Young Mennos divided over Jets’ new logo

October 12, 2011 | Young Voices
Aaron Epp | Special to Young Voices
Winnipeg, Man.

If there is anything that has sparked the same amount of discussion in Winnipeg as the return of the Jets, the city’s NHL team, it is the unveiling of the team’s new militaristic logo.

Gone is the commercial airliner and hockey stick that characterized the Jets’ classic logo. Instead, the new design modifies the emblem used by the Royal Canadian Air Force by featuring a CF-18 fighter jet with a maple leaf in the background.

“The stylized roundel that serves as the Winnipeg Jets’ new logo has sparked the biggest debate over design in this city since utilitarian critics heaped abuse upon Esplanade Riel, the pointy pedestrian bridge whose now-beloved image is synonymous with Winnipeg itself,” Winnipeg Free Press reporter Barley Kives opined in an editorial the paper published in July.

He went on to share a comment sent to him by a long-time acquaintance, a proudly pacifist Mennonite. “Sure, it is a handsome design,” Kives’ acquaintance wrote. “[But] the militarization of a sports team is a terrible idea, especially in a city that, for example, contains more Mennonites than military members.”

Many young adult Mennonites have similarly conflicted views about the new logo.

Lucas Redekop, a life-long hockey fan who began playing the sport at the age of five, hesitates to make too many claims about the new logo because at the end of the day, he says, it’s just hockey.

Still, you won’t find the 27-year-old wearing clothing with the logo on it any time soon. “I’d hesitate to [wear the logo] because then I feel like I am almost put in a place where [people might think] my views are, ‘Yes, I support the military,’ ” says Redekop, who attends Home Street Mennonite Church, Winnipeg.

Mike Friesen disagrees and proudly wears his new Winnipeg Jets’ T-shirt. The 26-year-old began playing hockey at the age of nine and played for Canadian Mennonite University while studying there. He and a group of friends bought season tickets, and Friesen attended the Oct. 9 home opener against Montreal, which the Canadiens won 5-1.

He says he was taken aback when the new logo was unveiled, but ultimately the logo makes sense to him because of the parallels between the military and competitive sport. “Hockey’s an aggressive, physical sport,” says Friesen, who self-identifies as a pacifist. “I think that there is some overlap between what the military is about and what sport is about in general: aggression, pursuit of victory and the team pursuit of a goal where the team is more important than the individual.”

Friesen is critical of the inclusion of the maple leaf, though, and says that using a symbol that is more uniquely Manitoban, such as a bison, would have been more appropriate. “I think Canada’s a great place, [but] I’m way more disappointed about the maple leaf than I am about the F-18,” he says. “I would have rather seen it be something . . . more Winnipeg-specific.”

Ryan Roth Bartel works at Mennonite Church Canada as a graphic designer. He says that from a design standpoint the logo is well done, featuring as it does good, strong colours, and he thinks it looks good on a jersey.

The logo’s militaristic bent bothers him, though. “By using something so military, it actually just looks like a military logo,” says the 33-year-old, who attends Charleswood Mennonite Church, Winnipeg. “To me, that doesn’t even talk about being a sports team. . . . It doesn’t speak specifically to Winnipeg [and] it doesn’t speak specifically to [being] a hockey team.”

Redekop says that, ultimately, the real issue people should be concerned about is the fact that Canada’s federal government is increasing its military presence around the world. Time spent arguing about a logo is time that could perhaps be spent more constructively. “If we’re serious about being against the build-up of arms, we should be fighting it in different ways,” he says. “I don’t want to put my energies into fighting a hockey logo.”

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