01 April 2009

The Shirt

This is the text of a speech delivered at Trinity University on March 27 as part of the 2nd annual Timothy Isom fund-raising banquet. Dozens of soccer jerseys were auctioned off to raise money for a memorial. Isom died suddenly at the age of 22, just after his graduation from Trinity.

The shirt

Soccer’s great poet-historian Eduardo Galeano recounts the tale of a Gimnasia de La Plata fan who, knowing he was going to die, asked to be buried in the shirt of their bitter rivals, Estudiantes de La Plata. His lifelong friends, shocked that he would betray them at the end asked, ¿por qué?. He responded: so I can take one of those bastards with me.

From a distance, you can tell this is a soccer shirt. It’s not a Hawaiian, or a polo, or a tee, it’s a soccer shirt. It has a badge, distinct colors, a history. Sure, it has a sponsor and a globally recognized corporate icon and is probably manufactured in a sweatshop, but it’s stylish, comfortable, embodied, laden with meaning. You have likely seen this shirt before, in person with tens of thousands, or tele-visually with hundreds of millions. You are receiving messages; the shirt is doing the talking, it awaits your response.

Manchester United formed in 1878, when Florida was still a Spanish possession. Arsenal first took the pitch in 1886, the same year Geronimo surrendered his guns after 15 years of resisting the U.S. army. Liverpool first kicked about in 1892, just as British ships left ‘Pudlian docks for the Opium Wars in China. Chelsea arrayed themselves on the pitch in 1905, prompting Einstein to propose his theory of relativity. Red Devils and Gunners, Reds and Blues their histories contained within the collective memory of those who have worn and loved the shirt. The shirt is talking to you more than it was a minute ago.

Lao Tzu (sage footballer that he was) was asked by a student how he could best demonstrate love for his team. Master Tzu, who practiced a form of goalkeeping known as “saving without diving”, replied: score goal, kiss shirt.

One of the greatest signs of respect in the beautiful game is to trade shirts with a worthy opponent. With this act, you give your number, your shield, your identity, your sweat and blood, your shirt for gods’ sakes, to your adversary; a mutual exchange that years later, when you find it in your bottom drawer, you will remember the man, the moment, the game, the stadium, the result. The shirt gets heavier by the day.

Shirts bring us closer to those who see them hanging in their lockers. We buy their likeness so we can be part of the team, even though we could never play for it. The Argentines respect the shirt of the fan more than that of the players, because the fan will wear it for longer. You may easily pull one on, but it may be impossible to take off.

It is time to call it what it is: a complex symbol of multivariate interaction that both defines and transforms the individual while communicating socio-geographic messages of identity, place, and meaning. It is a symbol, a fashion statement, encapsulated history, a marker of identity, a sense of belonging, a memory, a man, a teammate, a son who is no longer with us.

Shirts. What do they tell us?

FIFA thinks they are so sacred that you can’t take one off in joy or anger. Referees tell us to tuck them in, opponents pull them to gain advantage, they expand in the middle over time. Archaeologists may have discovered that the shirt was born when a group of cave dwelling lads decided to go out hunting rabbits. “What shall we wear to hunt rabbits?”, they asked. “How about a shirt?”, they answered. It is unclear what the rabbits wore.

A shirt does not only function in one direction. The shirt takes everything you will give it: your heart, sweat, blood, passions, your life. Ideally, it comes to represent that which is best in us, shows us our limitations and helps us to overcome them through a collective commitment to something greater than ourselves. Although it is not necessarily a badge of courage, the badge is worn with courage (especially in enemy territory). It is defended and honored and kissed and held high. When a sea of fans transforms a stadium with their shirts, they become greater than the sum of their parts – they create and participate in history.

Tonight we ask you to think about the value of a shirt. You can walk into any soccer store and pay $80 dollars for any shirt you want, scribble a name on it and Bob’s your bloody uncle. The shirts collected here tonight are special because they come directly from the grandest temples of the beautiful game. These shirts have touched human greatness, handled personally by the earthbound gods of our time. Their namesakes have performed on our brightest stages for incredible stakes. This is a chance to touch that, to wear it, to feel the power of the shirt.

These shirts represent the apex of an entire complex of relationships, spaces, places, and events. Right now, in Manilla and Marfa, San Antonio and Sao Paolo, Durban and Dublin, there are millions of kids practicing, dreaming that one day they will pull on one of these shirts in a competitive match. They have been doing so for more than a century.

With this global context in mind, these shirts are much more than they appear. They are powerful symbols recognized the world over. Tonight they take on extra significance, an extra level of respect and meaning.

We are brought together by the shirt, the team, and the community that meant so much to Tito. Tito wears the Trinity shirt in his final resting place. To remember his life, his love for the shirt, and what he gave to us, we gather to create place, to build a stadium, to erect a memorial so that those who follow will better understand the meaning and memories behind the colors.

We are here to honor and remember those who have worn the Trinity shirt, lived with this second skin, been marked by it and left their mark on all that follow. This is a Trinity University soccer shirt. This is me, this is you, this is us, this is Tito.

1 comment:

College Term Papers said...

Awesome post. Keep more information like this coming!

Labels

2014 World Cup Rio de Janeiro Maracanã FIFA 2016 Olympics 2016 Summer Olympics Eduardo Paes CBF Copa do Mundo 2014 Rio de Janeiro Olympics Ricardo Texeira World Cup 2014 Vasco da Gama 2010 World Cup White Elephants mega-events APO UPP BRT Brazil football Flamengo Lula Orlando Silva violence ANT Aldeia Maracana Carlos Nuzman Dilma Eike Batista Rio 2016 Sergio Cabral 2007 Pan American Games Campeonato Carioca Corruption IOC Jerome Valcke Novo Maracanã stadiums BOPE BRASIL 2016 Brasil 2014 Engenhao Joao Havelange Maracana Policia Militar Vila Autódromo Aldo Rebelo Botafogo Henrique Meirelles Medida Provisoria Metro Revolta do Vinagre Sao Paulo Sepp Blatter World Cup 2010 forced removal Carnaval Elefantes Brancos Fechadao Marcia Lins Minerao Morumbi Odebrecht Porto Maravilha Rio+20 Romario Security Walls South Africa South Africa 2010 TCU Transoeste protests public money public transportation slavery transparency x-Maracana Andrew Jennings Argentina Audiencia Publica Barcelona Brazil Carvalho Hosken Comitê Popular Confederatons Cup Copa do Brasil 2010 Cost overruns Crisis of Capital Accumulation EMOP FERJ Favela do Metro Fluminense Fluminese Fonte Novo IMX Jose Marin Leonel Messi London 2012 Marcelo Freixo Maré Museu do Indio Olympic Delivery Authority Perimetral Rocinha Soccerex Transcarioca bicycles consumer society debt idiocy militarization transportation 1995 Rugby World Cup 2004 Olympics 2015 Copa America Banco Imobiliario Barcas SA Belo Horizonte Bom Senso F.C. Brasilerao CDURP CONMEBOL Champions League. Mourinho Complexo do Alemão Copa Libertadores Cupula dos Povos ESPN England FiFA Fan Fest Istanbul 2020 Jogos Militares John Carioca Kaka Manaus McDonald's Obama Olympic Village PPP Paralympics Providencia Recife Russia Salvador Soccer City Taksim Square Tatu-bola Urban Social Forum Vidigal Vila Olimpica War World Cup Xaracana attendance figures cities corrupcao drugs estadios football frangueiro futebol mafia planejamento urbano police repression porn privitization reforms shock doctrine taxes 201 2010 Elections 2010 Vancouver Olypmics 2013 2018 World Cup 2030 Argentina / Uruguay ABRAJI AGENCO ANPUR ANT-SP Amazonia Ancelmo Gois Andrade Gutierrez Anthony Garotinho Arena Amazonia Arena Pernambucana Athens Atlético Paranaense Avenida das Americas BID Barra de Tijuca Blatter Brasil x Cote d'Iviore Brasileirão 2013 Brasilia Brasilierao Bruno Souza Bus fares COB COI COMLURB CPI CPO Cabral Caixa Economica Canal do Anil Cantagalo Celio de Barros Cesar Maia Chapeu Mangueira Chile 2015 Choque do Ordem Cidade da Copa Class One Powerboat Racing Clint Dempsey Comite Companhia das Docas Copa do Brasil Corinthians Cuiabá Curitiba Dave Zrin David Harvey Der Spiegel Eastwood Edge of Sports Escola Friendenrich Expo Estadio Expo Urbano FGV Fonte Nova Gamboa Garotinho Geostadia Ghana Globo Greek Debt Crisis Greek Olympics HBO Hipoptopoma IMG IPHAN ISL Iniesta Internatinal Football Arena Invictus Istanbul Itaquerao Jacque Rogge Jefferson John Coates Jose Beltrame Julio Grondona Julio Lopes Julio de Lamare Knights Templar Korea Lei Geral da Copa MAR MEX Manchester United Mangabeira Unger Maracanã. Soccerex Marina da Gloria Mexico Milton Santos Molotov Cocktail Mr.Balls Neymar Nicholas Leoz Nilton Santos Olympic Flag Olympic Park Project Oscar Niemeyer Pacaembu Pan American Games Parque Olimpico Pernambuco Plano Popular Plano Popular do Maracana Plano Popular do Maracanã Play the Game Pope Porto Alegre Porto Olimpico Porto Seguro Portuguesa Praca Tiradentes Preview Projeto Morrinho Putin Qatar Quatar 2022 RSA Realengo Regis Fichtner Roberto Dinamite Russia 2018 SETRANS SMH Santa Teresa Santos Sao Raimundo Sargento Pepper Security Cameras Smart City Sochi 2014 South Korea Stormtroopers São Januário São Paulo Teargas Templars Tokyo 2020 Tropa do Elite II Turkey UFRJ/IPPUR URU USA USA! Unidos da Tijuca United States government Urban Age Conference VVIP Via Binário Victory Team Vila Autodromo Vila Cruzeiro Vila do Pan Vilvadao Vivaldao Volta Alice Wasteland Workers' Party World Cup 2018 Xavi Zurich apartments atrazos barrier beer bio-fuels bonde capacities civil society comite popular copa sudamericana crack crime dengue dictatorship estádios favelalógica feira livre fiador flooding freedom of information furos geral graffiti guarda municipal host city agreement identity infrastructure ipanema istoe labor rape riots schedule school shooting security segregation social movements stadium state of exception supervia tear gas ticket prices torcidas organizadas tourism traffic tragedy trash trem-bala velodromo wikileaks xingar