When I was a young fella I wore whatever hat I wanted to wear. It was usually based on color. I gladly donned a Sharks hat simply for the opportunity to wear teal. I think the Sharks won about 15 games and I lived 3,000 miles away from San Jose, but teal was teal. Also, did you see the logo? A shark biting a hockey stick in half? Sharks are hardcore. I’d also support random players I liked from non-hometown teams. I had a Suns hat in tribute to Charles Barkley. In fact, I had all manner of Suns gear including some really hideous 90s graphic tees. Wore them to the point of exhaustion. I never got any sh*t for the hats I wore back in the day. And, kids are mean. Someone might have said the Sharks were terrible, but there was no arguing the logo.
Of course, now that I am an adult my hat options have dwindled significantly. I can’t choose by color or logo anymore. A few years back I was meandering around a Lids and came across a hat similar to the one pictured above. It was all brown and had the fat, swinging Padre on it. I find the Padre amusing. He’s got a decent right-handed hack going. The Padres are in no way a bandwagon team, so I wouldn’t have to worry about that, but if I had decided to purchase that hat and threw it on top of my oddly large dome, I would have been peppered with questions. You from San Diego? What you like the Padres? You a Padres fan now? What, are you trying to be trendy? Is that pre-faded (expletive)? I obviously cannot handle all those questions, and so the hat remained on the rack.
I now only wear hats that I can defend. Are you a Phillies fan? Yes. Are you from Philly? Yes. It limits your options. I love the Flyers, but I don’t have many occasions to walk around in an orange hat. I guess I should feel lucky that the Phillies have red and blue pretty well covered. Navy goes with everything, right? I used to not really care about that either. In college I wore the same hat every single day of my existence. It was a Rockies minor league hat. It had a BR on the front instead of a CR, it was from the team in Bend, Oregon. It was originally black and purple, but it became indistinguishable shades of gray. I’m not sure it actually matched anything. I wore that hat because it fit (again I have a big head–the low profile era was my nightmare), and because it may or may not have been a good luck charm in Beirut.
Now, I don’t know if I could get away with the Beirut excuse. But, can you wear a Phillies hat every single time and for every occasion? Not really, and so perhaps the most important hat you can have in your arsenal is the neutral piece. A hat that isn’t affiliated with a team. A brand works well. I once had a generic Nike hat–perfect for all occasions. It could be Nike, or Titleist, or Under Armour if you need moisture wicked away from your hair. Another hat that works well in most settings is a good golf hat. A golf course logo is far less inflammatory than a team logo. Well, maybe that isn’t necessarily true, but as soon as you leave the grounds of the golf course you should be pretty safe. I had a Masters hat for a few years that was pretty much my staple at all non-Philadelphia sporting events I went to. I’m going to need a good hat for my member-guest I’m playing up in Boston this year. I don’t want to tempt fate, or inflame the locals by brandishing a Phillies “P.” (Actually, screw ’em, I’ll wear the Phillies hat).
Of course, I know this all sounds a bit ridiculous. As a kid I wore whatever I wanted and now when I should be more independent I am wearing a much smaller collection, but at the same time I do identify with the teams I put on top of my head and so I want them to mean something. It’s almost like I am making a deeper decision. No, I’m not wearing something because I like the color, or the logo, I am wearing it because this is the team I root for–and that is serious business. When I was a kid, I didn’t know my corn hole from my elbow, but now I know that a hat isn’t just a hat. You’re making a choice, so you gotta obey the strict hat laws. No excuses.