“The 35,000 spectators were able to give credit for each bit of good work to the correct individual, because the team was numbered, and the large figures in black on white squares enabled each man to be identified without trouble.”, said The Daily Express in 1928.
Even the most straightforward of creations can evolve into the most beautiful of things. Knowingly, unknowingly, these ‘details’ go beyond what they were intended to do and leave impressions that are so elegant, so mystical, that they end up adding new dimensions instead of merely facilitating a necessity. It’s all about these details. These fine details that everyone acknowledges but no one quite expresses. They don’t need expression. After all, they are the expression.
Case in point, look at the numbers on the back of sports jerseys. Just a name and a number right? Well, that’s what they were thought out to be. Look at them now. Numbers, some more prestigious than others, have now attached legacies to them. They have transcended the boundaries of a few sports and spanned over generations. A ‘23’ is anything but 2 mundane digits. To be able to wear a ‘08’ on the back is an honor. A ‘01’ is a responsibility. And a ‘10’? Well, that’s an emotion.
Donning a jersey with such numbers is empowering. It’s as if you have with yourself a pinch of the personality you so dearly revere. These players, these legends, are superheroes in their own rights. But like those fictitious creatures in comic books, they don’t need capes. They have numbers. And when you put those numbers on, you have their essences with you as well. Every time you step onto the pitch, your hero steps on with you These numbers have identities that are so unique to them that now players are assigned to the numbers as opposed to numbers being assigned to players. And with each new player, the corresponding legacies are augmented. These players leave their individualized marks on those, apparently bland, figures and in the process extend their ulteriority. Of course, there is the occasional out-of-the-box mind wanting to start on a white canvas. A new number. Such as a ‘333’. It’s complementary to the power of these simple digits rather than transgressional to the beautifully set conventions.
Who could have thought that our minds crazy stupid minds would find so much fascination in these monotonous digits? And no, I am not talking about mathematics. Oh how rogue they have gone! The prestige that these numbers on the back possess is a testament to the gravity of small, minute details. And it’s not exclusive to any single group either. It’s universal. It’s spontaneous.
“I wear the number 10 Jersey for the US National Team in honor of the Greatest athlete I have ever seen: Messi.” — Kobe Bryant
This is Kobe Bryant, one of the most elite athletes of all time, succumbing to the sheer awe of the number ’10’. THE ’10’. Messi is my number 10 too. He is my hero.