By Bob Huber
It’s Christmas time again, and I’ve found a unique gift for my favorite college student. I’m providing her with a new mascot for her university. I’ll bet your favorite students are tired of jokes about their mascot too.
You see, my student’s athletic teams are the “Greyhounds,” a bony, bald canine suitable only for chasing mechanical rabbits, long bus trips, and wiseacre remarks. But look at other schools:
Wisconsin has its Gophers, Indiana its Hoosiers, Georgetown its Hoyas. And what do our kids get? Smart-alecky out-of-town guests asking, “What time do the races begin?”
It’s rough enough for our kids that the school’s official title has 11 syllables, spelling being what it is today, but they also have to deal with signs that point to “Greyhound Stadium” and “Greyhound Arena,” and strangers asking for the insider dope on odds-on favorites.
And while other schools cheer, “Sis boom bah. Tigers, Tigers, rah, rah, rah,” what do our kids yell? “Here comes Rusty!” or “All aboard for Amarillo, Kansas City, and Chicagooo!”
It’s even worse for girls’ athletic teams. Naturally we can’t strap them with the canine gender that makes divorce lawyers happy — although it might bring about some colorful headlines on sports pages — so we call them the “Zias,” which is a sacred religious symbol for certain Pueblo Indians.
Well, I say that’s going too far. The moment is ripe to stave off further student embarrassment and find a new mascot for local athletic squads.
At first I wasn’t sure what to call our teams, but I did spend some time pondering the problem when I woke in the middle of the night after an evening of beer and pizza, and my first inclination was to pick an appropriate local wild animal, like a jackrabbit or a sidewinder.
But those animals aren’t much to brag about. Who wants to cheer a rattlesnake? I know, Arizona did it, but look where the Diamondbacks finished this year.
So I thought about local birds, like house sparrows, cranes, Mississippi kites, or maybe lesser prairie chickens. Another familiar bird in these parts, the grackle, had a certain ring to it, but the name had its shortcomings. Who, indeed, wants to cheer for the Grackles?
I also perused a list of historic events in the area that might be linked to athletics, but all I could come up with was Blackwater Draw Archaeological Site. It’s doubtful cheerleaders could handle such a mouthful and still keep bouncing around.
Then a solution struck me. It was so simple, I’m surprised my quick mind hadn’t come up with it long ago. I’m talking about the introduction of the dairy industry to this area. Walla! Not only an historic event but a local animal too. We can call our athletic teams the “Holsteins.”
With the Holsteins we could also enjoin the rollicking Chambers of Commerce in the area to boost the university athletic programs with the same verve they exhibit for cheese plants. I’m not sure the Chinese could sculpt an appropriate statue for the campus, but I’ll bet the New Mexico Dairy Association would give it an earnest try.
Oh sure, some folks — those who refuse to see the forest for the fleas — would want to hang onto tradition and keep the Greyhound mascot, but I say it’s time to cut the mustard, fish or cut bait, and put the chicken in the pot.
Think about it. The school’s colors would be changed from the current lackluster silver-and-green to a colorful black-and-white, and all school vehicles would be painted with markings common to a Holstein cow. Even the college’s jackets would display our bovine enthusiasm with one sleeve black and the other white.
And the long standing “Zia problem” — which has other schools saying, “Huh?” — would go away, because we’d call the guys the “Bulls” and the dolls the “Heifers.” The junior varsity players would be the “Yearlings,” or some such things.
I’m sure some of you out there in newspaper land have Holstein ideas of your own, but don’t send them to me. Just spring them on your spouses at supper time some evening and note the enthusiastic responses. You see, it’s my job to keep you informed of pressing problems that affect our lives and to research modest solutions. I’m only a messenger.
By the way, I got a lively response from my daughters when I sprung this idea on them. They cried, “Mom, where are you when we need you?”
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales.