Student Expands T-shirt Franchise

November 8, 2010 § 2 Comments

Published in The Huntington News, October 7, 2010:

Student expands ‘Sucks to BU’ slogan online

Northeastern’s rivalry with Boston University is embedded in both schools’ sport culture, even if it doesn’t have an outlet, save for a Facebook fan page.

But one student wants to reinvigorate the tradition of the competition by selling shirts and starting a website, ensuring its legacy.

Senior political science major Rocky Slaughter said he sees “an established, year-after-year demand” for the shirts as a business opportunity.

Slaughter, who registered the web domain SucksToBU.com in August, said he plans to set up the site as an e-commerce platform that sells the college rivalry shirts at affordable prices.

Beyond a business opportunity, Slaughter said he also sees the site as a chance to stimulate the Northeastern community with competitive spirit.

“When you have an established college rivalry – friendly college rivalry – schools tend to perform better,” Slaughter said.

As a senior, Slaughter will not be able to head the project beyond its infancy. He said he hopes to help build the site on a basic level, then “turn it over to someone who will take the spirit of the college rivalry and accelerate it in a tasteful way.”

But the site isn’t seen as a good community-building tool by all Huskies fans.

Andy Towne, a junior communication studies major and a basketball analyst for Northeastern’s WRBB radio station, said he would prefer a website about why it’s good to be a Northeastern student.

“[It] does nothing to make me feel like Northeastern is a better place,” Towne said. “We should be more focused on the fact that Northeastern is great, not that BU sucks.”

Towne is not opposed to the idea of school spirit, and said he is all for “a website about why it’s so great to be a Northeastern student.”

Athletics Director Peter Roby said he shares this sentiment.

“Obviously I want our fans to be excited about supporting our teams, but my hope is that it can be done in a way that supports us without denigrating our opponents,” he said in an e-mail to The News. “The BU shirts denigrate BU, so despite our rivalry with them, I don’t condone the use of [the shirts].”

Tim Fouche, leader of The DogHouse, Northeastern men’s hockey’s student cheering section, said he has no problem with the site.

“I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t think of it myself,” Fouche said. The sixth-year pharmacy major said he has one of his own “Sucks to BU” T-shirts and his only issue with the slogan is that it’s become a fallback retort.

“The only problem I have with it is that it’s pretty much become the default chant when we play BU,” he said. “I don’t mind the chant when we’ve nailed down the win, but when it’s started five times a game, it loses its luster.”

The chant aside, Fouche said he is “interested in seeing what the site will be about,” and hopes it’s “done right.”

“If it turns out to be a lame site,” Fouche said, “it will reflect poorly on The DogHouse as a whole.”

This pressure doesn’t seem to phase Slaughter, who said once people see the good that can come from a rivalry, they’ll come around.

“The whole point of [the site] is that it’s supposed to be positive. It’s supposed to be constructive for both schools,” he said.

But in order to be lucrative, Slaughter said he has to be careful with his business venture.

“The freshman mistake is that people go to American Apparel, which is great unless you’re trying to make a profit,” Slaughter said. He hopes the rebooted “Sucks to BU” enterprise, with his oversight, will be able to avoid these “freshman mistakes” and go on to thrive as a center for school spirit as well as a learning experience for budding entrepreneurs.

“Ideally, it’d be up by the end of the semester,” he said, then laughed. “You know, like if all the sudden I had no more homework.”

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