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Thoughts from the Principal


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to cover a high school English class. I always find it enjoyable and refreshing to get into the classroom and play teacher, if even for just an hour. After all, it is interactions with students in the classroom that led me to choose this profession in the first place. For reasons I am still trying to, and likely never will, understand (although taking advantage of the sub is most likely), the conversation soon turned to sports teams and their mascots. I told the class nearly any topic can be educational if you allow it. Perhaps (not only as an avid sports fan, but also a history buff), this mainly served as my personal excuse to continue an enjoyable conversation.
Nonetheless, there we were; the juniors, seniors and I discussing everything from the Rockies to the Rockets. I told the class, with few exceptions, most teams select mascots that have historical, geographical, and/or cultural relevancy. Sure there are the disappointing select few who opt for generic mascots, usually of the intimidating animal sort, common examples including Lions, Tigers, Eagles and Bears. I told the students that picking an effective mascot is highly complicated, almost an art. You want to choose something that is tenacious and fierce, yet not too intimidating. If possible, you select a mascot that is uniquely representative, yet able to unite schools, communities and/or entire states.
While most teams opt for animals or humans to serve as mascots, I told the students some teams instead chose numbers. I once again reminded them that even a conversation on sports mascots can be educational, which became evident they need more of when I asked them what the professional basketball team in Philadelphia is. Finally, one of the boys came up with the correct answer: the 76ers, although no one could tell me why. This led to a conversation on the events that occurred inside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on July 4, 1776. Along with the 76ers, I told them there was a professional football franchise in California that also chose a number to serve as their mascot, which was quickly identified as the San Francisco 49ers. Although the students became noticeable less confident when I asked if a 17, 18 or 19 belonged in front of the 49.
Franchises relocating can cause mass confusion. I asked the students if they could name the two NBA franchises in Los Angeles, where the Lakers and Clippers were both identified. Although LA’s culture can certainly be represented by a body of water, it happens to be the Pacific Ocean and not a ‘lake’. Only after I told the students that the Lakers originally played in Minnesota (a state with over 10,000 lakes) before their owner relocated them to LA in 1961 and decided to keep the name. At least Minnesota still has the ‘Twins’, which I find to be a uniquely fitting name. The Lakers share their arena with the Clippers. A Clipper? Originally from San Diego, that was a nod to the prominent sail boat culture of Southern California.
I once heard the joke that is ironic Utah, where all music is illegal, nicknamed their NBA franchise the Jazz, which, of course, originally called New Orleans home. Just up the coast from the Lakers and Clippers a few hundred miles, Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners play. You don’t hear ‘Mariner’ used every day. I applaud Texas, with their proud Western heritage being reinforced by teams such as the Cowboys, Mavericks, Longhorns, Spurs, Aggies, Rangers and Texans. New York is an interesting place, with interesting mascots as well. The New York Knicks? Naming your franchise after a pair of Knickerbocker pants is perplexing. How about the New York Mets? Another abbreviation, this time for the largest Metropolitan area in the nation. Colorado prides itself on active life-styles and nature, so I find it fitting that 75% of our professional franchises chose non-animal/human mascots you would find in the great outdoors.
For anyone who attended a home basketball game this winter, it is undeniable that ‘IDA’ has brought a renewed energy and focus to our school’s mascot: the Wolves. Like I previously mentioned, I am always digging for historical relevancy. I have lived in Idalia for two years now. I am still on the lookout for my first wolf. Did we chose the generic path of an intimidating animal, or is there a story somewhere that serves as an explanation. If anyone has any information or history on our mascot, please swing by sometime. I better get going, it looks like there is an instant classic brewing between the Jayhawks and Blue Devils, two of college basketball most unique and storied teams. Submitted by Myles Johnson, Principal

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