Mascot no more

Commentary

February 17, 2007|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,Sun Reporter

After its last men's home basketball game next week, the University of Illinois will no longer use its American Indian mascot, Chief Illiniwek. In 2005, the NCAA banned Illinois from hosting postseason events because of the mascot, saying it was an offensive use of American Indian imagery. Now that Illinois is retiring the chief after more than 80 years, we've come up with some mascots to join him:

The Tree (Stanford University): Bless the Northern Californians for their love of planet, but this tree looks more like a sickly bush. Little wonder that the costume's inhabitant was suspended for being intoxicated at a game last season.

Keyote (Frederick Keys): Ah, a local offender. What does a scavenging wild dog that frequents deserts have to do with the author of "The Star-Spangled Banner"?

Youppi! (Montreal Canadiens): You have to admire him for annoying Tom Lasorda so greatly that the mascot got ejected from a 1989 game and for surviving the Expos' move. But Youppi!, which translates to "yippee" or "hooray" in French, remains a listless, witless orange blob.

Dinger (Colorado Rockies): You'd think they could find a majestic mountain beast, but no, the Rockies hatched an egg and spit out a cuddly, purple triceratops. Hmmm, a purple dinosaur. Original.

Lil' Red (University of Nebraska): What state wouldn't want to be represented by a vacant-eyed, 8-foot man-child? And at 8 feet, shouldn't he be Big Red?

Demon Deacon (Wake Forest University): His creator was apparently grasping for a dignified Baptist deacon, but this bushy old dude in a priest's outfit has always seemed, well, creepy.

Junction Jack (Houston Astros): Do 7-foot rabbits launch rockets and search for the stars?

The Lord Jeff (Amherst College): This colonial figure sounds innocuous enough until you hear stories about how Lord Jeffrey Amherst contemplated using smallpox to wipe out Native Americans.

Gapper (Cincinnati Reds): Mr. Red's classic ball head wasn't good enough? They needed a rotund, red fuzzy with a bad nickname? Do the Reds win one for the Gapper now?

All Olympic mascots: From smirking dog Cobi in Barcelona to computer-generated Izzy in Atlanta, they've cooked up many a disaster. As one colleague said, "All any Olympic mascot does is encourage another, stupider generation."

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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