This unusual jersey is part of a series of three I made a couple of years ago. I had been making fictional jersey for a while, and wanted to get into more unusual designs. I realized the difficulty might be in recognizing these as actual sports jerseys. The one above looks more like a costume from a pirate play.
So I came up with the idea of writing a short story to explain the reason for the jersey’s existence. I should mention I’m not a writer, and have no aspirations to be one. But, I thought, maybe this would be an interesting way to provide more details in an interesting and fun way.
I will spare you the actual story, but I’ll try to break it down so you can see what I was getting at with this jersey and what all of the parts mean.
The story was this: a serial entrepreneur, sometime in the late ’40s or early ’50s, went to a hockey game and was amazed at the reaction the crowd had to the fights that broke out. He reasoned that if he started a league that emphasized fighting, it would be even more popular than regular hockey and he would make a pile of money.
The rules would state that players that didn’t fight at least once a game would be fined, and, eventually, kicked out of the league if they didn’t fight enough.
The league was called the Knock-Out Hockey League, or KOHL. This is the logo I created for the league, with the tag line “See Stars,” which of course has a double meaning. No top players were going to be found in this league.
Here’s a quote from the story as to how the jersey was designed:
“In watching regular hockey games, [he] noticed players often had a hard time holding onto each other, and this affected the quality of the fight. In addition, the knit sweaters the players wore would often tear, which meant additional costs, which his underfunded league could hardly bear. With these observations, [he] came up with a concept he considered his most brilliant: he would design a jersey specifically intended to enhance the duration, intensity, and appearance of the fights.”
The leather handle was there for the opposing player to grab onto, as opposed to trying to get hold of the collar. It was riveted into the jersey for maximum strength.
The overall construction of the jersey was modular, with all of the pieces laced together though grommets. This would allow separate pieces to be replaced with ease of they were damaged during a fight. This also allowed the use of very heavy, thick material that would stand up to a lot of abuse.
The white canvas bib was designed to absorb and enhance the appearance of blood. This was patented and trademarked as the “Blud-Byb,” as the owner was sure others would try to copy his design for their own blood leagues.
Here’s another quote from the story that explains the single collar:
“One design issue that became apparent early on was the neck and collar design. The handle needed to be central on the jersey for balance, which meant the lace-up collar had to be offset. This left no room for a formal collar, which [he] demanded. ‘Our players need to represent their team and the league with the utmost dignity and respect’ he said. ‘I absolutely insist on it.'”
The story also describes how no team was allowed to wear red, and all jerseys needed to be rendered in dull colours, both to ensure spilled blood would have the maximum contrast and would show up the best. I stole this directly from Jaws, the movie. I watched a documentary of the making of the film, and they mentioned this technique was used to give the shark attack scenes maximum impact.
Finally, the jersey was so unusual it couldn’t be made by standard jersey manufacturers, so they had a maker of apparel for the meat processing industry build the jerseys. Company name: Slaughtertime. The sleeves of course using a “butcher stripe” fabric, which presumably the manufacturer had plenty of lying around.
You may be wondering if the league was successful. Here’s the answer:
“So how did the KOHL fare? It was a dismal failure right from the start, and only lasted a few games to mostly empty arenas before the money ran out and the league was forced to fold. He completely underestimated the blood lust of the fan, and only later came to realize it was the surprising and forbidden nature of the hockey fight that made it so appealing in the first place. Once he legitimized it, made it official and sanctioned, it lost all of its appeal. No one cared, because it was all supposed to happen.”
In the story, the only remaining jersey from the league is this number 14 jersey. Here’s how it survived:
“The only remaining jersey from the league is the number 14 jersey from a forward from the Knuckleburg Hammerers. In the first game of the league, he was knocked out cold in a fight. He only began to bleed while he was horizontal, which spared his jersey from the bloodstain it was meant to enhance. It went with him to the hospital, where he spent a few days with a concussion, a broken orbital bone, and no memory of the fight. Once discharged, the league was already gone, so he held onto the jersey as a keepsake.”
And the rest of the jerseys?
“The assets of the league were auctioned off, and the local fish processing plant was thrilled to buy all of the jerseys for a few dollars, to use as worker’s apparel. They were cheap, durable, and could be discarded once they became too foul with the smell of fish. And, as an added bonus, the leather handle proved handy to pull out the occasional and unfortunate worker who fell into the giant vat of fish guts which was used to produce plant fertilizer.”
The story ends with the entrepreneur working on his next scheme, an auto racing league with mandated crashes.
Overall a very fun project that fused many different disciplines and of course the jersey was a blast to make, since I wasn’t limited by any notion of a traditional sports jersey.
Up next: more jersey fiction.