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Opinion: How much is your school pride worth?

Clay Koepke

Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 23:01

With the 48th edition of the Super Bowl looming, it’s hard to pay attention to anything in the sporting world minus the incredibly unprecedented sound bites of the Seattle Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman.Disregarding Sherman’s highly idiosyncratic style of answering interview questions, the Seahawks defense — along with Broncos offense — have become the focal point of this year’s Super Bowl, and rightfully so. Both units lead the league in their respective categories.

Over the last two seasons, the Seahawks have posted an impressive 15-1 home record with their rabid fan base — also known as the 12th Man — at their backs. This year’s road to the Super Bowl went through Seattle in the NFC, proving the importance and increasing the media attention of the Seahawks’ 12th Man.

According to the licensing agreement between Texas A&M and the Seattle Seahawks organization, the Seahawks agreed to pay a lump sum of $100,000 — paid in two installments of $50,000 apiece — as well as a $5,000 annual royalty over five years in exchange for the rights to use the 12th Man brand. The agreement, which was initially signed in 2006, was renewed for an additional five years in 2011, and has since been renewed for an additional five years, which are scheduled to expire in 2016.

There are many nooks and crannies to the agreement (which can be found online in full), but essentially, the University sold one of it’s long-standing and most recognizable traditions for minimal compensation.

My question is why?
It obviously wasn’t for the financial compensation, as the initial five-year profit for A&M was a mere $125,000.

According to A&M officials, the licensing agreement was never about the money, rather about the Seahawks organization acknowledging that we, Texas A&M, are the owners of the 12th Man mark. And if A&M were to fight it in court and the decision was made that the brand was generic, then Aggies would lose the ability to forbid others from using the brand. However, considering we are the owners, did we not reserve the right to deny Seattle’s request to use the slogan and remain the sole owner of the mark? If so, why didn’t we? Why were the students left out of the decision?
I hear the argument that the publicity and attention is good for the University, but it’s not good publicity if people don’t know where it all started back on Jan. 22, 1922, when E. King Gill accepted the call to stand behind his team, just as our student body does to this day.

At the beginning of Seahawks games when the “12” flag is raised (the agreement prohibits the flag from reading “12th Man”) and the 67,000-strong at Century Link Field lose their minds, the untrained eye sees the Seahawks 12th Man, not the original.

At the bottom of the Seahawks official website you can find a statement that reads: “The term 12th MAN is a trademark of Texas A&M University and its use is pursuant to a license agreement with the university” in fine print. But is a fine print statement sufficient credit? Not for me — not for this. I can’t speak for others, but I look at the nutritional facts on the back of my water bottle more than I read fine print. So how many non-Aggies really know where the 12th Man comes from?
I come from a long line of Aggies, and if there is one thing I know about this University, it is the commitment and passion for our traditions — traditions that set us apart and make us the unique institution that we are today. These traditions — including the 12th Man — are a representation of our student body, vowing to stand behind our team through thick and thin, and that’s something that cannot, and should not, have been sold.

 

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