As a student athlete here, in the land of the Ducks, I’ve been fully immersed in the media side of college athletics. The mentality here is so different, so anti-tradition, and this fight against the traditional and the boring has become the brand of Oregon Athletics. For the sake of argument I will mostly be discussing the football team, considering that it’s the poster child of the Ducks Athletic Department.
Think for a moment, of Stanford, who also receives large donations from Phil Knight and Nike–they are our polar opposite. Stanford’s football team wears simple uniforms with no crazy designs. Red and white. They wear the same helmets for every game–they bask in tradition, never swaying from it. The players earn stickers on their helmets for each good play.
We, on the other hand, get new helmets every week.
I immediately think of one of the monstrous posters found in our indoor facility, the Moshofsky Center. It sums up the entire brand of Oregon Athletics, in bold highlighter green type. It reads, “Tradition has a scary mascot. Tradition wears three colors. Tradition practices at ‘half speed.’ Tradition milks the clock. Tradition punts on fourth down. Tradition eats turkey on Thanksgiving. Tradition never changes. Champions do.”
Our brand is innovation, and we rock it by wearing highlighter yellow cleats. One of the best representations of this change in media outlooks regarding athletics is the constant hype surrounding the Oregon uniforms. Each game has become a big fashion reveal, and the media jumps on the opportunity to discuss what the team wore on the green carpet.
Media in regards to Oregon Athletics has become more than simply promotional, encouraging fans to come out and watch the games or matches. It gives Oregon Athletics a voice, a feeling. No matter the results of the games, we are still the school that is on the cutting edge, pushing boundaries. This is only possible with a dedicated fan base and a program that isn’t afraid of the attention.
The interest in athletics in general is broadening–ESPN has become half action, half athletic gossip. (Think Manti Te’o.) Teams can gain attention now through more than just their wins and losses. With this in mind, more teams should implement media plans like Oregon’s. A solid brand for an Athletic department brings together all that are involved in it, making very clear what that program stands for. We’re your favorite team’s favorite team, and we’re proud of it.