We’re in the heart of college football season at the moment, which means everything or nothing to you depending upon where you grew up. If you’re part of the former grouping, you understand just how important Saturdays in fall are to everyone around you, how the fortunes of the college you attended or just support intertwine with your own, to the point that a few dozen college kids you’ve never met losing a football game that ultimately doesn’t matter serves to ruin your day. Being a fan of that school’s teams becomes as much a part of your identity as being a resident of the state itself, and woe betide anyone who should run afoul of the that most beloved institution, even the actual state government.
From the AP comes a story about how the University of Kentucky has set forth its opposition to a trademark filed by the State of Kentucky on the phrase ‘Team Kentucky’. The report notes that Governor Andy Beshear has used the phrase often in speeches and public statements since the beginning of the pandemic, and the state sought a trademark to use the phrase on clothing. (Why anyone would want clothing that would serve to remind them of the pandemic is a separate question, and one my degree in political science yet leaves me unable to answer.)
The University of Kentucky, however, feels that the phrase and the corresponding designs hew too closely to its own marks for clothing and filed its opposition with the USPTO. The opposition makes one wonder just how closely the designs resemble one another, or to what extent the University of Kentucky can claim ownership over the concept of a team seemingly based in and made up of Kentuckians. Ultimately it seems a bit silly for the largest university in the state and the state itself to be sniping over a simple trademark, and one would hope that some sort of agreement can be reached before the matter gets dragged out.
That’s what college sports can do to us: they elevate an institution of learning that would otherwise be a bullet point on our resume into a part of our identity and a point of pride for a swath of the state, if not the entire state. It’s not a surprise, then, that the University of Kentucky can make an argument for the right to ‘Team Kentucky’ because for much of the state, that’s probably the only team they’ll claim to be a part of in this era of division and strife.