My email account informs me that Kenyon is planning to change its mascot. I suspect most alumni will look at this idea with disdain. I bet most current students think it’s an idea long overdue. Regardless of where you stand, let me simply say: As a lifelong fan of Washington’s NFL team, I can vouch for a) how problematic it is to root for a team with an offensive mascot, and b) how disappointing it is when that awful mascot is changed to something that is magically stupid.
As I prepare for my 25th reunion (!) let me simply spell it out — if a school almost 200 years old wants to change what represents it, it had better consider the options carefully. It occurs to me it’s a good idea if that mascot:
- Doesn’t have a gender or represent a person or group of people. Remember, “mascot” in English is derived from the French word for “pet.”
- Does a pretty good job of promoting features of the school it represents. You wouldn’t call Kenyon teams the Boilermakers; the College doesn’t have an engineering school.
- Has a name that rolls off the tongue, especially with the other words of the College. This goes back to “promotional” considerations. You want someone on a TV broadcast — or in a newspaper — to be able to say the College and its mascot in a quick way that’s instantly recognizable.
So my pitch is this: What if Kenyon’s mascot became the Kenyon College Crows?
It meets these three requirements: It is an animal, one that is potentially fearsome, often mysterious and also literary. It harkens back to the first building most students see when they go through the Gates of Hell — Ransom Hall — another literary tip of the hat. There are crows designed by a Kenyonite sculpted on top of that hall. And there’s a rhythm to the three words — the Duke Blue Devils, the Carolina Tar Heels, the Kenyon College Crows.
That mascot would also fit well with the College’s colors; a crow’s plumage in sunlight does throw off a purple shine (think of how the Baltimore Ravens use their color scheme).
It’s also an easy mascot to create for a physical appearance at a game (if the College ever decides to go that route), and you’d only have to make one version — the Crow could go to any game and represent any team. If, that is, the College decided to create a physical mascot (and coax a student into a sweaty suit where you almost can’t see anything, have to dance at some point and will likely be hazed).
We would also easily be able to add this chestnut to the sportswriting vernacular — “Denison University had to eat a healthy dollop of Crow Tuesday as they fell to Kenyon 42-0.” Look, as an optimist I can dream; I hope Earlham will eat Crow one day too. And Oberlin too… cryolite aluminum extraction be damned!
I have no clue if the administration has made a decision already. I have no idea if this is going to go to a student vote. I do think that if you’re appealing to the three bears of Goldilocks fame, this could be a middle bowl of porridge — a mascot that could be just right.
Billy Shields ’97