Here’s the deal. Just about every college has a team mascot designed to represent the school’s spirit. Regardless of the sport, or the level, teams want to win. So it’s no surprise that so many mascots are predatory animals or fighters designed to inspire fear in their opponents. But some mascots do just the opposite.
In the world of college sports, there are hundreds of unusual mascots. Turtles, Koalas, Swedes, Retrievers, Anteaters, Volunteers, Frogs, Violets and Camels just to name a few. But I am here to talk about the least intimidating of all college mascots. The decidedly non-threatening. The downright cordial.
(And I know about unintimidating mascots. My high school mascot was the Governor. How is that going to scare anybody? Our school chant was, “We will, we will…govern you!”)
So, here it is – the top ten:
(10) The Mary Baldwin College Squirrels. I suppose a squirrel could try and bite you, but I’m guessing that if they’d used squirrels instead of lions in ancient Rome, the gladiators would have fared a little better.
(9) The Amherst College Lord Jeffs. Lord Jeff? Who is Lord Jeff? I guess he may have been a fierce competitor…but I can’t think of any fierce competitors named Jeff…much less Lord Jeff. I imagine Lord Jeff speaks of himself in the third person and needs help opening his jars. “Send for my royal jar opener, Lord Jeff fancies a pickle.”
(8) The Youngstown State Penguins. Who doesn’t like penguins? They’re cute, loyal and cute. But as a team mascot, they’re pretty weak. No intimidation factor. I mean, come on, they waddle.
(7) The St. Joseph’s College of Maine Monks. Nothing doesn’t say, “We’re gonna beat you,” like a vow of silence.
(6) The University of California Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. Go team. A little faster. Come on team, I know you can go faster than that. Slugs? Seriously? This has got to be the least intimidating creature on Earth – it’s a mascot that you could accidentally step on.
(5) The Whittier College Poets – “Give me a “T” – give me an “H” – give me an “O” – give me a “U” – give me a few more minutes while I work on this next stanza.”
(4) The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Moccasins – At least all of the above are living things and have the outside potential of being ferocious. Their mascot is a shoe. A shoe. And not even a tough shoe like a boot or a cleat. The only game on their schedule they stand a chance of winning is when they play the Knoxville Slippers.
(3) The University of Pennsylvania Quakers – Come on, this is a religion based on pacifism. When the other team’s cheerleaders yell, “Fight, fight, fight!” How do they respond, “Conscientiously object, conscientiously object, conscientiously object!”
(2) The Scottsdale Community College Artichokes – Nothing inspires energy and athletic endeavor like a vegetable. And, on top of that, their name sounds like their teams practice the art of the choke. Yeah, good luck with that.
(1) The Franklin and Marshall College Diplomats – It is a diplomat’s specific job to resolve problems without hostility. I wonder if they even play their games, or if they just walk out to center court pre-game and try and negotiate an amicable resolution.
So, how am I going to do it? How will I convince these gentle mascots that they need to adopt a name that creates dread – the Fighting Irish, the Aztec Warriors, the Wolf Pack. You know what? I won’t. For the first time since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve changed my mind. I like these mascots. I hope they stick around.
Did you know that there are 74 college teams with an eagle as a mascot? There are 46 tigers, 39 bulldogs and 33 panthers. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my, what a lack of originality. There’s only one banana slug. And that’s something to be proud of (just don’t pass the salt). And who’s to say a riled up poet couldn’t defeat a panther? Go all iambic pentameter on their ass.
Now, fetch me my bowl of melted butter…Lord Jeff and I fancy an artichoke.