Jersey Numbers and Self-Identification

The jersey number — that is, identifying individuals in a system by placing a number directly on their clothing — is a technology that is almost exclusively unique to modern sport. The other example that immediately comes to mind is that of prisoners in a carceral institution, a relationship that certainly requires more critical attention.

So it is with considerable interest that I read an article in today's Toronto Star I have suggested previously that new communications technologies are perhaps rendering these numbers vestigial, though in this vestigial state they appear to assume new meaning.

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  1. Melanie Parkin says:

    The way that players identify themselves with their jersey number in sport is an interesting concept given the way people in every other facet of everyday life react to "being a number". Sport seems to be the only example of where people want to be known as a number, you don't often see a student who is happy to be known as a number in class, or an employee who is grateful to be known as a number at work. If these players, who are often seem in the public eye, are indentifying themselves through a number, and above that, willing to pay huge sums of money to be that number, what does that say about the way society looks up to them? Should children pay to have a certain number seat on the bus? Or maybe tatoo themselves so that they can have a certain desk in their classroom everyday? Society seems to glorify the way athletes 'need' their jersey number but look down upon being labeled a number elsewhere??? Something doesn't add up.