Paula Noonan

Paula Noonan

The bill on mascots should be rewritten to put in a new set of criteria for these emblems of school pride. The bill rightly rejects mascots using American Indian images and names. It should be amended to require schools with dated mascots to freshen up.

Here are some ideas for the revised bill. Mascot names should have multiple meanings. Double entendre adds entertainment, the purpose of mascots. So, for example, University of California Santa Cruz’s mascot is the banana slug, which is funny. Funnier would be the simple mollusk “Slug.” That way, students could call themselves “Sluggers.”

Another criterion should be that the mascot reflect the state or an area in the state. So “the Ticks” would be a good Colorado mascot. “We’re the Ticks and we tick you off”!

Mascots should honor our recreation industry. Some school, preferably at one of the edges of our square state, could have “Boarders.” There could be the “Climbers,” the “Icers,” the “Northfacers.” Also the “Kayakers,” “Canoers,” “Fisherpeople,” “Rafters,” “Cyclers,” “Rockers,” “Cavers,” etc. “Trekkers” is great because it combines our mountain heritage with our sci-fi culture.

Our agriculture and ranching community can still be honored, but in a raucous way. Already there are the Meloneers and the Beetdiggers. An alternative could be Beeters. “We don’t win, we beet!” How about “the Beefs?” “You gotta beef with us?” On a softer note, there could be the “Peachie Keens.”

Another goal would be to honor new industries. Gambling has been in Colorado a short time compared to say, mining. How about the “Crappers”? There could be the combination of “Beet Crappers”! “We’re going to beet the crap out of you”! Other options include “the Pokers,” “the Roulettes,” “the Sharks,” “the Dicey,” “the Cards,” “the Jacks,” and “the Slots.”

Since technology has become a significant part of the state’s economy, these images should be added too, especially for STEM schools. A mascot like “the Coders” would be cool. “Gamers” would work. “Techies”? “Amazonians”? “Networkers”! “Modems”! “Geeks”! “Nerds”! “Software Engineers”! “The Routers” has a nimble double meaning.

Of course, Colorado’s biggest new industry deserves maximum attention. What school, especially at the college level, wouldn’t want “Stoners” as a mascot? Think of the thousands of kids who’d want to go to that state school. Other options include “the Tokers,” “the Cheechers,” “the Grass Mowers,” “the Weeders.” Surely hemp and hash should be included possibly as “the Hempsters” or “the Hashers.”

No doubt, birds and other animals could still be included, but as synecdoche, that is, a sound or something similar standing in for the animal itself. So “Hooters” would replace owls. “Honkers” would replace geese, “Quackers” for ducks, “Barkers” or “Yappers” for dogs, “Meows” for lions, etc. For a lighter touch, schools could go with “Chirpers,” “Hummers,” or “Buzzers.”

Of course, given the highly partisan political world, and since part of the role of the mascot is to provide opportunity for insult, an array of political slurs can provide lots of entertainment at sports and choral events or school plays.

How about “Truthers” and “Birthers” as mascots? Or “the Wokes,” “Socialists,” or “Commies.” “Reds” would be good but hard to distinguish the political side. “Snowflake” is the perfect political and Colorado mascot for obvious reasons.

Some school in Weld County could be “the Frackers” and another school in Boulder could be “the Anti Frackers,” or “the Fractivists.” There could also be “the Polluters” v. “the Tree Huggers” or “the Greens.” Imagine the epithets hurled across the basketball courts at those games! A Weld County school could also honor their brand and a trade with “the Welders,” “We’re so hot we melt iron”!

Since mascots are generally involved with sports, “Ballers” works, but that’s a TV show, so an easy replacement is “Bawlers” which has more punning in it. An informal mascot in Long Beach, California is the Dirt Bags for a baseball team. That’s a good one.

If tough guy is the desired image, then worthy alternatives include “the Brutes,” “the Fierce,” “the Feral,” and of course “the Undomesticated.”

So banning Native American mascots should be just the beginning of great changes for Colorado’s schools. It’s a matter of attitude. Or as our best mascot name suggests, “Altitude”! Because we go “High”!

Paula Noonan owns Colorado Capitol Watch, the state’s premier legislature tracking platform.

Paula Noonan owns Colorado Capitol Watch, the state’s premier legislature tracking platform.

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