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Five Sports Logos That Caused Controversy

June 30, 2014

With the recent Donald Sterling drama, a logo was used as a tool a part of the players’ protest. After the remarks were initially made public, Clippers players warmed up in tops turned inside out so as to not display the Clippers longtime logo—a gesture against Sterling.

I certainly appreciated the players’ stance against what Sterling said, though I would have wanted to wear the logo to show that, while Donald Sterling is the owner, he is just one person a part of an entire organization and that the Los Angeles Clippers do not stand for his beliefs. Either way, their demonstration served as a reminder that it isn’t just Native Americans who can feel threatened by sports logos.

Over the years, the debate is always centered on a logo or nickname that pays homage to an element of Native American history. The Fighting Sioux, Braves, and even the face of the Cleveland Indians, Chief Wahoo, are some of the contentious examples, depending on whom you ask. Of course, Washington’s “Redskin” nickname and logo is getting the most pub these days. But, it isn’t just Native Americans who could throw up their hands…

Here are five controversial logos that do not involve Native American tribes and have raised eyebrows for various reasons…

5. 2012 London Olympics

 

The controversy isn’t due to a cultural attack, but the designer’s dare-to-be-different approach. Most Olympic logos are a variation of the five rings and colorful swoosh to which we’ve so grown accustomed. But the 2012 symbol was anything but typical. Most complaints are directed towards its lack of aesthetic beauty but, as some cleverly point out, the image is a fair representation of London which has never been noted for its pure beauty and grace. The NSFW complaint is that the logo cryptically depicts sexual acts…

 

4. Major League Baseball

Who is baseball’s version of “The Logo”? We’ve been led to believe for years that it is the late, great Harmon Killebrew. Heck, even Killebrew publicly acknowledged that he was the inspiration for the silhouetted figure. There’s one problem, though: Jerry Dior, the designer of the logo, said the logo is not a inspired by any one player. As a matter of fact, Dior noted that the intent was the exact opposite, as he wanted to create something that could represent baseball’s diverse group of players.

 

3. Coachella Valley High School Arabs

This California High School’s nickname is intended to honor the once large Arab colony and their vast economic contributions to the Coachella Valley through work, specifically in the “date palm” industry. However, there have been discussions about changing the name because of the negative stereotype associated with the label, “Arab,” which has grown significantly since the tragic attacks of 9-11. As recently as April a committee is working on finding a way to marry the two sides and keep the mascot, but do so with an image that better projects its intention.

 

2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

I always thought the aggressive-natured leprechaun was a fun and dare I say cute symbol of Notre Dame. Not everyone feels that way, though. Those opposed to the logo feel that it unfairly stereotypes the Irish nationality as a group of hostile people. And, if you care to take it a step further like some suggest the logo cryptically does, a group of hostile and aggressive drunks, building off of the social stereotype of those with Irish heritage. I’m not Irish so it is unfair for me to comment on whether it is or isn’t offensive, but as someone who isn’t Irish I can share that the mascot in no way makes me believe the entire nation is trying to punch me.

 

1. The Masters

 

This is more of a “me” thing. Several years ago a very close family friend had the opportunity to attend The Masters. He brought me back an official hat of The Masters, a very special gift because authentic merchandise of The Masters is only sold on site. I am not a huge hat guy but there is something about this lid that fits me well and I have worn it as much as any other hat since receiving hit. However, I haven’t worn it to social gatherings in which the dress would deem a hat appropriate like i might in the past because of the club’s history. That history hasn’t changed dramatically since I got the hat, but my awareness has. Augusta National, as great as the tournament is, is a club that has a very discriminatory history. They have certainly tried to change that reputation but it remains a club that for many years did not encourage minority or female members. Does wearing that hat mean that I support that? I don’t know…but I do know that I think before I wear it.

Controversial is not the correct word to describe the logos and awesome t-shirts at Awesome Sports Logos. Innuendo, hilarious and funny are better words. The team at ASL wanted to bring the fun and creativity back to sports logos with their t-shirts. Help out their cause and keep me employed. A great start is signing up for their t-shirt of the month club. Nothing sweeter than receiving a super soft t-shirt in your mailbox every month. With 42 sports logos and counting, there are plenty to choose from. Thanks as always for reading!
Jared Sandler
Awesome Sports Logos Columnist
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