching to their MLS shirt by nightfall.
Soccer fans have various reasons for purchasing jerseys. For those who choose to get the new top every year, it’s almost a right of passage into the upcoming season.
Where do you stand? Do you buy the newest Columbus Crew SC jersey each season? Are you OK with being a year or so off? Let us know in the comment section below.