If you have been under a rock for about the last 16 hours, you might not have heard that the Bulldog Warmups the baseball team used yesterday at practice had “F–k the School Up North written on them”. What exactly will be the fallout from it? We won’t know for a while, but here are some questions we need to ask going forward.
Will Mississippi State break their contract with Adidas?
That has been the question so many fans have been asking. Bulldog fans have never been real enamored with Adidas, and they seem to put the baseball team in the strangest looking uniforms on a regular basis. Adidas fell on the sword yesterday and took full responsibility. Here is the statement the company released last night.
"“We apologize to Mississippi State, their student-athletes, fans and alumni for this error. The Bulldogs’ baselayer graphic today featured old artwork that was never presented to the university. This graphic does not reflect our brand values nor those of Mississippi state. We take full responsibility for this error and wish Mississippi State the best of luck during Super Bulldog Weekend.”"
The question is simply would Mississippi State feel strongly enough about this to pursue breaking the contract with our uniform supplier? At this point, I’d have to say no. Adidas did what the school needed and took the blame. Some people believe both Adidas and Mississippi State, some don’t. That’s just the way these things work. But the situation is made even stickier because almost everyone with inside information in the college basketball world has stated that Adidas was primarily responsible for getting Ben Howland to come to Mississippi State. That alone is probably going to give Adidas just enough leverage to not lose the contract.
Will whoever is responsible lose their job?
I hate that we fire people over mistakes like this in today’s world, but our society has gotten so vindictive we think people need to lose their job when they make a really bad mistake. And sadly, that is likely to happen again. Whoever is responsible for this should certainly be reprimanded, and possibly even demoted, but the person responsible is going to lose their source of livelihood for putting a word on a shirt. He or she didn’t break the law, cause physical harm, or put anyone’s life in danger. But they are going to going to lose their job. I’m not saying it wasn’t a monumental lapse in judgement because it most certainly was, but the fact that we want to label people because of their worst moments is just sad to me.
Is this really a big deal?
This is probably the least clear part of the entire situation. You could probably find a shirt like this online that isn’t endorsed by the school. If that were the case, it would just be social media fodder for fans to bicker back and forth about the “class” of Mississippi State fans. The problem is this was made by the official uniform supplier and sent to the school for the team to use, even if it wasn’t intended for a game. Because the team ran out on to the field in these warmups, it comes across as an endorsement of the phrase. And regardless of how Mississippi State fans feel about Ole Miss, the school can’t be seen as endorsing a phrase that is vulgar about its rival. It’s why Stricklin was so quick to send out his apology on Twitter last night.
Will anyone at Mississippi State be held accountable for this?
Since Adidas took the blame, probably not. But that doesn’t mean that someone in the Athletic Office or on the coaching staff should be completely off the hook. I’m willing to buy the idea that this shirt was never presented to the University for approval. If it wasn’t going to be used in a game, then it could have been made and shipped to the team strictly as the warmup it was used for. But if it were ever discovered that a Mississippi State official had something to do with it, then they should suffer some consequence just like whoever gets blamed for it at Adidas. I wouldn’t want them to get fired, but they likely would.
Regardless of who is at fault, there is someone on the team that could have prevented this from ever happening, and that someone is whoever is responsible for making the decision to have the team run out on the field in these warmups. By my count, the phrase appears on the shirt at least 3 times. I’d be willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt if it was only on the front. Where it appears there, it is a little scrunched up and not as easy to read. But it is as clear as day two times on the back. If you want to tell me that not one person on the team, whether it was the equipment managers, players, or coaches didn’t notice it, then only one of two scenarios is possible. One would be that all those same people I just mentioned are as observant as a rock. If that’s not the case, if everyone associated with the team says they didn’t notice it, then someone on the team is telling a lie.
Adidas can take all the blame for making the shirt. Adidas can take all the blame for sending it to the team without getting approval. But someone told the team to put those on and wear them to practice, and it wasn’t an Adidas official. And whoever that was could have prevented this from ever happening in the first place.