Tennis Shorts – March 16, 2012
Kenny’s Serve by Kenny Holdsman, President
I’d like to provide further clarification around our name change. We have received many messages from concerned kids, parents, alumni, and members of our wider family expressing either questions or disbelief about our decision to change our name.
We do not for one second believe we have “outgrown” the use of Arthur Ashe’s name, an icon who in my estimation did as much as Jackie Robinson did “on the field” for racial equality and civil rights than any other American athlete in history, and did significantly more “off the field” when one considers his political activism and humanitarian efforts in South Africa, Haiti and the United States.
We wish we had the ability to keep Arthur Ashe’s name for our organization and our center forever. We however do not own the name and had the privilege to use it only by virtue of a licensing agreement from Arthur Ashe, Inc., which is a corporation controlled by Arthur’s family. The licensing agreement began in 2002 and, by its own terms, had a scheduled end date of December 31, 2011.
More specifically, the name “Arthur Ashe” is trademarked. This means that it can only be used with the expressed permission of the owner/licensor of the trademark. In 2002, Arthur Ashe, Inc. licensed the name “Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education” to Philadelphia Youth Tennis for the sole purpose of changing its name to Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education. In doing so, our organization was allowed to call itself Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, or the acronym AAYTE.
Over the past 10 years, we have grown tremendously in terms of the breadth and depth of our programming. We now have a robust youth leadership and education program, as well as a range of recreational and competitive tennis programs, in neighborhoods across Philadelphia and Camden, and in our Center in East Falls. We serve 4,500 kids and provide a holistic set of programs to help young people reach their potential as students, athletes and active citizens. With this growth has come more positive recognition and awareness of our efforts, both locally and nationally. What also has been generated by our growth is an increasing tendency of the public to simply call us “Arthur Ashe” or “Ashe.” Legally, a reference to the organization as just “Arthur Ashe” can be deemed inconsistent with the licensing agreement and a violation of the licensing agreement.
Regrettably, we were informed by Arthur Ashe, Inc. near the end of 2011 that our license agreement would not be extended beyond the period of the agreement.
Our Board of Directors and President met on numerous occasions to understand this decision and to deliberate an appropriate course of action. The Board was pleased to reach an agreement with Arthur Ashe, Inc. whereby we may still use the tagline “Inspired by the legacy of Arthur Ashe.” Our organization will continue to honor the great Arthur Ashe by using his life’s work as a humanitarian, an activist for social justice and racial equality, and a tennis champion who paved the way for young people, especially for those who lacked access to the sport and to society based upon race, ethnicity or lack of financial resources as a framework for who we are and what we do.
Our Board and staff team are 100 percent committed to the mission of serving children primarily from under-resourced families and communities, and will stay true to this mission after our upcoming name change.
Please know that my door, telephone and email box are always open to young people and adults who care deeply about our organization. I hope this explanation provides some clarity to this somewhat complex set of events.