The University of Utah and the Ute Tribe have reached a new agreement over the name Utes. If you care to read about the specifics of the latest agreement, follow the link in the previous line.
I think continuing with the Utes name is a mistake as I’ve said before. But I’ll lay out the arguments here.
First, I think it’s time that all of the Native American Mascots as a whole go away. Regardless of sensitivity now, those mascots came essentially out of the idea that Native American’s are essentially equal to Cougars, etc. We as a nation are better now, or at least should be, and should at a minimum put and end to this.
Plus I’m tired of hearing Old White Guy swear he knows and respects many members of the Ute tribe while wearing face paint and a feather on his head. Or Frat Boy show up with a tomahawk. I cringe every time I see one of these people at a Utah game and I’d like to remove this reason for them to be a racist idiot.
Second, I’m tired of the Ute tribe coming up with new conditions every few years over the use of the name. Now we’re creating a new administrative position which must go to a Ute. I’m curious to see the next set of conditions
The biggest reason to change, however is related to the tribe and conditions. What organization on earth stands by and has a brand that they cannot fully control themselves? Instead, the University has this mishmash of logos and mascots that quite frankly is just a hot mess. Utah can’t use a great deal of Native American imagery or messages, because their quite frankly racist. It’s why our mascot for decades, Hoyo, can’t be found anywhere. We’re sort of using a bird mascot for some things. Other places we’re using the Block U and of course the Drum and Feather which we essentially copied from the Washington Redskins, is still around.
Whatever we’re doing right now is a hot pile of garbage.
But thanks to an anonymous source, I can provide some information as to why it is the way it is.
Essentially it boils down as most everything does to money. It’s much cheaper for the U to bend over backward for whatever the Ute tribe demands and keep this mishmash of crap, that it is to break down and do a complete rebrand. The cost of a complete rebrand campus wide would cost an estimated, and wait for it…
$100 MILLION DOLLARS
I’m not making that number up. That is what was claimed recently in a meeting at the University.
Now that number seems insane and an expert in the field whom I asked about it agreed. But again, this is the figure the University is using.
The cost however, would be substantial and it’s not just limited to the athletic department. Letterhead and forms across the University and University Hospital with things like the Drum and Feather would have to be completely replaced. Ute related things all over campus would have to be removed. All sorts of new designs and logos for Utah Gear would have to be created. And a factor I didn’t realize, often it’s negotiated in contracts that if you change your logo, you often have to pay for all the associated groups your with to change the things they use with your logo. If that is the case with the Pac-12 and each school who might use Utah logos, well the cost could get very big very quickly.
Because this becomes a University wide cost decision and not simply an Athletic Department decision, well you know how the U spends money.
Related to this is that the U dropped a crap ton of money on that combo Swoop/Block U logo and have never turned a profit on the merchandise that uses said logo. Combine that with Drum and Feather merchandise continuing to be the best selling merchandise we have, and you can see how this decision to work with the tribe becomes the easier one to make, since the U doesn’t exactly have a spare $100 million laying around.
My argument would be that this price tag isn’t going to get cheaper. Our message, brand and logo situation is only going to continue to become a hotter stinkier pile of garbage. People are never going to give the other merchandise a chance as long as you keep running drum and feather stuff out there. So essentially unless someone has the leadership, vision and courage to realize we need to do all of this better, we’re going to get the status quo.
But at least Old White Guy gets to keep painting his face and wearing a feather to “honor” the Utes and Frat Boy gets to keep bringing a tomahawk. So at least we have that.