Editorial: Why I Stopped Wearing My “Emerson Football – Undefeated Since 1880” Shirt



Malcolm Kelner

Lion’s Tooth Co-Founder


Hey everyone. Usually when I write on this website, I’m doing light-hearted, satirical articles poking fun at Emerson culture. Today though, I have a very serious issue regarding Emerson I’d like to discuss with all of you, and I hope you will hear me out on this.

Let me start with some quick background. Emerson is a unique place, made up of unique students. For example, most colleges have football teams that they rally around as a source of school pride. Emerson doesn’t have one. However, instead of lamenting that, the students seem to embrace it, believe it or not. The proof? “Emerson Football: Undefeated Since 1880” shirts.

We need to talk about these shirts.

The graphic tees are a hit around campus, and have been for a long time. You can buy one from the school bookstore for $18.98, or even buy one online.

I get why people like the shirts. I really do. I’ll admit that I bought one myself as a young and naive freshman. At first glance, they’re funny! Who doesn’t love some self-deprecating humor? It takes a strong woman or man to make fun of her or himself.

The shirt even got some national recognition after being worn by Mac from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” so who wouldn’t want to take part of Emerson’s 15 seconds of fame?

But allow me to break down the message of the shirt, and hopefully open your eyes to the ugly truths behind it.

Factually, the shirt is correct. Emerson’s “football team” is “undefeated since 1880.” But Emerson doesn’t even have a football team, and has never had one. We may not have math classes here, but you don’t need to be the second coming of Einstein to understand that since we’ve played zero games, we’re obviously going to have zero losses.

But we don’t have any wins either. So there could be a shirt with “Emerson Football: Losers Since 1880,” and it would be just as accurate! Why aren’t there any of those shirts though? Could it be that we’re only willing to be self-deprecating to a certain extent?

Hold on a minute… are the standard shirts even self-deprecating at all? Or are they the total opposite, self-righteous gloating?

We had two options to make for this shirt and we took the one that makes us sound like we have the best football program in America’s history–the only team to maintain an undefeated streak for 135 years, something no real team has even come close to doing. So not only is it lying, but it’s also faux self-deprecation. And that’s worse than not being willing to make fun of yourself at all! We’re acting like we’re becoming so vulnerable by brandishing ourselves with this purple and yellow, 100% cotton scarlet letter, but really it’s our own vulnerability that prevents us from being honest and facing the truth about our winless absence of a football program.

Also, there’s an even bigger problem with the shirts than that. It’s how they promote sports, and in particular, football.

We all know sports are fascist. I know most students agree with me that it’s a travesty that Emerson hands out full-ride scholarships to athletes to come here and throw a ball around, which takes money away and raises tuition costs for real students.

But of all mindless, plebeian athletics, football is, hands down, the worst. The violent game of football breeds an unhealthy level of toxic masculinity that all of the players on the field exemplify, and it even bleeds over to the fans. The male students wearing the shirt might as well paste on some more text on it that says, “I’m an over-aggressive and insensitive brute,” and the female students who for some reason wear them too should add, “I am passively promoting and not standing up to the patriarchy.” We’re really just going to sit back and be OK with this?

Well I’m not. Finally, I decided enough was enough. I wasn’t going to be a sheep anymore and continue to represent these lies and immoral ideals of Emerson’s “undefeated football team.” That’s why I decided to stop wearing the shirt. And now I’d like to ask all of you to follow my example and do the same.

You have until this Friday, November 20th to turn in your shirts to me. At that point, I will decide a proper course of action to take with them. For, every day late, you will be fined an amount I deem fair. Let me know if you have any questions.

I hope reading this has been informative and eye-opening, and I look forward to seeing you all during your shirt returns.

Thank you!

2 thoughts on “Editorial: Why I Stopped Wearing My “Emerson Football – Undefeated Since 1880” Shirt

  1. Is this some kind of joke? There’s nothing offensive about these shirts and you’re reading waaaaayyyy to deep into this and making it into an issue that doesn’t exist. Sports are a part of our culture and while I am not a fan of sports, especially not football, it’s ridiculous and absurd to be offended by such a thing. It is very clearly playful satire and this post is almost as nonsensical about that article where we have labeled the word “too” as sexist.


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