In light of watching the Cubs play the Indians and looking at Chief Wahoo’s deformed face plastered on signs, hats, and babies, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, people don’t realize the plethora of other options we have when it comes to mascots.
Look, I get it. I was at U of I when Chief Illiniwek was retired. People were talking about tradition like the administrators decided to shoot Christmas. It can be hard to let go of something that has always been there as a rallying symbol. But once fellow fans say that your symbol makes them distant and distrustful of you, it’s not a rallying point anymore.
“How can my team be represented without a minority cartoon person to honor/disrespect?” you ask. “How will I know how strong and fierce they are?”
Great questions! Luckily, I’ve come up with some alternatives that can uniquely convey that sportsball vigor.
Also known as the water bear, the tardigrade is probably the toughest animal on Earth and, occasionally, unsheltered outer space. They can survive several minutes at near 0° Kelvin, decades at -20° C, and several minutes at 304° F. They can survive in a vacuum and pressure of 6,000 atmospheres. They withstand radiation 1,000 times higher than the kill level of other animals.
This is one tough, and tiny (most are less than 1 mm), motherfucker. If the tardigrade is your mascot, your team can withstand just about anything, including five mass extinctions.
But does it have the charisma to be a mascot? I think so. I mean, look at its chubby body and little legs! It already looks like a mascot suit. Plus the marketing opportunity for hot and cold stadium drinks would be stellar.
Teams love a good natural disaster name: hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, avalanches, thunder, and lightning. But drought remains a seriously underrepresented disaster situation in the sports world, right behind sinkholes. Droughts aren’t a flashy choice, but there’s an untapped well of mascot opportunity here.
If you want to inspire fear with a team name, this is a good one. The visceral, inevitable dread that occurs when plants shrivel and the parched earth cracks is at least as old as agriculture. Drought is the herald of plagues of insects, dust clouds, wild fires, and hunger. It’s scary AF.
But how do you cheer for Team Drought? Like avalanches and hurricanes, it’s best not to go over board or be too literal with this one. There can be a fun cactus character to appeal to kids, and the stadium can play the sound of a plague of locusts on third down or other sporting equivalent. The creativity and enthusiasm of fans will help spur other beloved Drought traditions.
If you must have your mascot be a person, why not choose the crafty, rebellious, and powerful Illuminati?
Again, this isn’t a showy choice, the Illuminati being a secret organization and all. Mascots aren’t just about visible bluster, though. They are also about instilling a sense of confidence and pride in the team and fans. What could make you more confident than knowing all the smartest and most influential people are on your side to bring about the New World Order?
Another perk is that the physical depiction of an Illuminati member could be nearly anything. If you yearn for nostalgia in a sports mascot, you can have an old dude in period dress writing furiously on parchment. If you want something a little scary, you can have a shadowy figure in a cloak with the owl of Minerva perched on their shoulder. If you want to appeal to the conspiracy folks, you could just use JFK.
Unlike ethnic minorities, the Illuminati are unlikely to come out of hiding to sue your ass. If anything they would approve. According to one person on the Internet, the Illuminati are responsible for popular sporting events to prime us for satanic values. Thanks, Illuminati!