The Tigerhawk will be on the 50-yard line at Kinnick Stadium…Iowa made this announcement on Monday, much to the delight of Hawkeyenation.
I won’t sit here and say that the Tigerhawk is one of the most recognized logos in collegiate athletics, but I won’t say that it isn’t.
I WILL say that the Tigerhawk is a beacon for Iowans, for Iowa fans, wherever they find themselves.
“The passion for the Tigerhawk is amazing. Wherever you go in the state, across the country, or throughout the world, when you wear the logo on your shirt, a friendly ‘GO HAWKS’ shout is inevitable.” This was a quote from Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta from the Monday press release about the Tigerhawk at the 50. Of course, Barta is absolutely correct in this.
I am not uncomfortable writing that I pull for Iowa to win its sporting events. I didn’t start doing ‘this’, whatever this is, nearly 20 years ago looking to be a reporter, a journalist or what have you. My childhood passion for Hawkeye sports fueled my desire to study broadcasting in college, begin writing about Iowa athletics to family and friends in an email newsletter in 1998 and ultimately led to me founding HawkeyeNation.com, my sports talk radio career and my stint with the Big Ten Network.
All of that due to how much I loved the Hawkeyes as a child, and how nearly every other piece of clothing I wore displayed a Tigerhawk.
Being a teenager in the 1980’s meant that I went through at least three black and gold ‘Hayden Fry’ windbreakers. For those of you reading this who were also teenagers in the 1980’s, you’re likely smiling and nodding your heads.
I was easy to shop for when it came to Christmas gifts…just buy me something with a Tigerhawk…like a trash can, a hat, playing cards, whatever. If it had a Tigerhawk on it, I wanted it.
My mom’s choir used to work Concession Stand M in the old stadium configuration, back in the 80’s. I’d come to the stadium early with her and I would stay late. I truly had a run of the place and took every liberty I could. I’d climb beneath the old south endzone stands after games and ‘collect’ ticket stubs…I’d stuff my pockets full of them. All of the ticket stubs were for that day’s game, but I didn’t care. I had shoe boxes full of used ticket stubs that I lugged around well into my 20’s. Then I got married, and my wife convinced me to part with those dirty old things.
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I’d go down onto the old artificial turf after games and reenact the big plays from what I witnessed just hours before. I shagged kicks for Tom Nichol when he was trying to stay in ‘game shape’, hoping for a call from an NFL team. I literally ran into Ronnie Harmon’s dad before one game, and chatted him up for a half hour. He told me to come by the player’s locker room after the game and I did, where he introduced me to Ronnie and Kevin.
Kinnick Stadium was my field of dreams…
So seeing the Tigerhawk announcement on Monday brought a big smile to my face…and reading Barta’s words about the Tigerhawk and what it means when you wear it around the country, that too rang home.
I live on the outskirts of Tulsa, Oklahoma now. My family moved here four years ago today, leaving our West Des Moines home and my residency in Iowa behind. We’ll likely not return to live there, as my wife has a manageable yet painful condition where cold weather causes her to lose blood circulation and thus feeling in her extremities. We had to move south, so we did what we had to do.
But the state of Iowa is an always present source of pride for me, and whenever I have vacationed in the past or whenever I travel on an airplane to get to anywhere, or whenever I am running errands on a weekend in Owasso, OK, I put on a ball cap that has a Tigerhawk on it.
Because I enjoy meeting like-minded people, those who are also displaced from their ‘chosen home’ or traveling abroad. And as Barta said, you inevitably meet someone and the ‘Go Hawks’ shout is heard more often than not.
Case in point…I was at a Quick Trip last weekend (we don’t have a Casey’s in Owasso, otherwise I would have been there) and I noticed a man filling up his jeep with gas. He had a Tigerhawk front license plate placard and he was wearing a Tigerhawk hat and shirt, the holy trifecta.
I walked over to him and introduced myself. His name was Ken Snitker, originally from Blairstown, Iowa I believe. We made some small talk, I found out he visits this website and listens to the podcast and he was surprised I lived in Owasso. We parted ways, and it was good to know that a fellow Iowan lives not too far from me down here in Sooner Country. I was also reminded of the common bond so many of us share, and will always share…and it made me smile.
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That’s just one story of dozens I could tell you. I’ve had people approach me on Sanibel Island, Clearwater Beach, Buffalo, Pittsburgh International Airport, DIA in Denver, Phoenix…I wore a Tigerhawk hat to a U2 concert in Dallas two weeks ago and heard several ‘Go Hawks!’ shout outs along the concourse.
The truth of the matter is that human beings like to feel as though they belong to something bigger than just themselves…to be a part of something…a tribe, a clan, a group…something.
Our affinity for sports can border on the silly at times, but it’s one of the most obvious examples of this subconscious driver you can find.
The Tigerhawk will be on the 50-yard line, where it feels like it belongs. Millions of people will be exposed to it more than they ever have been…an iconic logo will become more iconic in the coming years as the brand is strengthened due to this ‘product placement.’
As I watch the games on my TV from Oklahoma each weekend, I will most certainly smile as I see it in glorious high definition. All feels well with the world.
The Tigerhawk as a heartbeat of Iowa athletics is fantastic imagery. This would not have happened with Kirk Ferentz’s blessing, so thanks, Kirk.
Now, about that water tower…