What if you hosted a football game and only one team showed up? Wouldn’t work, would it?
And that was my conundrum as I prepared to create a children’s book for the great football fans of the University of Southern California. Fight on! Hmmm. Against whom? It was a huge honor to be asked to write a book for USC and all Trojan fans. I loved visiting the campus, kicking the post on Trousdale, becoming immersed in the traditions of the drum major, The Spirit of Troy, touring Heritage Hall. There was a great story to tell. It would almost write itself. But who would the Trojans play? Who would they defeat on the field, in the book? How about … arch rival Notre Dame, the choice of the director of licensing and likely legions of Trojans fans. ( Either them or the Bruins, but we had our team.)
That’s when my story about how to bring two rivals together begins. When you publish a book using the brand of a great college football team you don’t just replicate the jerseys and the traditions. Permission comes in the form of a licence. I had a licence with USC. We were good to go – crimson and gold. I did not have a licence with Notre Dame. The process to get one is long. So my options were? Here’s where asking nicely actually still works today.
I asked. The interim director of licensing at Notre Dame entertained the idea of the Fighting Irish playing USC in my little children’s book and losing. We sent her rough illustrations as work on the USC book progressed. We sent the text of the story so that she could see the context in which Notre Dame was playing this football game. She approved. Wow. How fortunate were we. Now, we had a story with two great college football teams and permission to use their famous jerseys and logos and what was in it for Notre Dame? Really, nothing.
Fast forward a year. Our book, Always a Trojan, has been for sale at the campus bookstore, at the LA Festival of Books, through Vroman’s bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, afanforlife.com and now Fanatics on line. One thousand copies went out to little members of the Trojans Kids Club this fall.
As my business grows I apply for more college licences. One I am keen to secure – Notre Dame. All colleges I apply to offer me a licence. Feeling very fortunate. The last approval: from the University of Notre Dame. Now, to write a kids book, get a team to lose ….
The Director of Licensing for USC saw this writing on the wall long ago. Before Always a Trojan was started, he suggested to me that every college team would like a book. I loved his vision! So, when Notre Dame agreed to a children’s picture book for the Fighting Irish we had the approval of USC to be the losers. As long as they didn’t lose too badly. Seemed fair to me. Thank you to the folks at these two great schools for playing along in the spirit of a children’s book. They didn’t have to but they did. Today Fighting Irish Fans for Life is selling at the Hammes Bookstore on campus, Barnes & Noble, Fanatics, Amazon.com and afanforlife.com and our reach is growing.
This football season and next – impossible for me to pick a team, of course. Cheering for them both! Play Like a Champion Today. And, Fight On!