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Saturday, June 18, 2011

To mascot or not to mascot….that is the question!

Once again someone thinks the University of Michigan needs a “live” mascot. This time it is our athletic director, Dave Brandon. I have seen Brandon portrayed as simply money hungry, yet in a Detroit Free Press article he speaks of instanced where Michigan fan youth are lined up to get their photos taken with the mascot from the opposing team. I personally don’t think I want a photo of my child in U of M attire with Sparty (actually I might, since my child was brainwashed by others, so seeing him in Maize and Blue in almost any situation would be preferable to scarlet and grey). If the parents are fans, the child may very well become a fan. A mascot may assist in that. Also, if the kids are fans the parents may spend to make their children look like fans. This is a heated issue, so what do I believe are some of the pros and cons?

The Pros:

Wolvie (my name for the potential live mascot) would be a great PR tool. Wolvie could attend athletic games, do great mascot stunts, and pose for photos with kids, young and old. He (I am also making the mascot a male) could also be hired out for corporate events. He could go to professional sporting events as a special guest. Story books, coloring books….the marketing (and income) potential is staggering. The more exposure Wolvie gets, the more exposure the school gets.

Wolvie would give select students an opportunity to become a mascot. It is a highly competitive professional field, so another opening would give a few more students a shot.

Wolvie could be the energy boost a crowd needs to reenergize their team.

Wolvie would be the face of the athletic department.

Kids love mascots. Kids are the future of the school. Get a kid to love the mascot; chances are the child will love the school. Maybe they will attend, but if not they will still spend their money on licensed (hopefully) items.

The Cons:

We don’t need it. The University of Michigan has a stellar reputation as an academic destination, and has a renowned athletic program.

We have a mascot already, sort of. We have the Wolverine. Although live animals were used for one year, we don’t need them. Photos and drawings have served us well. The tenacity and ferociousness of the wolverine are widely known. Great attributes for a collegiate athletic program and for the students study habits.

I really don’t know where I stand on this one. You could use the adage “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” The University would be no worse off without a live mascot. We have done pretty well so far. The university’s athletic department has stated it would be “unnecessary and undignified and would not properly reflect the spirit and values of Michigan athletics.” (1) The other side of the coin is I don’t think it would hurt anything. Tradition? Not really. U of M hasn’t had a live mascot BUT that really isn’t a tradition at all. It is just something the athletic department hasn’t wanted to do. Other schools have a mascot and do wonderful things with them. The Milwaukee Bucks mascot makes impossible dunks, and that hasn’t hampered the school. Brutus the Buckeye attends various events and it hasn’t hurt the image of OSU (other things have….yet I digress). It could generate income, which could provide more scholarships or more upgrades to the athletic programs, which could provide more recruits. I know, Michigan isn’t “other schools”…no we are not. We are an academic power house with an amazing athletic program, and so much more. But would having Wolvie really hurt the integrity of the school?

Brandon won’t be the first, nor will he be the last to propose a mascot. I’m sure the school will maintain it’s stance that they do not want, nor need, a live mascot. But are they right? I came up with more pros than cons, but I’m sure I’ve missed many on both sides of the coin.

1 http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/football/umosu/mascot.htm/

Guest blog by Dee.