WASHINGTON — Change is hard.
Even those wild entrepreneurial risk-takers that sell things on infomercials on late night TV probably have fears. I am not wild about change and still prefer my television shows to be in black and white.
That said I find myself embracing Major League Soccer’s decision to change its logo. It is a big deal. Uniforms and individual team logos and colors, even team names change, but a professional sports league’s logo — its symbol, its shield, its image — typically stays the same.
Look at logos of the NFL, NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball — they all have a long history. Basketball and baseball are the babies of sports league logos. MLB first used its current logo in 1968. It was rumored to be modeled after former Washington Senators player turned Minnesota Twins star Harmon Killebrew.
The NBA logo still in use today debuted in 1971 and was also linked to a player. The silhouetted basketball player dribbling looks an awful lot like Hall-of-Famer Jerry West did when he starred for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1960s. Yes, kids, West was a player and not just a GM.
The NFL logo was first used around 1940 and the NHL logo you still see today made its debut in 1946. It’s clear that “come up with a design that is comfortable and stick with it” has been the philosophy of our major sports leagues.
Over the last 19 years, Major League Soccer has worked hard to become a major league in more than just name. Games are now averaging close to 19,000 fans and are being played in soccer-specific stadiums. A New York expansion franchise was admitted to MLS for $100 million.
It’s fair to say, then, that the MLS logo served the league well until yesterday when it was replaced. The old logo of a boot kicking a ball was simple, but had impact and was memorable. The new logo is a red, white, and blue shield with three stars to represent club, country and community.
The red, white and blue version of the logo will be used by MLS, but the logo has also been fashioned in the colors of individual teams. That’s different, and it is a bold move. MLS is a league born in this generation and must be open to change to fit in with this generation.
When I was told before it was unveiled that it would not contain a soccer ball, I was horrified. Now after seeing it, I get the emphasis on club, country and community. As the crowds watching the World Cup this summer confirmed, this country understand that soccer is bigger than one thing and more than just kicking a ball.
In short, I like the logo. I just wish TV was still in black and white.