I own a purple Colorado Rockies tee shirt, with Tulowitzki on the back. It was a freebee when our chorale sang the National Anthem at a Rockies game.
I wear the shirt around the house, but never in public. I mean no disrespect to Tulowitzki, a great ballplayer, but I’m me, not him. I don’t expect him to advertise my name on his back, so why should I advertise his on mine? Why would I diminish myself by saying, implicitly at least, This is all I have to offer. I’m just a second-rate Rodney Dangerfield, pleading for a little respect.
Wearing someone else’s name is today’s idol worship, which did not work well for the ancient Israelites. They abased themselves to Baal and the Golden Calf, and all it got them was a tongue-lashing from the likes of Elijah and Jeremiah and Moses: Get off your knees, act like men, face the real G-d. But don’t utter his name, let alone (G-d forbid) embroider it on your tunics!
It’s a simple question of dignity and self-esteem. But it’s more. When you identify yourself so nakedly (clothedly?) with someone you know only from the playing field or the sports pages (hardly bastions of ethical probity), you risk walking around with a Pete Rose or a Lance Armstrong or a Ray Rice Kick-Me sign pinned to your back.
And what do you do when your idol gets traded, or retires? The saddest sight on the streets of Denver is the guy walking around, wearing a faded Carmelo Anthony shirt, now, five years after he abandoned the Nuggets for the Knicks, and led them to the bottom.
Who knows what five years will bring to all of you who’ve invested your hard-earned money in Peyton Manning wear? Even if he lives a life of perfect rectitude, what will people think of you, lost in a reverie of past glory that was none of your own doing?
Mother Theresa or Jonas Salk might be more worthy objects of our sartorial adoration, but they don’t resolve the problem of our prostrating ourselves before their altar.
There are, however, a few alternative solutions for those of us still eager to share our values with the public:
- The vanity license plate, which tempts us to make boastful assholes of ourselves, but at least does not reduce us to self-abasement.
- The YSL on our tie or the Hermes on our scarf, which quietly suggest class, not crass.
- My preference — the shirt or baseball-cap motto, which identifies us with a worthy cause and still preserves our amour propre. Mine is eloquent and timely, but also eternal:
MAKE AMERICA GRATE AGAIN