Following in the footsteps of the pathetic legal battle between Texas A&M and the Seattle Seahawks over the use of the term, "12th Man", it looks as if the Phoenix Coyotes and Penn State University are going to be headed to court over the use of "White Out".
God save us all from lawyers with nothing better to do. From the Daily Collegian:
This football season, a trademark held by the national hockey team the Phoenix Coyotes nearly blacklisted Penn State's use of the term "White Out."For those of you unfamiliar with the origin of the term, the "Winnipeg White Out" came into being during the 1987 NHL Playoffs when the Winnipeg Jets -- the team now known as the Phoenix Coyotes -- faced the Calgary Flames. Wanting to come up with their own answer to the "sea of red" worn by Calgary fans at their home playoff games, the Jets responded by asking their fans to wear white to their home playoff games.
Lucky for Lions fans, Penn State found some gray area.
"We have applied to protect the phrase 'Penn State White Out' in connection with the promotion of fan participation and involvement in collegiate athletic events," said Greg Myford, associate athletic director of marketing. "Penn State intends to register the phrase for protection on a national level."
But "White Out" is not originally a Nittany namesake.
In fact, Steve Weinreich, vice president of general counsel for the Phoenix Coyotes, said that any variation on the term for marketing purposes is "in violation of the law," restricting certain posters, advertisements and garments around campus.
Subsequently, the Jets eliminated Calgary in five games that year, and a new tradition was born -- albeit one that is only observed sporadically as the Jets/Coyotes make playoff appearances about as often as a solar eclipse.Despite this, the folks in Happy Valley seem determined to circumvent Phoenix's claim, distributing flyers and other promotional materials urging folks to show up to the "White House" for Saturday's home game against Notre Dame.
While I might love hockey and the folks in Winnipeg who started this tradition, I'm climbing on board with Penn State. As Associate Athletic Director Greg Myford told the student newspaper, the University's "students and fans have already taken ownership of the term." And at some level, it just feels offensive that somebody would try to make a legal stink out 100,000 or so college football fans just trying to have a little extra fun on a Saturday afternoon.
Seeing the Coyotes possibly going to court to preserve their rights over the term "White Out" is just one last insult to the fans in Winnipeg who did nothing but cheer their hearts out for the Jets. So while the papers claiming legal ownership of the "White Out" might sit in a filing cabinet in Phoenix, the spirit that started it all still lives in Winnipeg.
Something tells me that if you asked a Winnipeg Jets fan what they thought of Penn State piggy-backing on their tradition, they'd probably be flattered.