Why the Gopher?

Why the Gopher?

I’m all about using animals as mascots, but gophers?

The one thing that really gets under my skin when it comes to pro-sports teams (aside from the general facts—you know, that they exist in the first place, that people make that much money playing a GAME, and that they help perpetuate the violence that we feed on as a nation) is when they use people as mascots. The Fighting Irish? The Indians, the Chiefs, the Braves? These are not only stupid—have you ever heard of the Goose Stepping Germans?—they are offensive, labeling a group of people as a “mascot,” which to me is another term for “pet.”

So I’m glad that the Gophers are not, for example, the Napping Mexicans or something as stupid and offensive as that. But out of all of the animals to choose as your mascot, they went for…the gopher. Really? A burrowing rodent who serves as the punch line in the Caddyshack films just doesn’t inspire team spirit to me—let alone winning.

Okay, I get that Minnesota is the Gopher State, which is fine and all—but if you’re choosing a mascot for your sports team, you don’t have to make it native to your state, let alone your state animal! The Missouri Tigers sure didn’t. Trust me; I’m from Missouri. There are no tigers here, unless you head over to the zoo. I guess the fact that the gophers are golden is more impressive, though I’ve seen plenty of golden animals—from hawks to retrievers—and they smell just like any other animals of their species. And then there’s the fact that Gopher wood was used in building Noah’s Ark, so I guess that’s sort of special (though if my wood was infested with gophers, I’d surely call a pest control service).

I wonder if Minnesotans like the nickname itself or if they would like a new name? It just makes me think of how the school in Easy A changed from the Blue Devils to the Woodchucks, which pretty much sank school spirit entirely and made pep rallies seem more like sad, weepy events rather than the spirited assemblies that they are intended to be. (This actually might not be a bad thing; I would much rather see, say, Drama Club or the Academic Team get better applause than the sports teams anyway.)

I kid the gophers and wish them the best of luck, of course! I am sure if I were born in Minnesota I’d consider the mascot an honor myself. My favorite team is a bird, for example; I am sure a gopher could take a cardinal on.