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Play Like a Champion Today

Play Like a Champion Today is a saying that both the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football programs have used over the years. Its origin before being used before the late 1940s is unknown.[1]


The exact origin of the term Play Like a Champion Today is unknown. Its first reported use was in the late 1940s under coach Bud Wilkinson, then the head coach of University of Oklahoma football team. Bud's son Jay Wilkinson states that the first sign was put up early in his father's OU coaching tenure, but he doesn't believe that his father invented the phrase and isn't sure where it came from.[1]

University of Oklahoma

File:Play like a champ OU.jpg
The Play Like a Champion Today sign for away games.

The University of Oklahoma has used a sign with the phrase since the late 1940s, under coach Bud Wilkinson.[1] Traditional during home games at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium Oklahoma players and coaches touch the "Play Like a Champion Today" sign posted above the locker room doors as they head into the tunnel that leads to the field before every home game.[1] For away games a travel version is posted by equipment staff for the players to touch as they depart the locker room for the field.[citation needed]

As the team enters the field, the Sooners run under a crimson banner that displays 'Play Like a Champion' that is flanked by flags representing each of Oklahoma's seven national championships.

University of Notre Dame

File:Play like a champion sign.jpg
Poster of Notre Dame's sign

The term has been used by Notre Dame since at least 1986 when Lou Holtz came across a photo in a Notre Dame book with the sign “Play Like A Champion Today.” After asking around and coming up with no one remembering the sign and what had happened to it, he had a new sign painted and placed in a stairwell between the home team locker room and the tunnel to the field of Notre Dame Stadium.[1] This original sign was painted by Laurie Wenger in the fall of 1986.[2] It is a tradition by players to touch it on their way out of the locker room.[citation needed]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Tramel, Berry (October 22, 2012). "Oklahoma Football: Why the Sooners' 'Play Like a Champion' motto may be the original". The Oklahoman. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  2. Gray, Amanda (2013-01-02). "Local Sign-painter Owns 'Play Like a Champion Today' Copyright". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 

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