A little history about the soccer scarf:
The scarf dates back to England in the early 1900s as a means to keep warm while maintaining your team spirit. Simple in design and yet functional while letting the world know who you support.
Enough about that.
Now, with so many scarves out there, has the initial meaning of it now gone? I say no, however, I would also argue that it’s almost become a status symbol over a showing of team loyalty. For the larger SGs, I would argue that having 1 iconic scarf would be the simplest, and then create variants on that as time passes. It also makes it easy for those who aren’t into scarves, rather than getting a new one every year and having a collection that some people don’t particularly want. As for the smaller groups, there are many reasons why they wouldn’t create a scarf. It could be finances, or may they just aren’t the scarf wearing types, which would be somewhat unusual in today’s supporter culture.
How one uses said scarf is up to them. Some just hold it up during pre-match festivities, some wave it as a part of a chant or song and some just wear it around their neck, much like the aforementioned status symbol. When I support, I prefer to have a couple at my disposal. Depending on the weather, I'll have one around my neck at all times, and one or two looped around my belt, one on each side.
Now, it’s morphed into a canvas for whatever your brain can come up with. Should the desire be there, you take your design onto the interweb and take orders, fully prepaid so that you’re not out of pocket. You pick your manufacturer of choice and put the order in. Once the run is done, you distribute said scarf to the people who ordered one.
As some of you may know, I collect scarves…err….more like trade scarves. It’s gotten to the point where I have almost no Whitecaps SG scarves left because I’ve traded them all. For what? Timbers Army, Eastside Supporters, Minnesota United and a few Cascadia scarves. I also have a few miscellaneous scarves that have been added to the collection.
So, the question is why? To answer that, one needs to understand what trading scarves does. I prefer doing it face-to-face only because it can be a catalyst in becoming friends with people who have a common interest. There’s one gentleman whom I’ve completed about 2 or 3 different trades each on different occasions. Now, I consider him a friend and someone I am more than willing to have a beer with. I’m a member of one Facebook group that is dedicated to scarf trading/selling. It’s mind blowing to see how serious some people are about this hobby. It’s also worth noting that most of these individuals are Timbers supporters. I’m sure the majority of them are Timbers Army, but I do not know that for sure. I have done a few trades by mail, however, it just doesn’t feel the same.
Yes, I have been criticized for having a disproportionate number of TA or Portland related scarves, but when most of the people willing to trade are from the Rose City, it’s bound to happen and frankly, I’m okay with that. However, when you have scarves that people in Portland don’t even have, then I may be onto something. To be fair, as mentioned above, I do have a number of scarves from the Eastside Supporters (Sounders FC supporters group).
On the whole, I enjoy scarf trading and collecting. To me, it enriches the away travel experience, knowing that you’ve helped someone (or more than one) grow their collection while expanding yours at the same time.
The big question: Have I worn any that I’ve traded for? The answer is Yes, I have. It was during the Simple Invitational (Chicago/Portland) down in Portland. I was invited into the Timbers Army by the couple I was staying with and got hooked up with a ticket by one of his buddies. Knowing that this was a distinct possibility having mentioned it a few times during that trip, I did have a couple of scarves on me, so I threw one on and made it look like I belonged. Yes, I did take some flack for it, but whatever. I did what I felt needed to be done, no regrets.
Am I likely to do it again? It’s a distinct possibility, but the game will never feature my Caps playing the hometown team.
I don’t have a current count on my scarves (excluding my trade pile and ones I’m waiting on). It’s not huge, but the variety is something that I’m quite proud of.