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Littlefield: Swedish Women's Soccer Team Chooses Kind Jerseys

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” -- that's one tweet on the back of a Swedish player's uniform. (Filipe Farinha/Getty Images)
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” -- that's one tweet on the back of a Swedish player's uniform. (Filipe Farinha/Getty Images)

The sale of replica jerseys is big business. You probably know that. You’ve seen lots of people who do not resemble athletes rocking knockoffs of the shirts Tom Brady and LeBron James wear to work.

Full disclosure: I’ve got a knockoff of the flannel shirt members of the Homestead Grays wore 70 years ago, and about a dozen soccer jerseys ranging from an authentic FC Barcelona shirt to a slippery camisita bearing the logo of a team in Argentina that I’d never heard of until my daughter brought the T-shirt back from a semester abroad.

And I’d thought I’d accumulated about everything I needed along that line until this week, when the Swedish Women’s Soccer Team put on sale the shirts they wore during the Algarve Cup competition in Portugal.

Rather than wear their names on the backs of their jerseys, the Swedish players agreed to go with tweets from prominent Swedish women. The back of one player’s jersey reads: “Believe in your damn selves,” which feels appropriate for a soccer player and any other athlete, and for the rest of us, too.

Some of the choices are cartoonish, such as: “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.”

But the most memorable of those sayings transcend the game these women are playing. Consider “Never look down on someone unless it is to help them up,” or “I am playing for my girls in Iran.”

It would be easy to sneer at some of this stuff, but I’d rather not. In a world where many of the tweets we encounter are angry, abusive, or insane, if not all of the above, why not relish one that reads: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” None of us will always live up to that injunction. These are challenging days.

That doesn’t mean we should knock the advice.

All of which is to acknowledge that I’ll have to get rid of some of the dress shirts or jackets in my closet to make some room. Because the soccer jersey from the Egyptian team and the Mexico shirt from 15 years ago and the rest of the ones I haven’t worn in a long time because they’re too small…they’re going to have some company.

Headshot of Bill Littlefield

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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