Some Questions About Football

>> Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Author's note: Before we begin today's humorous look at football, I wanted to take a serious moment to publicly thank some Universities for their principled decisions this past weekend. Thank you, University of Oregon, for taking a tough stance on the egregious conduct of LeGarrette Blount. I truly hope your football season improves and that Blount's position is filled admirably by younger players. I am a huge fan of football, but there is no room for viciousness and violence in sports. At the end of the day, this is just a form of entertainment for the public, and I never want to wake up again to read a headline focused on a suckerpunch instead of which team won or lost the game. For those of you interested in learning more, please see this link: To Boise State, I am truly sorry that this unfortunate incident has cast a shadow over what was a well-deserved win. I have also heard a rumor, which I have yet to confirm, that Boise State will discipline the player whose remarks provoked Blount's behavior, although I am not aware that we know what this player allegedly said to Blount. If this rumor is true, then thank you, too, for the reminder that we are all responsible for what we do and say, and some things, even in the spirit of good fun, are not worth the harm they cause. To the remaining players of both teams, a public thank you for setting a model example of good sportsmanship. You kept your cool and kept a bad incident from getting much worse. To the students of Boise State, a thought. To an extent, teasing and taunting is part of the game of football, and nothing excuses Blount's conduct. On the other hand, taunting a player that has already exploded in violence over remarks made by an opponent is neither good sportsmanship, nor is it particularly wise.

Now, I will step down from my stump and return you to our regularly scheduled program.

While sitting watching the Alabama-Virgina Tech game last Saturday night, I got to wondering again. Here are some thoughts that I had:

Why does the Alabama Crimson Tide have an elephant as a mascot? I'm sure I could Google an answer, but should I have to? Some things should not require explanation.

The Akron Zips played Penn State earlier in the day on Saturday. What is a Zip? I saw the mascot and I'm still not sure. Doesn't this defeat the purpose of mascots?

Why is Boise State's field blue? I'm sure the novelty of watching us all try to adjust the color on our TV has long since passed. I mean, most of us have figured it out by now.

The Syracuse Orangemen? Seriously, a fruit for a mascot? I did Google this one because I even though I've seen the Orange, I wanted to be sure I was right. The most flattering thing one can say about this mascot is that it is a fruit Another interpretation is that it is just a color. Yep. The mascot is just ... orange. Maybe not even "an" orange.

Some masots make sense -- wolverines, tigers, lions, cougars. But how about these:

The University of Hawaii. (Rainbow Warriors/Warriors/Rainbows) Hawaii is schizophrenic. Some of its teams are known as the Rainbow Warriors or Warriors. One (the baseball team) is known as the Rainbows. Yes, curious physics effects are both romantic, pretty, some believe a promise by God, and apparently intimidating and aggressive, too. Rainbows. Huh. The football team had it right, just go with "Warriors."

The Ohio State University. (Buckeyes) The first question is, "What's a Buckeye?" Wait, I know this one. It's a poisonous nut. This fierce football mascot is supposed to inspire the team to ... what? Slip a mickey in the other team's Gatorade? I don't get it.

While we're on the subject of Ohio State, I have to ask. Why would anyone put the words, "Oh, Ohio! You're a bunch of bums!" in their fight song? (No joke -- see here, bottom left:

The University of Minnesota. (Golden Gophers) Hmm. Golden ... Gophers. Need I say more?

University of Maryland. (Terrapin) Some mascots are a little less obvious, but I can respect them. Take the Temple Owls for example. An owl might give someone the impression of a bookish school, without a lot of athletic prowess, but owls are predatory birds and can be quite fearsome, just like eagles. An owl will do. But what about a turtle? What is predatory or clever about a turtle? Sure, Maryland tries to disguise its turtle with the fancy name of "Terrapin," but in the end the beast is still just a slow moving creature that hides inside its shell when facing trouble. I see bumper stickers telling me to, "Fear the Turtle" but I can't figure out why I should. Even more puzzling, what are we to make of a school whose fight song is to the tune of "Oh Christmas Tree"?

University of Virginia. (Cavaliers) Continuing our sojourn down the eastern seabord, let's stop and talk about the University of Virginia. I have no beef with the mascot being a Cavalier. However, I do wonder why the students and alums want to call themselves the Wahoos. I have been told there is a plausible story behind the nickname, but when your name sounds as potentially derogatory as "Wahoo," shouldn't the story be really, really obvious?

Virginia Tech. (Hokies) The Virginia Tech Hokies almost beat Alabama in this opening week of ball playing. I can understand the ferocity of barnyard fowl and am loath to criticize such mascots as the South Carolina Gamecocks (even though it sounds funny). What I can't understand is the Hokie. I mean, a hokie is an emasculated turkey. Why would you want to identify with that? And, while were in Va Tech country, let's talk about those colors -- orange and maroon. I read that the University chose those colors in 1890-something because no other school had picked that combination. I don't know about you, but I think the fact that the combination was still available should have been a clue to get a second opinion. How can the students and fans wear a color combination their mothers wouldn't let them leave the house in?

I know some of you are saying, "Sure, sure, but what the heck is a Nittany Lion?" It's a ficticious lion supposed to roam Mount Nittany, which overlooks the PSU campus. Don't bother trying to look up the species. It's made up. Get over it.

I'm sure next Saturday I will find myself thinking more about how Universities advertise themselves and their sports programs. As a closing note, I need to make one comment about my own Penn State Nittany Lion's beloved song, "Fight on State!" I know the kids love it, and the music is catchy, but were the last two lines written in a bar late one night, or what? "Fight on, on, on, on, on. Fight on, on State!" Very inspired.

Finally, and totally unrelated, for those of you wondering what happened when I had to go back to the land records, the answer is, "absolutely nothing." I stood in line, paid my fee, got the printout, and went home. It was so uneventful as to be quite shocking. Some things work out eventually, right?


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