“Wanna wear my jersey?”: Pro

Iliana Dezelic

On the day before Homecoming, a rainbow of students litter the school in costume. This ranges from the Tennis girls in Corn Cobs to the football players in their jerseys. Everyone looks so happy, a type of school pride shines in their eyes in a way that is absent for most of the rest of the year. Unfortunately, because I am not a part of a team I have never gotten a chance to experience that school pride. However, wearing a football Jersey has given me a chance to be directly involved in this day of celebrating athletics.

Every year on the Friday before Homecoming, the football team’s spirit is to wear their maroon home jersey and ask a girl to wear their white away jersey. It’s an unfortunate reality that this tradition has caused tension on our campus. The limited amount of jerseys leaves some students feeling left out or wondering why they weren’t chosen to receive one. Others argue that the tradition becomes a warped popularity contest. Some wonder if the jersey means more than a friendship. While in reality, most of the football players don’t think past giving the jerseys to just the people they are friends with. I have heard people argue that the tradition is heteronormative. However, guys have given jerseys to other guys in the past, so I don’t understand why it could not happen in the future.

For the freshman girls who are new to high school and don’t know many football players it can be harder to receive a jersey. The tradition may seem like it’s the end-all-be-all for people’s perception of you, my ninth grade self included, but what you have to realize is that the jerseys are not a measure of popularity, and are actually just representative of whether or not you know a football player well enough to wear his jersey. When I was a freshman, I knew little about homecoming traditions, but I had a few friends on the football team. Initially I was anxious about the idea of not wearing a jersey and of not being cool enough to receive one, but looking around me on that Friday, I realized that the jerseys were given to teammates’ friends and even then there were so few people wearing the jerseys that our picture together looked almost empty. Looking back it feels silly to have thought that the jersey meant so much. I have definitely still seen students walking around the halls whispering and worrying whether they are going to be asked, but my advice now is that whether you get a jersey or not, it does not matter. There will still be plenty of people like you and in no way does it reflect badly on you if you are not friends with someone on the football team and do not get asked. The tradition is only one day out of your high school experience.

In my freshman and sophomore year I wore a jersey. However, junior year I did not. I can tell you that it in no way felt like a big deal. I’ve always thought it was exciting to see people decked out in jerseys taking photos, regardless of whether I wore a jersey or not. A few days ago, I walked by as the soccer team was taking a photo in front of Tillinghast and I watched as a teacher tried to stick her hand in the photo out the window of a first floor classroom. As her hand brushed the top of the player’s head I realized how important school pride is and how fun it is to take part in. It was nice to see Horace Mann students and even faculty taking pride in our teams. Which is exactly why the football jersey tradition provides an opportunity for students to celebrate our school’s athletics. Horace Mann does not have many long standing traditions, so any traditions that we do have are that much more special.

As a senior, I am conscious of the fact that high school traditions are coming to an end for me. So, I find it important to truly devote myself to my last year as a lion, and jersey-giving is an opportunity to do so. The tradition goes deeper than its common perception as a popularity contest. It acts as the connective tissue for non-athletes and school spirit, which is too often absent in our school. I understand why jersey-giving is sometimes perceived as just another HM competition, but it is important to consider how it ties our community together under a sense of pride. We can’t let false interpretations of this tradition ruin well-intentioned school spirit.