No golden lining for Gaels

Queen’s Athletics teams have dropped their ‘golden’ designation and become simply the Queen’s Gaels, Athletics and Recreation Director Leslie Dal Cin said in a Journal interview Sept. 5. Athletics teams have been known as the ‘Golden Gaels’ since 1947.

Dal Cin said the department is rebranding and looking into an official name change with Canadian Interuniversity Sport and Ontario University Athletics, the programs Queen’s competes under. For now, the name change appears in marketing initiatives and on the athletes’ new gold uniforms.

Although Dal Cin’s efforts in improving athletics seem sincere, it’s worrisome that the department is getting caught up in consumer mania. With jargon like ‘marketability’ and ‘rebranding’ popping up, it appears the University is interested in selling an image at the expense of tradition.

The name ‘Golden Gaels’ carries a rich legacy of success that current athletes are pushed to live up to.

Dal Cin said playing up the school’s name creates a stronger connection between athletes and the rest of the University. But putting the University’s name into a sports team won’t make non-athletes feel any closer to their athletic counterparts if they’re already feeling distant. The money spent on updating publicity and uniforms with the change should have been spent on finding ways to reach a home fan base.

Former athletes might feel alienated from a name they didn’t compete under as well.

Equally simplistic is the department’s argument that dropping the descriptor in front of ‘Gaels’ clarifies the word’s meaning. The appearance of the word ‘golden’ is unlikely to affect how many people can connect gaels with Scottish warriors.

The department’s other argument for using simply ‘Gaels’—that the name emphasizes Queen’s Scottish heritage—is also puzzling. It would seem that, in an institution where students come from many different backgrounds, the University would want to avoid such narrow and exclusive terms. It would be better, instead, to build unity among students and athletes through a shared sports legacy.

If rebranding is the goal, it would seem that keeping a descriptor that’s in line with sports’ highest standard would be preferable.

For a department intent on consumer appeal, Dal Cin and the Gaels seem hopelessly out of touch with their market.

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