Sports Jerseys Holiday Buying Guide

Sports Jerseys Holiday Buying Guide

Sports jerseys make an ideal holiday gift. Sports fans can wear them year-round, showing their allegiance to their favorite teams and players. Unlike a lot of clothing, sports jerseys never go out of style. They're like a badge of honor that other fans can relate and be drawn to.

Jerseys aren't difficult to find, but there are many different options, which can make shopping for one seem a little daunting. For example, what's the difference between an authentic sports jersey and a replica? Are practice jerseys any good? What's the best jersey to give this holiday season? Find these answers and more as we break down what to look for with sports jerseys from all four major sports.

Baseball Jerseys

Authentic Baseball Jerseys

New York Yankees Jersey ImageAuthentic baseball jerseys are made by Majestic in the USA. These are just like the ones players wear in MLB games. Made of polyester double-knit material, authentic jerseys are more durable than replica jerseys.

Patches, locker tags and lettering are all sewn directly onto the jersey. Unlike replica jerseys, they also come with sleeve patches and other team-specific patches.

Shop for authentic MLB baseball jerseys on eBay.

A quick way to identify an authentic jersey versus a replica can be found on the back. Authentic jerseys have an MLB logo sewn on the top-center, just below the neck line.

The latest MLB jerseys are made with Cool Base technology, which is meant to help keep players cool in the summer. It makes the material lighter and offers venting under the armpits. Authentic MLB jerseys have a Cool Base tag.

Knockoff jerseys, which are basically counterfeit jerseys, do not have all the tags. Knockoffs are not licensed by MLB. They can be found much cheaper but aren't the real thing. It's similar to buying a faux Gucci bag or a fake Rolex -- they have some of the same features but not the prestige.

Authentic MLB jerseys generally cost $175 and up. Sometimes deals can be found when a player is traded.

Replica MLB Jerseys

If authentic jerseys are too expensive, replicas are the next best thing. Still fully licensed, they cost a lot less. However, they're not quite the same quality. Replica MLB jerseys are made of less durable fabric. Patches and letters are ironed on instead of sewn on. Replicas don't have the MLB logo on the back like authentic jerseys do.

Replica baseball jerseys still let fans show their allegiance. Unless you look closely, there's really not that much difference. However, replica jerseys cost about half the price.

Batting Practice Jerseys

Batting practice jerseys are worn while players practice their hitting. They're much plainer than authentic game jerseys, but they're still fully licensed. Batting practice jerseys are traditionally one color. Made of lightweight polyester, they have a team logo on the front.

Throwback Baseball Jerseys

Throwback baseball jerseys are designed to look like the ones players used to wear. Covering the history of the game, Mitchell & Ness is the exclusive manufacturer of vintage-style jerseys. Each is designed to the exact specifications of the original jerseys. They're noted with a Cooperstown Collection tag on the front.

Throwback jerseys have timeless appeal as they often highlight past greats and fan favorites.

Basketball Jerseys

Authentic Basketball Jerseys

LeBron James Jersey ImageLike real baseball jerseys, authentic basketball jerseys mimic those wore by pros. They're the highest quality but also the highest price.

Authentic NBA jerseys are made with 190-gram polyester. Manufactured by Adidas, they do not have an Adidas logo on the upper-right front of the jersey like Swingman and replica jerseys do. Numbers are all stitched directly only the jersey.

Shop for authentic NBA jerseys.

Other features of authentic NBA jerseys include an embroidered NBA logo on the upper-left front and an Adidas jock tag above the left hem.

Prices of authentic NBA jerseys usually run between $200 and $300.

Swingman Basketball Jerseys

Swingman jerseys are some of the most common found in stores. About half the price of an authentic jersey, they have most of the same markings as the real thing but they're not quite as durable. They have an Adidas logo on the front upper-right. Opposite that is an NBA logo.

Shop for Swingman NBA jerseys on eBay.

Rather than stitched down numbers, marks on Swingman jerseys are screen printed.

Replica Basketball Jerseys

Replica NBA jerseys are a slight step down from Swingman jerseys. The differences aren't extreme and not very noticeable. The big thing is durability. Like most everything, you get what you pay for. While still well made, replica jerseys likely won't last as long as an authentic jersey.

Made of polyester, letters and numbers are heat-sealed, not stitched. Like Swingman jerseys, the Adidas logo is on the upper-right front. Replica NBA jerseys also have an NBA logo on the upper-left side.

Football Jerseys

Authentic Nike Elite NFL Jerseys

Washington Redskins Jersey ImageNike, the official manufacturer of NFL jerseys has several different lines. The ones worn during games are called Elite. Made with performance in mind, they are made of a mix of nylon and spandex. There is also a difference between the body and the mesh. Elite NFL jerseys are meant to stretch in many areas to provide a perfect fit without losing shape.

Shop for authentic NFL jerseys on eBay.

Numbers are sewn onto the jersey. They're twill and very flexible. The Nike logo is done with applique.

Nike Elite NFL jerseys generally cost $200 or more.

Nike Limited NFL Jerseys

At first glance, Nike Limited NFL jerseys look very much like Elite jerseys. Still made for use as much as they are fashion, there are some differences.

Limited NFL jerseys are made entirely of polyester. They have a tailored-fit design, but don't stretch the same way Elite jerseys do. Rather than the numbered sizing found on Elite jerseys, Nike Limited NFL jerseys go for a more traditional chart, such as medium, large and extra-large.

The Nike patch is embroidered on Limited jerseys. Prices are in the $124- to $150-range.

Nike Game NFL Jerseys

Nike Game NFL jerseys are the ones most commonly found in stores. Made of polyester, they use screen-print letters and numbers. The Nike and NFL logos are also screen-printed.

Like replica jerseys from other sports, at first glance, Nike Game jerseys look very similar to the real thing. But fabric and durability are the major differences.They're priced around $100 to $120.

Hockey Jerseys

 Authentic NHL Jerseys

Sidney Crosby Jersey ImageReebok makes the jerseys worn by NHL players. The Rbk EDGE Authentic line is made for performance. The body of the jersey uses double-knit polyester spandex to fit to the person's body shape. They use Bead Away technology that helps repel sweat.

Shop for authentic NHL jerseys on eBay.

Player numbers, letter and logos are all sewn directly to the jersey. The jock tag, which is located on the bottom left of the jersey, uses numeric sizing.

Authentic NHL jerseys are around $300.

Premier NHL Jerseys

Rbk Premier hockey jerseys use thinner material. They walk the balance between being fashionable and practical.

The team logo on the front is still sewn on, but the name and numbers on the back are screen-printed. Jock tags use small, medium, large and extra-large sizing.

RBk Premier jerseys usually cost about $100 to $125.

Throwback Hockey Jerseys

CCM is the official maker of vintage-style NHL jerseys that highlight players and teams from the past. Their quality is similar to that of Rbk Premier jersey. Front logos are sewn on while back letters and numbers are screen printed.

Expect to pay $100 to $125 for a CCM Classic hockey jersey.

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Ryan Cracknell

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Ryan's collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection. Ryan can be found on Twitter @tradercracks and Google+.

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