The below ad and subsequent shit storm appeared on Facebook this week, posted by one of Australia’s finest domestic sprinters of the past decade and former National Criterium Champion, Anthony Giacoppo.
The moment I saw it I knew there’d be more trouble than Dutch Corner during prohibition. And indeed there was. For whilst there are significantly more pressing and life-endangering issues confronting cyclists at this moment in time than fashion – the cowardly Melbourne ‘tacker’ is still at large, for example – the issue of who should and shouldn’t wear team and national kit is deep-seated and hugely divisive. The following rules come directly from the Velominati, no less.
Rule 16: Respect the jersey – Championship and race leader jerseys must only be worn if you’ve won the championship or led the race.
Rule 17: Team kit is for members of the team – Wearing Pro team kit is also questionable if you’re not paid to wear it.
Now looking beyond their Herculeanly (made that word up, sorry spellcheck) arrogant and autocratic tendencies for taking it upon themselves to become self-styled ‘keepers of the cog’ they do have a pretty good point. If you haven’t earned the right to wear it, it’s rather debatable that you should. When I first start riding I did indeed buy a few pro team kits myself. But I was noobie who really didn’t know any better. As soon as the penny dropped, however, I sold those threads on eBay as fast as I could. Nowadays there’s no way I’d wear a team/club kit unless I was part of that team/club. National and international kit is even worse of course and for me it just wouldn’t feel right at all. I couldn’t do it.
This is not to say I cannot see the other side of this story. For starters, as several folks have suggested why not buy them, get them framed and hang them in the pool room? I’d be well up for that (if only I had a pool room). But for those who do choose the wear them out on the road, is it really that big a deal? What about the millions of football fans who freely roam the earth wearing FC Barcelona, Milan and Manchester United jerseys? Gazillions of Americans wear their favourite NBA player’s singlets every day. And I’m reasonably sure there aren’t four million Sachin Tendulkars living in Mumbai, although that’s the name emblazoned across the back of their national cricket team shirts. These people show their support for their team and/or nation by wearing the jerseys of their team and/or nation. Why shouldn’t cyclists?
A few people on FB have pointed the finger in all of this at the vendor himself. But it’s not Giacoppo’s fault. As a top Aussie rider for many years now the poor guy must have old pairs of knicks and jerseys gathering dust in every nook and cranny of his house. I’d be looking to offload some of that stuff too and, hey, if he can make a bit of cash on the side, well good luck to him.