Friday open thread: Should sports teams retire jersey numbers?

Pride of Detroit

If you travel to just about any professional or college sports venue in the country, you will likely see banners featuring numbers, honoring the player who once donned the jersey. Everyone does it, even organizations like the Detroit Lions—who, as we all know, have not won a championship since 1957.

Regardless, the Lions are still an original NFL franchise, and even though most of the history isn’t exactly steeped in winning, it’s still history. From the No. 7 worn by Dutch Clark in the 1930s, to the legendary No. 20 worn by the greatest running back of all-time, Barry Sanders—Detroit has five retired numbers in total.

Within the division, the Chicago Bears have 14 numbers that are retired. That doesn’t sound like a lot at first, but with 53 players on active NFL rosters, choices get eliminated really quickly.

In the NBA, it was just announced that the No. 6 would be retired for all 30 teams (players already wearing 6 like Lebron James will be grandfathered in), to honor the icon himself, Bill Russell.

This practice of retiring jersey numbers has been going on for as long as sports have been around, but does that make it necessary in today’s era of sports?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Should teams continue to retire jersey numbers?

My answer: In the vast majority of cases, I am against retiring jersey numbers. I would be completely against it, but there are always exceptions.

Like with the aforementioned passing of Bill Russell. Retiring one number for an entire league might seem extreme, but Russell truly changed the game—both on and off the court.

Retiring the No. 23 for the Chicago Bulls? Totally support that. Keeping the No. 20 from ever being worn in Ford Field again? 100 percent.

However, I don’t think the Lions need to continue to keep No. 7 retired. No disrespect to Dutch Clark, because that man put in work. But they were wearing leather helmets then, and a number shouldn’t be retired for good when the last player that wore it played his football through the great depression.

Have players wear a patch or something along those lines, to honor the player who wore the number before them.

What about you? What’s your stance on retiring numbers for good? Let us know in the comments.

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Should teams permanently retire numbers?

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