Because it’s still 106 degrees in Austin during the month of September, the only way I can tell that it’s fall is when people start talking about their favorite college football teams. Or at least that’s who I assume they’re talking about when they put things on Facebook like, “Go Hokies!” or “Love my Razorbacks!” Maybe they actually have kids named “Hokies” and “Razorbacks.” I don’t know, I have some strange friends on Facebook. Plus hillbillies are totally popular these days.
But before social media, most people only knew the names of team mascots in their city or state. Along with those of the big schools, of course. Now it’s impossible to turn on your computer during football season and not see running commentary about some random team you’ve never heard of before. “The Bearkats had a great game last night,” I’ll say to my husband after looking at my Twitter feed.
“The who?” he’ll wonder.
“You know, the Sam Houston State Bearkats. They totally smashed the Chattanooga Mocs.”
Honestly, I don’t know how the man can expect to have any friends at all if he doesn’t know what’s going on in NCAA Division I Southern Conference football. It’s stunning, really.
Over my high school career I had two mascots. First, the Blue Jays in Jamestown, North Dakota, then the Carson High Senators in Nevada. I liked the Blue Jays a lot better than the Senators because a blue bird is way cuter than a big, fat man wearing a zoot suit and holding a cigar. Also, “blue jay” rhymes with “hey hey” and guess what rhymes with “senator”? Nothing. Nothing rhymes with “senator.” Well, maybe “matador” does, but that’s a pretty sucky cheer for a high school basketball game unless it’s being played in Madrid and who wants to get a passport for that shit?
Luckily things got better for me in college when my team mascot was the Oregon Duck. Lots of words rhyme with “duck.” In fact, just ask any drunk fans of the team that’s currently playing the Ducks and they’ll be happy to shout those rhyming words at you while also making some lovely finger gestures to illustrate their rhyming point. It’s ducking awesome.
In case you’ve never seen him, the Oregon Duck is basically Donald Duck in a green and yellow shirt. No pants. Ducks don’t wear pants. Nobody knows why that is and nobody wants to know why that is. But I guess not a lot of college students wear pants, either, so it kind of works. Besides, if you did put pants on a duck, it’d be hard to figure out what style would look best on him. Pleated? Corduroy? Hipster skinny jeans tight enough to destroy his little duck sperm count? Nobody knows the answer to that question, either. Ducks: The Fashion Enigma.
I like having a duck as the Oregon mascot because it makes sense. There are actually ducks in Oregon. Just like there are actually Longhorns in Texas and Bison in North Dakota. But sometimes the mascot is just something weird the school administration picked out, like they did in Hutto, Texas. Hutto is a small, dusty town outside of Austin and their high school mascot is the Hippos. I’m pretty sure there aren’t any hippos native to Hutto, TX unless they were born and raised in an above-ground pool bought down at the Wal-Mart, so that mascot is completely ridiculous. Not to mention that putting the word “Hippos” on a cheerleader outfit is downright mean.
Hutto should have consulted me on this matter because figuring out good mascot names is actually a skill of mine. One I developed during our family road trips when we’d pass random towns, like Lawn, TX. “Their school mascot should be the Mowers,” I told the kids. “Or the Ornaments.” Mesquite, Nevada? The “O’s.” Campo, Texas? The “Pheniques.” (Note: Only funny if you’ve had a canker sore.) And Sealy, Texas? Obviously the “Posturepedics.”
But my favorite team name idea came when we were passing through Tempe, Arizona. “I know!” I yelled happily, “They should name their team the Tantrums! Get it? The Tempe Tantrums? Brilliant!” Nobody in the car actually did get it and I think someone threw an empty Pringles can at my head a few minutes later, but that didn’t matter because I knew how good it was.
Even if nothing rhymes with “Tantrums.” Go Ducks!
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