More Than a Uniform: The Meaning Behind an Athlete’s Jersey

First impressions are important, even in sports. For casual spectators who may not know much about an athlete as a game starts, a first impression often draws heavily on team uniforms. 

Certain jerseys make a statement with flashy and unorthodox designs such as the Miami Heat’s Vice Nights Swingman jerseys, while others stir up admiration based on a franchise’s tradition of success, like the New York Yankees and their famous pinstripe jerseys.

Uniforms are a necessity to the fabric of sports, and are almost as necessary to the game as the athletes that wear them. While the origin of wearing uniforms varies from sport to sport, most leagues adopted the practice in the late 19th century. Leagues have since used jerseys as a source of team identity and artistic creativity.

As a collegiate athlete, I understand that a uniform encompasses so much more than what meets the eye.

When I try out each year for Liberty’s club ultimate team, I am not guaranteed anything but a chance to prove I am worthy to be on the roster. At that stage, I am an individual looking to be part of something greater than myself.

For the past two years, I have successfully made it past tryouts and have been blessed to represent the university that I love as an athlete. Nothing stirs up that pride more than wearing my uniform on game day.

Simmons in action at a tournament last Fall.

In many ways, the uniform is my favorite part of being on a team. In addition to representing the red, white and navy-blue colors of Liberty University, I get to express a more personal side through the number I choose. My mother played college basketball and wore No. 33, so to honor my role model and the person who loves me the most on this side of eternity, I proudly wear her number on my jersey. 

Furthermore, as a die-hard Boston sports fan No. 33 carries a special meaning for me. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, Celtics forward Larry Bird, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek and Patriots running back Kevin Faulk are all warriors and champions in their respective sports who all donned No. 33. 

In some small way, I strive to continue their incredible legacy and am driven to carry on their warrior mentality as I play – a mentality that drives me to put in extra effort.

I’m the type of player who is not afraid to put myself in high-risk situations to make a play, which often involves diving on the ground. I have left numerous blood and sweat stains caked in the fabric of my jerseys as a testament to my effort and desire to give it all for my God, my school and my teammates. 

Eventually, my time as an athlete will end and I’ll no longer have this incredible opportunity, but I’ll always have those uniforms with me. I will keep them until they are frayed beyond repair to serve as time capsules, memories of all the training, competing and winning with people that I love playing with. 

Former Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente once said, “When I put on my uniform, I feel I am the proudest man on earth.” 

While a uniform may not seem like much more than an outfit to the average eye, it means everything to me as an athlete.

John Simmons is the Web Manager. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnSimmonsJr7.


  • I love it am very proud of you Johnny grampy wore number three very nice article

  • For a sports card to be considered a Rookie, the player must be wearing a professional!! Some basketball players are still pictured in their college uniforms after being drafted! Does that make the card not a real rookie card!! Some also wear suits and ties and are called Rookie Cards! Those Too, really not RCs??? Sorry, above “Professional Uniform!” MTK

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