Monday, September 12, 2016

CURMUDGUCATION: The New Mascot

CURMUDGUCATION: The New Mascot:

The New Mascot


Consider Pitbull.

The rappish artiste and modern poet ("Face down, booty up, that's the way we like to- what?!") has greeted the new school year with his third charter school. 

Pitbull has tried to make something out of the nickname he was tagged with once-- "Mr. Education"-- but it hasn't really caught on. But it hasn't stuck, perhaps because Pitbull's actual connection with the school is described as "nebulous." The Washington Post once reported that his role was "coming up with different ways to get people involved."

Like Arthur Ashe and Deion Sanders, Pitbull is the new accessory, necessary for the school-as-commercial-enterprise era. We could them a spokespersons or brand ambassadors, but basically they're a whole new kind of school mascot.


"Mr. Matthews, have you cut my check yet?"


School mascots are an odd feature of the school landscape. My own school, around a century ago, had a mascot based on a town motto. See, even longer ago, a state politician had tried to mock our civic pride by calling us "The Nursery of Great Men," but instead of acting mocked, we just picked it up and ran with it. Which is how it ended up that our sports teams, for many years, called themselves the Fighting Nurserymen. Lord knows I have often wished we stuck with that mascot concept, but only slightly less than a century ago, we traded Nurserymen for Knights, a completely conventional mascot that, like most, has nothing in particular to do with our school or our community.

But come to a game and you'll see our student volunteer in a knight costume, exhorting the crowd to get excited (this, it must be said, is an improvement over the attempt a few decades ago to use a mascot mounted on a live horse-- that did not end so well). Our knight does what a mascot is supposed to do-- provide a focal point for spirit, excitement, and investment in the school, as well as providing a literal peg on which to hang the metaphorical identity of the school itself (I keep 
CURMUDGUCATION: The New Mascot:



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