Uniform, jersey, sweater it has many names. It is symbolic of the high level of commitment it took to attain it and symbolic of the club which is represents. There are a number of great quotes involving uniforms about what it means to be an athlete.
Brooks’ quote is legendary and I think most of us remember it from the movie Miracle or from the Lake Placid games. The philosophy of playing harder for your team than for yourself is a key component of hockey culture. It is also a critical component of what made his 1980 team so special. In 1980, the team was comprised of college players mostly from University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!) and Boston University. Just as they do today, my Gophers and Boston University enjoy a healthy rivalry on the ice. In order to get his players to put their egos and these college rivalries aside, he needed to unite them around a common goal and that was playing for the name on the front of their jersey Team USA. Brooks was a genius.
Clemente’s quote speaks to the pride that athletes feel when they put on the sweater. At the professional athlete, I cannot imagine how amazing it must feel. Major League Baseball is the pinnacle of baseball and to make it to that pinnacle after years of hard work must feel otherworldly. The pride he, and his family, must have felt the first time he put on that MLB jersey are something he will probably never forget. I remember the first time my sons’ put on their travel hockey jerseys. The smiles on their face went from ear to ear. You could see the pride the felt in their achievements and they carried their heads a little bit higher.