What is tradition? When does it start? Should you hold onto it? How long should you hold onto it? These are all questions Notre Dame fans ponder probably more than any other fanbase in college football. Any debate from the color of the pants in the uniform, to whether or not to join a conference, is bound to have the word tradition brought up more than a few times. So what about names on the uniform? Tradition is brought up concerning this topic quite often and to be honest I lean on the side of tradition in this one. I say put the names on the back full-time.
Some of you are all confused by my apparent contradiction. “Traditionally Notre Dame has had no names so how are you siding with tradition?” You may ask. Even when you put it into the perspective of my lifetime (post-Holtz) Notre Dame has only ever put name’s on the uniforms for bowl games until the game vs. Cal last year, so what gives? If you go back and look at when the Irish did and did not have names on the uniforms, you’ll see TRADITIONALLY they have been inconsistent. From the start there were no names or numbers, then some years there were no names, then some there were. Other season’s names were just for away games and sometimes names were there except for against USC. That’s a long-winded way of saying there is no set tradition from what I can see. You may have a preference, and that’s completely fine we all do. My preference is to put the names on there.
It was ingrained in me as an athlete at an early age “You play for the name on the front of your jersey, not the name on the back” being that my coach was my dad who played under Lou Holtz. That is still something I agree with to a very large extent as the team aspect of sports is one of my favorite things about it. I have always been a bigger fan of the humble/team player rather than the attention seeker or showboat. I just don’t think that having your name in text on the back of your uniform changes you one way or another regarding your attitude towards your team or yourself. I think that is instilled by the coaching staff and the players, with the culture you build within the program. I understand the argument for youth sports and it makes more sense in that aspect. But for 18+ year-olds it doesn’t make a difference in my opinion.
While looking through the timelines of when Notre Dame did and did not have names on their uniforms something stood out to me. Depending on the season/period they would add names for different reasons (away games, bowl games, etc.). In 2023 and beyond - what will be probably known as the NIL era, it makes no sense to keep names off the uniforms. Nowadays you want any attention (positive at least) on your program. And with NIL - other than winning games, your players/recruits are the best way to garner that attention. The more that name is shown the more attention that brings to your players. In this era to not utilize an opportunity for free advertising is nuts to me.
My final reason for wanting to have names is an opinion that I formed more recently actually. It just looks better. I’m not sure why it wasn’t the case before but since the Oklahoma St game I’ve just thought it looked a lot “cleaner”. It may be because that blank space now bothers my OCD since I don’t notice it when teams like Navy have something other than a name. One thing I will say is - if they are going to bring back names on the jersey the font needs to be the larger one. The skinny/smaller font that has been used bugs me since it doesn’t seem to quite fill the blank spot.
I think they should have the names but if you want to remove them, for the USC game or other rivalries sort of like a throwback. I think that would be really cool. With NIL and the era we are in I think it just makes too much sense. What do you think? Should they have names or not? Does it look better? Is it about the team? You tell us.