COLUMN: On high school mascots, logos and lack of common sense 

Published 12:09 pm Thursday, November 14, 2019

No one expects high school athletic departments to spend the money required to be completely original. 

Universities will spend millions of dollars on branding. Over this summer, Auburn paid a New York design firm $30,000 to rebrand their logo. What came out of that $30,000 was a moderately wider U. They then had to pay to have that logo, which looks virtually indistinguishable from the prior one, replaced everywhere on campus and otherwise where the old logo stood. 

Again, no one expects any sort of high school to do that. It would just be silly. But what amazes me is the ones that don’t use any level of common sense.

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Most high schools simply steal logos and mascots from universities haphazardly and without care. It’s sort of just an agreed-upon deal that no one seems to be upset about. My high school mascot was the Spartan, just a literal 100-percent ripoff of the Michigan State spartan head logo, except instead of green, we wore blue. 

Lafayette, like my alma mater Vanderbilt, is the Commodores – they just changed the color scheme. New Lafayette football helmets are similar to the Vanderbilt helmets, with an anchor’s chain running down the midline of the helmet with an anchor on the back. No one at Vanderbilt cares, and the Lafayette helmets look cool. No harm, no foul. 

I spent Friday night at the Water Valley playoff home opener. Like Lafayette, Water Valley is the Blue Devils – something everyone knows as a Duke thing. They take it a step further, as the WV logo that dons the football field looks similar the West Virginia logo. It’s a good look. 

However, Water Valley’s Friday night opponent both infuriated and confused me. 

Kossuth High School out of Corinth, Miss. are the Aggies. On the surface, again it’s no problem – six Division I universities claim to be the Aggies, most notably Texas A&M and Utah State. However, where the problem lies is their logo. Despite being the Aggies, defined as an agricultural school or college, the Kossuth logo donning their football helmets were that of a longhorn. 

It’s a simple dilemma, one that would likely enrage two fanbases if they even knew. Texas A&M Aggies and the Texas Longhorns are one of the most well-known rivalries in all of college sports. **Confession: I was raised in Austin, Texas.** It’s like if some random school in South Carolina were the Rebels, but put the ‘M-State’ logo on their helmets. It’s a less-direct example, but it bothered me nonetheless. 

Brought to my attention on Twitter later that evening, after blaspheming the Kossuth logo, was that I’m actually far from the first person to have a problem with it. 

Back in 2016, lawyers from the University of Texas sent Kossuth High School a cease and desist letter, directing them to change their ‘steer’ logo. It’s a clear violation of the unwritten rule that high schools are just allowed to swaggerjack logos from colleges without any regard, yet in this instance it seemed warranted.

Kossuth would tweak their logo a bit, maintaining the Longhorn steer logo, but making it a little more curvy than the University of Texas-lookalike logo they were using before. 

The point here is just this: Who at Kossuth thought this was a good idea? Use common sense. No one cares if you’re the Aggies, Chargers, Commodores or Blue Devils. What you can’t do is turn around and call yourself one, while stealing the logo of their direct rival.