school mascot

Is It Time To Redesign Your School Mascot?

School mascots, an age-old tradition, help lend identity to schools and their athletic teams. Mascots give the crowd something else to cheer for during a game and also help pump them up. A school mascot can help instill a little extra sense of school pride in a student body and serve as a rallying point for fans.

As great as a school mascot can be for team spirit and morale, they don’t always stick around forever. A change could occur for several reasons: it could be as simple as the school changed its nickname or update its brand, to something more complex like cultural sensitivity.

Other times, it might not be as clear when a mascot makeover is due. Is it time to update the mascot at the institution where you work or where your children go to school? Look for these five signs it’s time to redesign.


1. Your School Mascot Looks Dated

Some mascots survive, shall we say, past their prime. When was your mascot designed? If it was 50 years ago, it’s probably time to modernize. You don’t have to completely redo it; the changes could be cosmetic to more closely match styles today. For example, you could change the team jersey or hat. Maybe it warrants a new hairstyle. Or maybe the mascot was originally designed to look friendly, and now it’s time to give a more “menacing” look.


2. Your School Mascot is Offensive

One of the most common reasons that schools change their mascots is because our culture has grown more inclusive and more aware that stereotypes cause harm. Some schools have been around for decades, and when they chose their mascot, didn’t consider how it might be perceived in the future. An ongoing debate includes schools whose nicknames or mascots degrade or belittle Native Americans. In recent years, schools like the University of North Dakota changed its name from the Fighting Sioux to the Fighting Hawks. Worcester Magazine reports that Holy Cross will maintain its “Crusader” nickname, the school plans to phase out the knight logo and mascot.

Also, in light of recent shootings in the United States, Marist College changed its mascot’s name from Shooter the Fox to Frankie the Fox, as chronicled by the Washington Post.


3. Your School Mascot Puts People to Sleep

Your mascot should excite fans, not bore them. You might make the above-mentioned switch to a more menacing look. Now, you don’t have to go that far, but you want your mascot to elicit crowd reaction when it goes through the crowd or runs up and down the sidelines. Speaking of mobility, when you redesign the mascot, keep the costume in mind. Whatever the school mascot is going to look like, whoever wears the corresponding costume should able to move around easily.


4. Your School Mascot Doesn’t Work as a Cheer

It’s rare, but sometimes school mascots and nicknames are created without thinking how they might sound. For example, parents at a Utah High School started a position last year to have the school’s nickname changed from “Phoenix.” On its own, Phoenix sounds innocent enough. But when students started practicing cheers with the plural form “Phoenices,” it sounded a little objectionable — however amusing to the students themselves.


5. Your School Mascot Doesn’t Make Sense

Although it’s not crucial, it’s nice when a mascot represents the school in some way. Perhaps there’s alliteration between the school and the mascot as in “Anytown Antelopes.” Consider your location and history. You might choose an animal that features prominently in your local landscape. Or think about a profession that formed the basis for your town’s early economy. Weather-wise, a nickname like “Hurricane” doesn’t fit too well inland. A location with a temperate climate probably wouldn’t want the “Sun Devils” as their mascot.

Your school mascot is part of your brand. And we all know, revising a brand is a major undertaking. If your school has had the same mascot for a long time, it could be difficult to make a change. However, it could be for the better in the long run—especially if the current mascot is considered offensive. Even if the call for change is for a less serious reason, your school might find it likes the updated or new mascot better.


PHOTO: U.S. Air Force / CC0 Public Domain

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