Is wearing a hockey jersey childish?

Seems like the best excuse I'll ever have to use this photo with a post. I expect free insurance now, Safe Auto.

We had a pretty interesting conversation in the Morning Fly By on Monday (actually, we had a lot of conversations in the Fly By on Monday.. over 900 comments) about jerseys and what the proper etiquette is for wearing them, whether you're at the game or not. 

It's the opinion of frequent reader and friend "M" that wearing a jersey is... well, I won't put words in his mouth. Here's what he had to say:

...  I think anyone over 15 in a jersey is weird, unless you are playing of course. Just a quirky hang up of mine. A cool designer T or a cool pull over over something but a jersey is somewhat adolescent in my opinion. Feel free to kill me now. 

(He also said he doesn't want this to come off as him ridiculing adults who wear jerseys. Explanation below in the comments.)

Surprisingly to me, a few people agreed with him. I've always worn a jersey to hockey games when attending as a fan, and I've been to a lot of hockey games in my life. I've also always worn a jersey to Eagles games, although I can't say the same is true for Phillies and Sixers games. Usually a team t-shirt in those cases.

Still, I started thinking about it, and I've settled on the theory that it's a generational thing. No offense to M or those who agreed with him, but for the most part, they're over the age of 30 (ya'll just have more wisdom, right?). They grew up in the 80s or the 70s (or perhaps earlier), a time where jerseys weren't really worn by fans. Look at any photo or any video from a game before 1985 and you'll notice that most of the crowd are dressed in plain clothes, not team apparel.

Things are clearly different now. Individual players are marketed and their jerseys are a hot commodity, and at times, even a collectors item. The jersey you wear can say a lot about your fandom in an era where egos are a big deal and you always need to be "seen." A rare jersey says that, "hey, I know what I'm talking about."

That's precisely the reason why we respect the Caps fan in the Dale Hunter jersey and we make fun of the one in the red No. 8 Ovechkin jersey, right?

That's not to say every reason for wearing a jersey is a negative one.

I've always held the view that one of the main duties of a fan at a game is that someone should be able to tell your allegiance at first glance, unless you're a neutral observer. Wearing a jersey obviously makes that pretty clear -- that is, unless you're another frequent reader, Don, who wears his St. Cloud State Andreas Nodl jersey that looks a hell of a lot like a Montreal sweater to every game. 

So what say you? Is wearing a jersey childish? Is my theory correct, that different generations of people will view this question differently? 

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