Helmet Sticker Reward System

A couple days ago I was flipping through the sports channels and came across the FSU game, I stopped since nothing else was really on and my stepdad is huge Seminoles fan. A few minutes in and I noticed the FSU players had stickers over their helmets. I had no idea what they were (camera never zoomed in on them) so I texted and asked my stepdad & that’s when he informed me that they were Tomahawk stickers FSU uses as a reward system.
Initially I kind of laughed because it seems silly, a sticker for a college football player but then I realized a LOT of people have this thing for stickers (I know I do) to show some accomplishment for example, during the election this year the “I VOTED” stickers. Now my stepdad wasn’t too sure on why they get them or how the system works so that sparked my want to write about it.

After researching helmet stickers I found out that this idea has mainly been credited to Ernie Biggs, a trainer at Ohio State University under legendary coach, Woody Hayes. Recently though on ESPN the practice of awarding these stickers is now credited to Jim Young, the former assistant coach at Ohio’s Miami Univeristy in 1965, two years before they were present at Ohio State. The helmet stickers were coined from fighter pilots and how they would mark their planes with stickers after kills and/or successful missions. The stickers are also referred to as reward decals and pride stickers. Most universities use one sticker for academic and athletic achivement but some colleges do vary them slightly. They can also denote whether it was a team achievement or personal. To easily sum it up, every college has a different usage for them and what they mean.
To many outside college football or those at the professional level it probably seems silly to have stickers as a reward but I believe it’s a unique concept that allows the players to not only have a small something to acheive but also show it off while playing the game. It creates a sense of pride and I’m sure also creates a competitive spirit among team members to see who has the most or who can reach another one first. I’m all for this and think the colleges that have discontinued it should bring it back! If you were a coach or a player on a football team would you want this system in place?

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Here’s a list of what I believe is the most up-to-date on current and discontinued usage:

Division I FBS Colleges

  • Akron- Blue Star
  • Arkansas – Hog Tusk
  • Buffalo
  • BYU – Gold Cougar(Personal Goals) and Blue Cougar(Team Goals, Wins)/”HC”(used only on throwback helmets)
  • California – Football (football with big C and “WIN” on it)
  • Central Michigan
  • Cincinnati
  • Clemson – Paw Print
  • Duke- Grim Reaper(used only for defensive players)
  • Florida State – Tomahawk (tomahawks given for academic achievements have “ACADEMIC” written up the handle of the tomahawk)
  • Georgia – White Bone (football excellence) and Black Bone (academic excellence)
  • Illinois- Blue State of Illinois(athletic achievement) and White State of Illinois(off field achievement)
  • Kentucky- White Wildcat Paw/Blue Wildcat Paw(only on white helmets)
  • Kent State
  • Louisiana Lafayette – Pepper
  • Louisiana Monroe- Maroon Star/Warhawk Talon
  • Michigan State – White Block ‘S’
  • Middle Tennessee State-Pegasus logo
  • Northwestern University – White Wildcat
  • Ohio State University – Buckeye Leaf
  • San Jose State
  • SMU – Warrior helmet and cross spears
  • Stanford – Axe Blade
  • Toledo- Yellow Rocket
  • Vanderbilt – Ship Anchor(only on gold helmets)
  • Western Kentucky- ‘WKU’ Red Towel logo

Division I FCS Colleges

  • Alabama A&M
  • Appalachian State – Mountaineer
  • Florida A&M – Snake Heads
  • Georgia State – Panther, a block “M” (standing for magnanimatas, or “greatness of spirit” in Latin), and a gold star for academics
  • Illinois State – Reggie Redbird
  • North Carolina A&T
  • Youngstown State – White Star
  • New Hampshire
  • Butler – Dog Bone

(List from Wikipedia)

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3 responses to “Helmet Sticker Reward System

  1. It’s not just the sticker itself, but also that it’s a competition between teammates to see who can get the most. Football players are competitive within their own team as well, and no one wants to have the second most on the team. Nice post.

  2. Great story. Love the research and I can now support FSU players for more than just their awesome plays. Now if only the NFL would do the same … I guess their accomplishments are reflected in their paychecks. GO FSU & GO MURPHY! Very proud of you. •teary smile•

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