Jersey Inappropriatre for a Ride
June 5, 2014 5:07 AM   Subscribe

I'm doing a bike ride that is to raise money for breast cancer research. Truthfully, I'm more interested in the ride, but there will be many on the ride more focused on the cause. I wanted to wear my new Sufferfest jersey, but worried that, given the folks who may be/know breast cancer survivors, it might be viewed as offensive or insensitive. Is it OK to wear the jersey, or should I pick a different one to avoid hurting someone's feelings?

Over the winter, I discovered Sufferfest cycling training videos. Like many of the genere, you watch it on your TV/laptop/phone while on a stationary bike, and it gives cues to change intensity, pedal cadence, etc., during a workout. Their running gag is that you are "suffering" as you ride--not an uncommon motif in cycling (a five time Tour de France winner once said "To succeed in cycling, one must know how to suffer."). It is one of several tools that helped me drop forty-five pounds since October.

One consequence is that many of my cycling jerseys are too tight. For my birthday this week, my wife got me a Sufferfest National Team jersey in my (new) size. It fits well, and, in fact, I look quite good in it. My plan was to wear it for the 62 mile Ride Cincinnati, which raises money for breast cancer research.

The jersey continues the suffering theme, with "suffer" on one of the shoulders, and "everybody hurts" on the back. The 62 mile ride is mostly folks there for the ride, and, at a pure cycling event, would likely get the joke. However, it occurred to me last night that those who are there more as breast cancer advocates, especially those who were touched by the disease, might take offense. They tend to be more on the shorter routes, which only overlap for the last quarter of the ride, plus a post-ride party.

I wanted to get an opinion: cool to wear the jersey, or would it be in poor taste. I'm prepared to error on the side of caution, if need be.
posted by MrGuilt to Human Relations (17 answers total)
If you have to ask, wear something else.

At first I had no idea what it was, but the words Suffer and Pain, in this context....marginal.

I'm sure you'll find another awesome jersey to wear.

Enjoy the ride!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:11 AM on June 5, 2014 [13 favorites]

Wear something else.

The sufferfest jersey is nice, but if you were to wear it on something like this breast cancer awareness ride it'd just come off as snide, making it appear as if you were saying the breast cancer survivors were just whiny and needed to chill out --- which, since you're participating in this fund raiser, I'm pretty sure is not how you intend it!
posted by easily confused at 5:11 AM on June 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wow. No. That is in terrible taste, and you shouldn't do it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:26 AM on June 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

nope, nope, nope... If you think ONE person would misunderstand or be offended, wear something else. There are some events where you can say, "what the hell, it's THEIR problem if they're offended"... this isn't that event.
posted by HuronBob at 5:28 AM on June 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Nooooooooooo. If you were truly prepared to error on the side of caution, you wouldn't have even asked.

Can you get the manufacturer of the jersey off the tag and order a plain one?
posted by AaRdVarK at 5:32 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you have to ask, erring on the side of caution means not doing it.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:40 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love Sufferfest! Their videos are great! Probably the best way to train besides actually going for a ride!

But most people won't have the context necessary to get it, and there's real potential that someone will be hurt by seeing that jersey.

I would not wear this jersey.

One option: are you wearing numbers for this ride? Could you strategically place your numbers to cover the offending text / pin another piece of fabric over the words?
posted by third word on a random page at 5:41 AM on June 5, 2014

Awesome jersey & great program that I was not familiar with but I think a lot of people won't get it and a few might get very, very cranky. I would say absolutely don't wear.
Save its debut for another awesome occasion.
posted by pointystick at 5:44 AM on June 5, 2014

No. Please don't.
posted by _Mona_ at 6:24 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not cool to wear the jersey, very cool to be aware it could upset people and be willing to put that over your own comfort and style.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:58 AM on June 5, 2014 [22 favorites]

I dig the suffer fest and ride quite a bit and wouldn't take the least offense. I'm also really struggling to see how someone might get a bad impression, mostly because there is a lot more to pay attention to on a ride than the imagery of other people's attire. I really don't think it would be an issue and I wouldn't stress about it.
posted by dgran at 7:33 AM on June 5, 2014

My take is a bit different. Cycling jerseys are often so ridiculous, so covered in words and logos that don't make any sense, that I don't think yours will stand out. Also, many organized rides support a non-profit, which is great, but I'm not sure that's usually much more than a casual connection for participants.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:48 AM on June 5, 2014

I use the Sufferfest videos and like them but I think the slogans and jerseys are kind of ridiculous. I've also done a ton of charity rides. My take is you should probably wear something else if you feel it could be misinterpreted, but honestly, after doing probably 50 relaxed charity type rides, I've only been asked about something on my jersey once in all those outings (and it was someone that loved the name of my bike team).

So in reality, I think the chances are extremely slim that someone would make out the little line of text on your jersey, but given that you know it could be read in a weird light, I'd say skip it.
posted by mathowie at 8:05 AM on June 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's not just the people riding. There are also tons of volunteers to who'll work the SAG stops and after party. That's were you are more likely to run into people in the active stages of cancer treatment - folks unable to ride at this time, but who wanted to support the event.

It's probably a very small number of people who'd find it offensive. However, those people are the beneficiaries of the event. It's race to benefit cancer research. Have you seen cancer up close? Because doing videos on your bike doesn't meet the definition of suffering if you've done chemo.

Wear another jersey.
posted by 26.2 at 8:06 AM on June 5, 2014 [7 favorites]

Holy crap no. An inside-joke shirt about fun suffering does not belong at a public event around real suffering.
posted by cadge at 9:17 AM on June 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

As someone with close friends who have died from breast cancer, I would notice, I would get it, I would still think you were horrifically tacky and had zero social awareness.

In short, absolutely not.
posted by celtalitha at 10:53 AM on June 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Under no circumstances should you wear that jersey at a breast cancer event.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:17 AM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

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