Jersey chasers, as we know them, tend to be female. They gravitate towards athletes from all walks of life — superstars and scrubs alike — to promote their own reputations against the backdrop of ephemeral friendships with equally-ambitious females based more or less on the cattiness of competition and status. That, or they just want to have sex with those athletic demigods who don the requisite jerseys. But I prefer the former definition because it was filled with bigger words and took me longer to write.
Be that as it may, I’ve often found fault with the traditional outlook on these usurpers of the uniform. While we critique women, fine creatures that they are, for their pursuit of these physically-gifted pantheons of humanity (translation: rich, athletic guy who will likely cheat on you at first opportunity because there are a million of you and only a few of him), we frequently ignore the presence of the male jersey chaser.
Yes, friends, the male jersey chaser does exist. And while he is often ignored by the masses, it is important that we pay him his proper due. For the male jersey chaser, in spite of an utter lack of acknowledgement, has maintained quite the stranglehold over the sports world for decades.
Now, contrary to what you might think, the male jersey chaser is not seeking a romantic endeavor from his prey, as his female counterpart has been known to covet. Unlike the fairer sex, who surely quantify their successful pursuits of the jersey by the amount of liquid lust deposited in and around their various orifices, the male jersey chaser is anointed by a handful of unique characteristics.
What do those characteristics entail, you ask? Fantastic question.
First, you have the irony of the male jersey chaser’s own collection of jerseys.
This cavalcade of replica sportswear serves as a testament to the MJC’s love of athletics, as well as a physical representation of the actual beings that the MJC is tailing.
The MJC has a tendency to don his imitation battle gear in any and all settings, paying no heed to the more socially acceptable situations in which your average sports fan would ordinarily wear a fake uniform: sporting events and themed parties essentially encompassing all such scenarios. No, the MJC is a rare breed. He views the jersey in the same light that Mister Rogers viewed the cardigan sweater. It’s more than just apparel; it’s a staple of everyday attire.
Second, you have the male jersey chaser’s horde of memorabilia.
Sure, every warm-blooded American male has a little baseball card collection as a kid. Some of us might even broaden that collection to include autographs or game-worn gear. The MJC, however, takes paraphernalia to new heights.
From stashing Jeff Nelson’s bone chips, to preserving Luis Gonzalez’s discarded wad of chewing gum, to carefully placing a wayward strand of Joakim Noah’s grungy locks in a fire-proof vial, the MJC arguably goes too far with his possessions. To the point of turning his man cave into a Ripley’s-esque museum of grotesque oddities that most of us would rather ignore.
Third, you have the dual faces of the male jersey chaser.
There are two prominent and very distinct types of male jersey chasers to be aware of: the Trailer Park Male Jersey Chaser and the Big Money Male Jersey Chaser, both very different in their roles and whereabouts within the male jersey chasing scene. Allow me to explain.
Your average Trailer Park MJC is a lightly-educated oaf who justifies an otherwise underwhelming existence with his passion for sport, and more specifically, sports teams. Whether it be the college or pro ranks, the Trailer Park MJC is blinded by the colors of his squad, going so far as to exude bald-faced ignorance when presented with bad news about his particular ball club.
The Trailer Park MJC is often spotted within close proximity of all events that are sponsored or hosted by his preferred franchise or school. He calls to players by their first names, regardless of how often he is greeted with relative dismissiveness. He befriends them on Facebook, follows them on Twitter, lives and dies by the character constraints on their reverent ramblings. He is, without a doubt, a stage five clinger. In lieu of family, friends, or normal social behavior, the Trailer Park MJC lives vicariously through the athletes he hounds, the bodies within those jerseys he so ably chases.
And then you have your Big Money MJC.
Save for that passion for sport and sports teams, the Big Money MJC and the Trailer Park MJC have very little in common. Whereas the Trailer Park MJC will hustle and scrounge for his jerseys, your typical Big Money MJC can simply afford to buy his way into those moisture-wicking garments of the athletes he desires.
The Big Money MJC is often thought of as a “booster” or “supporter” of the teams he pays homage to, funneling generous portions of his hard-earned paycheck into the pockets of athletic directors, front office personnel, coaches, and players on a regular basis. Rather than sidle up to athletes via the internet or beyond roped-off viewing areas, the Big Money MJC more or less buys his players by depositing the face of Benjamin Franklin right there in their ever-so-welcoming laps (I’ve heard that many a female jersey chaser’s face ends up in that precise area, as well).
In fact, one might liken the practices of the Big Money MJC to modern day slavery, though no one would be foolhardy enough to make that comparison because we all know how ludicrous analogizing something to the likes of unwillful servitude or, say, Hitler really is. So we won’t make that comparison. Even though one conceivably could do that. If they were so inclined. And, likewise, so brazenly foolhardy.
Nevertheless, there is certainly a part of the Big Money MJC that feels as if he owns the players who adorn the jerseys he chases. And that, above all else, is what fuels his desire to keep chasing.
So we have replica unis, weird memorabilia, and two very different social circles that help us identify our male jersey chasers. But what, pray tell, is so special about the jersey that makes these men chase in the first place?
Perhaps it’s that desire we all have as children to not just live the lives of our idols but become those heroes we worship. For many of us, that level of veneration does not ever cease, even as we transition into adulthood. While a female jersey chaser would just as soon trick an athlete into having her baby, a jersey chaser of the male variety would like to first be the athlete he pursues, and unable to attain that, at least befriend that athlete.
What the male jersey chaser does have in common with his female cohort is that quest for status, a perpetual struggle to one-up the people around him. It’s a facet of human personality, and irrefutably an underlying trait of a successful individual. To associate oneself with a person of vast repute is to be better than the next guy, and to be better than the next guy is something most men strive for.
There is a certain disingenuous malevolence to the act of jersey chasing in and of itself. But much like the way dogs chase cats, cops chase robbers, and rappers chase paper, jersey chasing, apart from everything else — and whether you’re male, female, or somewhere in between — is nothing more and nothing less than nature at work. You can’t stop it. You can only hope to contain it.