If you were to walk down a crowded street and count the number of basketball jerseys you see people wearing, it wouldn’t surprise you how many you saw. For decades, it has been a popular fad to wear your team’s jersey. Whether it is a fashion statement or a way to express your team pride, people wouldn’t think twice about your choice to wear basketball attire.
It didn’t used to be that way. In the ‘60s and 70’s, it was still unfashionable to wear the uniform of a basketball player. For years, no one took too much pride in their teams. In pictures of games from those eras, you can barely find a fan dressed in their teams’ colors. And some of those people might have matched the team on accident. So when did basketball steal the hearts of Americans and persuade them to imitate these all-stars?
We can’t point to one specific year and say “this is where it all started!” Just like with any fashion trend, basketball jerseys slowly crept into society, fan by fan. In the ‘80s, during the reign of Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, America started to pay a little more attention to basketball. With two stars that became role models, basketball uniform trends started to creep into fashion. Before Jordan’s publicity, the average basketball uniforms had mid-thigh length shorts. Jordan asked for longer shorts and fans noticed. Around this time, women also started to wear tank top jerseys. With these new changes, uniforms were more fitting, flattering, and therefore more likely to make an appropriate shirt for an average Saturday out.
Not long afterward, people started to wear jerseys to game. Fans saw the players as heroes, as role models worthy of emulating. By the early 1990s, basketball crowds were filled with color-coordinated, jersey-covered fans. Professional and college basketball trends were spreading to the general public. Outside of games, popular jerseys were donned over oversized white t-shirts. Basketball shorts were available at your local sporting goods stores. Today, the basketball uniform trend has expanded across the country and created a greater passion for the sport. Americans have figured out that the best way to show your team spirit is through novelty jerseys and matching colors.