It’s tourney time and with that comes an education or reminder of some of the colorful and crazy mascots that will join in “The Big Dance.” I’ve always wondered what it would like to wear a Spider in support of Richmond or cheer “Go! Demon Deacons!” for Wake Forest. With all due respect to their institutional histories and contributions to society, how many of us learn about some schools, like Denison University, because of past March Madness performances?
Indeed, there are some great mascots. Take the Cal Bears for example. The Bear is the central focus of the California State flag; it is a creature of strength and beauty. Many people outside of the Golden State are unaware that the University of California at Berkeley is the original California School. That signature “Cal” logo and mascot affirm it. I hope this gives more context for the deep-seeded rivalry (and hatred, which I fully endorse) between Cal and USC. North vs. South, Good vs. Evil, Right vs. Wrong. And as someone who grew up following the Pac-10, I have a hard time NOT saying “Roll On You Bears.” Go Oski.
Or you have the Georgetown Hoyas—Hoya Saxa, symbolized by that salivating bulldog. Is a Hoya a Bulldog? Not exactly. In its rough translation the short answer is “what rocks.” When “Jack” the live bulldog tares at and frees himself from a box labeled Syracuse, you can’t help but say “yeah, that rocks.” I know Georgetown students and alums are loyal followers of their men's basketball program, but I have often wondered how many of them actually can and do play the game? I feel free to dish this out as an alum of a school that has the world's largest 5-on-5 Basketball Tournament: Bookstore Basketball. One can retort, "What else is there to do in South Bend?!" and my response is simply "take it to the hole, baby." This March Madness is all about trash talking.
But today, St. Patrick’s Day is a day for the Irish. I have always loved my alma mater’s mascot. Perhaps it is because I am Irish and being Irish means a great many wonderful things. Despite the changes that many schools have made to be more culturally sensitive, the Fightin’ Irish has stood since 1927. Occasionally sports fans are confused by the colors that represent Notre Dame. The Irish implies a wearing o’ the green, and over the years certain teams have. However, blue is the color of Our Lady, Notre Dame, and the gold symbolizes light. Jesus, the light of the world, is the son of Notre Dame. These two colors remind us of that incredible, mysterious and beautiful relationship. I suppose this gives credence to what Coach Lou Holtz told his team “God does not play favorites. God does not care who wins today…but his Mother does." Go Irish.