Opinion: Logo changed without any community input
Last Thursday, the UConn athletic department unveiled what they called "a new Husky for a new era." This new logo has drawn much commentary, both positive and negative. Many people criticized it for various reasons, such as the abandonment of the "nice" Husky and the inclusion of major non-white elements for the first time ever. However, the worst part of this ordeal is that the logo was made without consulting alumni, current students or anybody except Nike.
The new logo is part of a money-making trend seen at several Nike schools where Nike has unveiled "modern" logos and uniforms and abandoned tradition. For instance, the Oregon State Beavers always had a logo that looked like a normal beaver prior to Nike redesigning it. Like normal beavers, it was not particularly ferocious or tough-looking. However, Nike intervened and changed the logo to a tough-looking mascot that only vaguely resembles an actual beaver. Additionally, Nike recently removed almost all of the traditional Carolina (powder) blue from UNC football's road uniforms, replacing it with black, which is not even a school color. In none of these cases did Nike or the schools consult the students or alumni beforehand to see if that was what they wanted.
Their thought process was simple - whether these people like the new style better than the old one or not, they still will buy new merchandise, such as jerseys and t-shirts. This means more money for the schools' athletic departments and more money for Nike's corporate pockets. It also promotes Nike's brand, which means they get more money through other avenues. If people don't like the new logo, they should refuse to buy any new merchandise, but that will not happen on any large scale.
Nike and these schools overlook an important fact - college athletics is not supposed to be tarnished with greed. Professional sports have long been influenced by the greed of owners and players alike. However, amateur sports are supposed to be the last pure frontier. Thanks to Nike, that is no longer the case.
It is possible that most students and alumni like this new logo better than the old one. Almost invariably, they will adjust to it eventually. However, even though everyone will learn to adjust, there are people who like the old logo better, due to its nice personality, its associated tradition, or some other reason. These people should have had their voice heard before a rash decision was made.
In 2005, Marquette University was considering changing their nickname from Golden Eagles to something else. However, rather than unilaterally make a change, Marquette consulted students and alumni and held a vote online to determine what, if anything, the school should change its name to. "Golden Eagles" defeated "Hilltoppers" in a runoff and the nickname was retained.
Had UConn held a similar vote before changing the logo, offering students and alumni one or more new Husky options in addition to the original, it is possible the result would have been the same as it is now, and the new Husky logo would have been chosen anyway. However, at least then it would have been the UConn community choosing it instead of some corporate bigwigs at Nike.
On the other hand, it is possible the community would have opted to retain the tradition associated with the old Husky logo. If that is what the UConn community wants, the athletic department should honor that decision.
After all, it is the students who currently pay tens of thousands of dollars in tuition. Additionally, these are students who pay relatively high prices for student athletic tickets which are relatively hard to obtain compared to other schools. To those students, the difficulty in supporting their Huskies is well worth it. These proud members of the UConn community deserved a say in deciding one of the most significant symbols of the athletic department and of the University itself.
Additionally, the alumni still support the Huskies and take pride in their school years after they graduated. Some of these people give back to the athletic program or the school itself as a way of expressing their gratitude. Many alumni also attend athletic events and cheer on their beloved Huskies who will be competing under the new logo starting next year. They too deserved a say in the logo's design.
The University of Connecticut professes a mission of "students today, Huskies forever." It is a shame that neither students nor alumni had a say in the look of that Husky.
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