Sunday, December 15, 2013

Oh, To Get That Jacket; The Significance Of A Team/Group Jacket

This morning as I was leaving for church I saw one of my neighborhood kids donning his newly received football jacket from Eastside High School. I didn't know until that point that he played high school football and I asked him what position he played and responded "receiver."  His response had an air of pride to it as he strolled along in his new jacket signifying that he was a part of the team. As I drove along, I saw another young man walking the street with his jacket on as well. I could tell the jackets were new as the letters were a crisp and bright orange leaping off of the navy blue athletic jacket fabric. My mind raced back to when I was sixteen and had received my Eastside High School Jazz Band jacket. Oh, how I could not wait to receive my jacket once I had passed the audition for the band. In fact, one of the first things I did upon becoming a part of the jazz band was to order the prized accouterment, for not everyone could attain this jacket for it was for the select few who were chosen to perform in the jazz band, not just any jazz band, but the Eastside High School Jazz Band under the direction of Mr. Peter Nelson, the director of the famed award winning New York Jets/Nets/Knicks and Giants half-time performing Eastside High School Marching 100. While I had missed my opportunity to march with the marching band due to shortsightedness on my part, I was not going to miss my chance to play with the jazz band and get my jacket. I still have my EHS Jazz Band jacket that I received in 1978 to this very day (see photos). I would experience those same feelings later in life as I joined the military and my fraternity.

I write this post because seeing those two young men this morning reminded me again that everyone wants to belong. Everyone wants to be a part of something. That's why gangs are able to attract young people who cannot find that belonging anywhere else; the kids who are not for whatever reason able to make the jazz band or the football team or even have a functional family for that matter. Yes, the gangs offer the same thing that all of us seek; the chance to be a part of something.  I initially was going to name this post "Every Team Ought To Have A Jacket" but I changed it in order to look at the bigger picture of belonging.  Given that everyone wants to belong, I do believe every team/group/organization ought to have a jacket whether they are champions or not. The jacket ought to be given just because you are a part of the team, win or lose. In many cases, jackets are only awarded if you win a championship, however, think about what I said concerning having a sense of belonging. While I am using the team jacket as an example in this post, it can be a shirt, uniform, sweater, pin, etc. etc. They all symbolize belonging. When you ask yourself what would make a kid join a gang, just know that it is the need that all humans have and that is to belong to something or someone.  Something to critically think about. I invite you to listen to The Critical Thinker live each Saturday morning beginning at 6:00 a.m. ET on and WP88.7 FM and  follow along on Twitter @thinkcritical01.

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