When Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) indicated there would be a huge announcement at a press conference, many wondered what it could be. Maybe it involved money, camps, or even new awards that celebrate the blood sweat and tears that go into the games. Maybe new policies for the organization were finally making a debut. This, however, was not the case. On October 20th, CIS announced a rebranding for the organization. A new name and a new logo that would be sure to impress fans and athletes. Thus, U Sports is born, indicating a total of four name changes in 110 years.
Why the name change? What is the importance? To officials, U Sports is a brand that is more engaging and more inclusive. In addition to this, U Sports is the same in both French and English languages. This gets rid of the pesky CIS (English) versus SIC (French) confusion. There is also the play on the letter “U” to consider, which obviously stands for “University” but can also stands for “unbeatable, united, unsurpassable” and any other cliché “U” word you can think of. It is a clever strategy. The logo is aesthetically pleasing. All jokes aside, the rebranding does unite the organization in a way that has not been done before now. But at the end of the day the true goal of rebranding is generally to rake in more sponsors. Anyone who knows the slightest bit about marketing will agree to this. Let me assure you, that this is not a bad thing. We welcome, need, and would be thrilled with new sponsors. However, U Sports has more areas of concern than a name and logo change.
Chris Cochrane of the Local Xpress wrote about these concerns in an article titled “CIS Priorities Out of Touch with Grassroots”. Here are some of the issues Cochrane discusses regarding the CIS, now U Sports: the gap between the wealthier and the less financially strong programs, inability to do timely investigations into reports of improper conduct, how the organization is consistently understaffed, and lack of grassroots initiatives.
I agree with Cochrane. These internal issues of the organization are just some of many that need to be addressed. Maybe I am being too critical of U Sports. The rebranding is, after all, a positive change for the world of University sports. This I am not debating. I am, however, urging that CIS put more emphasis on fixing the internal issues that have been developing for quite some time now. Who knows, maybe U Sports will have a new outlook on these issues. But then again, the names of things do not often affect what they are.