In the world of sports, controversies over logos aren't unusual. The Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians have long been the subject of protests from Native American groups. Even high school teams aren't immune from such issues. But closer to home there’s another sort of debate over the logo for the sports teams from Fresno State - the Bulldog. In this case the debate isn’t about alleged racism, it’s about violence, and a street gang that has appropriated the logo for its own use.
Last week, the New York Times published a major feature on the Bulldog logo and the Bulldogs street gang. ("Fresno State Loves Its Bulldogs, but So Does a Gang"). Much like the football team, which now ranks number 14 in the latest BCS standings, the piece in the times gained national attention and raised some serious questions. Does the university profit from the sales of merchandise to gang members? And should a college consider changing its logo when it is appropriated by those who advocate violence.
We asked representatives of the university to join us on-air to discuss the issues raised in the Times article, but they declined to comment. So what should the university do? For more insights into this story, we turned to a longtime broadcaster in the San Joaquin Valley, Paul Swearengin, who hosts the Paul Swearengin Sports Podcast, and is a longtime ESPN Radio personality in the region. His wife, Ashley Swearengin is also Fresno's mayor.