Monday, April 8, 2013

The Conundrum of Free Gear

For anyone that has ever seen me outside the game-day setting of Memorial Gymnasium when I wear a polo and khakis on Game Day, it is likely that you have seen me (much to the chagrin of my mother) in some form of sweatpants. My philosophy on clothing is to dress comfortably because if you are comfortable, you will perform better at whatever activity you are participating in. For instance, no competitive swimmer goes swimming in jeans and no basketball player competes in a suit because that would be incredibly uncomfortable for them to perform in.

Companies like Nike and Adidas make their money off designing the most comfortable and performance enhancing shoes and gear that they can because they realize that if a performer is uncomfortable, that takes away from their ability to focus strictly on competition. I feel the same way about my brain function. If I wear sweatpants or shorts to class, my mind is at ease and free to think creatively. I attribute my extensive creativity and outside the box thinking in no small part to my insistence on ensuring I feel loosey-goosey when working hard or just in general.

Now you are probably asking why I am posting about my penchant for wearing sweatpants on this blog and the answer is because most of the sweats I wear are team provided. One of the perks of being a manager, coach, or player is the loads of free gear we get every year. From dri-fit T-Shirts, to hoodies, to full sweatsuits, we get a lot of nice looking and very comfortable gear each year. The more free gear I accumulate, the easier it becomes for me to just wear that to class each day, so that is what I have done essentially, with one noticeable exception.

For the first two weeks of any semester, I always dress up for class. Always. The reasons for doing this are two-fold. The first reason is to give the impression to my professor that I am a serious student. I look the part and come in with a purpose of providing scintillating intellectual commentary. This is the same reason you don't show up for a job interview in sweats: you want to look like you are important, even if reality says you really aren't.

The second reason is to impress any cute girls who may be in class. So the first two weeks serve as essentially a scouting period, or in basketball terms a recruiting period. During this time, everybody is looking around the class to see which guy or girl they'd like to partner with on a project or sit next to at some point. It is just a natural thing that occurs, so during this two-week period, I identify if there are any girls I might want to get know in a given class. If there is a cute girl who I'd like to talk to, I will extend the two-week period until either we begin talking and something comes of it or I find out she has a boyfriend at which point, the sweats are immediately removed from the shelf and worn to class.

In the case of a class with no cute girls, I tend to break out the sweats even before the two-week evaluation period is up and I've been convinced that the professor finds me to be a riveting presence in the classroom. One time I tweeted about this philosophy and a girl from a previous class got mad because she said, "you wore sweatpants to class every day in the class we had, do you not think I'm cute?" I didn't my guidelines for class dress would be taken so literally, but anyway once the two week period is up, I usually go with team issued gear.

Now, most of the guys on the team wear their sweats to class each day as well, but the problem is they are athletes so they are seen as being able to get away with doing it. It is acceptable practice for the athletes to wear their gear to class, but it is less known the acceptability for student managers to do so. Unlike on the road when I wear Vandy gear and can attempt to convince people of my walk-on status, most people here know I'm not a member of the basketball team. I'm 5'10", 170 with a vertical leap of like 22 inches. I don't scream "D1 Athlete" or even "D1 Scout Team Gold Bomber". I scream "Student Manager".

There was one instance of someone asking if I played on the team though. I was in the elevator with a girl, who was pretty cute, and she saw my Vanderbilt Basketball T-Shirt and said, "Are you on the team? You guys played a great game last night". I usually think quickly on my feet, but I kind of froze at that moment. On the one hand, I could lie and say I am and even give the name of a walk-on like Nate Watkins to solidify my story, but she would probably look into that after we got off the elevator or I could just be honest and say "No, I'm the guy that mops the sweat" and live with the consequences of that reality. So I told her I was the mop guy and ended up without a new number in my phone.

That is the reality of life when you are given, and consequently wear, team gear but are not actually on the team: trying to explain your role in a way that other people put you on the same status level as the players themselves. That is a balance I'm still working to figure out to this day.

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