Fan-made t-shirts are a pretty important part of sports culture. After all, it’s one thing to buy a t-shirt that has your team’s logo and your favorite player’s name on it, but that’s rarely enough to express all facets of sports fandom’s weirdness.
That’s why it’s so disheartening when pro-athletes and teams step in to try and take the fun out of things. Earlier this week, TMZ reported that representatives of Tim Tebow–the recently acquired back-up quarterback for the Jets who’s known for his public faith–sent a cease and desist letter to CubbyTees.com. The t-shirt site was making and selling a t-shirt that resembled the New York Jets’ logo, only it replaced “NY Jets” with “MY Jesus.”
While it’s not going to win awards for cleverest t-shirt, it’s worth a chuckle, and if nothing else, there’s not much on the shirt itself to make anyone doubt the wearer’s faith or sincerity. But even more important, there’s no reference to Tebow at all on the shirt itself. In addition, the product’s official description on the site says, “This fun design is not officially endorsed by New York’s backup quarterback or the Son of God, but plays off the themes of Tebow’s faith and his new team.” Sure, the site makes references to Tebow, but I’m pretty sure that’s protected under the first amendment. Yet somehow the QB’s attorneys felt the need to try and rain on CubbyTees’ parade.
The report says that CubbyTees isn’t going to stop selling the shirts, but sadly that’s not the case when it comes to the Atlanta Barves.
Yes, that’s right: the Barves.
Taking their cue from an internet meme, two Braves fans, Everett and Allison Steele, printed up purposely misspelled shirts that proclaim love for Atlanta’s Major League team with a subtle wink. They sold them to fans with similarly skewed senses of humor, and all was fine with baseball fandom. The Steeles also said that they donated the $850 proceeds from the sale of the shirts to the Atlanta Braves Foundation.
Unfortunately, the team only took a few days to find out about it before they, too, slapped the Steeles with a cease and desist letter. And because the Steeles only have the one shirt in their arsenal, they felt compelled to comply.
“I don’t have the deep pockets to fight them,” Steele’s quoted as saying on 11Alive. “There were more lawyers CC’d on the cease and desist letter email than I’ve met in my entire life. So there’s not much fight they’re going to get out of me.”
“Instead of… capitalizing on the opportunity to sort of catalyze their fan base, they’ve instead attacked the people who are passionate and love their brand. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
It doesn’t make any sense to me, either. Sports people: stop taking yourselves so seriously. Braves, pay the Steeles a thousand bucks and print up your own stupid “Barves” shirts. I’d buy one. Well, I WOULD have, until you went and sucked all the fun out of life.