Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Can I Borrow a Cliché?

It looks like our good friends down at Texas A&M have sicked their lawyers onto the Seattle Seahawks for their recent pilfering of the "12th Man™" tradition. Now, here at the House Rock Built, we have great respect for long-standing traditions, and A&M's 12th Man™ is certainly a storied and respected one at that.

Unfortunately, the cost of a successful tradition is that as it becomes more and more famous and mainstream, it gradually becomes so ubiquitous that it evolves into a sports cliché. After eighty some years, the phrase "12th Man™" has joined the Boo-Yah's and You-Can-Kiss-it-Goodbye's as a common-language terminology for sports activity. Don't fret, A&M fans, because it's an honor to have a tradition become an ingrained part of football lore, but at this point it is spurrious to defend intellectual property rights on such a widely accepted phrase.

A&M's trademarking of the "12th Man™" may have been unprecedented at the time, but a lot of teams have jumped on that bandwagon since then. In fact, at the end of this season, dozens of teams ran out and secured the patents for common sports clichés in an attempt to turn their season achievements into a marketing opportunity. From the NCAA home office, here's some of the more notable phrases that were trademarked this year:

Trademarked by
The Story Behind it
"Third and Forever"
Syracuse Orangemen
"Third and Forever™" became the rallying cry of this year's Orangemen offense, who ended the season with a historically impressive 20.6% third down conversion rate, by far the worst in Division IA. Be sure to buy your "Third and Forever" mugs and t-shirts to commemorate the 2005 campaign.
"Would-be Tackler"

UCLA Bruins
To celebrate a rush defense that blazed new ground in futility (keep scrolling, keep scrolling, keep scrolling), UCLA has erected a bronze statue on campus to honor the "Would-Be Tackler™", the unsung hero of the Bruins defense. While you won't find a Would-Be Tacker™'s name in the box score, nor will you see an award give to the best WBT, his achievements have not gone unnoticed by the loyal fans in Westwood.
"Wounded Duck Pass"

California Golden Bears
Bears fans this year were treated to a spectacular aerial show all season long as their rotating cast of noodle-armed quarterbacks air-mailed wobbly pass after wobbly pass over the heads of wide open receivers. The marketing machine has already kicked into high gear, so watch for Cal fans to proudly wave their "Rally Wounded Ducks™" above their heads in hopes of igniting a comeback during the '06 campaign.
"Shadow of their own Goalposts"

Colorado Buffaloes
Gary Barnett may be gone (or is he?), but his legacy will remain in the 2005 offense, which dominated the NCAA in penalty yardage. To commemorate this, the student section in Folsom Field for 2006 has been renamed "The Goalpoast Shadow™" and will rotate end zones every quarter so they can properly cheer on their team from a comfortable distance the entire year.