Jersey retirements and other celebrations are necessary to honor the greats
Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning and Pelé, are all names known throughout the sports world. These names have been honored for their athleticism and dedication to their sport, but should they have been?
On Wednesday, Jan. 5, the Dallas Mavericks hosted the Golden State Warriors, which ended in an upset and a victory for the Mavs. Immediately following the exciting win, another exciting event occurred in the American Airlines Center, the ceremony for Dirk Nowitski’s jersey retirement. Nowitski is one of the most highly regarded players in the National Basketball Association and one of the most well-known Mavs of all time. Towering his teammates and opponents at seven feet tall, Nowitski dominated the court, playing power forward/center. His NBA career lasted 21 years, each one of those years being on the Mavs. It is safe to say that he is a legend.
Of course there are other celebrations and ceremonies for legendary athletes, but to have your jersey retired is arguably the largest honor for a professional athlete. Bryant, Manning and Pelé all had their jerseys retired on their teams. When a jersey is retired, no one on that team can ever use that number again. For example, no one on the Dallas Mavs can ever choose to be the number 41 again because that was Nowitski’s number and his jersey was retired. Jersey retirements are present in all major sports around the world. When you attend a sports match/game, the retired numbers of the home team are visible around the stadiums whether they are illustrated in banners hanging from the ceiling, a strip between rows with names and numbers on it or old jerseys cased in the halls leading to the seats.
The thing is, is it right to honor these athletes so highly? Why are legends such as Elton Brand and Ray Lewis not rewarded with this honor? All athletes that play professionally are practically required to be dedicated and work hard, so shouldn’t everyone be honored like these so-called legends? Overlooked athletes try just as hard to aim for their goals and dreams, many of which consist of honors including the retirement of their jersey.
Those that argue that these athletes do not deserve this honor are wrong. All professional athletes are celebrated just by taking place in the sport at a high level and being part of a team and community surrounded by something they are passionate about and love. None are overlooked by being a part of this exciting world.
The truth is, if you are passionate about doing something, even if you aren’t rewarded, you stick with it because it is what you love. Athletes will prevail over other athletes just as politicians will prevail over other politicians, and scientists will prevail over other scientists. These legendary athletes should be honored so that others have an influence to look up to and aim to be as good as these athletes. Not everyone can reach that goal, but that’s not what it’s all about. If you are unhappy trying to achieve a goal, then you might very possibly never be satisfied. But if you are doing what you truly love, you do not get jealous, selfish or weasel your way to the top. You are satisfied and happy, for yourself and how you are doing, but also for others, when they might be honored highly and you are not. When you are happy, you are honored in your own way.