Comes now the latest kerfuffle regarding school mascots, traditionally reflective of deposed native tribes or local wildlife driven to the brink of extinction. Almost always, alliteration is a determining factor; hence Farmington High School’s Fighting Phoenix. Commenting in his community’s monthly newsletter, Mayor Jim Talbot has expressed concern over the recently chosen name, which in its plural form evokes a feature of the male anatomy.
“The mascot has come under crude jokes both locally and at the national scene,” he writes.
The name did not just rise from the ashes but was chosen by a student body poll. Actually, it was the third choice, explains school principal Richard Swanson, the first being “Fascists,” the second “Farts.”—both of which were predictably rejected.
Mayor Talbot was responding to a petition submitted by citizens concerned that the name “Phoenices” will elicit ridicule, mockery and bullying from visiting teams. Which I imagine is very likely to happen, speaking as a graduate of a high school whose mascot is a dinosaur.
Fact is, we are the only fighting fossils in the entire country—and proud of it. Not because we win games—which we don’t—but because no visiting team can poke more fun at us than we ourselves can. What is more amusing than watching some kid in a dinosaur costume turning lugubrious cartwheels on the sideline? What is more preposterous than thinking a plodding diplodocus could possibly outrace a Delta Rabbit to the end zone, or overtake a fleeing American Fork Caveman?
I think it’s good to not take this mascot thing too seriously. In my hometown, for instance, we had a women’s softball team sponsored by a local undertaker: Mitchell’s Mummies. And yes, they, too, could laugh off defeat. Imagine 3,000-year-old Kharis stiffly running the bases while trailing Ace bandages and you get the picture.
In any event, it’s a challenge to come up with a new mascot name since so many have already been taken. Believe it or not, there are two schools in Utah whose mascot is the Wasp. When I first spotted this billboard alongside highway 89 in Juab County, my first thought was: Even MORE white Anglo Saxonish than the Duck Dynasty? But then I passed another advertising The Game of Throws, and realized that whoever is promoting Juab High School’s wrestling team has a great sense of humor. Always remember: So long as you beat them to it, no one can ever make fun of your name.