Thursday, July 17, 2008


Woodling: Lawsuit gives T’s new life


This, for once, wasn't all about the money.

Oh, Kansas Athletics Inc., saw dollar signs, all right, but the conservative culture of the corporation that operates on the Kansas University campus was motivated more by a particular T-shirt.

You know the one I'm talking about. Muck Fizzou.

Lew Perkins, CEO of Kansas Athletics Inc., hates that T-shirt. First, Perkins tried jawboning entrepreneur Larry Sinks to get rid of it, but Sinks declined. Then Perkins convinced ESPN to ignore students wearing it, but so many students donned it that ESPN couldn't avoid all of them.

Finally, KAI filed suit against Sinks, seeking to put him out of business, which, in essence, would finish Muck Fizzou once and for all because Sinks owns the trademark on those words.

Up front, however, the basis of KU's suit was infringement on the school's copyright. KAI sought more than half a million dollars in Sinks' profits as well as punitive damages from the sale of Muck Fizzou and about 200 other semi-reverent T-shirts.

A federal jury in Topeka, however, found that fewer than 50 of the shirts infringed upon KU's rights, so they awarded KAI about $125,000 based on Sinks' profits from those particular T's.

More notable, however, was, the jury ruling that Sinks can continue to market Muck Fizzou in perpetuity.

Not surprisingly, both sides claimed victory. Clearly, though, the winner was Sinks. He might not have knocked over Goliath with a single stone, but he certainly bloodied his brow.

At the same time, widespread publicity from the trial likely will make Muck Fizzou more popular than ever with KU students at a time when the slogan may have been running out of steam.

Last fall, for example, the University Daily Kansan newspaper promoted a contest to come up with something new and less vulgar, stating that Muck Fizzou had grown stale after five years. The finalists, as I recall, were yawningly insipid, and Muck Fizzou lived on.

Perkins did not issue a statement in reaction to the federal jury's blessing of Muck Fizzou, but KAI mouthpiece Jim Marchiony expressed the corporate dismay by saying, "I guess there will always be a market for tasteless shirts."

A bigger market than ever now, I suspect, because even though Sinks was ordered to funnel six figures into the KAI coffers, wide media coverage of the trial could lead to increased sales that would cover the penalty.

Meanwhile, KAI looked foolish for pressing the suit against Sinks. If KAI had ignored him, his business may have just faded away like a cheap, uh, T-shirt as student tastes inevitably changed.

Now I wouldn't be surprised if the "in" thing for incoming freshmen and transfer students will be to flock to Sinks' downtown store and purchase their very own Muck Fizzou outerwear.

Four or five years ago, the current athletics regime effectively disposed of the time-honored KU tradition of "waving the wheat" while the pep band played the Wheaties theme song when an opposing player fouled out in Allen Fieldhouse.

Now it could very well be that KAI has enhanced the perception of the Muck Fizzou T-shirt to the point where it is now a tradition.


ajs10 11 years, 12 months ago

"Torch the Tiger Lily Hillbillies"...seriously?

Robert Brock 11 years, 12 months ago

The T-shirt vendor has rights and the university has rights. Good to have a bit of litigation to get something straight. As for "Muck Fizzou" being something of importance or even interesting...well, a mind is a terrible thing to lose. Work on it.

b_asinbeer 11 years, 12 months ago

"Bring back the Wheaties song on foul outs..."They still played it at all the games I went to last year whenever an opposition player fouled out. I don't know what you're talking about.

yovoy 11 years, 11 months ago

if some people have their way the 'u' will be sucked dry of "fun" when we're there, and those same people will try to suck you dry of funds after we graduate. i've been gone for a few years, and i wouldn't wear a muck fizzou shirt, but i think i'll buy a few.

Jonathan Allison 11 years, 12 months ago

I wouldn't credit the lawsuit as the root cause if the Muck T-shirts boom this year.I would credit the extensive reporting of the court case as the root cause for the T-shirt boom.

Ben Kane 11 years, 12 months ago

If we're now calling Sinks the winner how come the headline read "jury finds for KU" or something along those lines?...

frompekka2sasha 11 years, 12 months ago

Why can't everyone just post their real name on here? That would fix everything.When Mrs. frompekka2sasha used to work for the newspaper, things were much different. She hates these opinions at the bottom of the articles. "Torch the Tiger Lily Hillbillies" might be square enough for her tastes :-)

Blake Post 11 years, 12 months ago

wrong davey, The consciousness is raised. We speak out against the no class behavior of wearing that shirt. I think the students will find they are not appreciated if they demonstrate a no class attitude, unacceptable on Mount Oread. Ladies and gentlemen, be what you are supposed to be at Kansas. How about a nice feel good shirt like:"Torch the Tiger Lily Hillbillies"?

Kevin Kelly 11 years, 11 months ago

That Constitution's a wicked mistress, eh Lou?Actually, "Beak 'em Hawks" is the example I use when explaining the lameness of the sanctioned shirts that KUAD has.

sevenyearhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

On my way to a game in Norman, Okla. we stopped and someone thought that that shirt had to with with the Sooners!muck fizzOU ... I kid you not!***There is an interesting flip side to this type of story, and that would be "Beak 'em, Hawks."A shirt idea that originated with a vendor outside of the University that they loved, then later adopted and how it has reached a status somewhere between Muck Fizzou and Rock Chalk ...but that is a story for another time!

HalsteadHawk 11 years, 12 months ago

By the time all the billable hours have been calculated, the only real winner will be the lawyers.

imnotpaulpierce 11 years, 11 months ago

Seriously. What's the big deal?How many people are truly offended by 'Muck Fizzou'?

KUFan90 11 years, 12 months ago

Bring back the Wheaties song on foul outs...

Jonathan Allison 11 years, 12 months ago

Wouldn't the idea of torching be perceived as classless especially in light of Quantrell's raid?

KEITHMILES05 11 years, 12 months ago

Lew may have bit off more than he bargained for.He may hit it off with the huge money donors but the more common donors and fans he doesn't have anything in common with.Wouldn't surprise me one bit if Joe College doesn't keep right on going along as before.

William James 11 years, 11 months ago

Maybe Im classless, but I always thought the shirt was harmless and funny. However, since Lews arrival I have gained a tremendous amount of respect for what he has done with the football program, and if he really hates it that much that I wear that shirt for the KU/Mizzou games, than I have plenty of alternative shirts I can wear.

Trobs 11 years, 11 months ago

I keep reading grow up when referring to the Muck Fizzou shirt? Why grow up? All I see when I see an "adult" is a depressed, overworked, under stimulated, bored and painful human being. Life isn't about taking anything seriously. It's been said, "Don't take life too serious, you'll never get out alive." I for one love all of the shirts at Joe College. They are funny and some are tasteless. All the same they keep the idea alive that we don't have to fit into what everyone else wants. We can do what we want. If you want those of us out of college to grow up because we enjoy these shirts, maybe you need to rethink what is important to you. If you are more worried about someone may think about you, or how you will look to others, in my opinion you need to reevaluate your life. I'd rather spend one day as a lion then an entire lifetime as a sheep. Just my two cents.

hawkfan4life 11 years, 11 months ago

Sidewalk sale in Lawrence = sellout of muck fizzou t-shirts. He can't keep em on the shelf...$127,000 is just a drop in the bucket.

actorman 11 years, 11 months ago

"I'd rather spend one day as a lion then an entire lifetime as a sheep."Well said, Trobs.I really have a hard time understanding why people care so much about what other people wear. As long as they're not throwing things or tripping people (a la Misuse fans tripping the KU band members when they used to go to Colon-umbia), who cares how people choose to express themselves? We spend WAY too much time in society worrying about what OTHER people are doing with their lives (as opposed to what we should be doing, which is worrying about what other people are doing while wearing KU uniforms).

John Percival 11 years, 11 months ago

I had one of those Jayhawk doin' the Tiger t-shirts when I was in school and thought it was funny. Weird how when I got past the age of 22 it seemed pretty stupid. If you wear a Muck Fizzou shirt, I seriously hope you're still in college. If not, grow up.Chuck, why don't you call Mr. Sinks or anyone who wears one a "liberal?"

Kent Kossoy 11 years, 11 months ago

In the end, all I can say is Muck the lawyers.

Dan Spurgin 11 years, 11 months ago

For those you worried about about the quality of expression ON the tshirt... that's not the problem.How about the fact that we express ourselves through tshirts at all? Not sure if "cleaning" up language on a tshirt is really addressing the 300lb gorilla in the room (who is, coincidentally, wearing a tshirt too!);Pp.s. I'm wearing a tshirt as I type this!

John Percival 11 years, 11 months ago

Trobs, are you a freaking psychologist? You're opinion's right & I'm wrong? I think these shirts are embarassing & pure trash & I'm not the only one. Hey, here's an idea - to support your team, wear a shirt with a Jayhawk on it. Somehow, I manage to enjoy the games just fine wearing one. You can have fun without making an ass of yourself - try it sometime. I don't give a sh** about North Carolina - or what you think, either. p.s. Who said anything about you not being able to wear them?

actorman 11 years, 11 months ago

"On my way to a game in Norman, Okla. we stopped and someone thought that that shirt had to with with the Sooners!muck fizzOU ... I kid you not!"That's hysterical! Can you say myopic?As for the "Muck" shirt, it's not necessarily something that I would wear, but I agree with Fabio that it's funny and harmless. Man do people need to lighten up! For anyone who needs to research what language means and how people take it way too seriously, I suggest they take a refresher course on the late, great George Carlin.

davidsmom 11 years, 11 months ago

Mizzou fans think KU fans are classless. Wearing "Muck Fizzou" shirts just perpetuates that perception. Classless people will always be classless. It's unfortunate that they represent KU.

John Percival 11 years, 11 months ago

Your - I do have a college degree so I better use it.

cobweb 11 years, 11 months ago

davidsmom sounds like a LOT of fun. Also, what better publicity for selling a lot of shirts. I'm sure the companion shirt is in the works, "Puck Ferkins".

that_guy 11 years, 11 months ago

I always got the feeling mizzou fans thought KU fans were "snobs." So what you are implying mom is that they feel we are classless snobs?

halvhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

Well said trobs...people, theyre freaking t-shirts, if you dont like them then dont buy one. Thats how America works. Weird how all you old guys are saying Muck Fizzou is classless, yet you dont seem to have a problem with 18 y.o. college girls wearing short skirts and bikini tops (theres nothing wrong with that either, just an example). This whole thing makes everyone seem junior high again, why do you care about what other people wear? If you think thats classless thats your opinion, but why do you care about how other people represent themselves? I personally think its gross when old guys with farmers tans wear tank tops or cut-offs to games, but Im never going to walk up to one and tell him he shouldnt be allowed to wear that. Grow up and worry about yourselves.

njthomas 11 years, 11 months ago

As a 27 year old, I've reached the point in my life where I decide what I think is and is not funny. I can assure you, "classiness" and "classlessness" have nothing to do with my decision making. As far as I can tell, those are terms used by people who never quite left junior high and still constantly worry what everyone around them is thinking.I don't own a Muck Fizzou shirt, nor do I own any of those other hilarious shirts, but I still chuckle when I see them at games. See, that's the joy of being an adult. You are allowed to find anything you want funny, so long as you aren't hurting anyone.

stravinsky 11 years, 11 months ago

I don't think that the publicity is going to do anything as for students buying the shirts. Everyone knows us kids don't read the news anyways. In my opinion there are a lot of shirts that Joe College makes that are more classless than the Muck Fizzou. Like the "Win or lose, we'll still booze!" I want to drink on my weekend nights just about as much as anyone else, but I don't feel like wearing a shirt that makes me look like an idiot alcoholic fratboy. I'm not offended by joe college shirts, I just think their dumb as hell and I have better ways to make myself look like an idiot than by posting it on my chest.

jesusisajhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

I know this is off topic, but I heard that KU is going to sell off peices of the championship floor like they did the old floor from Allen. Does anyone know if this is true and if so when and where can peices of the floor be purchased? Thanks!

Kenny George 11 years, 11 months ago

I'm ready for Nuck Febraska shirt!!Or maybe Buck Faylor.

Trobs 11 years, 11 months ago

I'm just glad I have people agreeing with me.

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