Thursday, August 26, 2004

Huskies and Eagles and Bears, oh my! 

According to Matthew Bargainer at Liberty and Power, the pursuit of politically correct mascots has led to their homogenization.
From the tomahawk-chopping Atlanta Braves to the often suggestively truncated South Carolina Gamecocks, there has been no dearth of outrage about the schmucks in the ridiculous costumes. And why not? The logic of mascot-induced indignation is clear: the University of Illinois's Chief Illiniwek is bad because he denigrates Native Americans, while the University of Mississippi's (semi-retired) Colonel Reb is bad because he glorifies the Old South. Got it?

Bargainer points to this article in the WaPo about how few good mascots are left. smaller counties, mascots are more likely to be tied to local people or customs or to reflect an odd choice that struck the fancy of an administrator long ago. A case in point can be found at Virginia's Fluvanna County High School, whose teams are called the Flying Flucos. The name comes from a comment by a sports announcer, said Fluvanna Superintendent Thomas W. Smith. "It's very popular here," Smith said. "It's not something that people normally forget."

But in the Washington area, where high schools open nearly every year in some suburbs, principals present their students with a small group of crowd-pleasing names. Mascot images are pulled off Web sites that offer hundreds of images.
So new schools, which are springing up around DC like dandelions, are all getting rather bland names, so as not to offend.
"When I personally heard Freedom High School, I thought Eagles," said Christine Forester, who will lead Loudoun's Freedom High, which will open next year. "I always thought of eagles as majestic and soaring."

Students had other ideas. Some wanted to be the Freedom Patriots. That mascot was already claimed by Loudoun's Park View High School. Then someone suggested "Freedom Fighters." That called to mind an image that Forester wasn't quite comfortable with.

"You have to think: How does it strike people?" she said.

The students were eventually presented three choices: Hawks, Flyers and Eagles. Eagles narrowly won over Hawks.

And creativity lost.