By Doug Halberstadt
My alma mater, Bradley University, is in the process of exploring the idea of changing the nickname of their athletic teams. We are called the Bradley Braves. This weekend, I received an e-mail asking me as an alumnus to take a survey about that possibility.
Prior to the survey, I was asked to watch a 5-minute video attempting to explain why the university and the athletic department are considering the change. The underlying message of the video was the university is losing out on marketing opportunities because we currently do not have any mascot associated with our nickname.
Back in 1991, the NCAA imposed restrictions on the use of Native American imagery in conjunction with college nicknames. Bradley abandoned the Indian mascot that had been a symbol of the athletic teams while I attended there (1979-1983). I was disappointed they were forced to give up a mascot that was proudly presented as a representation of strength, reverence and honor. These were things I thought all athletes should aspire to be. Fortunately, they kept the name.
Now, even that appears to be on the chopping block. The video suggested three alternatives to the name Braves. We could be called the Eagles, the Gargoyles or the Lions. The only one that currently has anything to do with Bradley is the Gargoyles. These “guardians” make up a part of Bradley’s architecture and are featured prominently on the tower that sits atop Bradley Hall, one of the main buildings in the center of campus. The other two, well, they are alternatives, but not ones I would ever be interested in.
I really think this comes down to money. I believe someone with a marketing degree has persuaded the athletic department they should be more interested in counting the dollars that aren’t coming in than they should be in preserving the history of the university.
All the myopic misguided marketing gurus see are the missed opportunities in the sale of hats, shirts, jackets, gloves, stuffed animals, slippers, etc., with the mascot emblazoned all over them. To me, that is sad.
I sent my survey back saying “keep the nickname Braves and forget the mascot.” Now, I need to get busy and order a new sweatshirt from the online bookstore, one that simply says Bradley Braves. No cutesy gargoyle, eagle or lion necessary.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Oct. 17-23, 2012, issue