Ben Jay = Brand Bland

May 3rd, 2013
By

PROGRAM ALERT: The May episode of Career Changers TV premieres Sat. night at 8:30 PM on OC16. Tetris empire builder Henk Rogers tells how a heart attack changed his life "missions," and we also take a look at his Blue Startups accelerator program to help launch new businesses from his Downtown Honolulu headquarters. You can find details on daily viewing times and links to segments posted on YouTube by clicking here.

H v BowsThere's some revisionist reportage going on about the lack of fan response to the June Jones decision back in 2000 to excise the Rainbows from the UH football team nickname. True, there weren't any rallies or organized protests back then. But many longtime supporters DID vote with their dollars, and the dwindling attendance figures over the past few years shows what happens when a state institution turns its back on the very people it's supposed to serve.

The numbers are deceptive because for awhile, winning overcomes all kinds of negativity. Read Scoreboard, Baby - A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity, a book about the University of Washington's 2000 football season under coach Rick Neuheisel. Hmm, come to think of it there were similarities between him and June -- both had huge egos, a kind of swagger and a sense of certainty in whatever they did to achieve the ends they desired. However, winning doesn't necessarily build long-term loyalty as evidenced by the exodus of fair-weather fans who jumped ship once the "Warriors" football team began their descent into mediocrity. At even their lowest points though, you could still see old-timers walking around Aloha Stadium in their faded Rainbows and "Go Bows" t-shirts and hats.

What I really want to address is UH Athletic Dictator -- er, Director -- Ben Jay's rationale for dropping Rainbows from all UH men sports, while curiously retaining it for the Wahine... even though he says it has nothing to do with claims that homophobia is the real reason the boys should be called Warriors. Jay says it's for the sake of uniformity, branding and marketing purposes. He said it was to end "confusion" amongst the media and fans.

Really? First, there was NO confusion until June changed the name on his own accord. In fact, the "brand" had been so ingrained in the minds of national sportscasters that they continued to call them the Rainbows or Bows even as recently as last year when doing football games on ESPN. And I don't recall any of them ever snickering or belittling the name... although calling them the "Warriors" when they were being shellacked by actual brand name schools did sound sort of ridiculous. Anyhow, back to my main point: unless I am mistaken, Ben Jay was not hired to be the UH Marketing Director and/or Director of Public Relations -- we already pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to other UH staff for PR and marketing mismanagement.

Moreover, when I hear anyone toss around terms like "branding" I have to laugh. That's a buzz word which was in vogue about a decade ago and is best used when referring to old school marketing for things like pizza and toothpaste. It may work for big corporations like Microsoft or corporate-like institutions such as Ohio State, but the new trend is really anti-branding -- take Apple, for example. It's about expressing what is unique, different and cool about your product or who you are. It is about identity.

The Rainbow has always been about more than a school nickname or logo. Ask anyone on the Mainland what image comes to mind when they think about Hawaii, and right behind the ocean and beaches, you will probably hear rainbows mentioned. Why? On sportscasts and travel shows, in countless photographs snapped by millions of visitors, the ubiquitous symbol never fails to inspire awe and wonder when it seems to magically appear above our valleys -- or over Aloha Stadium and the Stan Sheriff Arena in Manoa. The Rainbow is bigger than June Jones, Ben Jay or the University of Hawaii. It represents the islands of Hawaii, the many hues and colors of the people who call this place home, who work hard and take pride in rooting for the teams that are supposed to represent us -- not some marketing plan made up by Mainland transplants sitting in an office.

Didn't June even used to play Bruddah Iz's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" during warm-ups before the game?

Lastly, if you want to make the argument that eliminating the Rainbows from merchandise and marketing will somehow help increase sales, do the math. Less product diversity and choices equals less sales for nearly every type of product or service you can think of. Less isn't more in this case. What Ben Jay is offering is Brand Bland: one jagged "H" design in your choice of basic black and moldy green -- and that's it, folks. Meanwhile, in places like the University of Oregon (and every professional sports franchise, for that matter) the actual marketing pros are cashing in on apparel that comes in a wide array of colors/designs, as well as retro merchandise that appeals to both old and young fans.

Anyhow, my wife and I never stopped cheering for the Rainbows even when the cheerleaders were instructed to stop using that name by June and the UH athletic department higher ups at football games and men volleyball matches. Sadly though, without the school's backing, the "Let's Go Bows" chant at games has been drowned out by the din of commercials and drunken profanities shouted by the new brand of macho Warrior fans.

38 Responses to “Ben Jay = Brand Bland”

  1. Aloha73g:

    You're clueless. The Rainbowtique only recently began selling "retro" shirts with the various old "Rainbow" logos....they're priced higher than the "H" merchandise and are selling very well. Ben Jay has said numerous times they will keep selling the retro stuff, and keep the "Lets Go Bows" cheer, etc. No complaints here. I like the H logo and the retro stuff....time to move on!!

    Also, declining attendance has NOTHING to do with the name/logo change. It has ALOT to do with the pay-per-view TV packages for home football games. People are paying millions of dollars to watch UH sports....just not in person at the stadium.


  2. MC96816:

    Seriously, man, it's the gay thing. Deep down -- or maybe not even that deep -- some XY's have the heebie jeebies about the word "rainbow" because of its use to describe the gay community.

    Rainbow Warriors and Rainbow Wahine would be perfect.

    "Warriors." Meh. Could be talking about Golden State.


  3. Otto:

    No they never played Iz's Over the Rainbow for warm ups. They always play rock or something up tempo during warm ups.

    June Jones stopped using the Hawaii 5-0 theme for the team's entry onto the field. He had composer Mike Post write some hawaiian warrior themed chant (E Toa Na). They played those during the team entry on to the field (using speakers donated by Post to boost up the bass). McMackin brought back the Hawaii 5-0 theme played by the band. Norm Chow started using a different Iz song for the team's entry on to the field (can't remember Hawaii '78?). I think it might have been the Stadium that played Iz's Over the Rainbow during T.O.s. The Stadium now plays Iz's version of Country Roads during each game during a time out.


  4. Rich Figel:

    I'm pretty sure they did play Over the Rainbow, along with "Car Wash," a Kapono song or two. People stopped coming early for the warm ups though because June was playing the same exact songs in the same exact order for his entire tenure. The first time I heard Car Wash, it was kind of retro-cool... but after hearing it for a few seasons, I got sick of it. And June used to joke that some of the slower songs were meant to lull the opposing teams into a subdued, relaxed state! I had season tickets for over 15 years so I remember June's warm-up tunes list was decidedly NOT rock for the most part.


  5. Rich Figel:

    To Aloha Anonymous-

    Um, if you're going to talk about "clueless" why not man up and use your real name? For starters, one of the reasons they reintroduced retro merchandise was at the behest of people like me who have written about this topic way before you ever weighed in, dude.

    And just so you know, I actually contacted the manager of the Rainbowtique after June changed the name, and asked why they didn't offer retro merchandise. He thought it was a good idea and took the initiative to add a few of the old Bows designs to their inventory. He then told me they were available, so I wrote about it in my blog -- lo and behold, those retro Bows shirts were pulled off the shelf the following week! I called the manager and asked what happened. He would neither confirm, nor deny that June directly interceded to remove competing Bows products from the Rainbowtique.

    As for Ben saying they will continue to sell the retro stuff, then you prove my point. It's not about uniformity or marketing if they sell a product that perpetuates a name/image he says they are discontinuing. It's inconsistent logic.

    And if you really believe declining attendance has nothing to do with declining interest or passion for UH sports, you clearly don't know the first thing about marketing. People stay home when they don't feel a connection to the team. Look at any major successful college sports program, and tell me that changing their team name/logo wouldn't meet with blowback. Maybe the USC Trojans should change the name in case people confuse their players with walking condom ads! Or heaven forbid, the Oregon State "Beavers" could upset some feminist group!

    BTW, anyone else who wants to take personal potshots at me is welcome to. All I ask is you sign your actual name to it for others to see. And yes, as moderator I do know who you are and have access to your email addresses. Thank you.


  6. lowtone123:

    Touche.


  7. Aloha73g:

    My name is Rudy Savio, I apologize for upsetting your sensibilities. My Star Advertiser username is not my name but all future posts on your blog I will clearly identify myself.

    I know for a fact its pay-per view. I'm 29 years old and none of my friends want to go to games at the stadium because its cheaper and more fun to "stay home, drink and split the PPV" cost among a group of friends. The millions that UH gets for pay-per-view makes up for the lost ticket sales. Do I agree with it? NO, I prefer to go to the stadium and I do, with my 60ish parents, uncles and auntys while my 20ish cousins and friends all stay home and watch Pay-Per-View.

    The real problem is that the way the finances of the stadium are set up (UH gets NONE of the money from parking & concessions) means that its better for UH's bottom line if we all stayed home and paid for pay-per-view, which UH gets a cut of. If the State gave UH the money they deserve for concessions (overpriced) and parking (underpriced IMHO) I think they would do away with PPV or raise the price considerably, which would get more people in the stands.

    If you, me or anyone else wants to call the team Rainbows or anything else, nothing is stopping us. Don Robbs pointed out the other day that Long Beach State (the 49ers) has the "unofficial" nickname of "Dirtbags" for their baseball team. I don't think anyone is stopping us from having Rainbows or Rainbow Warriors as unofficial nicknames...in fact it seems like they're encouraging it.

    I agree with Ben Jay 100%....I personally could care less which name they chose, but I think it was time to choose ONE. I go to every football, men's volleyball, women's volleyball and women's basketball game in addition to quite a few men's basketball and women's soccer games and even then I had trouble keeping tracking of each teams "official" nickname.

    Like Dave Reardon said today, the ship sailed 10 years ago. The decision has been made. The retro shirts are for sale. The "Lets Go Bows!" chant lives on. I'm happy and I hope everyone else is too.

    RUDY SAVIO


  8. meathead:

    Right on Rich Figel. Ask the Ducks and the Beavers if they want to change their names or how about the armadillos. We're local and UH grads but we don't feel we have a connection to UH anymore.


  9. Kenneth Takeuye:

    Ben Jay shows no respect for people. Don't just come here to boss us around with your bullying tactics. If you wanted consistency, you should have gone with Rainbow Warriors and Rainbow Wahine. Warriors was created by June Jones for his football program because he and Rich Miano did not like the gay connotation with Rainbow Warriors. Plain and simple. They may deny this till they are blue in the face, but that is the TRUTH. god knows. Also, Warriors could be derogatory to the Hawaiian people. Do you want the image of Vili the Warrior be your footprint of Hawaii and the Hawaiian people? This is why Marquette University changed their nickname from Warrior. Ben, you've taken the opinion of only a few members of the department, mostly of people who are transient, just as you are. Your are not from here and I believe you will not die here in Hawaii. Neither are most of your coaches.


  10. Rich Figel:

    Otto -

    Quick clarification: I was referring to the very early warm-up session, not the one just before kick-off. When June first took over, lots of people would enter the stadium about an hour early to settle in... but that sound system they put on the field was so loud it became painful to sit in the stands and listen to the thudding bass -- I mean, geez, you could feel your bowels vibrating. Although my wife and I weren't into tailgating since we stopped drinking a long time ago, we (and lots of others) stopped going into the stadium early just because of June's pre-game music ritual.

    Fun fact: I got to meet the guy who came up with the idea for the "Car Wash" movie that spawned the song June loved so much. Ugh.

    Rich


  11. Rich Figel:

    Hey, Rudy -

    Thanks for coming forward and elaborating on your views. However, calling someone "clueless" is not a good way of engaging in a dialogue... which is one of the main criticisms of Ben Jay's approach. He seems to be taking lessons from Gov. Neil's "How to Lose Friends and Alienate Supporters" book. What I'd like to know is did the UH search committee pose this question as part of the AD interviews? Shouldn't they have, since they knew this has been a bone of contention? And if they did, did higher ups at UH already know Ben was going to issue this edict, and tacitly endorsed it?

    The fact you're 29 explains a lot. When you say you "could care less" about the name, you echo what a lot of younger people feel -- and that's what I'm talking about when I say there is less interest and less passion about UH sports. I dunno, maybe that's a good thing. But I think it's a mistake to change your marketing approach to appeal to young guys who prefer to drink, text and watch stuff on TV, rather than experience a live event. I feel sorry for the younger generation that wasn't around when Aloha Stadium was regularly packed with crowds of 40,000 or more... it was a family atmosphere, lots of fun, smiling, bright green and white shirts and the Rainbow logo everywhere. Now when we go to games, there's so much black on shirts and hats, it feels like a funeral.

    While I'm on the topic, sheesh, I hope to heck the football team gets rid of those hideous butt-stripes on the back of their pants. And of all the shades of green they could choose from, I still have no idea whey they went with that moldy green color.


  12. hon2255:

    Winning takes care of many ills and complaints you may have with the athletic dept. More important are facility upgrades needed now, and are in the actual construction process.


  13. Rich Figel:

    Yes, winning does boost short term support. But when you lose the spiritual connection and make long-time fans feel like their opinions (and hard-earned dollars spent at UH games) don't really matter to the man at top, then you are not going to get donations and support for facility upgrades.


  14. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc:

    Back in 1986 - 87, a bunch of (then young) Democratic Party prog-libs here in Hawai`i decided to set up a local chapter of the Rainbow Coalition founded by Jesse Jackson to address a long list of political issues dealing with social justice and economic concerns. The local chapter hung around here in Hawai`i for well over a decade so when the rainbow name for the UH football team began being dissed, I thought that the Rainbow Coalition was causing the negative responses until someone pointed out to me that the rainbow concept was also being used by GLBT activists.

    However, the rainbow in Hawaiian culture is so incredibly important that I cannot believe that the UH would not keep it as the Rainbow Warriors and, yes, Rainbow Wahine Warriors.

    Why haven't the team name issues been brought to the Board of Regents or to the Legislature?

    Hokies? Beavers? Ducks? I cannot imagine that anyone would change their teams' names.

    From Virginia Tech's website: What is a Hokie? The origin of the word "Hokie" has nothing to do with a turkey. It was coined by O. M. Stull (class of 1896), who used it in a spirit yell he wrote for a competition.

    SigOth and I have season tickets in all six ticketed sports plus we go to all softball games as well. I would love to attend soccer games as well, but the fields are just too far away from where we live and work.


  15. Rich Figel:

    CWD -

    I still treasure the cap with the Rainbows logo you gave me at Bob Moncrief's funeral / celebration at Lanikai awhile back. It seemed so fitting because Bob embraced the true meaning of aloha... and the rainbow is a symbol of that spirit. You can't explain that to certain people or a younger generation that doesn't feel the connection to Hawaii's culture or history, for whatever reason. Yet UH seems determined to lower the bar by marketing to the lowest common denominator -- eg., what would Bud Light do to get this valued demographic's fleeting attention?

    What seems disingenuous to me is these folks who say it doesn't really matter to them if fans want to continue to call them the Bows... well, gee, if you instruct the CHEERLEADERS to only use Warriors in their cheers (as June apparently did) it's basically the same as telling the crowds not to cheer for the Bows. Or maybe Ben Jay et al believe fans should just spontaneously start their own cheers, in which case, why bother with cheerleaders at all?

    And if all these sports media people and fans like Rudy "could care less" whether they are the Rainbow Warriors or just Generic Warriors, they why didn't Ben Jay go with the former to be consistent with Rainbow Wahine? There is not one unique element to the Warriors stand-alone nickname -- as an earlier commenter noted, you could be talking about Golden State Warriors (or Kamehameha Warriors or a few dozen other Warrior teams elsewhere).


  16. andy:

    hey, Rich. i'm an older guy who grew with the Rainbows. do i like Bows or Warriors? its Warriors all the way for me. and by the way, there are way more who support Warriors than Bows. how many of those that support the Warrior name would stop supporting the UH if they went back to Rainbows or Rainbow Warriors? hardly any you say? i say more than stopped supporting UH when they went to Warriors. a lot of the older Bow supporters cannot make it to games anymore or have passed away, which further erodes the Rainbow base. yes, with exciting, winning teams, fans will come out again. will it be like the old days? no, because Hawaii has fair weather fans for the most part. we are not Alabama, Ohio State or like any of those great traditional schools with huge, rabid fan bases. schools who take most of the money generated in college athletics and keep it for themselves.
    unlike you, i like Ben Jay. when i hear criticism of him as an outsider, i think of how narrow minded some of us are. and you are talking to a defend Hawaii guy, who when i was younger, didn't want any more haoles moving into our islands. and if you're not from here, that meant you. but i digress. Ben Jay comes from Ohio State University, where he handled a budget 3-4 times larger than UH's. the guy is smart and knows what needs to be done. this state and university has been run by 'locals' forever and its a screwed up mess. the locals haven't fixed it, just tried to ignore it. we need somebody to get it right and i think Ben Jay is the guy. and if a local guy decided to change the name to Warriors, you guys would be ok with it because he's local? thats stupid and hypocritical.
    personally, while i like Warriors, it wouldn't kill me if it was Rainbow Warriors or even Rainbows. why? because UH is my team. they could be called the Bozos and they would still be my team. good or bad, UH is my team. so if you don't like the name, then don't support the team. but for all you 'fans' who won't support them because there's no emotional connection, or they changed the name or uniform color, don't even call yourselves fans, cause you're not.


  17. Rich Figel:

    Okay, Andy, you're a true fan and it does not matter to you if they are called the Bows or Warriors. So what's your beef with those who prefer Rainbows or Rainbow Warriors? It makes no logical sense to say it doesn't matter to "true" fans, then diss the ones who actually care about what is used to symbolize Hawaii -- be it Vili the Warrior or a rainbow or the Mr. Go Bows mascot that got booed at its only appearance many years ago...

    And if Ben Jay is so smart, why did he put the Bows basketball team in a third tier post-season tournament game that no one really cared about, and wound up losing thousands of dollars? Just saying, so far, he's made some questionable calls and dug himself into a deeper hole by the way he's dealing with long-term supporters.

    BTW, why don't they change the stupid Buckeyes nickname at Ohio State? It's some kind of nut, isn't it?


  18. kimo browner:

    This is great debate--pass the popcorn and Kudos to Rich, for throwing hardballs @ UHAD, Mr Jay needs to know what is on the otherside of Hawaii's Rainbow.


  19. Steve P:

    Ben Jay was not hired to change our image, neither was June Jones. But anyone who protested back then that 'rainbow' should not be dropped was dubbed 'old timer' or 'out of touch' or 'clueless' or anyone of a number of stupid descriptions. I personally asked Hugh Yoshida by email why the change and he told me it was a 'team decision'. Right. Who in their right f...king mind lets a team determine what the schools mascot should be called? Its like USC dropping 'Trojans' because it reminds everyone of a condom! All the arguments for dropping the 'Rainbow' are bogus and lack substance----period.


  20. Rich Figel:

    Kimo -

    Here's the problem being brought up by boosters: there is NO debate because Ben Jay already closed that door, and apparently has a closed mind on this subject. Like I said earlier, I don't think he acted alone because it's hard for me to believe this question didn't come up when the AD search committee interviewed candidates. Is it possible BJ was hired to be their hatchet man?

    Ha, just floating a conspiracy theory to stir up the proverbial pot at the end of the Rainbows saga!


  21. pali:

    "RAINBOWS" WILL RULE FOREVER!!!
    for me, at least.


  22. kimo browner:

    @Rich-

    Mr Jay has enuff on the record to perjure himself...he has said he wanted to analyize and hear input before formulating solutions...so the branding decision was difficult to swallow in light of its suddeness and muted response to the Lettermen's Club to reconsider his hurried decision. Yes, it has the feel of a predetermined outcome. What bothers me too, is his decision to pay-to-play for a post basketball tournament that would place Gib Arnold in a position to collect a bonus without merit. Another thing is his proclamation for low tolerance on mediocrity and subsequent demure to be patient while he changes light bulbs. Look, after Hermie, I thought folks would hold future AD's to their word. We may be naive in Hawaii, but stupid?


  23. innocent observer:

    reardon claims it is too late to right a wrong - this is simply stupid. there is not statute of limitations regarding the nickname of a school. ben gay made a unilateral decision to change the name but it was not his authority to do so. nor was june jones. a nickname of a school relates not only to the teams but the students, faculty and alumni - the democratic way was to hold an election with all interested party to vote. many schools on the mainland who changed their nicknames was due to outside pressure that the current nickname had racial overtones. this was not the case here, no one complained that rainbows was a bad name that it had to be changed. it was done abitrarily by some so-called macho men who had to show their masculinity, which does not say much about them, as they want to showcase it, because real men don't have to remind themselves that they are macho. they can live with being a rainbow and still be a real man.


  24. soljah808:

    If people fought as hard for our facility upgrades as they have with our nickname.......we would have amazing facilities by now! smh


  25. andy:

    oh Rich, Rich, Rich. i got no beef with you Bows fans. you have every right to support whatever name you want. this is America, for goodness sakes. i never said it doesn't matter to me what the name is. i prefer Warriors, but had Ben chose Rainbows or whatever, i would not lose a lot of sleep over it. that doesn't mean i don't care. whats important is the word Hawaii that goes before Warriors. Hawaii is what makes us different from everybody else, not the nickname. that tapa H distinguishes us from everybody else. and to say that because you are passionate means only you guys care, just tells me that you are full of yourselves.
    the beef i have is that the UH athletic department has way more serious financial problems than just worrying about a nickname. tell you what. why don't you Rainbow guys raise ten million dollars and tell Ben Jay that if he would change the name back to Rainbows he could have the money to alleviate the financial burden on the athletic department. i'm serious. if you guys are so, so, passionate, do something to help the AD out of this financial black hole.
    i did say Ben is smart. even i didn't agree with buying into Riley's tounament. never said he was perfect. i got a beef with 'long term supporters' quitting on the team because they can't have their way. thats being a fan? nope, thats weak. frankly, Ben Jay has way more important things to worry about than if the teams are called Warriors or Rainbows.
    by the way i love Vili. i loved the black uniforms that JJ introduced. you can hate June Jones all you want, but you can't deny that he put the UH football program on the national map. he had exciting teams that eventually,even people on the mainland wanted to watch. UH had some great Rainbow football teams, but none were more exciting to me than watching some of the JJ football years. so what, you hated JJ, now you hate Ben Jay. you got legitimate complaints. but its over. unless you got ten million dollars, its going to be Warriors. so the question is, are you going to quit or are you going to get with the program? its your choice. like i said, this is America. what a country.


  26. Pacheco:

    Ben Jay is simply trying to clean up the mess created by June Jones, Leigh Steinberg, Hugh Yoshida, and Jim Donovan (the last two simply stood by and did/said nothing while Jones was running wild). Rainbow lovers had some 13 years to protest and grumble. Let Ben Jay do his job, his way. Jay has said that there are more important and pressing matters that need attention in the UH Athletic Dept. The "local way" is not always the best way. Don't forget that some of the best UH ADs were people who came from the mainland. Ray Nagel and Stan Sheriff come to mind.


  27. xiphoid process:

    Brah, if you seriously think the attendance is going down because of the nickname 'Warriors.' then you are truly clueless!
    And BTW, nobody is preventing you from calling the team 'Rainbows.' Go for it; call 'em whatever you want...in the meantime, Ben Jay will be focusing on more important things like upgrading the athletics department and sports programs performance.


  28. Rick White:

    Rich Figel, My complements on a great article and comments string. I also read Dave Reardon's comments this morning and put my two cents in on that one. As a former RAINBOW Warrior when we had WINNING records I never had a problem with the Rainbow name since it's who we were as a UNIQUE identity. Nothing can take that away not even the temporary occupier of the AD's office. Ben Jay has blown off listening or communicating with our representatives of the Hawaii Letterwinners Club and first impressions mean a lot. If some of your critics consider themselves Hawaii fans and prefer to stay home drinking and smoking some lolo watching on TV rather than be real fans going to a real game and supporting the team then we don't need them. In addition to my real job, I'm also an adjunct faculty at a Colorado university teaching . . .Marketing! A strong reality check should be done with what's being done in this area. The
    additional options of colors (Rainbows) should be a GOLD MINE as you have pointed out. Eventually, the next AD will be more open minded and have a focused approach to getting fans back in the seats where they belong. Right now Benny is dividing our Rainbow Warrior nation. Aloha, Rick White, Centennial, CO BA Hawaii Manoa, MBA Chaminade


  29. innocent observer:

    andy misses the point. the nickname of the UH manoa is not responsible for the financial problems that the athletic department has. it was due to poor policies and fiscal management by the prior athletic directors. to say the new nickname will get them out of this financial hole is ludicrous - we need better coaches, better athletes, better facilities, better fund raising efforts, etc., which should likely lead to winning teams and the fans will come back and support the athletic programs. pouring all the money into a mediocre program will not make is win or financially viable. so to ask the proponents of "rainbows" to give $10 million to the program is simply ludicrous.

    Further if ben gay has more important things to do than worry about the nickname, then why does he not do it first? why does he come in here and in two months, just unilaterally change the name of the men's teams, when there was no one complaining, especially fans and outsiders, that the nickname was bad and a burden financially.


  30. Rich Figel:

    Anonymous 'Brah,' if you want to call anyone clueless, perhaps you should actually learn to read first. I did not say attendance was going down solely because of the name. The name is a symbol, get it? It's like your screen name. Why don't you use your real name? Well, because you don't want to publicly stand behind your 'opinion,' uninformed as it may be. When a state institution decides to change its symbol from something many people embrace for something generic, it turns people off -- the proof is in the controversy and in comments. How many dollars have been lost due to long-time fans feeling disconnected from the UH because of random decisions handed down from on high?

    The truth is no one knows! But do you deny attendance is down on average since JJ made the name change (take prior 10 years and post-name change 10 years)? I'm not saying it's cause and effect, but clearly changing the name did NOT result in long-term higher attendance and interest in UH sports, did it? It is just one factor -- it's an important factor though, because people buy (or not) on impulse and emotional attachment when it comes to non-essentials such as sporting and entertainment events/merchandise. They like something or they don't. They vote with their wallets, brah...

    Eg. (for people like you that means "for example"), a Ben Jay supporter named Rudy noted that since the retro merchandise was reintroduced, it is one of the top sellers at the Rainbowtique. Rudy claims Ben intends to continue to sell the old Bows merchandise even after he pulls the plug on the name! In what business economic model does that make sense? A product proves to be popular and is actually making money which indicates there is a demand for it -- so I'm going to do away with the thing that inspired that product line to increase sales! Right. That makes loads of sense. Sheesh.

    We will also never know how much more money could have been made had the old Bows designs been sold when June was here, because he banned it from being sold in the Rainbowtique and at the stadium... which actually DID make sense, because he didn't want a competing product taking anything away from the logo and name he personally chose. Out of sight, out of mind. He (and other macho men who feel the rainbow threatens their manhood somehow) rightly deduced that if they could keep the old Bows stuff out of the public eye for a few years, eventually the older fans would die off and the younger fans would never know about that part of UH tradition. They wouldn't care once it was gone for good. The comments by people like 29-year-old Rudy earlier bear that out.

    Anyway, if you want a dictatorial type AD and leaders, bully for you, because so far that is Ben Jay's leadership style. And as I've said already (again, this if for those whose reading comprehension needs some work) Ben Jay is going to make it harder to raise donations and funds for improvements if he makes the UH's strongest, long-time supporters feel like their opinions don't matter.

    That's just common sense. Leaders cannot address important issues unless they first work on getting the public's trust and support.


  31. Rich Figel:

    Andy -

    For the record, I didn't "hate" JJ. My wife and I were big supporters of him when he first took over. We didn't object to the uniform changes the first season. The Menehune Warrior was still on the helmet, the green wasn't totally blacked out -- to be honest, I actually thought the all black look was kind of cool the first couple of times they wore it. But it's like the White Out nights at b-ball games. Keep repeating certain things over and over, and it gets old. That's why I cited Oregon's program as an example of modern marketing -- you may hate the day-glow colors and anything goes uniform combos, but at least it's interesting.

    My point is Rainbow Warriors allows options for all black, all green, green and white, or tutti-frutti. Whatever floats your boat, young or old.

    And yeah, after years of spending thousands of dollars on season tickets for football and other UH sports, my wife and I finally said we just didn't care that much anymore. It wasn't solely because of the name thing. It was a feelings thing... we didn't feel like UH really cared about older fans or people who think the university represents the islands. The tapa H is just an H. The rainbow is something real. Heck, how many times has ESPN shown a live rainbow somewhere over Oahu or Maui during their intros and commercial breaks when doing games here?


  32. kimo browner:

    Long after this issue sizzles out, the buzz word "disconnect" will take on greater meaning.
    In today's political forum, Hawaii legislators are using the phrase "bottom-up". It's like rediscovering gravity and calling it an epiphany. Look, it's all about the folks in our community and what they identify with in a name. Sounds simple? Not to the carpetbaggers.


  33. Mert:

    Ferd Lewis' column this morning is right on brilliant! it gives the community an opportunity to share their voice for/against the RAINBOW while building COMMUNITY! Let's get behind this idea and bring ALL of us together...Aloha (which rainbows represent) will prevail if we start to remove the barriers that keep us seperated from each other, Aloha, Merton


  34. Rich Figel:

    Mert -
    Yep, Ferd nailed it. And Kimo, I agree that this is the real issue: the disconnect in government and state institutions like the UH, particularly at the top levels. That is why I earlier compared Ben Jay with Gov. Neil's tone deaf approach to leadership (btw, I voted for Neil and thought he would be an open door kind of leader... boy, was I wrong on that).

    Before I close comments and use up my best material in this thread, I just wanted to share one more personal story about why the Rainbows symbol means a lot to my wife and I. In 1992, when the Bows earned a trip to the Holiday Bowl, we booked the trip to San Diego via Las Vegas, even though we couldn't really afford the expense at that time. Why? We figured it could be a once in a lifetime chance to see UH play in a major bowl game on the Mainland against a Big 10 team. Plus, that Rainbow team under Bob Wagner and Paul Johnson was special. They were tough, they were humble, they didn't rely on hype. Even the coaches wore palaka shirts to remind players of Hawaii's working class roots (unlike JJ who must have had a deal with Tori Richards to wear those high-priced aloha shirts that set him apart from the rest of the staff).

    So I wanted to get a Rainbows jacket for the trip, since it was going to be a little chilly that time of year, and I was able to get the last Starters Rainbows baseball jacket at a shop in Windward Mall. It had that shiny green satin finish, a small UH Rainbows logo on the front, orange and white trim on the collar and sleeves, and HAWAII spelled out in white block letters. Even though it was a baseball jacket, I wore it proudly in Vegas and San Diego... and complete strangers would walk up to me and comment on the jacket. Some young dude in Vegas yelled out, "Man, you guys have the coolest name. Rainbows! There's nothing else like that!" (And no, he was not gay. The LGBT rainbow flag doesn't really look like the Bows logo either.)

    After the Bows beat Illinois in UH's first and only Mainland bowl victory, I continued to wear that jacket when we took trips to Europe in later years. And again, foreigners would smile and point at the rainbow logo and say, "We love Hawaii!"

    You know, if you were to show the Jagged H logo to a hundred people on the Mainland, how many would guess it represents Hawaii? I bet more than half would think it's for the Navajo Nation or some southwestern Native American tribe like the Hopi Indians. But if you show a rainbow to anyone, anywhere in the world and ask what state it represents, I'm pretty sure most would say Hawaii.


  35. andy:

    Rich, first of all, thanks for letting us vent here. secondly to innocent observer, i never said the nickname was the cause of the financial void the UH progam is in. in fact my point was that the nickname is a minor thing compared to the big problems UH faces. you need to learn some reading comprehension innocent observer.
    Rich, please stop bringing up Oregon. last i heard, they have about a hundred or so uniform color combinations, all of them funded by that Nike guy, with his multi million dollar donations to the Oregon athletic department. not to mention the BCS money they get every year. UH would be lucky to afford more than three different uniforms.
    i believe a lot of the disenchantment by the older fans started with the raising of ticket prices at the stadium. many said it was too expensive and quite a few lost the seats they sat in for 20-30 years. some say its because of PPV. they complain that it was free before, now they have to pay to see it live, so why bother, just go do something else. sure, changing the name did cost UH some fans, no doubt. would it have kept it at the level it was before, even you would have to say, no. the BCS has changed the dynamic of college athletics. its now more about the money than ever before. the survival of the football program, the driver of the whole athletic department, is in doubt. keeping Rainbows would not have made much of a difference in that regard. you say you don't care much about the program anymore. then why this column? i've seen this program from Larry Price and Red Rocha to the present, so i'm as old or older than you. i still care deeply about this program. i am truly saddened that you and so many others don't care anymore. i want Ben Jay to fix the deeply rooted problems that face this athletic deparment, not worry about nicknames. in the end, its not about you or me. its about this university, about the future. will we have a division 1 program for our kids and grandkids to cheer on, to tailgate for, to revel in the joy and excitement of watching UH play for us? i have my doubts, and when that day comes, when the band stops playing the UH fight song and alma mater, that my friend is on you and me. thank you Rich. i really have no more to say on this matter.


  36. Stephen Chinen:

    I'm Steve Chinen, da guy inspired by Dave Reardon's 2/15 column to not just grumble, but to do something, to unify the thousands of individual rainbow voices. Ironically, it felt like Dave stabbed me in the back with his column yesterday; I know it wasn't personal, but that's how it felt.

    I'm in agreement with everything you pointed out, Rich. Ditto with Ferd Lewis' column this morning and with the weekly Hawaiian language column on page A8. Synopsis: "Rainbow" should be a part of the University of Hawaii's nickname. A fourth article in today's paper -- making today a four-star day -- is on page B2, Farrington High's (my Alma Mater) Gay-Straight Alliance Club has won a national award.

    As I stated at yesterday's rally, Mr. Ben Jay was gracious to grant me a 15 minute meeting with him in his office on April 2. Our "meeting" even extended to 30 minutes; I write the word "meeting" in quotation marks, however, because Mr. Jay dominated the conversation, giving me little chance to present my case for Rainbows. Finally, when I asked him, "What would it take to change his mind?" he replied, "Nothing." He went on to elaborate how he's bringing a different kind of leadership to UH; how his strong leadership style will get things done and (even if he were to now agree with the Rainbows name) he wouldn't change his mind, lest he appear weak and wishy-washy, something he cannot afford to do as a strong leader. This is where he's confusing "leader" with, as you and others are beginning to say, "dictator." Our meeting ended shortly thereafter; in fact, it was me who initiated bringing the meeting to an end with a simple sentence, "Well,we agree to disagree." I proceeded to remind him of our upcoming May 3rd rally, requesting his presence, and assuring him it was not going to be a negative protest rally shouting and putting him down; rather, it would be an informative and education-type rally whose purpose was to let him see and hear the reasoning and passion behind the name Rainbows. I followed up with an email on April 7.

    In that 4/7 email, I also stated my concept of leadership to him. I acknowledged never having been in a high-profile position as he, with all the pressure that comes with it. I am a student of leadership, however, having studied it and reading many biographies of leaders during my undergraduate classes at UH in Political Science, Ethnic Studies, and American Studies. I also have direct experience with military leadership, having served three years of Marine Corps active duty from 1972-5 and 21 years of National Guard/Army Reserve duty from 1992 to the present (including two tours of active duty mobilization with the Army Reserve, with the first one including a year of deployment in Iraq and the second one being two years of active duty at Schofield).

    In the military -- and especially so in a combat environment -- leaders need to be as Mr. Jay believes. Even when having personal doubt about a mission, a leader cannot afford to be seen as weak or wishy-washy, lest the Soldiers/Marines under his charge fail to give it their all in accomplishing that mission. Otherwise, a failed mission is the result, and all the subsequent consequences.

    "Warriors" vs "Rainbow Warriors" is not a life and death combat situation, however, and Mr. Jay needs to be more flexible with his leadership style. Furthermore, a TRUE leader knows no one, including himself, is 100% correct all the time and will therefore, when circumstances warrant it, be willing to change his mind and not worry about appearing wishy-washy. Indeed, if one explains his change of mind, 95% of the people will respect him even more! Show me someone who disagrees with this model of leadership, and I will show you someone who doesn't really know the subject.

    Now is the time for Mr. Jay to exercise true leadership, to delay implementing his decision (as the Letterwinners Club have asked him to do) and to adopt the suggestion made by Ferd Lewis in this morning's paper.

    THANK YOU to all who have read my comment in its entirety.
    Aloha no,
    steve


  37. Rich Figel:

    Thanks for sharing, Andy, and I'll close this thread after my parting shots on this topic. It is my blog, after all, so I get the last word. In my Career Changers TV show, I have gotten to interview people who are as rich and as successful as the Oregon booster you mentioned (watch tonight's show with Henk Rogers, the Tetris/Blue Planet Foundation multimillionaire) and one thing every single one of them talks about is "passion" as a key to success. The opposite of passion or love isn't hate -- it's indifference. And that happens over time, like death by a thousand cuts... or a marriage in which the couple stops talking to each other because they don't even have the energy to argue or fight anymore.

    That's the only reason I chimed in on this topic for my Friday blog, which was inspired by the Rainbow fans who staged the UH rally. I didn't think many would show up because truth be told, ever since the UH caved in to June Jones and let him change the name, team colors, etc. to reflect his own personal vision, it's just been one thing after another to dissuade people from coming out to games... yeah, higher prices, having to put up with drunks in the stands, parking problems at the stadium, pay per view, and so on. Once you stop seeing the "beauty" in the thing that you originally fell in love with, it's awfully hard to rekindle that spark.

    My blog was mostly about the economics and fallacies in Ben Jay's rationale for making a name change that has divided fans instead of uniting them. If, as most of you "Warrior" fans say, the more important thing is rooting for the home team, why shouldn't it be you folks who compromise and accept Rainbow Warriors as the full name, instead of making the rest of us accept half-class status? After all, Rainbow Warriors were here before plain old Warriors came along.

    Peace out. Long live the Rainbows!


  38. Rich Figel:

    Thanks, Stephen, for organizing the rally and taking a stand when many of us had already given up the cause... but that's sort of what makes sports great too, isn't it? We think a team is down, beaten, the game is lost... and someone steps up to the plate... someone makes a play, and inspires others around him to not give up until the last second ticks off the clock.

    And every now and then, victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat. It's that never-say-die spirit that keeps us coming back. I guess that's what I think about when I remember all the Bows games my wife and I have been to over the years. All those great players and teams, who went up against bigger, more talented opponents and gave it all they had. They didn't always win, and there were some terrible losses along the way. But my wife and I cheered even louder in those losing causes because that's what real fans do when they feel a team represents us all.