Thursday, Aug. 21
It’s not like the school changed the name to Muskrats without telling anyone.
The reaction on the Fauquier Times’ Facebook page to the Fauquier High Falcons’ new football helmet logo with a map of Fauquier County hasn’t been favorable so far.
But I’m not about to rain on the Falcons’ parade before they debut their new helmets in next week’s regular-season opener against Loudoun County.
I love the new helmets, actually. They are bold and innovative and cutting edge.
We live in a time when companies are constantly rebranding their looks.
Wendy’s did it. So did Microsoft, Arby’s and the Gap. Pepsi no longer has its name in the logo, neither does Starbucks. Look at Google, which is always changing its entry page. The USA TODAY logo now is just a blue ball.
Companies get a bounce when they upgrade or modify their logos, so give credit to FHS activities director Mark Holmes and coach Jamie Carter for conceiving and implementing a unique design that looks good and feels fresh.
If I were on the Fauquier football team, I’d be proud to wear one. The helmets are sleek gray with a map of Fauquier County on it. How great it that? That’s county pride on display.
In fact, it’s nothing short of patriotic.
It’s like going to war with a map of the United States on their uniform.
The Falcons are saying this is where we live. This is our county. The star in the middle of that map on our helmet is our home town of Warrenton, where we proudly go to school.
When I first started working at the Fauquier Times I remember looking at the Fauquier Falcons’ logo and thinking, “Hmm. That’s the exact logo of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. Is that legal?”
I was lukewarm on it, thinking it was unoriginal, kind of a ripoff. Couldn’t they come up with their own Falcon – which they actually did in the early days — not steal one?
But Fauquier High is not alone.
Like hundreds, maybe thousands, of other high schools, they've mimicked or downright copied a previously designed logo from a pro or college team. One famous one is the “G” in the Green Bay Packers. Robinson High in Fairfax borrows the Rams logo. Patriots, Eagles and Lions get used a lot, and so on and so on. The plagiarism of NFL and major college logos by high schools is rampant.
In general, the NFL allows high schools to imitate for free, but colleges have begun clamping down on unauthorized use by these high schools, who want the tie-in to an established brand.
That’s why I liked Kettle Run’s originality when it debuted its logo in 2008. Sure, the KR image that leads into a Cougar is a tad unpolished, but it’s distinct and non-derivative.
For now I think it’s important for the detractors of the new map logo to appreciate the effort of FHS administrators.
What's wrong with change?
Fauquier's football helmet logo has changed numerous times over the years. Some years there was nothing on it. Other years it just said "Falcons" or had an "F." Most of the time it's been that pilfered NFL image.
This creative county map incarnation reminds me of the way pro teams trot out retro jerseys, or red-white-blue jerseys on July 4, or wear all pink for breast cancer awareness.
I'll concede the map image isn’t dynamic, but let’s face it: Most counties in Virginia look like blobs, unrecognizable to anyone outside their own county.
Actually, Fauquier County is one of the most distinctive-shaped counties in Virginia, angular with a pronounced upward curve just like California. Our county shape is truly unusual in the Commonwealth.
No, we’re not Italy’s boot, or have a panhandle like Oklahoma, Texas, or Florida, or iconic like a continent. But I’d boldly declare Fauquier County's geographic shape infinitely more interesting than the mundane uniformity of counties like Buckingham, Louisa, Dinwiddie or Lindenburg. They look alike. You can lump them all in the amorphous division.
Perhaps if Fauquier County annexed the upper part of Loudoun County and a little of Prince William we could form an “F” and have a really trademark look to brag about.
Bottom line: I applaud Fauquier High for thinking outside the box.
Broadcasting their location with pride, the Falcons will take the gridiron this fall looking spiffy and relevant. Rivals and fans will no doubt notice their signature helmets.
And when the game's over, hopefully they’ll be impressed with Fauquier’s play.
Fear the map.