The Science Behind Football Helmet Decals

15 June 2021 | + Silvia Kabaivanova

Sometimes, stickers are not just things that you add to your helmets and footwear. They are iconic symbols and the new garb that can make your team get recognition. Read more about the stickers when you click here. These stickers are also signs that an individual player contributes to the season significantly, and they didn’t go unnoticed. Sometimes, it’s a badge of honor that many are proud to show around.

In the past seasons, particularly during 1967, a team from Ohio State football has dumped their previous red helmets in exchange for their now silver headgears, which are iconic throughout the world. With this new garb, there comes a new policy as well. Players who would make touchdown runs can be rewarded with a buckeye leaf sticker.

In relation to the decals, the coaches have instructed the players to affix the buckeye leaf into the backsides of their shiny silver headgears. This has become a tradition in many universities, and it’s no wonder why the chrome football helmet decals are getting more popular now more than ever. They are the rewards that many are striving to achieve, and they resemble a rite of passage. They are also the best indicators of a players’ status among the team, and the heavily adorned ones are considered the legends.

The Science of Decals
Studies such as the ones published in PLoS ONE have given a fresh perspective in the tradition. The research in the monthly journal has said that when small rewards are becoming more visible trophies within a team, the male players are changing some of their approaches in the playing field and the entire match. They sacrifice their individual needs and best interests to ensure that the team can meet its goals.

This is more prevalent in competitive sports. Getting more decals on the helmet is subconsciously driving a lot of players to cooperate with their team. They have the deep-seated need and psychological mechanisms that make this possible.

Studies Involved that Relates to the Decals
In a study done by a doctoral candidate in economics at the ICES in Daniel Houser’s lab, the results of getting tokens of recognition are promising. The experiments involved determining how a group of college students will act and value a specific price and how this value will change during a match.

The rewards offered were a unique mug with the ICES logo, and this is not available to buy in any stores inside the campus and a Haagen-Dazs ice cream bar. The one conducting the study had first asked each student about the price that they are willing to pay for each price to ensure that no bias is present. At first, the entire group valued the same item.

Volunteers were divided into teams. Each was given around $20 at the start of the experiment. For about ten rounds, the players have to decide which of the two will be purchased with the experimental money. The purchase is going to use the team’s communal pot. For each dollar contributed, the team member will receive 40 cents at the end of the research.

The game involves reading the other opponents. The cooperation is going to pay off if everyone on the team will follow suit. So, if all the participants keep the money to themselves, there are no available funds to split. On the other hand, if everyone is going to go all out, there will be $32 in total on the communal pot, and the result will be at least $12 of return on investment.

When each of the ten-round is over, the anonymous results of the money contributed by the other team will be shown. The opposing team can then adjust their strategies if they want. There’s also a rating of the participants on a scale of 0 to 10 on how satisfied they are with the contributions.

The higher the ratings of that person, the higher chance they will be declared as winners. Researchers are requiring those who won the ice cream bar to finish eating it before returning to the rest of their teams. The ones who won the mug have carried their spoils to the experiment room.
In this study, scientists had found out that men were more inclined to contribute when the mug was the price and not necessarily women. Most men have thrown their cash all in the game, and they vied for the highest ratings from their teammates because they want to be the alpha. Read more about the alpha male impact here: The males are more cooperative instead of scheming against the rest of their group members.


The Findings
The researchers believed that males view the mug as a kind of trophy that they can display. Their desire to win has spurred the affection of the others, and their shift was towards winning instead of getting a self-interest strategy to all of the rounds. This is the same with decals where status and respect are earned in football. They have the alpha-male distinction that will benefit the group overall, making their teams better.

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