When people are cheering on a nerve-wracking football game, they may ask themselves why players on the same team have unique stickers on their helmets from one to the other. What is the significance of these stickers, and what are they communicating? After extensive research, here are the top reasons football players are plastering their helmets with various stickers!
Football players put stickers on their helmets in order to show support towards a team member, a good cause, or their school. They also may wear stickers as a show of personal style or individuality, or to communicate with fellow team members without needing to speak to them aloud.
Why is it so useful to strategically put stickers on a football helmet? How can understanding the use of these stickers affect how fans view the football game they are watching? Let’s go over what to know and look for before hitting the next big football game!
To Show Support for a Cause, Teammate, or School
Football helmet stickers, also called decals sometimes, are used to show off logos of Universities, lesser-known organizations or causes, or other symbols of personal meaning so that the player wearing it can communicate their support of that particular thing or cause!
For example, a football player may wear a cross sticker on their helmet to show their faith, or a rainbow sticker to communicate the political movements they favor.
Football players may also don cancer ribbon stickers to support a fellow team member battling that sickness. This can prove to be a touching and personal way that a team member can show love and support for those on and off of their team!
These stickers also go by a few names, such as gimmicks, pride stickers, and decals. Their history is long documented and has been going on for decades.
It is highly debated where the sticker ritual started, whether it came from Columbus at the Ohio State University, or if it came from former Nebraska head coach Pete Elliott, and other sources and origin stories.
To Show Individuality or Style
A football player’s personality can really shine through these stickers too! For example, a football player may slap on a sticker that depicts one of their favorite sports teams, musical artists or bands, or even their favorite movie or TV show!
Players who want to stand out from the team on the field or want to be unique may wear wild or unusual stickers to keep an eye out for on the playing field.
To Communicate Without Speaking
Stickers on football helmets can even be tactically used as outright choices to sway and communicate during high-pressure or serious games!
Some players pick out or agree on numbered stickers or symbols with their teammates that indicate a message on the field.
They may have stickers on their helmet that indicate their jersey number, are coded for fellow team members, or hint at a certain play.
By doing this, players can signal and communicate with one another without needing to talk out loud and clue in the rival team players on their plans and plays!
Badges of Recognition or Talent
Interestingly, some stickers were even used in the past as a rewards and incentives program for football players.
In some instances from the past, football players weren’t even allowed to put the stickers on their own helmets, it is an honor reserved for the coach, who may have been the sole holder and owner of these stickers.
Before, Some ball players painted their helmets with symbols or stars that carried messages and symbols. To last for years to come, helmet stickers are often made of durable vinyl and adhesive to stick it out through rain, tackles, and time.
Sometimes nicknamed merit stickers, these emblems are not as often used nowadays, since some colleges do keep up the system of rewarding, while others feel like an incentive program is unnecessary or juvenile and forego it.
It is still fascinating to see the history of and modern-day track of stickers being used to recognize football talent and skill.
Some colleges use them as a sign of award in recognition of the player’s outstanding or successful plays during a game!
For example, at Ohio State, football stickers are awarded for impressive or gutsy plays during their games, but only if their team won the game!
This encourages both personal effort, and a sense of team camaraderie and humility. The football players at Georgia University get bone stickers, with the white bones indicating exemplary football plays and the black awards for impressive academic achievement.
On the other hand, at the North Western school, a player generally gets a sticker for every game their team wins collectively. Over at Michigan State and Stanford, decals are given for extreme, above-and-beyond effort during practice.
Illinois University gives out blue emblems in return for great on-field performance on the left of the football helmet, and white emblems on the right side in return for great off-field work.
Even the Tomahawk school revokes and removes stickers if a player executes a negative play! Each team can use stickers as deeper indications or awards or may refrain from using them in the first place, depending on their preferences.
Duration of Sticker Use
Like how each football team may use their stickers for different goals or reasons, the players may keep certain stickers on their helmets for different lengths of time, for different reasons!
For instance, if stickers are rewarded in a system that works more slowly over time for decal accumulation, football players may keep them on helmets throughout their collegiate career.
Northwestern University abides by this system, while the Purdue football team discontinued their stickers for a time before returning to practice years later!
Teams sometimes see real progress and improvement with the addition of a sticker reward system or as an allowance of added communication or individuality!