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Onward Debates: Should Penn State Hoops Jerseys Feature Names?

The Mike Rhoades era at Penn State is kicking off with a change as the men’s basketball team will boast names on the back of their blue-and-white garb in the upcoming 2023-24 season.

Though Penn State football holds claim to the “black shoes, basic blues, no names, all game” mantra, plenty of other Nittany Lion athletics teams have adopted the mindset that the name on the front is more important than the name on the back.

However, folks have strong opinions on both sides of the jersey, so naturally, two of our staffers shared their thoughts on the decision.

Aidan Conrad: No Names. All Game.

The simplest way to put it is Penn State’s slogan: We Are. The school locked into this message around 75 years ago, and the sentiment holds true today.

As a school, we are in it for something bigger than ourselves. The athletes play for the words on the front of the jersey and not the back. This idea is why you would struggle to find athletic teams at Penn State with last names across the back of uniforms.

Now that the basketball team is reacquiring the last name on the jerseys, fans can take this the wrong way. Many of Penn State’s supporters believe in the value of tradition and being selfless, so this uniform change goes against both of those beliefs.

Nolan Wick: Pro-Name

Although I’m in the minority here, I think Penn State basketball should include last names on the back of its jerseys.

Simply put, Penn State hoops hasn’t earned the right to exclude them. This tradition has been observed by teams and franchises among the most storied in their sports, and unfortunately, the Nittany Lions aren’t there yet.

For example, does Penn State’s basketball program have an endless list of All-Americans and first-round draft picks like its football program? No. Have the Nittany Lions won a billion championships like the New York Yankees? Negative. Or have a plethora of incredible athletes played here like the Boston Red Sox? Ditto.

Hopefully, you understand my argument. Penn State needs to earn the right to have that privilege. While part of the idea is the message about the front of the jersey mattering more than the back, it’s something I’ve always associated with the best sports teams doing. Bring a national championship and sustained success to Happy Valley, and I’ll happily revisit the subject.

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