I’ve been told I’m impossible to shop for. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy. Maybe it’s because I’m pretty content with what I have. It got me thinking that there are probably a ton of you out there in the same boat. Family members keep asking you what you want for Christmas, and you just don’t know what to tell them. If you are like me, you feel bad asking anyone to pay good money for things that aren’t necessities. Let’s face it sports fans, some of the nice stuff we’d like to have we would never buy ourselves.
So let me ask for you. Here’s a gift guide you can pass along to your wife or family members. Got suggestions for something I missed? Put ‘em in the comments. Remember, these suggestions are for the Cleveland sports FAN. If you are getting something for the casual sports watcher, these may not be for them.
Look, sports are an event. It’s about being there. Seeing the sites, smelling the smells, and being loud with thousands of your closest friends that you’ve never met. It’s about where you go to eat before or after the event, and sharing stories of previous experiences. If the fan in your life watches the games on TV, send them to a game. Let them pick a buddy and make the trek to the stadium. Give ‘em a team shop gift card to use while they are at the game. That way they have to get a souvenir. Make it an event.
If your fan goes to games often, get them the best seats in the house for a game. Put them on the 50 yard line down close. Get them the court-side seats for just one game. Yes, the atmosphere is great in the nosebleeds, but watching a game from the best vantage point is a completely different experience.
If your fan loves the Browns, send them to one of the last 2 home games this year. Both are great games against division rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Great seats are available through WFNY Tickets.
Your fan has season tickets? So send them on a road game. Get tickets and square away accommodations. Be creative. How about sending them to the NFL draft? A Bowl Game? The event may last just one day, but the memories last forever.
2. Deck the halls.
When your sports fan was a kid, they probably had posters of their favorite players on the wall. Give them a spot to display their fandom. And give them something awesome to hang there. The Heritage Collection wool banners are excellent. They aren’t cheap, nor are they cheaply made. These are classic and made to last. There are different styles and sizes.
You can find them at some local sporting goods stores, and of course through the internet. Amazon has pretty good prices. The large Browns banner pictured will run around $75. The smaller Indians one here I’ve seen from $20-$35. There are also the traditional team banners which are great. I have several of these hanging in my room. Love ‘em.
Fatheads are popular, and again not so much cheap. I’m usually a little gun shy about investing too much in any individual player. They have a tendency to end up in another uniform eventually, and that vinyl is probably coming down when that happens.
3. The Jerseys.
Is your fan walking around in a Tim Couch #2? You really need an intervention. Again, this can be kind of a risky purchase. If you know your fan’s newest favorite player I say go for it. Already have the home jersey? Why not get the road one? I would highly recommend the custom jersey with your fan’s name. Perhaps an old number from high school or college would be appropriate. If you aren’t real familiar with the Cleveland sports scene, here’s a hint- avoid the jerseys on the clearance or discount rack. There’s a reason that Braylon Edwards and LeBron James jerseys are cheaper right now.
4. Sign here please.
Autographs. Some fans love ‘em, others not so much. You really need to know your fan here. If you’re going to shell out cash for someone’s signature you better make sure it’s a player your fan really likes. Nothing worse than forking out $45 bucks for a signed picture only to find out your fan thinks that player is a classless jerk. Communication is key here.
The item signed is also a big deal. Is it a photograph? Where is your fan going to hang it? Is it a helmet or bat or ball? Where is the shelf your fan is going to display it on? Signed jersey? Better get that a special frame. And those aren’t cheap. Plan ahead. Perhaps talk to your fan and start a collection. Autographed baseballs from the ’95 Indians? Signed Browns helmets from Pro Bowl players? It would give you a starting point for your gift hunting.
5. Gear up.
There is one school of thought that says anything with your fan’s favorite team is a great gift. Barbecue mitt. Socks. Christmas tree ornament. Your fan may think along those lines. But not all do. Try making sure that your item is useful and well made. Here’s a good rule of thumb- if your fan wouldn’t use it more than once a month during that team’s season it might be best to leave it on the shelf.
6. On the Cheap.
I know. Times are brutal right now. Here’s a suggestion. Instead of spending $150 on a major league event, spend a lot less on a minor league one. The Indians have several great franchises nearby that make great events. Send your fan to a Columbus Clippers game, or to see the Akron Aeros. Both are great parks and fun atmospheres.
Turn a room in your house into a fan cave. It can start as cheap as a few coats of paint. Throw the extra TV in there and bam, you have a place for your fan to escape and watch the games without disturbing the rest of the family.
Want an autograph cheap? Watch the official team web sites for details of player appearances. This month Browns players like Joe Haden and Alex Mack were at Best Buy signing autographs. Getting a signature yourself is a lot cheaper than buying one.
Ebay and Amazon.com. Seriously. Before you empty the bank account at a team shop or sporting goods store look online. There are some great deals available. Make a bid. If you don’t get it for the price you want you can always go back to the store for it.
Hope this gift guide helps. What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.
UPDATE: Of course, Believeland the WFNY Swag Shop is a great place to pick up your fan t-shirts.