Anson’s post reminded me of a mascot skirmish from my high school days.
For three of the four years I attended my high school, our mascot was, inarguably, offensive to Native Americans. Then, during my senior year, a Sociology teacher named Mrs. Barks convinced our principal to change our mascot to something less offensive. (She was new to my school and was full of “big ideas.” Because of her "ideas," she was reviled by many of the residents of my town.)
(Unlike Anson, I like to write in paragraphs: it’s easier on the eyes. Sometimes my paragraphs are only two sentences long.)
I had no particular attachment to our Native American-related mascot and saw the naming of a new mascot as a great opportunity to leave my mark on my high school. (A vocal minority, however, claimed that the mascot “honored” Native Americans and that it would be a “travesty” to change it.) I joined the Mascot Committee and dominated meetings with my suggestions. The Mascot Committee, which was essentially the same nerds who were on the Yearbook Committee, let me bully them into including “Yaks” on the ballot of twenty names that were to undergo a school-wide vote (I also worked the name "Blue Genie" onto the ballot). Most of the other names were ones that were already in use by other popular teams, such as the Spartans and the Titans.
I must put this story in context: I moved nine times before I was a senior in high school. A month before each move, my parents refused to buy anything. “We’ll just have to lug it to the new place,” they claimed. So, for thirty days, we lived on peanut butter and jelly and wiped our asses with tissues. When the tissues ran out, I took toilet paper from the high school bathroom and brought it home. When the PB&J ran out we ate the canned food that had been in the back of the pantry for years. We washed our dishes by hand. We brushed our teeth with baking soda.
So, when all this mascot stuff was going down, my family was about to move. I am not complaining about my parents' moving-related quirks. Living like cavemen was actually quite fun, and after graduating from high school I promptly attended a college where I lived like a caveman for four years. I’m merely pointing out that I was underfed and probably under-wiped and so I was, certainly, a little loopy at the time.
The night before the big vote, I stayed up until five in the morning making dozens of posters that had a large color picture of a formidable/brooding yak chewing some cud. His image was framed by the words YAK ATTACK. I got to school early and taped them on the walls of the stairwells.
That’s all it took. The Yaks won by a landslide, accruing more than 75% of to the school-wide vote. Victory was sweet, but short-lived (as it often is). Hours after the vote was announced, the principal, claiming that the Yak entry was not a “serious” entry, disqualified it.
My high school is now named the Nighthawks. Bleh.