There’s an epidemic sweeping through First Niagara Center and there doesn’t seem to be a cure. Counterfeit jerseys continue to show their ugly face in the arena and there seems to be more this year than ever before.
Perhaps the most unfortunate factor is that there is no precise way to address this growing trend. Most fans who are wearing fake jerseys – let’s call a spade a spade and just call them fake – have purchased them for the drastic cost savings compared to what you pay through NHL Shop or the Sabres Store. I’m sure there are fans who think the jersey they bought is in fact real and they’ve simply been duped, but I’m willing to bet those fans are in the minority.
There are a few things that really rub me the wrong way when it comes to fake jerseys. First and foremost is the fact that they simply don’t look good. At all. The entry image for this post is a really bad fake jersey and most at least look a tiny bit closer to what’s being worn on the ice. However, every other fake jersey still looks terrible and I’ve yet to see a fake NHL jersey that made me think it was close to the real thing.
No set of fakes look as bad as the phony 40th anniversary third jerseys, however. Whether you’re looking at the stripes, the crest, the numbers, nameplate or the colors, nothing beats a bad 40th third jersey when it comes to terrible fakes. Really, that’s what stands out most to me. Counterfeit jerseys just look terrible and the cost savings don’t outweigh how silly the jerseys themselves look.
Another factor to consider when you’re looking at $39 fakes on the internet is where your money is going. Purchasing a fake jersey only serves to support the guy selling it. The money doesn’t go to the team nor does it go to the player via hockey related revenue. Now, we can all play the tiniest of violins because millionaire players and billionaire owners don’t get their slice of a $150 jersey. However, the fact remains that when you buy a discount, fake jersey, you’re doing the exact opposite of supporting your favorite team. If anything you’re taking money away from the franchise.
I realize it’s hard to side with any sports franchise when fans are already paying an exorbitant amount of money on tickets and concessions to begin with. Millionaire players and billionaire owners aren’t exactly hard up for cash and whatever cut they get off the sale of one jersey probably won’t be the key to the next million they put in the bank. However, you really aren’t supporting the team at all by buying from eBay or at the flea market or where ever fake jerseys are found. You are supporting the guy selling you the jersey and no one else. I guess you’re helping yourself too since you’re saving money, but the chain stops there.
If you really don’t want to spend $150 or more on a jersey but you still want to show your team colors, buy something else in the pro shop. Grab a player t-shirt. I features the logo name and number of your favorite player at a fraction of the cost. You’ll actually get more run out of that than a jersey anyway.
Spotting fake jerseys isn’t too difficult. For the most part phony jerseys look so bad that you don’t need to look hard. However, if you aren’t sure what to look for, here is a crash course on how to spot a fake jersey:
- Stitching – Officially licensed jerseys will have tackle-twill sewn letters and numbers that will be flat and stitched directly onto the jersey. The stitching on counterfeit jerseys will look rounded and look more like embroidery and not true tackle-twill. The silver trim on the Sabres logo adds another checkpoint as most fakes butcher this feature.
- Font – The Sabres use a pretty normal block font that isn’t exactly unique. However, when you look at a real Sabres jersey compared to a fake Sabres jersey, it’s obvious. More often than not, the nameplate on a fake jersey features text that is much taller and wider than an officially licensed version.
- Logos and Numbers – In addition to bad stitching, another tell-tale sign is the look and feel of the numbers and logos on a jersey. Since fake jerseys aren’t manufactured to the same quality as an officially licensed version, the numbers and logos are often bubbled or wavy. This is easy to see from a distance or up close as both will likely have a heavier sheen than an official version and there will be obvious waves in the fabric. Here’s a great example that also features some brutal colors and striping.
- Colors – The colors are another dead giveaway when it comes to fake jerseys. Rarely are the colors accurate and the easiest way to tell with Sabres jerseys is to look at the gold, especially on the numbers.
There are other things to keep an eye on although these are related more to common sense rather than specific examples on a real jersey. For example, if your jersey has a fight strap on it and you only paid $25, you’re probably wearing a fake. Fight straps only come on authentic (the $300 versions) jerseys and fakes, so that actually works on two levels. If the stripes on your jersey start at your nipples, you’re probably wearing a fake. If you bought your jersey off the tailgate of a pickup truck, well, you get the point.
Many NHL teams have taken strides to at least inform their fans about counterfeit jerseys. For example, the Canucks and Canadiens each have assets on their website devoted to the cause. The Sabres haven’t made an effort to call out fake jerseys that I’m aware of. I’m not sure why they haven’t taken steps to at least inform people of the drawbacks of these monstrosities, maybe they’re hoping people will look in the mirror before they leave for the game and realize they look ridiculous, I’m not sure.
Obviously they can’t completely eradicate the problem. These counterfeit jerseys are everywhere and far more people are interested in saving a few bucks than looking foolish, it would seem. However, they could stop taking B-roll video of people in counterfeit jerseys for use in pre-game pump videos, the social media manager could stop tweeting and retweeting images of people in fake jerseys to try to turn the opinion on fakes. There is certainly a segment of the fan base who agree that fake jerseys are ridiculous, why not try to grow that sentiment and, in turn, drive more fans to buy team license merchandise?
Remember, friends don’t let friends buy fake jerseys.