Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Mascot abuse cause for concern, justice

Friends, as you surely know, we live in a country of causes.

Pro- and anti-global warming, political candidates, Free
Lohan and Save Darfur; fire this coach, feed the hungry and Wrist Awareness.
You name it, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people somewhere
at any given time fervently pontificating this or that.

Facebook — which, along with alcohol and video games, is one
of the biggest causes of skipped classes and un-turned-in homework assignments
— only exacerbates our nation’s obsession with the matter of the moment by
making it that much easier for likeminded worriers to band together. You can
find groups proclaiming members’ pride over attending public school and 18
groups filled with people who love (in some cases looooooove) pickles, but good
luck finding a group on there that is outraged about mascot abuse.

This issue has managed to go widely overlooked for far too
long, however, by cause-concerned individuals including myself. Until now.

There’s an old saying that goes something along the lines of:
Issues never really affect you until they hit home. Well, with one well-aimed
flick of his wrists and swing of his stick, University of North Dakota
defenseman Joe Finley painfully drove that point home.

In case you missed it, there was more violence than just the
brawl during the weekend’s series.


Before Saturday’s game, Finley took what WCHA commissioner
Bruce McLeod ruled a slash at everyone’s favorite burrowing mascot, Buckingham
U. Badger.

Instead of two minutes in the penalty box, McLeod ruled
Finley has to write an apology letter to Bucky, as if that will somehow heal
the hurt and true anguish felt by the abused. A slap, or slash in this case, on
the wrist as far as I am concerned, unless that slap is administered by the
same Icelandic player who broke Adam Banks’ wrist in D2, also a soft penalty.
(By the way, there’s just no way Finley doesn’t start laughing with his
roommates and make a big joke out of writing that letter.)

This senseless act of violence brought to my attention an
issue that needs more importance in the public forum: mascot abuse.

While many types of abuse very rightfully get a lot of
attention, abuse of the most cuddly symbols of our favorite sports teams
routinely gets swept under the proverbial rug.

This must stop.

This isn’t the first time a player has attacked an
unsuspecting mascot. Finley’s slash on Bucky is just the latest in a long line
of cases involving such attacks. All too often, they are laughed off as a "joke,"
leaving our mute mascots repressed, trying to make small children laugh while
silent tears blear mascots’ eyes.

As many sports fans, especially those native to Wisconsin, will
remember, Milwaukee’s Miller Park was the sight of one of the worst abuses of a
mascot in memory. The world famous Sausage Race was interrupted in 2003 when
Pittsburgh Pirates’ ingrate Randall Simon assaulted Guido with a bat as he ran
past the third base dugout.

What’s Guido, you might ask? That would be the Italian
sausage’s given name (Yes, they do have names, people. Will the insensitivity
toward mascots never end?!?).

Afterward, instead of worrying about the impact the incident
had on the innocent Italian’s psyche (or, for that matter, how it impacted the
betting on that day’s race), many outsiders laughed off the incident as a
harmless, sophomoric joke.

Not mascot activist leader and Major League Commissioner Bud
Selig, who, in a display of courage rarely seen from public figures in
mascot-related incidents, suspended Simon for three games.

The saddest part of the whole situation is that there are
scores of untold stories of abuse out there. Mascots, by nature, are a quiet
lot. If the abuse is not played out in the public forum, as Simon’s and
Finley’s were, the hurt and anguish is lost behind the placid polyester face of
the abused.

This will only change once more attention is brought to the
issue. Those "Livestrong"-knockoff bracelets, an endowed scholarship fund, even
a simple monthly support group something
needs to be established to help change the culture of costume castigation.

Smokey Robinson was on to something when he sang "there
ain’t too much sadder than the tears of a clown."

That was 40 years ago. Today, there ain’t too much sadder
than tears of a mascot, either.


Ben is still recovering and mending his emotional scars
from his days of abuse as a middle school mascot. Outraged at the treatment of
mascots also and want to make a difference? E-mail him at
[email protected].

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