What's in a number?

by barbaragarn

Guest blog by Andy Baird

I am not a superstitious person. I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t flinch when I walk past a mirror and ladder, and I find black cats annoying more than scary (although this probably has something to do with my allergies).

But, I am absolutely religious with numbers.

And why not? I have every reason to be. After all, I was born on 13:13 military time on June 13. My golden birthday (1984) was on Friday the 13th. Since all of my birthdays have generally been positive experiences (minus the Chuck E. Cheese incident, which I will not go in to detail), I have no reason not to use the number 13 for my hockey jersey.

The unfortunate part of being so drawn to the number 13 is the fact that every single hockey team on the planet has a number 13 already. Honestly. It has to be the most utilized jersey number in all of hockey, or probably any sport. So, I needed a fallback number when I recently joined a team with a reserved number 13.

When I was younger I played the iconic and genre-defining Electronic Arts NHL ’94 for SEGA Genesis. Easily the best NHL release in the whole video game franchise to date. Well, my cartridge was different from everyone else’s.

In an normal adolscent fits of rage, I got upset after a game loss and threw the SEGA Genesis cartidge against a wall. A small piece of plastic chipped off, revealing the innards of the circuitry and forever reminding me of my tempter tantrum. To my relief, the game still functioned afterwards, but an odd side effect happened: whenever I created a custom player within the game, I could make his stats as high as I wanted (e.g., 99% skill level on every ability such as stickhandling, endurance, shooting, etc, when normally these skills needed to be trained up over time).

The only down side was, whatever jersey number I seemed to assign to custom players never stuck. Despite my many efforts for my own custom-created player, he never got number 13. He always got number 32. To this day, as a developer and total techie nerd, I cannot explain why this happened. It makes absolutely no sense why physically throwing a piece of silicon memory and breaking it would result in this odd software effect. Very rare circumstance indeed.

While 13 is my top pick, it is unfortunately other people’s as well. Since I can’t have 13 all the time, I choose 32 because I want to feel connected to the number I wear, that it’s personal. It doesn’t matter what the number is, as long as I get to pick it, and I feel it represents me. That the number is somehow me, or a part of me, distilled down into two digits.

And 32 isn’t that bad of a number. After all, it’s very fitting for a software developer — 32-bit is one of the most common binary file formats. As a programmer, it divides nicely for file or database field sizes. And you’re probably reading this blog post on a 32-bit computer, did you know that?

Do jersey numbers mean anything important to you? If so, why? What jersey number are you?