School pays $30K to change controversial 'Rebels' mascot to '1 Rebel'

School pays $30K to change controversial 'Rebels' mascot to '1 Rebel'

News

School pays $30K to change controversial 'Rebels' mascot to '1 Rebel'

By

You’re not going to believe this, but your taxpayer dollars might not have been well spent.

We turn now to Vestavia Hills, Ala., where the high school’s “Rebels” mascot has been entangled in a national debate over mascots with Confederate ties ever since a 2015 racially motivated mass shooting in South Carolina. The shooter, Dylan Roof, posed in pictures with the Confederate flag, bringing a longstanding controversy to the forefront.

RELATED: Five Iowa schools with ‘Rebels’ mascot part of Confederate symbol debate

Now, before you go on a rant about how “Rebels” could refer to any number of nonconformists, from George Washington and the Continental Army to Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance, take a couple long looks at the previous Vestavia Hills mascot.

The mascot is literally wearing a Confederate uniform, so yeah, beyond completely ignoring its insensitivity, the Vestavia Hills Board of Education had little recourse but to rebrand its mascot, and that started by abolishing this cartoon Confederate character.

RELATED: At Virginia’s Hurley High, Confederate flag is everywhere and means everything

RELATED: More trouble at Texas’ Richland High, this time about its ‘Rebels’ mascot

So, the school hired marketing firm Knight Eady to rebrand the same mascot for some $30,000, according to al.com, and here’s what they came up with: “1Rebel.” Pardon us while we let local columnist John Archibald rail against that concept for a moment.

Yeah, that’s it. Just the word Rebel, in blue, with a red 1 in front of it. Making nobody feel better anywhere.

It’s still a rebel, with all the tangled history it brought in the first place.

It’s just a rebel too weak to admit he’s still a rebel.

I’m sorry. I meant 2weak.

Indeed, the rebrand seems to be the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. They’re still the Rebels, and while that offensive costume may no longer be patrolling the sidelines, the mascot still has those same ties to the Confederacy, despite all the bells and whistles.

Here’s how Knight Eady explained its six months of work in a video embedded above.

“No mascot or character can adequately represent what it means to be a Vestavia Hills Rebel, because only we can truly personify what that encompasses. Our traditions and values will remain the foundation of the school.”

What does that even mean? Are they embracing the traditions and values that led to this debate in the first place? That’s probably not the message they intended to send, but it sure sounds like it.  And there are 10 more months and two more phases to go in this process.

Granted, Knight Eady had its hands tied, because there’s not much you can do to rebrand a mascot when the school board decides it’s not willing to change the name. But I’m just guessing the school could’ve given this assignment to a few of its most talented art students, and they could’ve come up with an equally, if not more creative concept for a rebrand.

And it would’ve been free.

Me? I probably would’ve just gone with this:

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports