Photo Credit: St.Louis Blues Twitter
The NBA and NHL Playoffs are into their respective conference finals and both have brought plenty of excitement. It is one of the best times of the year on the sports calendar.
While watching the playoffs, I have noticed one thing: many teams like to lay out T-shirts on every seat to give the fans and team a “theme” to rally around. Some have done this over many years such as the Golden State Warriors consistently giving away gold t-shirts to fans during their playoff games. However, when the game starts, roughly 40-60 percent of those fans are wearing the shirts. The Blue Jackets would alternate between blue, white, and gray t-shirts with “#CBJ” spelled out on the seats for the first round and “It’s Time” spelled out for the second round. For the second round, the shirts read, “First Round Victory Is Not The Goal,” a quote from GM Jarmo Kekalainen regarding the Jackets’ all-in trade deadline strategy. These have always looked great on social media before the games but fans refuse to wear them for some reason. Below are a couple examples of t-shirt giveaways from various teams around the NBA and NHL.
This would look amazing if EVERYONE or even say 85-90 percent of fans in the arena were wearing the shirts. For some NHL games, I cannot even tell that the team put t-shirts on the seats. Imagine being one of the workers that took the time to put thousands of t-shirts on the seats and knowing most of the fans did not wear those shirts.
Many fans just wear their jerseys when they have all regular season and preseason to wear it to their team’s games. That is over six months and roughly 45 games if you include preseason. If you are so afraid to leave your jersey at home then wear it anyway and when you get to your seat, put on the t-shirt OVER your jersey. If you cannot fit your shirt over your jersey (this may be common for hockey fans), then TAKE THE JERSEY OFF and put on the t-shirt.
In my opinion, the poorest excuse for not putting on the shirt is that it doesn’t fit. I am not a tall person, and the extra-large shirt I got at last year’s Cavs’ playoff game doesn’t fit me. You can do whatever you want with the shirt after the game. Whether a fan gives their souvenir to a friend, donates it, or keeps it as a collectible does not matter to me. The point is if you can do whatever you want with the shirt after the game, can you PLEASE wear the shirt at the venue?
As I write this, I know some teams’ fans wear the giveaway shirts close to, if not in unison, with Oklahoma City Thunder fans being an example. Winnipeg Jets fans and Calgary Flames fans wear their respective color without needing giveaway t-shirts, and the Winnipeg White Out may be the best playoff theme in all of sports. Lastly, fans who do not wear the shirts are not any less of a fan of their teams, but playoff themes look way better with full participation.
Playoff giveaway shirts are not meant to be an annoyance, they are meant to make the fanbase look united as their team competes for a championship. So the next time you are at your favorite NHL or NBA team’s playoff game, put on the free(!) t-shirt, and maybe the people next to you will follow suit. After all, I am pretty sure peer pressure works.