Utah Utes Mascot Agreement: Post-Mortum Continues


Dec 14, 2013 Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes fans before the game against the Brigham Young Cougars at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Since the agreement over the Utah Utes Mascot is such an important topic I thought I’d devote a bit more space to the topic.

First, here is something fascinating I learned via anonymous source yesterday.  Athletics did not have a representative at the signing of the agreement yesterday.  Further, no one in the athletics department knew about the “Heritage Day” game and found out as the rest of us did, from reporters and reading of the agreement.

Second, the headdress helmet idea that was rejected, was not rejected as part of this Heritage Day uniform discussion, but was an idea that University Licensing had previously rejected.

I don’t know why Athletics wasn’t a part of the “Heritage Day” game discussion.  My instinct is to read something into that, like a poor relationship between Pershing and Hill possibly stemming from the swim scandal being dumped right on Pershing just as he became president.  But I have know idea.  Plus, knowing the incompetency with which the University operates on occasion, it’s possible that it literally never occurred to even call over to Athletics and let them know this was happening.

It’s just strange, the mascot issue is driven entirely by Athletics, but it seems Athletics has very little input into all this.

Then we come to the idea of a headdress helmet.

When it was announced yesterday that the headdress helmet idea was proposed by the tribe and rejected by the U or specifically University Licensing, you could hear the angry white guy outrage machine gearing up for some serious faux outrage over PC liberals blah blah blah.

Please stop yourself if you find yourself being seduced by this easy train of thought.  As most things are, this is more complicated and I’ll put it in the best terms I can to explain why.

Everyone has seen the ongoing protests over the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians name and imagery.  Those groups, large NATIONAL groups representing Native Americans find using imagery like that derogatory.  The University of Utah has no desire to put itself at the center of a national controversy by using a headdress helmet.  A great many tribes view those as sacred.

The best terms I can put it is, would it be ok to use a helmet with Christian symbols because one small church said they were ok with it?

I’m sure those who enjoy outrage porn will be screaming at this point, “IT SHOULDN’T MATTER,” and maybe it shouldn’t.  But we don’t live in that world and it does matter a great deal.  The last thing the University wants is for this to be how it makes national news next fall.

The U. especially being in the Pac-12 has concerns beyond what the leaders of a 3000 member tribe in Northern Utah say is ok.

Plus how many idiots are going to use the Heritage Game excuse to dress like it’s a 1950’s game of Cowboys and Indians anyway?  Too many act that way now.   It’s simply a good idea not to encourage even more them.

In any event, it looks like the U. is going to live with this mishmash of logos and not controlling their brand until such time as they can come up with the cash to rebrand.

And that’s how it is.