This is a great time of year to be thankful for what we have, where we have been, and what the future holds. Although the Chargers have lost their way a bit in recent years, the month of December used to hold such incredible promise! This advent calendar is an attempt to hearken back to these days of December joy. Each day will bring a new advent from the Bolts’ history that make it wonderful to be a Chargers fan.
Dec. 9: The Bolt Logo
This very site, and most of the legions who follow, refer to themselves as ‘Bolts.’ Most have never really asked themselves why, or how, this came to be. After all, they follow the Chargers. And, after all, a Charger is a.. is a.. Hmm.
In the Chargers’ inaugural season, 1961, the Chargers' first owner was Barron Hilton, the son of the founder of the Hilton Hotels and a credit card baron. Hilton held a contest to find a name for his new team. The prize was a trip to Mexico (nothing too exotic!). A man from Hollywood named Gerald Courtney submitted the name "Chargers" and won. Hilton’s father said, "I liked [the name] because they were yelling "charge" and sounding the bugle at Dodger Stadium and at USC games". In short, the Chargers were charged to charge to the call “CHARGE” because a credit card charger charged it would charge large Charger chants. Makes sense.
Not knowing anything about what Charger was, nor being able to put into lines what it means to charge an enemy, the original logo was a war stallion upon a shield.
As for the bolt itself, it was there from the very beginning. It became the forefront of the Chargers’ identity in 1974.
The ‘BOLT’ has remained ever since. It began as an afterthought and has grown into the Chargers’ most enduring visual identity.
Paul Lukas, the uniform columnist for ESPN, summarizes:
“The Chargers have this unusual abstraction, which is the lightning bolt,” he explained. “The lightning bolt signifying energy and a charge came secondary. But the Chargers really own that, and there is nothing else like that. Even Chris Berman will refer to them as the Bolts or Lightning Bolts. And the Chargers really own that. They wear it as a logo not only on their helmet where many teams wear a logo, but they’ve extended it throughout their uniform program. It is on their shoulder, where most teams have a stripe, they have their lightning bolt. On their pants, where most teams will just have a stripe, they’ve got the lightning bolt. So I think that is part of it right there where they have this very unique thing that they own, and has really held up over time. The exact number of points on the bolt over time has changed, but the general feel of the Chargers owning this symbol has stayed. So that is an important part of it.”
The most recent uniform tweak came in 2013, and according to NFL policy, the Chargers will not be able to update many aspects of the uniform until the 2018 season.
Despite the entirety of google, the encyclopedia, and Chargers website at my disposal, I was not able to find any concrete information on WHO actually designed the bolt logo that we all love and cherish. I would love to find out more, so I invite any fans that have done better homework to speak up.
I will happily leave this here:
With more changes coming in 2018+, plus a new stadium in 2020, it’s conceivable that the Chargers will go through some more design concepts in the near future. The bolt, however, will almost definitely be central to both the design and the spirit of the team.
-Jason “Kudos to Graphic Design” Michaels