Opinion: It’s Time to Stop Retiring Numbers

While it is a time-honored tradition for players to have their numbers to have their numbers retired due to exceptional service, it’s time to just honor the player who wore it and keep the number in circulation.

Having your number retired in professional sports is a huge honor but it’s getting tiresome now and personally, it’s time to stop retiring numbers in professional sports unless the circumstances are extreme enough to warrant it or there is very special reason for the number to be retired.

I feel like the player should have the choice of the number they want, retired or not. Yankees have retired 2 numbers twice for two players.

Yes, while I get it’s a piece of history that the future generations will see down the road as we travel into the future of professional sports, it’s getting out of control. The National Hockey League has retired 99 across the league for Wayne Gretzky, Major League Baseball has retired 42 across the league for Jackie Robinson, ok, those I can get but others I can’t wrap my head around sometimes: Like retiring numbers for fans (Cleveland Guardians retiring 455 for the fans – Consecutive Sellouts) or owners (George Halas: No. 7 retired for the Chicago Bears).

Let’s take a perfect example of the New York Yankees: They have RETIRED 21 NUMBERS! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (twice retired for two players), 9, 10, 15, 16, 20, 21, 23, 32, 37, 42 (twice retired for two players), 44, 46, 49, 51. That is just unreal as the only single-digit number available for use is the number 0. The Yankees have retired 8 for Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra and 42 for Jackie Robinson (League-wide) and Mariano Rivera. That is just insane for one franchise to do. I understand the success of the team but that many numbers? At this point they might want to start pulling out three digit numbers soon.

NASCAR pulled 3 out of circulation for Dale Earnhardt for awhile but why would you retire numbers in NASCAR? NASCAR teams have a signed reliance on their numbers. Example: No. 21 is forever intertwined with the Wood Brothers Racing Team, they’ll never give it up to another team.

Honestly, it’s time to honor the person itself and not the number he/she wore. If it’s multiple players wearing the same number, ok, list them as the holder of that number. Retiring numbers is starting to get old and outdated. Let’s do something else for that player.

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Joshua Leuschner

Orioles/Ravens/Capitals/Terrapins/Inter Miami CF fan. Runs a podcast who tells it like it is (I-95 East Coast Sports Podcast) and loves sports, sports betting (responsibly of course), and finding arcane statistics in professional sports. He is also a devoted classic cartoon enthusiast (1930s rubberhose and 1940s-1960s silver/golden age animation), video game player, Enya enthusiast, devotee of classical music (Mozart, Sibelius, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and others), Hair/Classic/80s Rock fan, beer connoisseur, gym goer, former Slow Pitch Softball Player, and traveler.

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