The business of college football leads to thousands of people making millions upon millions of dollars. From athletic directors to head coaches to TV executives, there is no shortage of people cashing in on the talents of unpaid collegiate football players.
It seems strange then that the people of the University of Florida, among the biggest football programs in the nation, would be spending energy trying to essentially suck the spirit out of a Florida high school. That is, however, what they’re doing.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Gators have ordered Glades Day School to stop wearing Gators logos on their football uniforms. The main reason? Because there is a “risk of unlicensed merchandise being sold.”
Translation: There are money-making opportunities on T-shirts and sweatshirts that UF is missing. Though the high school, at the very best estimation, may make a few thousand dollars per year off such merchandise, a school that pays its football coach $4 million a year is hunting down the high school.
“We have an obligation to protect our trademark or we can lose it to the public domain,” Janine Sikes, a university spokeswoman, told the newspaper. “When the schools are using the merchandise, we lose quality control and all kinds of control on how that logo is used or produced.”
Clearly, losing control of how a high school sells T-shirts was threatening to the University of Florida — a school that sold thousands upon thousands (millions, maybe) of Tim Tebow jerseys over the past few years without giving a dime to the man responsible for the sales, the man who actually wore No. 15 on the field.
That’s not to single out Florida as the only school taking such actions. It’s something that, as the Sentinel reports, many schools are doing. From Florida State to Missouri and Pittsburgh, teams are taking action against high schools using their logos.
Glades Day has seven years to completely change its logos and uniforms, an undertaking the school said would cost between $50,000 and $60,000. The “real” Gators probably spend that much every week on Gatorade.
“My first reaction when the letter came to me was shock and disbelief,” Dr. Robert Egley of Glades Day told the paper. “We love the Gator Nation. It breaks our heart because we always felt imitation is the best form of flattery.”
That belief may be true sometimes, but not when a college football program smells the scent of a few hundred dollars.
While the people of the university may feel that they’re protecting their logo, they’re forgetting the spirit of high school. Ninety-nine percent of the kids who suit up in Gators gear at Glades Day won’t get to wear the real jersey. Most of them won’t even play at any college. The Gators logo makes them feel like they’re a part of something great. The school rallies around that feeling. It’s done to celebrate the football programs of both the high school and the university, not to capitalize on some T-shirt sales.
But the University of Florida, like any big-time college football program, doesn’t care one bit. A system that exploits the skills of unpaid players is taking it a step further, extending its reach to high school kids.
If the people at Glades Day want to do the right thing, maybe they’ll change their name to the Tigers.
Are the University of Florida and other colleges wrong for not letting high schools use their logos? Share your thoughts below.