Dec 9, 2009

Phoenixes and Ebirts and Bears, Oh My!

My thoughts on mascots...

Once a year, my high school would host a Spirit Week. If you dressed up you could earn points for your class, and the class with the most points won a prize. Because our team was known as The Indians, one day in Spirit Week was supposed to be for Cowboys and Indians. During my Junior and Senior years, a friend and I wore traditional Asian Indian clothes. I wasn't particularly militant about the issue of our team name/mascot (though I did try to claim the points). I just wanted to give people a little dose of awareness. Later, a group of activists successfully petitioned the school board for a name change. My former school's team is now the Bruins.

Which, to me? Significantly more terrifying.

Funnily enough, I went to college at William and Mary - The Tribe. Their mascot used to be an Indian, which was especially bothersome since the Brafferton building used to house an "Indian School." There, young boys were kept, often against their will, in order to teach them how to be more like white people. Yikes. So in the late 70's-early 80's the giant foam "Indian" head was phased out, leaving the college mascot-less. For a while we had Colonel Ebirt (that's Tribe spelled backwards). He was a green blobby thing in a tri-corner hat. A history of the mascot can be found here.

Once, the guy who played Colonel Ebirt tried to use the fact he was our mascot as a line to pick up my roommate. Yeah, that didn't work out so well for him.

Now W&M has embarked on a search for a new mascot. Suggestions include the Griffin, King William and Queen Mary, the Pug, the Wren, and my personal favorite, the Phoenix. I think this is a reference to the fact that the oldest building on campus (the Wren building, named after Sir Christopher Wren) keeps burning down. And we just keep... building it back up. Hmmm. Maybe that's not such a great connection to be making. Maggie Cats tells me that there was a campaign to adopt the Phoenix as or mascot a while back, but it was shot down by student opposition. But it makes me think of Fawkes in Harry Potter, which makes me smile.

I can see him now, soaring above the stadium, shedding life-giving tears on our football team. And then saving us all from the Basilisk.


Priya said...

Fawkes is awesome. I'm rooting for either the Phoenix or the Wren.

Monkey Sri said...

That, or a badger. Hufflepuffs represent!

Maggie Cats said...

My freshman year at WM, right at our orientation, they tried to change the mascot to the phoenix. The class of 02 (that would be me) protested and the Tribe stuck around. So I am opposed to the Phoenix on general principle...I like it in theory but trying to link it to a building burning down like three times I think is kinda lame.

I personally like the Wren! They may seem unassuming, but don't mess with them or they will eff you up!

Monkey Sri said...

I smell a new motto in the works ... "W&M Wrens: Who wants to mess?"