It's easy to marvel at the intellect factory that is Stanford University. Sure, it populates our country with countless societal assets via a nearly unrivaled educational experience. Absolutely, it churns out stars of academia, the science and humanitarian world, literature, journalism, politics, and of course sports. And, without question it remains one of, if not the most prestigious universities to hold a degree from, but while renowned and admired, one thing stands between it and its rightful place amongst the cerebral elite…a tree.
Mascots come in various shapes and sizes. Fowl, rodents, cats, dogs, bear, different types of warriors, be it historical or of the mythical variety, powerful and catastrophic weather phenomena (hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis), even livestock…but timber?
I know, I know, Stanford is the Cardinal. Not the bird represented by the 2006 World Series Champions or the St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona NFL franchise, but the shade of red which represents the players and teams of Stanford University, the color which is synonymous with power, prestige, and unsurpassed ferocity.
Now I'm confused. They call themselves the "Cardinal," but they don't have a mascot. They don't have a mascot, but a "tree" runs around on the field soliciting a response, partaking in tomfoolery, and cheering its beloved… "color."
How am I supposed to take this team and university, which is so worthy of my respect and admiration seriously, when they exhibit such senselessness?
This is an institution which has spawned the likes of award winning journalist Ted Koppel, Astronaut Sally Ride, Intel founder Andrew Grove, Charles Schwab of…well…Charles Schwab, and Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Not to mention Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Conner and William Rehnquist, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, countless Nobel Prize and Fields Medal winners, and Tiger Woods!
Is this the best they can do, a Crayola crayon and a future paper product?
No wonder they've struggled on the gridiron.
Couldn't they at least dress it up with an aggressive or flashy adjective, similar to the Fightin' Illini or Golden Hurricane?
Years ago, the Cardinal were known as the Indians. It wasn't until 1972 that the Indian was dropped due to understandable objection from the Native American community. There was a move to reinstate the Indian as the school mascot in 1975. The debate was put to vote along with new suggestions: Robber, Barons, Sequoias, Trees, Cardinals, Railroaders, Spikes, and Huns.
Apparently creativity outside of the lab is not a prerequisite for admittance.
Oregon will enter the newly renovated Stanford Stadium Saturday night with a 3-0 record, a national ranking of thirteen, and aspirations of scoring early and often. Dixon will throw, Stewart will run, and the defense will continue its maturation, through playmaking and its propensity to cause turnovers…and it will do so in front of tens of thousands of screaming geniuses. However, these are the same geniuses who rally behind a color and follow the lead forest denizen.
How do you root against these guys?
There's no, "skin those Cats!" Or, "tame those Huskies!"
You're left with, "burn down that forest of one!" Or "water down that bright color!
I want to respect Stanford University, not only for its academic prowess, but for its athletic accomplishments as well. They've excelled for years in the athletic arena and in most regard rank amongst the elite collegiate institutions, but while at face value they garner the utmost respect, their mascot and iconic tree leave me scratching my publicly educated head. I'm deaf to the motivating volume of a color and/or foliage. I'm blind to the powerful sight of a yuletide icon. And I'm dumbfounded by the thought of future difference-makers being stupefied by such an elementary idea.
But maybe I'm not smart enough to figure it out.
Game Day: Down On the Farm
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