Every year, clothing companies mass-produce replica jerseys of some of the biggest names in sports. Every year, sports fans the world around purchase these jerseys. And every year, without fail, a handful of the men who inspire these jerseys fall farther and farther out of relevance, spiraling downward into a pit of despair filled with bitterness and loathing.
We buy the jerseys of players that have been great leading up to this moment or may be great later on. We buy knowing that we’re making an investment in the future that may not pay off. We buy because our fanaticism overtakes our ability to make rational decisions.
Replica jerseys have really only been relevant for about two decades. Prior to the early-’90s, the jersey fad had yet to catch on. But with the advent of cheap polyester and screen printing, lifelike uniforms could be had by the vast majority of us. And thus a movement was born.