Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What difference does a jersey make?

You may have seen where the U. of Georgia will break out their black jerseys for their game against Bama after the team's seniors made the request to Coach Mark Richt.

It may seem like a little thing that's fun for the players (and the fans), but in this case it's important for a couple of reasons:

First, that Georgia's players begin thinking about their next opponent immediately after a big win shows that they're focused.

Second, allowing the team to make decisions like this helps them to take ownership of the program and strengthens trust between the players and the staff. For those who are thinking, "It's just a jersey," I can tell you that what a team wears -- especially at tradition-rich colleges -- is often a big deal.

[Just take a look at this article. Or this one. Or this one. Boosters and alums can get really worked up over uniform designs and choices.]

Plus, talk of which jerseys a team will wear can sometimes be a distraction, as it was last year with Georgia. You want your players thinking about the game, not just wear they'll be wearing.

Even at the pro level, with the evolution of "third jerseys," "Sunday jerseys," "throwbacks," and "alternate jerseys," players show a lot of interest in what they wear during games. Some players feel strongly that certain uniforms are either lucky or unlucky.

[Sidenote: I saw the Broncos wore their orange tops this past Sunday. The Bills had on their throwbacks. In Carolina, the Hurricanes' new alternate jersey is getting rave reviews. And I read where Washington State not only has two different helmets, but two different logos.]

Sure, all of these jerseys are a great way to sell more merchandise. But they also add to the color and pageantry of sports.