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A Modest Proposal (with your input requested)

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If there’s one thing demonstrated by my recent ESPN articles about the wishbone-C logo (if you missed them, they’re here and here), it’s that there are lots of high schools out there that are perfectly willing to use a pre-existing logo instead of coming up with their own.

The wishbone-C is a fairly innocuous example, since it has a long history of being shared by multiple teams (three different MLB clubs were wearing it simultaneously in the mid-1930s!). By this point, the wishbone sort of belongs to everyone. But many, many high schools out there are using logos that are tied to very specific pro teams — the Eagles, the Vikings, the Broncos, the Patriots, etc. Readers send me examples of this phenomenon on a near-daily basis. I used to run them in the Ticker, but now I rarely bother to do so. It’s so common that it hardly seems noteworthy.

I must say, I don’t understand this logo recycling (or, if you prefer, logo poaching) at all. Aside from the ethical implications, it just strikes me as lazy and counterintuitive. Like, wouldn’t you want your school to have its own logo — something original, something you can call your own — instead of using someone else’s? And most high schools have decent graphic arts programs, so you could have a student contest, or get the art teacher to come up with something, or the local design shop, or whatever. Wouldn’t that be better? Plus you wouldn’t have to worry about getting a cease-and-desist letter from the team whose logo you’re using.

I’ve thought this for years. Now I’d like to explore doing something about it.

My ESPN editors and I are discussing the possibility of launching a program that would encourage high schools stop using unoriginal logos and start coming up with their own — the Uni Watch High School Redesign Project (or something like that). Maybe we could provide a modest design fee or stipend for schools that choose to participate, and we could feature the best ones on SportsCenter or something like that. Ideally, the project would promote good design and civic engagement while generating some nice buzz for Uni Watch and for ESPN.

This idea is still in the embryonic stages, and I’d like your input to help make it better. My questions for you are as follows:

• I know some of you coach at the high school level, or are otherwise involved in high school athletics. Is there something I’m missing about schools that use unoriginal logos? Like, is there a good reason for doing it that I’m overlooking? I realize that using a stock logo from the sporting goods catalog is probably less expensive than a custom logo, but I don’t get the impression that the use of unoriginal logos is being driven by financial considerations, at least not exclusively. Is there some other reason schools choose to go this route?

• If you were running a program like this, how would you set it up? What would the logistics be? How would you promote it? How would schools apply to be part of it? What incentives would you provide? What kind of budget? Any suggestions above and beyond what I’ve already described?

And so on. Basically, if you have any thoughts, suggestions, or feedback on this topic, I’m all ears. Thanks in advance for your sound counsel.

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Collector’s Corner

By Brinke Guthrie

As you know, the Houston Astros have new uniforms, so we’re leading off with some items pertaining to the American League’s newest team. We’ve got a 1960s pennant featuring the Astrodome ”¦ an Astros bobblehead from the same period … an assortment of Astros decals (ever seen that top-right one?), and of course a deadly cool tequila sunrise Starter jacket.

As for the rest of this week’s finds:

• Terrific unopened 1971 Springbok/Hallmark Dallas Cowboys puzzle. I absolutely remember these. Hallmark and Sears were the places for NFL stuff back then.

• Speaking of puzzles, how about a 1970s WHA Eastern Division puzzle?

• Interesting facemask on Garo here. A single-bar Dungard!

• We’ve got old-school action right here with this 1967 “This Is NFL Football” 49ers Edition softcover book.

Nice vintage 1980s SF Giants sweater, submitted by readerCliff Engle. Note the MLB silhouetted batter on the sleeve.

• Oooh, 1970s NBA mini-gumball kit, and it’s not missing anything!

• Ever heard of a 1970s California Angels “Man Toy”? No, it’s not inflatable.

• From reader Rocky Lum, check out this 1962 Broncos ticket stub.

• And finally, here are two 1971 football cards. Dave Herman gets included because of the sleeves and socks, and Bake Turner gets included because his name is “Bake.”

Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here, and you can follow Brinke on Twitter and Facebook.

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Purple Watch reminder: Remember, if you see any election-related talking head wearing any kind of purple today or tonight, please get a screen shot of him or her and send it my way. Thanks.

Broken wing update: Doing fine for now. Surgery still slated for Thursday morning. Cooking is tricky right now, so my upstairs neighbors came down yesterday with some dinner for me, and doing the dishes is even trickier, so my friend Heather came over and did that for me. (Yes, I should probably just switch to paper plates and plasticware for a while, but I’m not quite ready to do that yet.) Lucky fella.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: As you know, the NBA’s plan to use uniform ads beginning in 2013 has been tabled. But according to one report, the league will go ahead with the program in 2014. That one report is sketchy and unconfirmed, but I do think 2014 makes sense as their current target date, since that’s when Adam Silver will begin his first full year as league commish. Still, a lot can happen between now and then. We shall see. … America, fuck yeah. … Compared to that embarrassment, the G.I. Joe looks that Michigan State and Ohio State will wear in the Carrier Classic seem almost quaint. … You know, the saddest part about all this is that I used to like Veterans Day. Now I just associate it with the worst excesses of the uni-verse and the worst excesses of the jingo-sphere — which, unfortunately, are fast becoming one and the same. … In happier news, gorgeous 1934 throwback on tap for Valencia. “Best part: No sponsor!” says Omar Aujani. … The Kings and Warriors went color-on-color last night. … Sports teams aren’t the only ones who can be clueless about misappropriating Native American imagery. … Pretty solid article on NFL equipment managers (from Leo Thornton). … The whole Movember/mustache thing has spread to CHL zebra jerseys (from Dane Drutis). … NBA change that I missed: The Heat have added a 25th-anniversary patch.

Comments (134)

    Yeah be sure to vote!

    OK, what I *really* mean is, Go vote for my guy!! ;^)

    USA! USA! USA!!

    Original logos for high school teams is a good idea. What about Pop Warner/anklebiters/etc.? Seems like a good idea at that level, but logistically there are more challenges since team names are often chosen by the kids themselves in August.

    I coached baseball at the high school level for 8 years and we were the Dragons, my AD wanted to poach the Dayton Dragons logo down to a T, but I used it as a concept a starting off point. Our initials were WM so I had wings coming off of the W and turned the Dayton D with the winding tail into an M with the same tail and preferred my original to something borrowed.

    Why are they (No Doubt) “clueless”? Shouldn’t the people that they consulted with be lumped in with that generalization as well? It’s getting a little ridiculous with the whole over sensitive thing especially when they specifically worked with Natives and “experts” on the video…next thing, all Orthodox will prohibit anyone outside of their culture from wearing black hats…

    Who’s saying that everyone involved ISN’T clueless?

    If the video depicted a blackfaced Gwen Stefani picking cotton, would it be acceptable as long as they worked with African-Americans and “experts?”

    1. Astros starter jacket link is wonky.

    2. Back in the 1980s when I was a HS teacher and coach, we used stock logos because the school I taught (a now-defunct religious school in inner-city LA) at couldn’t afford anything else.

    Every high school in the country has kids who have a strong interest in graphic design. Some of them have posted concepts here. Kids have access to everything they need to create professional-looking designs.

    What we need is a movement to encourage every school to stay in-house. The artsy kids are at least as skilled in their field, as the kids playing football are in theirs. Why not give them the chance to develop their skills?

    Considering it isn’t against the law (because there is no market confusion) teams will do it simply to garner interest.

    Also, what are you more likely to look at and be drawn to? Something established and known or something that is new and simply different.

    It is part of the society in which we live, we like things that stay the same and are scared of change and being different.

    This argument is demonstrably false. If it were true, teams would never change their uniforms and/or logos. Instead, we now see an accelerated pace of uniform change.

    Be careful what you wish for. When high schools start expressing their individuality, we wind up with stuff like this:

    Or this:

    Even colleges have a tough time coming up with competent designs:

    That being said, I’m still all for it. I’d put up with a sea of crappy designs if it means we wind up with a few gems.

    Be careful what you wish for. When high schools start expressing their individuality, we wind up with stuff like this…

    Still better than recycling someone else’s design, methinks.

    Paul! Sorry about the wing.

    I’m jumping back into UniWatchWorld because: A) I’ve finally hired some people to help me out in the salt mines down here, and so can retreat into my customary administrative posture of rarified detachment; and B) You are on to something very big and potentially very useful with this high school logo concern.

    Drives me completely nuts that, as Cort says, high schools neglect the at-hand graphically talented kids and instead go for off-the-shelf designs from colleges and pros (pros, mostly). I would love it if you and UW could help reverse the trend.

    It won’t be easy. As comments here already indicate, a lot of people (most people, I daresay) don’t think that there’s much *at stake* here. Coaches and boosters and kids borrow insignia they see on TV because they like them. They like that their G looks like the Green Bay G. It’s part of a giant cultural shift that’s also evident in the loss of idiosyncratic, place-based commercial signs in favor of corporate templates for local branches of global enterprises. Applebee’s and Courtyard Inn instead of Mom’s Diner and Bates Motel. Home-made designs and hand-painted letters are seen less and less (except in some urban enclaves), and it’s not surprising that kids have developed an aesthetic that prizes professional brand-name-ism over local attempts at distinctiveness.

    But there’s hope! Geeks survive and do-it-yourself-ism thrives electronically these days, and I bet there’s a constituency out there for the reassertion of the local and the particular and the home-grown. I really hope you can run with this, Paul.

    Remember, we are thr minority. We notice an understand the pratfalls of “borowing” logos and wordmarks. I LOVE the ingenuity of unique, school-specific graphics, but they are few and far between.

    For example John Jay East Fishkill uses the letters to create the image of the patriot…Awesome!

    Whereas, Mamaroneck turns the Wisconsin M upside down…

    Although, they used to use these:

    High School kids covet what they see. The Georgia/Green Bay G, Michigan Wings and Wisconsin Motion W are some of the more popular in my area to be pilfered…they’re easy and the kids can identify with them.

    Considering it isn’t against the law (because there is no market confusion) teams will do it simply to garner interest.

    Actually, it is against the law. It may not be illegal in the criminal sense, but infringing someone’s trademark will subject you to civil liability, possible court-imposed injunctions, and potentially significant monetary damages.

    The “market confusion” piece is only one factor in determining trademark infringement. The analysis is more complicated than simply asking, “Is anyone going to mistake this high school team for the New England Patriots because they’re using their logo?” Other issues factor into the equation, such as whether someone might believe the original owner of the trademark supports or endorses the junior user, or whether there’s a danger of the trademark becoming “genericized” from widespread unauthorized use.

    If trademark owners doesn’t take affirmative steps to protect their trademarks from known unauthorized use, they risk losing the trademarks. The trademarks can become diluted to the point where they are essentially considered to be in the “public domain” and available for anyone to use. Moreover, federal trademark law requires holders of federally registered trademarks to affirmatively enforce their rights or lose their federally registered status.

    So, despite the predictable and inevitable protestations that always accompany an attempt to enforce trademark rights – (“Why is this huge university with deep pockets picking on a poor little high school like us?”) – the consequences of not acting are potentially very serious for college and pro sports teams.

    My highschool’s (Fairfield Prep) football team poaches the Alabama numbers on the helmet thing, does that count as poachery? Incidentally, the high school in my hometown (Ridgefield) also poaches the Clemson logo. Should I cause a snit about that?

    “Should I cause a snit about that?”

    Why not? What the heck is more important in Ridgefield CT than the logo on the high school helmet?! What are you doing, civics-wise, that is more valuable than sponsoring a public competition for an original helmet design? Crikes, you throw a rock in Ridgefield and you’ll hit a graphic designer.

    OK, that’s not your idea of time well spent, so you stack the rhetorical deck by using the word “snit.” Please.

    When I played high school football we were the Vikings, but we had out own logo. A couple kids on the team wanted the NFL helmet, but our school wanted nothing to do with it. I think the big reason is that if you use an NFL or college powerhouse logo, you appear more “legit” and tough. And if your school uses different colors, it still appears to have the “custom to our school” feel.

    I’m not a fan of it. The worst is when you see a team with a generic mascot like a wildcat or bulldog and then use a KSU or Fresno State logo. Blah.

    When I was in high school, we had Washington’s “W” (I live in Washington and our town name started with a “W”) in the school colors, but I just saw last week they had the Atlanta Falcons logo in the school colors. Very odd to see.

    The High School Redesign Project seems like a great idea, and it would be fantastic to encourage more schools to do something different with their logo designs. There are certainly not going to be a shortage of people interested in creating some logos.

    “The extra packing paid off another way a few seasons back when the Raiders activated wide receiver Jonathan Holland after arriving in San Diego for a nationally televised game against the Chargers. Romanski didn’t have a No. 10 uniform for Holland, so he took a white No. 12 jersey, cut out the 0 from a No. 40 jersey and stitched the two together.

    A seamstress then fashioned a nameplate out of strips of black cloth and Holland got his uniform five minutes before the Raiders took the field.”

    gotta figure out that game, and find some pics! Jonathan Holland with the Raiders from 2007-2010.

    This sounds like a fun project. I made a design for a former league-mate’s pee-wee team a few years ago – at the time, the Fire Ants. He loved the logo, but it and the name were “voted down by a bunch of silly soccer/football moms who raised holy hell over it.”

    They ended up going with the “Cowboys”. Yes, they were in Texas.

    What exactly was the objection these so-called soccer/football moms had to the Fire Ants name/logo?

    He didn’t really say – and it was odd considering he was *inheriting* the name (new coach). I just assumed they never liked the name and figured that was a good time to get rid of it.

    I think poaching logos has a lot to do with cost. For example, it probably costs less for a high school team to purchase a recolored Patriots logo that a thousand other teams across the country use than to custom-make and purchase only 100. It’s basic supply and demand.

    He means economy of scale, but the point remains a valid one. The pro logos are generally easier to get produced by a decal company. They may give you a little upcharge for a color change, but you aren’t paying design, and you can probably get a break on pricing.

    We hear about schools getting cease-and-desist letters but does anything happen to the company that produced the copy-cat logo for the school and why would they produce a copied logo if they know it is the Patriots patriot?

    The High School Redesign Project is a fabulous idea!

    I cringe every time I see a high school using a pro or college logo. It’s just lazy and unoriginal. Even if you have the same name, why not come up with your own unique identity? Between current students and alums, I’m sure there is no shortage of talented designers from any school that would be willing to help out.

    My middle school here in SoFla was the Patriots, and we had a knockoff of the Flying Elvis logo. Needless to say as a kid who bled Dolphins aqua & orange it was unpleasant lol. HS we were the Colonels with the wishbone ‘C’, unoriginal but a little better haha.

    While at it, you should tell the University of Georgia to not have the same logo as the Green Bay Packers. Just sayin’

    When I worked for Russell Athletic 5+ years ago, we had a fairly deep collection of “Stock” logos that could be used for screen printing, heat press or embroidery. I believe these came without the set-up fees that custom logos required. (I had a custom logo created for a business I ran and it was more than $100 to set up).

    I would wager cost, avoiding controversy and ease of use are the major factors in high school sports logo design.

    Good points, Dennis. My guess is that a successful program would include a special deal with an apparel company. I wonder, though, if the “set-up” costs are still such important factors as they once were. I mean, you send in a jpg on a disc, right? I’m in the habit of giving people custom T-shirts, via Cafe Press, and the cost seems quite reasonable. Why would it be so different for a high school? [By the way, any UW reader should let me know if you would like a Connie-Custom garment or tote bag with the heraldic logo of the non-existent Irish/Hungarian Athletic Association.]

    Hey look at that. My alma mater, Stevenson HS, pictured at in the lede at top left. When I went there in the early 90’s, they were using the Old Pat Patriot logo in green and gold.

    My school, Ward Melville HS in Setauket NY, uses Flying Elvis now. AFAIK, they never wore Pat Patriot.


    Ajax looks terrible. Their outfit, that is, not their play.

    Weird. I reloaded this page and the font changed. Then I reloaded it again and it went back to the regular font.

    1) “Love” the Rutgers helmet…really brings attention to the tradition of knights in the American military. Remember when Sir Grant and Sir Lee jousted each other at Appomatox Court House? Or when Eisenhower bravely fought Rommel with a broadsword in Normandy?

    2) Back to seriousness, your call-to-action for high schools inspires me. My high school was named for Thomas Edison, and the mascot is an eagle. I’m thinking a lightbulb with a bald eagle perched atop it…that’d be unique and kinda fun (and a massive load better that the Philadelphia Eagles “screaming eagle” logo they currently use)

    As a football coach I see a mixture of this. A Stock NFL or NCAA logo is recognizable to a lot of people. It’s something people see and relate to instantly. It is also, and I know you hate this, why we use NIKE. It is what the kids want and what they are drawn to. If your uniforms are like Arkansas or Miami or Oregon, the kids say “Hey, we wear the same uniform…” (even though we all know it is not)

    Knowing that, it would be great to have unique logo designs. Although our name is fairly common (Demons) we use a Trident on our helmet that no other team uses. We have flirted with the idea of going to the ASU look, but we are happy with our design even if it takes a lot longer to get hats and t-shirts made.

    A Stock NFL or NCAA logo is recognizable to a lot of people. It’s something people see and relate to instantly.

    I have to say, this surprises (and terribly disappoints) me.

    Yeah, people can “relate” to it — they relate it to someone else! Why not try to create something of your own? I really don’t understand this mentality. Seems very counterintuitive to me.

    Everyone keeps saying, “We gravitate toward what we know.” But the biggest trend in uniforms these days is the short attention span — the tendency to change designs every year, or every week, because people DON’T want to stick with what they know. They get bored with that they know!

    I’m not saying that’s a good thing (it often isn’t); I’m just saying it flies in the face of the “People gravitate toward what they know” argument.

    I think that the “change every minute” aspect is at the higher (and much better funded) levels of sports in this country. At the high school level, where you’re going to have your uniforms (and really, this is mostly about helmet logos, the vast majority of the time) for a longer time, it makes some sense. I think a lot of coaches (and certainly a lot of high school athletes) would like to change more often, but they can’t because they don’t have the funds.

    So what do they do? They poach a logo of a team they would like to emulate or that shares initials or mascot with them and they use it. Perhaps it’s in homage, perhaps it’s out of lack of effort. Either way, they end up with a logo that is recognizable, which is what they want.

    What they don’t realize is that if they just picked a home-made logo that was strong and stuck with it, they would have something just as identifiable….

    Regarding the topic in the lede:

    How do you all feel about the paw?

    I’ve always thought my alma mater, Collegiate School, was too close to Clemson:

    Doing a little bit of research, Clemson’s logo has a “hook” at the base of the paw that wikipedia says is “a sign that this is the official licensed trademark for the university” and Collegiate’s logo does not have that “hook”.

    Recently though, I have seen a lot of gear with this logo system, though I don’t think it has made it to unis:

    I like it as far as a unique logo goes, I think it’s creative. My one worry is the scratch mark on the Paw/C logo leave us open for the Bear/Tiger/Bearcat scratch marks on jerseys that we see in college too often.

    It’s worth noting that we’ve recently had a lot of success on a state level and have been running out the last few years in at least one alternate jersey. This year…we went BFBS…

    Generally, I think our jerseys for the last few years are pretty good looking, outside of the truncated pant stripe:

    My high school in Kent, Washington uses a nearly identical logo to that Atlanta Falcons.
    Here’s the school homepage with the logo in the top left:
    And here’s the Atlanta Falcons logo:

    From a distance, they are indistinguishable. When I graduated from high school, I went to a university in Atlanta. Every damn time I see the Atlanta Falcons logo on a shirt, billboard, hat, anything, I do a double-take. And it’s annoying as hell. Even while I attended my high school, I detested their use of the Atlanta Falcons logo because it is extremely unoriginal. I once wrote a letter to the AD and other admin proposing we create a new logo. My argument was simple: it’s unoriginal and cheap, and my school was the only school in the district to use a poached logo (except the Kentridge Chargers use the helmet template from the San Diego Chargers).

    But even if they did change the logo at my former high school, I cannot be saved. And for the rest of my life, I will double-take when I see a Falcons logo, and I will have a momentary flashback to high school and remember how terrible it was. Damn.

    Few things:

    1) Rad lede, Paul. This could end up being a really cool idea.

    2) That Valencia jersey is GORGEOUS.

    Paul, I’m curious about your take on the Movember thing. The pink is obviously out of hand. The moustache is a different animal though. Whatcha think?

    I’ll be honest with you: If not for Uni Watch readers telling me about it, I wouldn’t even know about Movember. Really. Not big on the radar here. So I have no opinion.

    It’s actually huge in Canada. Canadians raised the most money for the cause last year.

    It seems to be a very hockey-supported cause, though. Maybe that’s because baseball is over and football has most faces covered in protection. The hockey crowd seems to get in on it very heavily. HBIC, for example, is featuring a “Mo’ Bro” from the NHL every day, and I’ve signed up for Movember at

    Good cause, and it’s not so over-promoted like other causes. If see someone growing a ‘stache in November, there’s a good chance that person is behind the Movember cause – men’s health initiatives, specifically prostate cancer research and mental health issues.

    I first heard about Movember last year (I think in part because some members of the Flyers organization were growing ‘staches). The referee jersey is so tacky, I like it. Yeah, that sounds like a contradiction, but I stand by that.

    Matching sox to tie for a special Stirrup Tuesday in the Old Dominion:

    And if anyone is hot and bothered by the candidate the photo clearly shows I’m supporting, go vote and cancel me out! As strongly as I feel about the candidates, and I feel very strongly about them, we’re talking Nats vs Phillies passion here, I’d much rather lose an election where more people participate than win when fewer people do.

    You’re not one of the few. There are literally trillions of us. Yes, TRILLIONS.

    But those black Saints pants do not belong on an any NFL football field during a game.

    At best, they look like practice pants to me. But really they don’t look like football pants at all. They look like dancers’ leggings.


    Never mind that the Blue Devils have no business wearing them, THIS is how you do a solid black uni.

    I wonder if a lot of schools adopt professional/college logos because they want the “prestige” (for lack of a better word) that comes with such a mark? I think back to high school for myself (10+ years ago) and was always intrigued and impressed when a rival school had a recognizable logo – as compared to my school, which had a completely original pirate. Looking back now, I realize that our logo was pretty darn awesome. But in my younger days, I was the typical high schooler impressed by shiny objects and flashy graphics. I thought our Penn State knockoff uniforms sucked, too. My opinions have certainly changed.

    I figure the other best guess is just laziness. Why come up with something original when you can just order pre-made and ready-to-go stuff from a catalog.

    I wonder if a lot of schools adopt professional/college logos because they want the “prestige” (for lack of a better word) that comes with such a mark?

    I don’t get it. Where’s the “prestige” in “Me too”-ism?

    Eh, we think differently, Paul. You have to put yourself in the shoes of an “average” 18 year old. Not all of them think that way, but a lot do. I did. Hopefully, they’ll grow out of it. Even at that age they still look to the college and pro guys as being “heroes”. I would imagine that wearing their logo makes them feel more connected to the heroes.

    You know how most Little League teams have big-league names? Kids usually want to play for either the Yankees or whatever their hometown team is called. Same deal. That’s what “prestige” means here – it’s kids identifying with their pro idols.

    Personally, I was a Mets fan for years as a kid just because my first LL team was the Mets. Later, when I was mostly a terrible adolescent athlete and thus playing on bottom-division teams, I spent years in rainbow-gut Atros or brown Padres shirts, because the teams with the aggressive coach-dads who drafted the best players always got first pick on nicknames too and so they were always the Yankees and Twins.

    That’s not a good analogy, though. Little Leagues are just that — leagues. They have multiple teams. You can’t expect every town to come up with six or eight or 12 unique team names and identities.

    A high school, though, has its own team name, its own colors, etc. It’s not asking too much to expect it to have its own logo.

    Also, Little Leaguers are fairly young children. (Insert joke about high schoolers acting like fairly young children here.)

    But if high schoolers really want to “dress like their heroes,” well, their heroes are getting new uniforms practically every other week at the college level. Their heroes are getting to wear new looks (even if many of them suck), not recycling old ones. And so on.

    Anyway, this isn’t just about the high schoolers; it’s also about their community. A unique logo, produced locally, can be something to promote civic pride and community engagement. Much better than having the same logo a million other towns/schools/etc. are using.

    Paul, I wasn’t making a comparison. You’re right that these are two different beasts, organizationally. I was offering my opinion of what “prestige” refers to in this context. What the kids on the team get out of wearing a pro logo. And there, it really is the same thing. The kids experience the same emotional attraction to wearing the uniform of a pro team in either case, even if the adults running the team(s) have very different obligations.

    I’m not saying it’s a good thing – hell, I much prefer when Little Leagues do use original team names or even minor-league names instead of MLB nicknames – but the kids really do connect with the pro iconography this way, and it has always been thus. We don’t have to cater to it, and in fact I’m proud that my own high school has had a wholly original Eagles logo for many decades now, but kids really do see “prestige” in wearing a pro logo. Even when the colors are different.

    Man, I’m glad election day is here, if only because I’m so sick of Romney ads popping up on so many websites. Even this one, to my surprise. Assume Paul has nothing to do with that, but there it is, every time I visit uni-watch. On the left sidebar when I open the site and at the top of the comments when I open those.

    Those ads are geared to your IP address and your browsing history. So you’re probably in a battleground state and/or you’ve been cruising GOP sites lately.

    I suspect most high schoolers that go to schools that use pro team’s logos think it’s cool that they’re wearing the same logo as the pros they watch on Sunday. And if using a “stock” logo saves them $100 by not having to pay a “custom art set up fee” then they may be looking at the bottom line in making that choice.

    My school was opened in the bicentennial year, 1976, and chose as it’s mascot the Patriots, and for years we used ‘Pat the Patriot’ and then switched to the ‘Flying Elvis’ not long after New England did. I seem to remember asking someone in authority (I was into UniWatching even then) if there was any thought to keeping the old logo to be a little distinct and not “just change it because the New England Patriots did” and he said, “that’s just what they sent us” so maybe individual schools have less control over what suppliers send them.

    Although we were red white and blue, the same logo and color scheme as New England, so maybe it’s different for most of these schools that at least take the logo and customize it a little with unique colors.

    But I didn’t high school team sports, the only thing I know is when I played little league and moved up to the “majors” where we got to wear MLB logos (instead of the block letters of the minors) I thought it was cool that I got to wear a Blue Jays #4 jersey, just like Manny Lee.

    We have districts here in Houston that have spent 80 MILLION DOLLARS on their high school stadiums. They can handle a hundred bucks for an artwork setup fee.

    Back in 1980, our high school had a TV station. We broadcast on the local cable provider. Kids from the school did a morning newscast — everything from writing copy to camerawork was done by students. And kids from the art class did all the graphics for the station. It was part of their class work. They designed the station logo, and produced every bit of artwork that was used. And it looked really good.

    One of those kids went on to a career with NPR. A couple of the art kids majored in graphic design in college. It was a tremendous success story.

    One of the arguments local educators make for the emphasis on football is that it’s not just about the athletes: band kids, drill team, Junior ROTC, trainers, and on and on are all involved in the event. So why not add the art department?

    The 2 Jets football cards’ photos were taken at Harvard stadium (in 1970 they played there in week 2 which would acct for the sunny weather and the pats wearing white. Also jets usually had late season openers due to the Mets

    I guess I’m kind of lucky and unlucky at the same time. My high school, Methacton, uses a pretty unique Warrior head, but has since stepped away from it in other sports (football uses the Redskins spear).

    However, I am still game for getting MSD to change their logo, but keep the Warriors name. Quick question; would a generic spear be acceptable, as opposed to an “Indian” spear, or is both deemed in poor taste either way?

    I think the Uni Watch High School Redesign Project is a great idea. I think the biggest hurdle is cost and brand recognition. A lot of these logs come with a built in marketability and recognition.

    My alma mater was the Eagles – predictable a red and grey pick up of Philly. I always thought it was missed opportunity by using a plagiarized logo but I can also see why/how it happened.

    I work as a designer and would love the opportunity to tackle my alma mater’s logo and introduce a mark of their own.

    I think a scholarship/low fee route is the best to go. I don’t like the idea of a voting. I think it should be more a focus about how a change was made, impact/case study, not voting. It would provide a definitive and valuable resource to show other schools how to make the same changes. Also would be less about a contest and more about designing what is unique, intelligent, and right.

    I think some of using pro logos is the added benefit of fan gear. My HS was the bulls and when I was there had its own logo (basically an S with horns). At some point it switched to the Texans’ logo. Same colors too (we were always red, white, and blue). Now, someone could just buy a Texans-logo hat and support the HS Bulls.

    But if a school had an original logo the purchase of the hat, tshirt… would support the school financially and quickly pay that set up fee for a custom logo.

    I generally don’t mind when high schools poach rams horns, lightning bolts, eagles wings and horseshoes. Otherwise come up with something original.

    Good to see that my old high school, Liberty High School, is no longer poaching the Clemson paw on their helmets. Just TV numbers on the helmets. But it looks like their opponent in that game, Westminster High, has a poached motion W.

    That Giants Low-Orange Hum Baby Pre-Bonds decade (1983-92) sweater probably got copped from the set of Full House.

    Non-high-school-logo-related: It looks like the Orioles number 3 prospect, Jonathan Schoop hits sans batting gloves (playing the video shows 3 stills of him batting). Something to watch for. They say to expect him to be up with the big league club within the next 2 years.

    I wish we could go back and change school’s nicknames too – my conference had 3 teams with the same mascot… love this idea.

    My alma mater’s league had 3 (out of 9) teams with the same royal blue/yellow color combination!

    So, I definitely agree that it’d be great to change some things about schools…

    Here’s a thought.

    Maybe the best way to go about this isn’t necessarily on a school-by school basis. Maybe several schools with identical or very similar mascots can submit their designs and then it can go to a vote.

    So say there are 100 different schools with Wildcats as their mascot. Each school submits its design and a winner is chosen. Then these schools can all use this wining design in various colors to take advantage of the economies of scale discussed above.

    I’m sorry. I am not drinking this Kool-Aid. Whereas it would be a nice idea for high schools to have “original” designs and a project to encourage use of student ideas isn’t bad, I think that you are on the wrong side of this. I agree with most of the stated opinions/observations on UniWatch, but this doesn’t seem important. Outside of aesthetic creativity, why should this site serve as the Trademark Police against high schools. Why would you side with multi-million dollar enterprises against school programs raising money through bake sales? Lack of creativity? It’s not like most schools gain huge profits from a “copied” logo.

    If it hasn’t been noticed, educational systems have enough financial problems outside of their logos. Some school systems are barely maintaining sports, so a redesign only increases the burden. Yes, copyright and trademark infringement is against the law. But pro teams and corporations bullying high schools is nonsense. They can permit such use. If anything, they should license the use for a nominal fees. Partnerships may even be good.

    I am sorry but originality is a poor reason to go after “have-nots.” It’s just not that important.

    The “Kool-Aid” line is just name-calling, the “Trademark Police” line is a straw man argument (I’m not interested in protecting anyone’s trademark interests; I just believe in original design), and the rest of the argument mostly reduces to “Don’t bother trying to cure the common cold if you can’t cure cancer.”

    Admittedly, I’m not trying to cure cancer. But for schools that can afford it — and some can, since they’re spending gazillions on stadiums — encouraging original design is a worthy goal. It’s good for the uni-verse, it’s good for the field of design, it teaches a good lesson to kids, and it provides the community with something of civic value.

    If you don’t feel logo recycling is an issue worth addressing, that’s your prerogative. You don’t care? Fine, don’t care. But it’s hard to see why you (or anyone) would stand in the way of it. Like, what’s the down side?

    It’s not even about schools that can afford it or not. I have zero background in design, and yet I took on a major project of this nature at my faculty and subsequently took part in the design and production of faculty clothing (rather than go through the University bookstores we opened our own as a coop and our graduate committee took charge of producing the sweaters and tshirts, so every year we have held a design contest and we have produced the merch with the crest and maxim of that year).

    Long story short, it’s a false premise that doing your own designs cost money. yes, it takes work, yes it involves negotiation…but what we learned in the end is that there are so many people out there in the garment industry and the sports apparel industry, there is ALWAYS room to negotiate and to land deals on your terms.

    You’re exactly right. It takes work. And it is immensely easier for the district AD to pick something out of a supplier’s catalog, than to create something original.

    Many teams buy new uni sets every few years. It’s not an additional expense; it’s a programmed expense.

    This may be the key leverage point where Paul and ESPN could make the biggest difference. I imagine that most middle and high school administrators and coaches lack the knowledge to find the vendors who could make their custom designs cost-neutral. Putting together a network of vendors who commit to implementing a school’s original artwork and letting schools connect with them easily may be a key issue here.

    Again, I agree with most of the other UniWatch issues and I do not want to be an obstructionist. I just find little issue with copied logos for youth sports. Sure, some high schools have resources, but many more don’t. If this project leads to creative logos without being penal, then I am good. I just hate seeing schools called out.

    I, on the other hand, don’t really why why it is so reasonable for schools to spend the kind of money that they do on football programs, whereas it is considered over the top to ask for individuals to stimulate creativity amongst youth and to create activities for the OTHER students. The investment is minimal and it can help encourage students to do discover new interests and to develop an identity. God forbid that scolastic institutions put a little bit of time and effort into creating pride and identity amongst their students…its just so much easier to do everything with a cookie-cutter and go halfway.

    I think that those of us that see it as an issue worth discussing are coming from the perspective that we abhor the mass marketing of culture.

    coincidentally, i’m currently designing a logo for my alma mater’s football team to be used on their off season workout attire.

    though, after reading this post, i may approach the school and see what they think of an art department run identity refresh/rebrand type program…

    Paul, from my experiences this is false. Two years ago I did a major project for my faculty and we had to pump out 5-6 different products, all with mixes of stock corporate logos and original logos… Once the documents have been created, it doesn’t make a difference whether the logo is stock or not. The whole experience was incredibly enriching, and I think that it would be great if some high school students would take the initiative to produce something that is unique and creative.

    What I learned is that the real cost is to have someone competent to do the logo design and work on the software. Luckily we had a member of our faculty with a strong background in design. If you have a person available to actually produce the digitized document, then it really shouldn’t make any difference given that the labor required to make the helmet decals or iron-on logos does not vary.

    In addition, I am actually rather surprised that so many companies will willingly rip off existing trademarks. My best friend has a large sporting goods store up here in Montreal, and in his customs shop he refuses to reproduce professional logos. To me that just seems like good business, he makes a killing on official merch, why should he produce second rate knock offs when one sits down and looks at the dollars and cents, the cost of producing something new is nominal.

    My background is hockey, so I don’t have exact numbers, but figure that a set of custom nike uniforms + helmet + all the numbering & logos…will cost upwards of 300$ per kit. Not sure how many kids usually play on a hs football squad. I’ll say 50 kits. Conservative estimate is 15k in uniforms and helmets. So let’s say that students have a good concept and do some preliminary work. Suppose that you pay someone 500$ to take your concept all the way to the finish line. Hard to believe that you could not get the merch provider to absorb that cost…considering that we are talking about a profit in the ballpark of 7.5k for a deal that involces no real work.

    there was supposed to be a quote at the top of that…something to the effect that Paul mentioned that the reason for choosing a stock logo was probably cost related.

    My high school was the Raiders, but we used a cowboy on a speeding horse as the school logo. The football helmets had an R inside an oval during the 70s and early 80s. In 1987, our school switched the helmet logo to have the name Raiders spelled in The 86 NY Giants font. Most of our team liked the change. I think 15-18 year olds would rather look like a pro/college team, than have a unique logo.
    That being said, I think this is a great thing. ESPN likes to show high school games and I hate that so many recycle logos. At least use XFL, USFL, or World league. Someone’s gotta use the Barcelona Dragons.

    This seems to point to an academic deficiency. Whatever industry a high school student ends up in, they will need business skills to some extent. Tying in the football team to the art/fashion departments, etc. etc. is a great idea. Run the school as a corporation, teaching the students many different skills (working together). Real world marketing experience. Just my opinion.

    They would have more pride in executing a full marketing program with their own creation, rather than the instant gratification of wearing a pro league logo. Hopefully the kids have better taste than the school administrators (most HS uniforms are hideous in my opinion).

    I’m undecided about the little tikes. Wearing the pro league logos could encourage them to fall in love with their respective sport, instead of losing interest in athletics at an early age.

    For the graphic design cost argument – there are countless uniform suppliers everywhere. These small-medium companies are now competing with the likes of nike/adidas/under armour for high school apparel. Throwing in a couple of hours of free graphic design seems like a good business move to remain competitive.

    and who are they supposed to be HONORING with those? The NAVY scuba squad? I think that those are the worst of the bunch.

    Hey, we’re playing basketball on a carrier, we all need military costum…err…uniforms.

    When I was in HS (about a decade ago), our football team had sort of a Notre Dame-alternate look going. Gold pants, green jerseys, plain gold domes. I rather liked that look. I think they’ve changed on multiple occasions since. I’ve seen pics on Facebook and such of monochrome green, and now the helmets evidently have a goofy looking “F” on them, for our nickname (Flyers).

    I don’t like the camouflage uniforms for the aircraft carrier basketball game. The sailors and marines on the carrier see camouflage gear every single day. They only get to see NCAA basketball teams on their ship once. Why not let them see the teams in their regular uniforms?

    I know no one has a “regular” uniform anymore, but camouflage seems a terrible fashion choice when every single fan has lots of camo in his/her wardrobe.

    If the schools want to wear camouflage gear at a home game as a way of bragging to the home fans about how much they care about military people, that is cool. Also, they can still sell the jerseys to folks who do not have camouflage in their wardrobes.

    I understand that this comment may come off as vulgar, but in the words of AVGN, I would equate the Rutgers flag helmet to a fine wine. Wine that’s made from fermented rat piss with the fine aroma of the dead, fly-swarmed carcass of a three-day-old deer, with the delicate, crisp flavor of skunk farts, with highlights of ass sweat. The palate is rich with hints of residual dried poop crust from a truck stop bathroom and goes down with the long-lasting finish of fly-covered summer harbor trash.

    Now for something less vulgar: I think this high school logo project is a great idea. Considering that my high school (Palo Verde Valley High School, Blythe, CA) uses the Georgia Tech yellowjacket (hard to see, but it was the best photo of the current logo that I could find), I was worried that GT might slap PV with a C&D. But the football coach told me about two years ago that they wrote a letter to GT asking for permission to use the logo. Still doesn’t make it right, especially since the school still uses this logo (again, best one that I could find). I made this on Christmas Eve 2009 (colored it on Nov. 2nd, 2011), and even though it’s crudely done, it’s still better than using the GT jacket (as a comically coincidental, yet completely unrelated aside, my sister received her grad degree from UGA). I could never see the upsides of logo-poaching on the high school level. To me, there’s no stimulation between the school’s brand and the students/faculty/alum/boosters/etc., and when a high school receives a C&D from a college or pro team, it sets the school back, it makes the college/pro team look like a major dick… there’s really no winners in the end. Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough.

    What I hate are logos that are too busy. Invariably small teams will have the first letter of the school AND the mascot AND perhaps the team name…all as the logo. Put all that on a cap or helmet and its pretty indecipherable. There’s a reason almost all pro teams and major colleges have simple logos. They look better, and are more recognizable.

    The name of my high school was changed from the wonderfully distinct Sidney Lanier Poets to the generic Central Chargers. Other schools in Macon were changed from decent names to Southwest and Northeast. Even in high school back in the 70’s I was redesigning our unis (in my mind). We were known as the Big Orange Chargers, so I wanted to have an orange on the helmet…something I’ve never seen before (or since).

    Nah, Patriots and Raiders. Someone must’ve had a real jones for the old AFL. But 30 miles west the school in Thomaston was Robert E Lee High.

    Wolf Blitzer is wearing a silver tie tonight on CNN. Just turned on coverage, so not sure if that is the new “purple” or not.

    Dana Bash (CNN) is wearing a purple dress. Another female anchor (don’t know her name) is wearing a purple blazer) Anderson Cooper is wearing a grey/silver tie.

    On NBC – Major stripped ties on Brian Williams (Purple & Orange) and Tom Brokaw (Red, Yellow, Black or Navy), David Gregory has a small purple stripe in his. Savannah Guthrie and Andrea Mitchell are both wearing a purple dresses.

    Holy shitballs, that’s my high school (La Costa Canyon in Carlsbad, CA) in the middle there. Awesome to see the Mavs getting some recognition.

    The thing that bothers me most about HS logo-poaching is the horrible example it sets for students. High schools so often steal these logos, but at the same time have anti-plagiarism policies for student academic work. Seems hypocritical to me.

    My alma mater (Canandaigua)has a unique logo and I love it
    (for the midfield logo at football games they use just the CA with the spear)
    However the jerseys that they wear have a bit of a resemblance to a certain college team
    I think that every school should take the time to make a custom and unique logo that will be a symbol of the community and that people can rally around as a whole. If a school copies an NFL logo than the way I see it rallying around the team will be more difficult for the people watching.

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