NPF: REPRESENTIN'

Posted in No Politics Friday on November 4th, 2011 by Ed

My brother-in-law graduated from Freeport High School in Freeport, Illinois, and my favorite part about this rather mundane fact is that the school's mascot is the Pretzel. The Freeport Pretzels. At sporting events the students liked to chant "You can eat us but you'll never beat us." Everything about that is awesome. It amuses me to no end.

On the other end of the state, in not-so-lovely Pekin, Illinois, the town high school was going for a different effect. Historically, the teams were known as the Pekin Chinks. The mascot was two students dressed up like, well, "chinamen" or whatever. Picture Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's and that's probably a good approximation of the extent to which this was offensive. Fortunately the school changed the mascot to the still-vaguely-Asian-but-less-offensive "Dragons" in 1980.

As someone who works in higher education I feel more strongly than most that athletics should be a minor aspect of a school's focus. That my current university defines itself so completely by its football team is, well, evidence of some rather misguided priorities from the top all the way down to the student body. Nonetheless, every school's mascot becomes part of the identity of the students and the alumni. If you graduate from Purdue, you will be a Boilermaker for life. As a Wisconsin B.A., I am not at all ashamed to be a Badger. It's not a common mascot. It's unique. It is readily associated with Wisconsin, both the state and the school.

Is there anything less interesting than Lions, Tigers, Bears, Eagles, and other such obvious choices? Put a little effort into it, people. At the college level, look at Campbell's Fighting Camels (mascot: Gaylord the Camel…the jokes practically write themselves), the LaSalle Explorers (anything named after a specific person is automatically neat), the Manhattan Jaspers (named after a popular early priest-administrator), the Loyola Ramblers, the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils, the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, or the WKU Hilltoppers. Those nicknames have some sort of local context and are unique to their school and region. And then, of course, we have the legion of joke mascots: the Fighting Artichokes, Banana Slugs, Anteaters, and the legendary Scrotie the Scrotum.

So, impress me with the awesomeness and obscurity of your high school or university mascots. Feel free to draw our attention to appropriately interesting or hilarious mascots from schools you have not attended as well. I'm sure there is some entertainment value to be had; bonus points if you are a Pretzel.