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Does Your College Mascot Offend Or Creep People Out?

College Mascot

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There’s at least one major university who is already playing defense in the name of its mascot before any of their football players take the field. That’s because, thanks to a new survey, we have an idea of which college mascots are found to be creepy and offensive by fans. So, did your college mascot creep fans out, or worse, offend them? 

Quality Logo Products is a company that prints licensed t-shirts with college logos and mascots. Recently, they surveyed fans to see which of those mascots were deemed creepy, offensive, sexist, sexy as well as the best and worst overall. Topping the “Creepy” list was Pete from Purdue University who earned the honor by having, according to the survey, a blank stare, intimidating facial expression and disproportionately large head. 

The Boilermakers were not the only ones from Indiana to make this list for all the wrong reasons since near the top of the list of most offensive college mascot was the Fighting Irishman of Notre Dame. The school’s mascot was listed fourth among the 128 included in the survey as most offensive; something the university felt it necessary to defend via a public statement.

“… there is no comparison between Notre Dame’s nickname and mascot and the Indian and warrior names (and) mascots used by other institutions such as the NFL team formerly known as the Redskins,” said the program.  Adding, “None of these institutions were founded or named by Native Americans who sought to highlight their heritage by using names and symbols associated with their people.”

Notre Dame also said in their statement:

“In both the upraised fists of the leprechaun mascot and the use of the word ‘fighting,’ the intent is to recognize the determination of the Irish people and, symbolically, the university’s athletes.”

Among those making the list as best college mascot were Willie the Wildcat from Northwestern, “The Bird” from the Air Force Academy and Bill the Goat from the Naval Academy. Joining Purdue Pete in the top ten worst mascots was Pistol Pete from Oklahoma State, Nittany Lion from Penn State and the Stanford Tree from Stanford University.

Two mascots with an identity crisis are Mr. Commodore from Vanderbilt University and Duke University’s Blue Devil. That’s because both were voted in the Top Ten sexiest in the poll, but Mr. Commodore was voted the most sexist by male respondents and Mr. Blue Devil the most sexist by female respondents.

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My test in any situation when something might be offensive is simply this: Would you be able to start a team or create a mascot in today’s world using the name in question?

It is probably safe to say that as much as Notre Dame wants to show its rich Irish history through its mascot; if they were starting their school today or rebranding themselves, they would not want to use the mascot they are using from a bygone era. I would also add that Notre Dame might be overlooking the fact that their mascot is a leprechaun that, while cute in cartoon form to some, can also be offensive to others who are below average in height, and are called that name by others in a mean-spirited way.

In the end, however, I think this survey, as scientific as Quality Logo Products tried to make it, only proves that you can almost always find someone who will take offense to just about anything. When you factor in the “cancel culture” of 2021 and look at things that were designed decades ago, you are likely to increase the chances that something someone thought up then is going to offend someone in today’s society. Are there more colleges, universities and even professional sports teams that should at least think about changing their nickname and/or mascot? Of course, but don’t think for a second that Notre Dame is on that list, because, like it or not, their brand is as powerful as any pro team and one of the strongest among any in college sports.  



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