At first glance this decision by the university may seem a little rash, but after close examination one can begin to understand the reason for the change. After all, Wilbur promotes the Wildcats and should set an example. Imagine all of the children who could one day grow up to dress in costume and swing around six shooters as they high-five everyone they encounter.
Realistically, the students who attend these games are not the people who are at risk for being influenced by Wilbur it's the athletes. There have been multitudes of athletes with gun troubles in just the last year. Jayson Williams allegedly shot and killed his limo driver and Allen Iverson allegedly threatened his wife with a pistol; I would bet that at some point in their lives they encountered a gun-slinging mascot who should receive sole responsibility for their actions. In fact, there could even be a guns for tickets conspiracy brewing here with Wilbur at the dead center of it all.
There is a counter-point to this story, as many facts indicate that Wilbur should be allowed to carry weapons. After Iverson's debacle his shoe sales increased around 25 percent, so maybe Wilbur's weapons could help us sell more Arizona jersey's and shorts. What could be cooler in the inner city than a gunslinging, cowboy hat wearing wildcat?
As well, imagine next year when ASU sends in a Kyle Dodd type to throw punches at Walton. Wilbur could jump in if things get too ugly. It seems that these days more and more players are going "Latrell Sprewell" on other players, coaches, and even their own wives; Wilbur could be the end all to athletic violence.
I can appreciate the intentions of the university, but I believe that the desire to be politically correct in this situation doesn't make a difference to anyone in the world. To be perfectly honest, I never even knew that Wilbur had six-shooters, and I am sure that I won't miss them at the games in the future. I am just worried that things could go too far. Just imagine it: U of A takes a one point lead with 10 seconds to go against Oregon. The Ducks' head coach Ernie Kent calls a time out. The McKale Center is blowing up as a weapon-less Wilbur incites the crowd, when from the tunnel runs "Ooh-Ahh" Man. As he leads the crowd in chants of "U of A" he, as always, begins stripping off layers of clothing when police, who are definatley armed, come out and beat him with night-sticks for fear that he isn't adhering to the "no public nudity" rules of the university.
Who's to say whether disarming Wilbur will have any affect on our university, but I personally do not feel any safer. However, now that I know that the rules about fake weapons are so strict, on Halloween this year I will make sure to strip every child dressed as a cowboy of his cap guns and scold his parents for not thinking straight.
[Judd Graham is the newest columnist for Cat Tracks. His column will normally run on Thursdays as part of our premium package.]