Two Birds Walk into a Bar…

By Amanda Eldreth

Elm Staff Writer

Picture the clichéd, average bar scene; the odor of alcohol hanging in the air, boisterous people crammed in like sardines and the general buzz of the inebriated. Now picture that instead of there being people, the various bird mascots were locked in an epic bar fight…who would win?

There has been a lot of school pride on campus with Homecoming just a few days away, but how would our beloved new mascot, Gus the Goose, fare in the bar fight? Maybe you are thinking along the lines of the actual birds our mascots represent. Geese are not normally thought of as being fierce; that adjective is usually reserved for the grand “Birds of Prey” that most teams like to gravitate towards. Eagles. Hawks. Falcons. Owls. They’re hunters, swooping down and snatching cute, furry animals as they scurry along the forest floor. Geese stick to vegetation, small insects and fish…not very intimidating.

In high school, I was an Eagle and before our field hockey games we would always chant “Eagles eat…” whatever the opposing mascot was. Needless to say most of them were unbelievable and a little silly to say, but it was all in the spirit of the game! So, why do teams and universities even adopt birds as their mascots? Birds are highly protective of territory and become fierce when provoked; the perfect representation of sports teams.

In the NFL there’s the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles, both basically birds of prey that are linked with some significant meaning or symbol. Eagles alone are seen as patriotic and linked with the image of our country, generally a strong mascot to adopt for a team or university. Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” has granted the bird a mystical, eerie quality that intimidates.

But not all bird mascots are predatory and fierce. Saint Peter’s College has a peacock, a powder-puff, flashy bird that’s all show. The University of Delaware has a hen, a bird associated with no flight, and dinner. So among the predators, the pretty, and the silly, where does Gus rank?

Taken out of the bar, geese are known for their loyalty and valor. When migrating during the winter, if a goose becomes injured, another will leave the flock to accompany it as it heals. Geese also mate for life and rarely ever seek out another mate if they should lose theirs. If we think about what a mascot truly means to our school and our teams, I think those qualities are admirable and worth standing for. Mascots are more than just another body to cheer on our athletics, but they are the embodiment of our values.

So would Gus come out on top in the bar brawl? Some think yes, specifically Emily Hall, who thinks “Gus would pluck out his opponents’ feathers and leave them shaking in a corner, naked and ashamed.”

If Gus fought like a goose protecting his young from the other birds, he’d hiss, bite, and slap his way to the top, defeating the peacocks, blue birds, hens, pelicans, seagulls, and parrots. Maybe the George Washington coat Gus sports will inspire him to become a military genius who conquers the birds of prey when they least expect it. If anything, I don’t think having a goose mascot is silly or lame, but in fact, an emblem we should all be able to stand behind valiantly, winner of the mascot bar brawl or not.

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