ELITE Sheffield Steelers Jersey

If you have walked around a city for long enough wearing a hockey jersey, someone will probably ask you about it. In some parts of the US, wearing a hockey jersey is similar to wearing a clown outfit, or a burka. You tend to stand out. For hockey fans, hockey jerseys are a social object. The jersey is the reason we are talking in the first place. If I weren’t wearing the jersey, we wouldn’t be randomly having a conversation in a bar or on the street. (and if it weren’t for twitter, facebook, blogs, new media, podcasting and everything else, we wouldn’t be talking like this, inventing new language to describe how we interact).

I get asked about my jerseys all the time. Some of it is genuine curiosity and interest, and some of it is rubbernecking at the guy who isn’t dressed like everyone else. It was the curiosity aspect that brought me this jersey. For those who didn’t know, yes they play hockey in the UK. From the British ELITE league, may I introduce the Sheffield Steelers:

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Look at those colors.

The story goes that I was at a Hartford Wolfpack game, and was taking a stroll through their gift shop, when I spotted a couple who were wearing jerseys I had never seen before. I had to ask them where these had come from, and they told me a bit about the ELITE league, which I had only heard of online at that point. They were from England, and spending time seeing hockey games in the US.

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That is some serious orange.

As I said me goodbyes, and was about a block from the fan store, I heard someone calling out to me. It was the woman I had been talking to, and she handed me this jersey. I really didn’t know how to respond. I was wearing my first game worn jersey and one of my absolute favorites, my Cincinnati Cyclones jersey, and couldn’t give that up. She just said it was OK, and to look them up sometime if I made it to a Steelers game.

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It was an amazing gift, more than I could imagine someone giving a complete stranger.

Some day, I want to take her up on that offer, and see them at a Steelers game. Maybe even take a tour of the ELITE league (now up from eight teams to ten). The only question will be, what to wear?