US SAILING HAS UNVEILED a sharp new logo that, according to Malcolm Page, the new Chief of U.S. Olympic Sailing, "will provide our team's fans and supporters with a visual cue that we are embarking on a new era.''
No offense, Malcolm, but you of all people should know that logos have little to do with winning sailboat races, unless this snazzy representation of the stars and stripes can help raise the millions of dollars needed to narrow the funding gap with the well-provisioned British and other strong teams such as New Zealand and Australia.
"When people see the US Sailing Team logo, we want our audience to associate it with excellence, and with the pride they have in our athletes,'' Page, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Australia, says in a breathless press release. "The future is bright for racing in the U.S., and this new logo is a key symbol of our positive strategic direction."
The new logo has a blue triangle with three stars in the shape of a mainsail and headsail with two red stripes and a white stripe. Frankly, it's an improvement over the previous USST logo, which looked like a reject from the postal service circa 1990.
So, we have a nice new logo, but tell us what US Sailing is doing to focus on why the Americans have won only one medal at the last two Olympics combined, a most embarrassing and troubling result. And how are we going to fix that for Tokyo in 2020?
The Green Bay Packers and New York Yankees have two of the most recognizable logos in sports. But no team has ever been granted entree to the Super Bowl or World Series based on how cool their uniforms or logos are.
Without casting shade on the other U.S. sailors at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, let’s point out why Caleb Paine of San Diego won the bronze medal in the Finn class to avoid the Americans taking a second straight whitewashing. It had nothing to do with a logo but everything to do with mental and physical toughness, perseverance and skill. He beat 2008 silver medalist Zach Railey in the U.S. trials to earn the trip to Rio and then gamely won the medal race to clinch the bronze.
It's all good to promote team-building and to rally around the flag. It’s even better to set a course of challenging the sailors to be at their absolute, competition-hardened best by the time Tokyo 2020 comes around, regardless of how cool their sailing kit looks. Leave the fluffy logo announcements to the marketing team.