Lee Pitts: Life as a Cornjerker

After a five year, five billion dollar study, professors and government researchers have found that our sensitive youth are being severely damaged by a previously unrecognized danger to our society: the school mascot. Students who are banana slugs or hippopotamuses seem to be particularly impaired socially.

Okay, so I made that whole paragraph up. But doesn’t it sound like something our government would waste money on and professors would spend months mulling over? Don’t be surprised, or say I didn’t warn you, when sometime in the near future someone will pen an article in the New York Trying Times or the San Francisco Hippie Chronicle that says we are damaging the psyche of our nation’s young people by referring to them as River Rats, Polka Dots and Plowboys. I wouldn’t be surprised to read that a student who was a noble Polar Bear, like the kids at the Frost High School in Texas, has a distinct advantage in life over someone who was a Hutto Hippo.

In high school I was Cardinal despite the fact that there wasn’t a cardinal of the avian or Catholic variety within 100 miles. My wife was a Saint and she can say the same thing about her home town. In college I was a Mustang and the only one within a day’s drive of my school was a statue. It’s no wonder I ended up just like a Nevada mustang: distant, feral, lightly built and unwanted. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that I’m also highly inbred. I blame being a Mustang for any failures in my life.

Sending your kid to a school with a dopey mascot is like naming your kid Percival. (With apologies and condolences to any Percy people.) The problem is these names were usually chosen decades ago and they do not take into account the sensitive nature of today’s youth. Who can blame a kid for hiding in the house playing video games all day when he or she has to face this cruel world as a Cornjerker, Papermaker, Banana Slug, or as a member of the Fighting Okra. (All real mascots, by the way.) And do you know how hard it is to find attractive cheerleaders when across their sweater it reads Blobs, Whales, Witches or Hogs?

I don’t know how my friends who went to the University of Idaho managed to make a success of their lives after wearing clashing school colors of gold and silver and being called Vandals for four years. (Or six or eight years in some cases). That’s right, their school colors are the poorly contrasting silver and gold and their mascot is a Vandal, who is someone who goes around destroying property. So I say, turn loose any University of Idaho graduates who are guests of penal institutions for where else would you expect a Vandal without any sense of color coordination to end up?

A good name should be carefully chosen and yet far too many of our mascots were evidently chosen by committees of masochists who like to inflict pain on others. If you think I’m kidding how would you like to go through life as one of the following real mascots: Midget, Horned Frog, Saluki, Blue Bob, Super Squirrel, Unicorn, Shucker, Billiken, Pretzel, Hillbilly, Criminal, Hay Baler, Appleknocker, Maniac, Conch, Nimrod, Kewpie, Swather, Troller, Atom Smasher, Ladybug, Potter, Zip, Caveman, Scalawag, Carp, Anteater, Blossom, Lambkin, Bunny, Cobbler, Cheesemaker, Sponger, Thunder Duck or my all time favorite, a Lincoln High School Alice.

Need I say more? I think I’ve made my point.

In these sensitive and politically correct times in which we find ourselves living I think it’s time to change all our names and mascots to something less violent that would reflect our far more thoughtful and compassionate nature. Rather than reading in the newspaper that the Blue Bobs clobbered the Nimrods wouldn’t you rather read, “The Petite Syrahs played the Bichon Frises to a draw in a battle of cellar dwellers last Friday night.” Oh, it gives me goose bumps just thinking of all the possibilities.