Legacy, or Just Clothes?

by Ryan Krzykowski

How can a jersey or its number mean something to somebody?  At the end of the day, it’s just a piece of fabric.  I remember hearing this from Jerry Seinfeld years ago:

Loyalty to any one sports team is pretty hard to justify, because the players are always changing, the team can move to another city.

You’re actually rooting for the clothes, when you get right down to it. You know what I mean? You are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city. Fans will be so in love with a player, but if he goes to another team, they boo him. This is the same human being in a different shirt; they hate him now. Boo! Different shirt! Boo!

I understand Jerry’s point — cheering for clothes is a funny way to look at being a fan of a team.  At the same time, anything, including a sports uniform, can be meaningful in the right context.  I have a son who played varsity football this fall as a 10th grader.  We loved watching him enjoy becoming a contributing member of the team’s defense, and he played with more and more confidence as the season went on.  The night of their final game, something pretty cool happened, even though the team had just been eliminated from the state playoffs.  One of the seniors on the defense, on the night his high school football career came to end, took the time to text my son.  He said some encouraging things about how well Will had played, and then tossed in a line about how he’d love for Will to wear his jersey number next year.  As a Coach, that gesture struck me as a fantastic example of leadership in a program — an older player cared enough in that moment to reach out to a younger teammate.  And including the line about the jersey number made the text that much more meaningful.  As a parent, seeing a teammate of his show love to my son in that way was powerful.  I can’t explain exactly why, but I get emotional thinking about it.  I have no idea whether or not Will is going to change jersey numbers next year because of that text, but it doesn’t really matter.  Giving that encouragement and offering the uniform number is about much more than clothes.

The following week I received an email from our friend John O’Sullivan at Changing the Game Project about a new blog post they’d just put up.  (John’s new book Every Moment Matters comes out this week.  Find it on Amazon.  And our CFC podcast interview with John will drop very soon).  The post John emailed about was written by James Leath, and his idea of a Legacy Notebook was a new one for me.  I love it, and think it’s the kind of idea that could have a significant impact on a program’s culture.  Take a look and see what you think.  Maybe this is a game changer for you and your athletes.

Let’s Coach With Purpose.