If you are going to the Boise State-Washington football game tonight, or even watching on TV, chances are you’ll have a touch of color to show which side you favor. I’ll be wearing my blue sparkle ballet shoes along with a hint of orange.
But many people go straight for the hard core: t-shirts that scream Boise State or “the other team.” Some of you may even wear the game day “conversational t” – the one that says
WELCOME TO THE BLUE.
NO DAWGS ALLOWED.
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Good start to the season.
Not so fast. In fact, while we fans may think it’s the start, the real work has gone on for a lot longer.
To even GET to the “start of the season,” hundreds of people have worked for months (or longer) to prepare for this single game and all those that come after. Imagine what goes into it—from security and parking, to tickets and promotion, lighting and music, choreography and food, media and medical support….and that’s before you get to the football end of things—“costumes and props,” videos and recruits, events and donors. And I’m not even counting the players and coaches!
This fall, I’ll be doing a series of blogs about the behind the scenes operations of putting on a football game, the parts fans don’t see and rarely think about, largely because it’s done so well. I’m curious about the people and processes that make it work.
So we’ll start what seems simple—the t-shirt you wear for the game.
The decision about t-shirts and color schemes started months before tonight. Representatives from the trademark licensing office, athletics marketing, football program and university bookstore meet in February or March, make decisions on the fan color schemes so they can order shirts for fall. If the shirts are Nike sponsored, though, the timeline is even longer – 18 months before the season’s start!
So that shirt you don today was born six months or more than a year ago!
But some shirts have a different, unsavory life.
Rachael Bickerton is Boise State’s Director of Trademark Licensing and Enforcement. Her title is twofold, for a reason. As the university’s “#1 worrier” about the university’s trademark and brand, she works with more than 375 official licensees, from Nike to local crafters.
But sometimes, counterfeits sneak in, so on game day, Bickerton becomes the university’s“#1 enforcer” of the trademark.
Her main priority is to stop unlicensed merchandise being sold. She keeps an eye out for bootleggers and for people engaging in any unauthorized commercial activity on campus before or during the game. Think: people selling cookies or shirts, offering face painting or handing out coupons for a free massage. When it’s not university sanctioned, it’s not going to stay on campus.
Bickerton has to be so firm for several reasons. Sales of officially licensed merchandise help support student scholarships and athletic programs. Given Boise State’s modest budget, the additional money is crucial. Counterfeit merchandise drains support from the university and lines the pockets of infringers.
Second, she wants the atmosphere at the games and around the tailgate parties to be unmarred by hawkers. Official sponsors can operate in a specific area, in front of the Allen Noble Hall, but not elsewhere.
And last, of course, she wants the Boise brand to stay strong.
So this evening, watch for people pulling t-shirts out of backpacks or selling ones draped over their arms. Look out for hats that have the Bronco facing the wrong way with the wrong eye. And then step away!
Instead, put on that No Dawgs Allowed shirt (or another color that will go unnamed), have fun and cheer like mad.