Writers note: I wrote this story during the middle of the twitter and sports radio fire storm that took place after word broke of the tradition, spirit, and honor patches taking the place of the names on the backs of Cougar jersey’s this season. That since has been changed to just one game so this is really no longer applicable, but still worth a read for any Cougar fan.
I can’t believe all the fuss that has been made today after word broke that the BYU Cougar football team will not have players names on the back of their jerseys for this season and for the foreseeable future. Personally I don’t see what the problem is. In fact, I actually think the move by coach Bronco Mendenhall is genius.
Before we analyze this move we have to realize what the purpose of Brigham Young University and its football team is. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints uses the football team as an ambassador of the church and as a missionary tool.
Since BYU and the BYU experience is totally different than most of the other schools in America, shouldn’t the image that their football team portrays also be totally different?
Bronco has always said that football is fifth on his list of most important things in life and this latest decision seems to prove that in a small way.
For the players who believe that this will hurt the recognition they will receive, let me say, that is just silly. Every Cougar fan already knows who you are. It’s not going to hurt your NFL stock either. If you make plays it doesn’t matter if your name is on the back of your jersey or not. They will know who you are.
If you don’t believe me let’s do a little test. Who wears number 3 at BYU right now? Ok, if you are any kind of Cougar fan you know that the number 3 is donned by Kyle Van Noy. Still not convinced? Well here’s a couple more. Who’s wears number 2 for BYU or at Texas A&M? That’s right… you know exactly who they are.
As for the words that have been chosen to take the place of the players’ names? I think they are all great choices. The word Tradition is a reminder that the Cougars have a long and storied history, that needs to be upheld. Each player needs to know that when they step on that field, that they are representing all the Cougars that came before them and that they represent all the future Cougars that will follow in their foot steps.
The word spirit should remind everyone of the how the game needs to be played. All out, with maximum effort, to go along with a sense of fair play and enjoyment.
The word honor might just be the most important of the three. It is a reminder for both players and fans, to remember who you are and what you stand for. A reminder of how we should live or lives on and off the field. If we have honor we will never have any regrets.
Maybe seeing that will help a player to not make a late hit or get a retaliation penalty. Maybe it will remind a fan that football (even though it’s awesome) is just a game and that in the end, the outcome isn’t the most important thing. It’s how you represent yourself and your family that matters most. Maybe seeing those three words over and over again will help both fans and players to make better choices and be better people.
How nice would it be if the Cougars never lost a player to an honor code violation because they remembered those three simple words?
I think Bronco is doing a wonderful thing with this idea. So what if it makes the Cougars different? That’s what is asked of them, both on and off the field.