This Saturday, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs will take the field at Joe Aillet Stadium against the FAU Owls and in doing so, they’ll be debuting their patriotic helmets for the first time this season in honor of Veteran’s Day. The Bulldogs have been donning a helmet with a star and stripes-ified logo since the very forgettable game against Army in 2013 for various reasons, from 9-11 remembrance to playing in the Armed Forces Bowl. In this post, I’ll present a few arguments for ending the use of this logo and helmet.
To get started, let’s dig into the University Identity Standards Manual. It describes how Tech’s logos should look and be used. You can find this information here. Below are the examples the manual provides of correct and incorrect logos:
So it appears the patriotic State T falls in a grey area. The identity standards state “Unless specifically approved, when used in its two-color version, the state must be blue and the “T” must be red.” It is likely that this was approved as a special case (Totally unrelated note but please notice the white T’d logo in the “unacceptable logos” example. RED T BEST T).
Now let’s move on to a slightly more respected code, the United States Flag Code. It is actual federal law but there are no enforced penalties for not following it. Here are the relevant part of the code for this discussion, as found here:
§8. Respect for flag
No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
i. The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
j. No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
I believe Tech is violating section 8.i and 8.j of the flag code with the patriotic State T logo. While the flag itself isn’t being used here, it is being bastardized, cut up, and styled in order to use patriotism to promote a brand. The athletic uniform part is self explanatory. The flag code may not be enforceable with penalties but it is respected and followed by the people this logo is supposed to be honoring.
I would be more in favor of using the patriotic helmets if something measurably good came of it. In 2015, shortly before the Bulldogs were to wear the helmets before playing WKU around 9/11, I sent an email to athletic director Tommy McClelland with a suggestion. I recommended using the helmets as a fundraiser, with the funds going to a 9/11 victims charity. A week later, I received a response with a “we’ll look into it” and never heard anything else. Patriotism for patriotism’s sake is fine and all but why settle for that when there is actual good that could easily be accomplished? Use the helmets to support local veterans or their families instead of just paying lip service.
In short, the Patriotic helmets should be retired because the logo does not fit the university’s identity standard, it violates the U.S. Flag Code, and they are just patriotic for the sake of patriotism.