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Posted at 01:26 PM ET, 05/31/2012

Texas A&M fans really like the 12th man


When I wrote Wednesday’s item about Texas A&M possibly being concerned about a longstanding “Home of the 12th Man” banner at RFK Stadium, due to trademark issues recently raised by a former university employee, I thought it was a fun little aside that would be of interest primarily to D.C. United fans.

I didn’t realize, though, that I have so many Texas A&M supporters as readers, nor did I realize how important this issue really is.

See, it’s not really about a banner that has managed to hang in a decrepit stadium for years without anyone much caring.

No, it’s bigger than that. It’s about the rule of law, and the inviolable nature of a trademark, and the importance of tradition, and the place of school pride and community service. It’s about being a real journalist, and treating your subjects with the respect and research they deserve, and not being a dang Communist who likes fairy sports.

So to all of the many A&M boosters who have e-mailed and tweeted and left comments — and to the A&M fan who created a fake Post Twitter account after this to-do — I’m really sorry. Obviously, I didn’t understand just how vital this issue really is. And obviously, I was way off-base when I said your school is bizarrely obsessed with this.

Ok, some e-mail excerpts that put me in my place:

John:

You think A&M’s in the wrong for defending their trademark? Are you a moron? I’m going to start a newspaper and call it the Washington Post. Surely no one will stop me, right?

Joe:

20,000 attendance doesnt make a 12th man. Its not even a thing you can throw around but it started at Texas A&M because of actual fan support for a team that plays a real game and not prancing around like a bunch of grass fairies playing a euro nancy sport....You wouldnt know real fan passion if it walked up and slapped you in your fat face. Few if any professional sports fanbases do.

Loyd:

You must be a communist since you obviously don’t believe in property rights. Texas A&M University owns the trademark 12th Man/Home of the 12th Man. It is the property of the university. As it stands right now, Americans are still allowed to own personal property....You sir are the perfect example of the ignorance of today’s main stream media. If allowed to continue on its current path, your industry will be the downfall of the greatest nation the world has ever seen.

Larry:

Why would a DC based newspaper even have a sports section. Stick to promoting liberal policies.

Jacob:

Your article/blog post about A&M’s 12th Man moniker is a shining example of ignorance and stupidity. Were you too lazy to do the research or do you enjoy publicly displaying your incompetent opinion for the world to see? Enjoy the blogosphere... Keep writing pieces like this and you’ll be there for a long long time.

George:

Don’t you think that your employer would have something to say if I started my own newspaper called the Washington Post?

Mayra:

Being a 12th Man means much more than just being a sports fan. We help out in our community by participating in our annual Big Event, where more than 15,000-20,000 students go and do service projects on the same day. We have dozens of other service projects a year that aggies participate in to better ourselves and the community. We support and uplift other aggies because we understand what being a 12th Man means. For you to play that down or make it seem like our love for that phrase is absurb, is just a bit ignorant.

Zane:

I guess that no organizations or businesses should be able to have a trade mark if your theory is correct? Why would any entity try and come up with something creative that identifies that work with a brand? Why even bother getting a trade mark if you aren’t going to defend it or more importantly people like you think it isn’t right to defend it? Anyway, I hope most of your readers are intelligent enough to look past your blatant bias.

Jeff:

So Danny Boy, you don’t think much of trademarks do you? Don’t get your hair in a knot (oops, sorry, you don’t have any) but its called business. By your reasoning DC United could call themselves the Happy Meals and McDonald should revel in the free publicity. Stick to the Cal Ripken posts, you read smarter that way.

Gerald:

DC United and the Post don’t have to like A&M’s origination and ownership of the 12th Man slogan, but they do have to respect it. In the meantime, United fans should feel free to use their imaginations--just as Aggie students did back in 1922 when they created the 12th Man slogan-to originate their own special fan identifier unique to DC.

Bill:

Stick to something you know.

Zach:

I wouldn’t recommend messing with the real 12th Man. Your embarrassment of a soccer team has empty seats galore game after game and you really think they’re deserving of the “12th Man” moniker?! That’s laughable. If you were an actual journalist, instead of just a pretend one, you’d realize that our use of the “12th Man” is based on a historical event....Again, wouldn’t mess with us there big guy. We have the best university/sports forum in the world....Texags.com Maybe you’ve heard of it? Well, if not, just know that the site singlehandedly won us the GameDay commercial a few weeks ago. And now, it looks like our site has singlehandedly blown up your inbox. PS -- Get a new pair of glasses dude, it’s 2012....unless you’re actually trying to pull off the pedophile look.

Blake:

I am assuming if you write for the Washington post you have some form of business knowledge. I am also assuming you understand trade mark laws. If a business does not defend its trade mark it will lose ownership of said trade mark.

Jonathan:

Grow up and actually write something that does not sound like a pissed off teenager’s status update on Facebook. If you wanted to expound your article about how trademarks have gotten out of hand and how it’s even ridiculous that “12th Man” is trademarked, I would have respected that article. Instead, you took your time, energy and platform as a writer to badmouth a school that is just doing what anybody (person, business etc...) in their situation would have done.

(Serious sentence: I’ve had a few interesting and non-rude interactions with Texas A&M folks who actually wanted to make me understand why this matters. No offense intended toward them.)

By  |  01:26 PM ET, 05/31/2012

Categories:  D.C. United | Tags:  12th man, RFK Stadium

 
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