Thumbs up to pink jerseys, thumbs down to the refs.

When I sat down to write about the very important controversy surrounding Pink and/or Sparkly Jerseys and their place in women’s team apparel, it turned out to be harder than I expected.

I waffled between something that sounded like a women’s studies thesis and a vaguely bitchy rant full of unfounded judgements, which I suppose is a pretty good cross section of my mind, but also doesn’t seem particularly fair.

So, like any good “reporter,” I hopped on Twitter and asked my lady tweeps to lay it on me: “Do you wear/own pink and/or sparkly team apparel?” The responses, which I’ll get into later, varied from predictable to eye-opening.

But I didn’t need to ask my tweeps to know that the Pink Jersey (or really any fan gear that screams, “Hey look! I’m a GIRL!”) falls right behind the Puck Bunny on the short list of things that polarizes female hockey fans.

It seems the Pink Jersey is, for many, a litmus test. Nobody says it, but the implication is that you can’t be a serious fan and be wearing pink team gear. Because if you’re serious about your team, you wear your team’s colors.

There are two aspects to the Pink Jersey issue: There’s the fact that it’s sold at all, and there’s the fact that people buy it. I’ve heard from merchandising folks that they sell what they sell because it sells! So, for me, the argument against selling it pretty much ends there. Capitalism, holla!

As long as there’s a selection of team-colored, women’s cut stuff for the pink-haters, then sell however much pink stuff you want.

But moving on to the fact that people buy it, here’s the scenario I assumed was how most of the pink apparel got sold:

Hockey-addicted boyfriends and husbands tired of being hen-pecked for wanting to watch hockey instead of “The Bachelor” think that if she learns to love the game and wants to watch WITH him, then he can watch more hockey. Boom!

It’s the equivalent of inviting your neighbor to your raucous house party so they won’t complain about the noise.

So, just to make sure they like it, they buy them the girliest looking team gear they can find to give as a gift, nay, bribe for their lady. “Look honey! You can like hockey, too! This sparkly shirt practically insists on it!”

Clueless bastards.

And while that may be how it happens in some cases, Twitter found me one fan who bought her OWN pink jersey. Jackpot!

Amy, a Wild fan, said she already had the white and red Wild jerseys (which she wears more often than the pink, BTW), so she bought the pink one.

So, I think to myself, she must just really like pink then. Do you tend to wear a lot of pink in your regular wardrobe, Amy?

“Heck no! I am SOOO not a girly girl.”

Yet you bought a pink hockey jersey?! Mind. Blown.

“I figured the hockey part evened out the girly part.”

So, I found a female fan who is die-hard enough to want a version of every Wild jersey available, doesn’t even wear pink normally, but bought and occasionally wears a pink jersey. That’s actually kinda bad ass.

I know it’s anecdotal, as Amy was the only one in probably 20 responses who copped to having bought pink team gear for herself. But at least for me, the assumptions I tend to make when I see a girl in pink team gear are a little less rigid, which is a good thing. Hater gonna hate slightly less now.

When Alyssa Milano doesn't even look good in this strange, shiny top, what hope is there?

Of course the skewing factor in this very scientific survey is that you’re probably not following me on Twitter unless you’re pretty damn serious about hockey, so I wasn’t going to get any, “My boyfriend bought it for me to have something to wear to games with him.”

Thanks for knitting me a hockey jersey, Grandma!

Still the majority of responses ranged from, “OH HELL NO!” to “Pink is okay, but sparkly can bite me” to “Sparkly is okay, but pink can bite me.” On the whole, the consensus was “anti-pink, anti-sparkle, wear your team’s colors, and don’t dress like a slut.”

But for those who enjoy pink gear, a quick survey of the NHL Shop indicates their heyday may be over. All the bellyaching from pink-haters seems to have gotten through to the league’s merchandise group and there are only 6 items of women’s clothing that are pink. Not even per team. I mean AT ALL.

Most stuff is, in fact, team colors and for the most part, completely lacking in sparkle. The critical failures I noticed were the Alyssa Milano items and the frumpy Reebok Fair Isle jerseys.

The new trend, now that we’ve whipped retailers into shape about pink and, at least somewhat, about sparkles, seems to be plunging neck lines: cleavage, cleavage, cleavage!

Stick tap to my friend, Chris Jerina, for finding this Texas Stars (AHL) offering: "Keeps your neck and head warm while showing off your rack." Double bonus!

And truth be told, boobs are awesome, so I’m 100% okay with this trend. But I live in a place that’s hot 80% of the year, so less clothing in strategic places is fairly practical.

Still, I have a feeling guys will be WAY more supportive of it than the ladies.

So, what say you, gals: Is putting your rack on display, along with your team pride, appealing to you?

Is it just another attempt by The Man to objectify us? Or are you okay with flaunting whatcha got down at the good ol’ hockey game?

Will you northern gals all catch your deaths of cold? Want NHL Shop to knit you a nice pink scarf for you?  *ducks & runs*

(Big thanks to the everyone who responded to my call for input, especially to @FantamAmy, @stacy_814, @Esbee92, and @1st_round_pick.)

Comments (25)

  1. I like looking feminine while showing off my love for my team. I don’t mind a woman showing off “what she’s got” as long as I don’t feel like I need to cover my kids’ eyes when she walks by. I do mind NHL shops assuming that the only way to be feminine is with pink or sparkles or cheesy crap like that Fair Isle abomination. They say they sell what people buy, but I can only buy what they make available to me, and there’s just not a whole lot that’s in line with current fashion trends, feminine, and hockey. So I make do with what I can get, which is T-shirts and jerseys.

  2. Thanks for the heads up, I almost fell into the pink trap for Christmas this year.

  3. I’ve always said the pink jerseys are only for those under the age of 12 and over the age of 65. Somehow girls/ladies of those ages look cute, while females ages 13-64 just look “mostly dirty” as my husband says.

    I want to dress like a girl, but I would be a mass of goosebumps in that Stars shirt at a hockey game in Minny. So I stick with multiple layers in team colors.

    BTW – can I give a big thumbs down to Mardi Gras beads, too? I always wonder who that 60 year old, 300 lb man flashed in order to get them.

  4. I’m glad that the NHL is catching on that pink or sparkly isn’t necessarily the best way to market NHL swag to women. Maybe one day they’ll come up with fashionable, feminine gear consistently.

    However that Fair Isle jersey is ridiculous, as an actual knit sweater though, it might be kind of awesome. Or at least with some logos.

    And that Stars shirt looks like it should only be used in the case of layering. I’m all for looking good at a game but there are children present…

  5. I wear pink in my daily life, but not pink sporting apparel. If I wear something to support a team, I feel it should be in the team colors. Although, perhaps pink would be a good alternative if the team colors are truly hideous…

    While I don’t mind occasionally showing off the girls, I wish they just made more t-shirts cut for women that don’t force me to show them off. That way I wouldn’t have to buy a mens shirt that is too big everywhere else just so the girls have enough room. :)

  6. Ms. C: Take a look at the new for this season, Black Ice jersey collection on NHL.com.

    For some reason, these offend me more than the previous pink/black sparkly jersey options designed for women. Is Reebok going to suggest a gimmick game some night of the entire game being played under a black light? Neon highlights?

    /scratcheshead

    I guess black is more “slimming” than white/pink?

  7. Count me amongst the pink haters. I find it insulting. “Girls will only like hockey if we make PINK clothes for them!” Give me a break. If you’re going to support you team by wearing apparel, team colors is the only thing that makes sense.

  8. And please excuse my typo as I posted that from my phone. Oops

  9. I will put a cami or a turtleneck or long sleeve t-shirt under a shirt that shows too much cleavage for my taste. I would much rather they make cleavage flashers that I can “fix” to my liking, than the pink and/or sparkly crap.

    Team colors all the way unless it is a special small something for breast cancer awareness. I admit fully to having one of Harding’s Fund The Fight bracelets.

  10. So my buddy that bought the teams pink jersey after the game at the auction and wears it quite often to the games needs help and I am well vindicated in my taunting and harsh words directed at him. Cool.

    • Was it a charity auction? Does he like the jersey?

      If so, you’re actually kind of a jerk for berating him for it.

  11. My only problem with pink and/or sparkly is when it’s the *only* option, because it’s not an option I’m going to buy. I have refused to wear pink in my daily dress since I was 8, though, so it’s just not for me.

    And I still find that the women’s jerseys, even in team colors, don’t fit me correctly. I end up having to buy a youth large. The sleeves are a little too short, but at least it fits like a jersey.

    I much prefer the cleavage options as well. At least you can put something over or under it if you don’t want to flash that much cleavage. (I don’t have that much to flash anyway, so it’s usually not a problem.)

  12. The pink and sparkly jerseys seem, at least to me, to be part of a larger endemic of the split between masculine and feminine in marketing now.

    On the one hand we have those completely moronic Dr. Pepper 10 commercials telling us that action movies, and this drink, are for men only. Then on the other we have these women only pink sparkle jerseys as opposed to the normal, “masculine” jerseys. (These are only two examples of a much wider pattern in advertising).

    This push for a “reclamation” of masculinity is all well and good, soothe your bruised male egos to your hearts content, but could you please please please stop using it to create an us vs them dynamic that excludes the possibility of a girl being both feminine and liking sports or action movies?

    I don’t particularly like being told what to do and I especially don’t like people gendering me without my input. I don’t want people expecting me to wear low cut tops and pink sparkly things because they’ve been socialized to include them in their, limited, idea of femininity.

    That being said I don’t really care if other women are wearing this gear. Women doing what they want and wearing what they want is kind of the whole point of feminism, yeah? I just don’t want people to think that this hyper feminized gear is the ONLY option for women to wear in order to participate in the sports fan base.

  13. Also put me down as not being a fan of the pink, but if people want to spend their money on it, fine. …so long as I can get things in my size in team colors.

    They are doing more of that now, but that just means that they’re finding new and exciting ways to produce the ugliest shit around. (Although that’s not limited to women’s gear.) I don’t even mind the cleavage bearing stuff, because I tend to wear my jersey to the game, and having team branded stuff I can wear elsewhere is a nice option.

  14. As a guy, I would NEVER buy the Pink/Sparkley crap for my wife – I respect the sweater too much. Then again, I’m a uniform geek and get pissed off in Rec League with teams who dont have matching sweaters or socks so I’m certainly an odd ball to begin with

  15. Alyssa Milano wearing the Spoked B. Shoot me now.

    I don’t own an article of pink clothing. Oh wait, I have a couple of pairs of pink underpants. They were on sale. I loathe pink. I’m a Bruins fan, dammit, and we wear black and gold. But if I were a Flyers fan, I’d wear orange, even though I hate orange more than pink.

    If you’re going to be a fan, wear the colors.

    Pink. Ecch.

  16. Unless your 12 or under I don’t like the pink. That being said I also have a problem with much of the clothes that are “womens cuts”. When a shirt that says XL barely looks bigger than a small there is a huge problem. Even in my thin high school days (oh how I miss those) I wouldn’t have been able to fit one boob in those cleavage showing shirts, then you put decent size shoulders (and a slightly pudgey tummy) in the shirt and I might as well be wearing wild color sausage casings. If the womens cuts had a plus size category I might feel more inclined to think they were ok, heck, I might even buy some for casual wear or to wear under my old style green Walz jersey, but until then I can only envision hoochies wearing them.

  17. Next year’s catalog, men’s section:

    His skinny jeans with team logo embroidered on the back pockets!

    Team colors banana hammock! (Euro or Jersey Shore cut)

    Team logo Micro-briefs! (poly-cotton blend)

  18. I think one thing that factors into some of the changes in apparel is the realization that hockey fangear (for men and women) isn’t always expected to be worn at the rink. NHL in general has been demonstrating a rising trend toward less-flashy “team” items – for men, wallets, ties and cufflinks were all part of this fall’s shop.nhl.com catalog. Subtle seems to be “in”, probably as a logical attempt at broadening the market.

    With hockey getting more popular and visible, suddenly warm-weather clothing becomes a much broader canvas upon which to paint, and in addition it allows for further advertising of the team brands from the NHL’s perspective.

    Question – in any of your queries, did the issue of Breast Cancer Awareness jerseys (and, by extension, the lavender Hockey Fights Cancer gear that’s definitely in the “girly” color scheme) come up? Because that’s pink gear that most people wouldn’t consider as part of the normal frou-frou category. I’ve seen several men and women wandering around the Giant Center in Hershey wearing the neon pink splatter-paint design from this year’s Pink in the Rink.

    As a woman with a bit more up top than she’d like, I’m in the position where I don’t mind showing off my assets, but there are practical drawbacks to some of the lower cut items (granted, I think the shirt you included above is actually designed to be worn over a tank top, so not quite as revealing as it looks at first glance – layering, and all that). Of course, I also work at an ice rink, so generally low-cut is reserved for special occasions not involving my day-to-day life.

    • Yeah, I actually looked at the NFL Shop to see how they compared in terms of pink stuff, and they have HUNDREDS of Breast Cancer Awareness items that are flaming Barbie pink. The cynical side of me feels a little weird about that. I dunno. I left it out entirely, but yeah, there wasn’t much for sale in terms of cancer awareness on NHL Shop.

  19. Dear lord, I know someone who would probably buy a MN Wild banana hammock! Let us hope it NEVER happens!

    I’m not a fan of the pink unless it’s a charity jersey. I do like branded women’s wear, but nothing that’s cut like a Halloween costume (“slutty maid”, “slutty nurse”, etc). Sometimes it’s nice to wear something other than a jersey or a generic cut t-shirt and still support my team.

  20. One other element which none of us female fans tend to look at, but from a marketing standpoint, we’re a done deal. It’s the same with groups like Scarlet Caps (the female-oriented marketing arm of the Capitals PR department) – they’re targeting the portion of the population who isn’t already spending money on NHL items (and, by extension, the people who buy gifts for said population).

    Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?

    Women who are adamant about team colors and traditionalism in the fanbase will buy men’s jerseys or replica jerseys or, in some cases, women’s cut jerseys. Heck, I personally find Youth L/XL jerseys to be a really good alternative when I’m looking for something not available in a women’s cut (like a third jersey). From an investment of resources POV, we’re not worth catering to, because we’re already shopping.

  21. Yes, I am the Amy from the article…I am a loud and proud Wild Fan.I am most comfortable in one of my Wild Sweatshirts and jeans, and I don’t wear dresses or high heels unless I am going to a wedding or a funeral. BUT, I do own a pink jersey. I really just got it so I could have a little better cut, as much as I love the red and green, there isn’t much flattering to a woman in those colors out there. I personally wouldn’t wear something sparkly, but I am not going to criticize someone who does. I don’t think that the colors on the jerseys they wear make them less of a fan, if they are out supporting their team, I don’t care what they wear (with the exception of the banana hammock,eww).

    And FYI, I am pretty bad-ass, if I do say so myself… :)

  22. Gotta say, I’m all in favor of the banana hammock thing. Wrap it up! Go team! :D

  23. As an astute observer of the game I have noticed an uptick in cleavage-revealing tops by women who sit in the row directly behind the team bench. As a member of the less fair sex I wonder if this is a premeditated attempt to get ‘the girls’ some TV exposure. Any thoughts? …Sure beats the ‘Bad Boy Bail Bonds’ apparel!

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