To be “on the same page” is for several people to work together for a common goal. The saying possibly originated from the arts. Actors in the theatre must all be on the same page of a play. Musicians in an orchestra must be on the same page of a musical composition.
The teamwork saying “on the same page” became popular in American football in the 1960s and 1970s. Cleveland Browns football coach Blanton Collier (1908-1983) said in July 1964 that he wanted all his football players to “be on the same page.” The Browns won the NFL championship that year.
Basketball player Bill Walton is often credited on many websites for saying, “Winning is about having the whole team on the same page.” However, the “on the same page” saying was in use before Walton’s playing career.
The Free Dictionary
on the same page
thinking in a similar way
Usage notes: usually said about efforts made to solve a problem
(Oxford English Dictionary)
fig. colloq. (orig. and chiefly U.S.). to be on the same page (and variants): to be working as a team; to be in agreement; to have mutual understanding. Cf. to sing from the same hymn sheet at sing v.1 Additions.
[1965 H. Rhodes Chosen Few 179 ‘He..finally told me what page he was on’. ‘Is it th’ same page you thought it was?’]
1979 N.Y. Times 18 Jan. b7/2 One of the things that happens when you makes as many rule changes as the National Football League has had a propensity to do in the last couple of years is that it takes a long time for everybody to get on the same page as far as the rules are concerned.
1989 L. Holtz & J. Heisler Fighting Spirit vii. 60, I do think it’s important that everyone is on the same page when we’re ready to go into a season.
26 July 1964, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “‘New’ Collier Is a ‘Take-Charge’ Man” by Charles Heaton, pg. 4C, col. 3:
Collier likes to say that he wishes everybody to “be on the same page,” working in complete harmony and for the same objectives. There are indications that he now not only desires it, but will demand it.
(Blanton Collier, coach of football’s Cleveland Browns—ed.)
18 Spetember 1968, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Upset Cowboys? Perhaps—Collier” by Chuck Heaton, pg. 35, col. 7:
“WE’RE ON THE same page,” Blanton replied with a smile. “I feel the same way. They do have a wonderful team and fine coaching but things sort of snowballed in that victory over Detroit.”
(Cleveland Browns football coach Blanton Collier, comparing his team to the Dallas Cowboys—ed.)
19 July 1969, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Extra Points” by Chuck Heaton, pg. 6D, col. 1:
“ERNIE AND I have been through a lot of things together. Our thinking is one the same page. His knowledge is going to be very helpful to us.”
(Cleveland Browns football coach Blanton Collier talking about Ernie Green—ed.)
22 July 1969, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), pg. 5D, col. 6:
Thus it’s obvious that Messrs. Modell and Morse are not on the same page. In fact, they must be reading entirely different books.
(An article about football’s Cleveland Browns—ed.)
17 April 1976, The Argus (Fremont-Newark, CA), “Potpourri,” pg. 15, col. 2:
Asked by the Dallas Times-Herald to explain why the 49ers fired him, Dick “Mute Rockne” Nolan mumbled:
“I know why it was done. In order to win, everybody has to be on the same page. Naturally, you’re going to have problems in other areas, if everybody’s not on the same page.”
Google News Archive
27 November 1978, Beaver County (PA) Times, “Drilling for Oilers” by Rich Emert, pg. B1, col. 3:
“We’ve got to go out and run against Houston, and that’s not goingto be easy. But that’s what we have to do if we are going to be successful down the stretch. Just like tonight, everybody has to be on the same page.”
(Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster—ed.)
Classic Quotes from the World of Sports
By Michael Benson
Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing
“Winning is about having the whole team on the same page.” —Bill Walton, basketball
30 Second Time-Out
Monday, June 14, 2010
Bill Walton on Winning...
“Winning is about having the whole team on the same page.”
- Bill Walton