(Published March 14, 2012, THE CHAPMAN NEWS-TIMES, Reprinted by permission from John Baetz, Publisher, LINCOLN SENTINEL, CHAPMAN TIMES-NEWS, and KANSAS PRE-GAME)
“Notre Dame’s Missed Opportunity”
By Marylin Warner
Nothing says “future of the country” like wrestling tournaments. Hundreds of wrestlers from preschool to high school participate in a sport that builds strong bodies and teaches discipline, fighting fair, and shaking hands after each match.
March 3rd began with a talented 2nd grader singing the National Anthem. Her hair was in braids, to be covered with a cap when she wrestled for Chapman. She sang in a clear, strong voice as everyone faced the flag with hands over hearts. Then the matches began.
Parents, grandparents, friends and my favorite Chapman police officer supervised off-mat activities; Ft. Riley soldiers were timers and scorekeepers. Crowds cheered for their own wrestlers, and for the efforts and struggles of all the wrestlers. If this is a peek into our country’s future, we can be hopeful.
After Chapman’s 2008 tornado, it was hard to imagine a wrestling tournament being held now in a new district gymnasium. It was also hard to imagine that the fighting leprechaun logo that’s been a part of the schools since 1967 would be gone.
I’m not questioning U.S. Trademark law nor Notre Dame’s right to guard its logo. I am suggesting that Notre Dame should learn from a missed opportunity and live up to its mission statement.
I looked up Chapman’s and Notre Dame’s Mission Statements. First, Unified School District #473: “To provide a positive and equitable learning environment in which students will be empowered to learn skills necessary to be successful, responsible, and productive now and in the future.”
I’m the grandmother of two Chapman Elementary School students, and a 30-year Colorado public school educator. Everything in Chapman schools assures me that although the tornado drastically changed #473’s physical facilities, the mission statement remained solid.
Now, Notre Dame’s Mission Statement: “The University seeks to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings, but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many. The aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.”
Is anyone else confused about how ND’s mission statement is served by ordering a tornado-ravaged town to stop using the fighting leprechaun logo?
Notre Dame missed a perfect opportunity to rise above its legal rights and put muscle and heart behind the words of its mission statement. What if the letter from Notre Dame to Chapman had been a letter celebrating “the great achievement of human beings” who stayed and rebuilt after a horrible natural disaster?
If Notre Dame really feared trademark infringement, weren’t their lawyers capable of creating a Big Brother clause so they could become, in this one case, a shining star for a Kansas town that had suffered unimaginable damage? Or maybe what Notre Dame really needed was a better public relations team to remind them of the immeasurable worth of promoting goodwill with the public…and the nation.
If the Fighting Irish of South Bend, Indiana had sent a team jersey to the Fighting Irish of Chapman, Kansas, the only cost would have been the postage to mail it. Talk about bang for the buck in public relations. In return they could have received green T-shirts from Chapman as gestures of camaraderie. My grandchildren would have shared theirs. A white whirling tornado displays the date–June 11, 2008–surrounded by the message: “Chapman, Kansas. We may be a little twisted, but we will survive.”
Chapman did survive. The town ran a contest and selected a new mascot logo last month, and it now hangs on the wall of the gymnasium.
Notre Dame missed the opportunity to take the legal road less traveled. It would have made all the difference in proving that their heart matches their size, and their mission statement does reflect who they really are.