Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Mascot, My Asscot

This has been a contentious time for college mascots. Last summer, the National Collegiate Athletic Association opened the door for indigenous groups like the Florida Seminoles to challenge the use of their likenesses as college mascots. There is, however, at least one indigenous group that has been persecuted and exploited, whose use as a mascot was not considered by the NCAA to be potentially offensive – FAU’s own Burrowing Owl.

The NCAA, caving under the pressure of impending lawsuits and bad publicity from quiet places, passed down a ruling from on high in August stating that college mascots whose real-life inspirations considered offensive would have to be removed from stadiums, uniforms, merchandise, etc. Embattled teams from the Florida State University Seminoles to the Southeastern Oklahoma State Savages reeled from the revelation that they were being accused of marketing racism.

Still, under all of this whooping, the offensive use of other mascots was swept beneath the proverbial small pox blanket. While Native American tribes used their casino money to hire slick city lawyers to challenge the use of college mascots, unsubsidized groups like the Burrowing Owls of Boca Raton were left to face their effigies emblazoned on posters, sweatshirts and 30-foot banners.

Luckily, FAU’s top people have been hard at work relieving the owls’ genocidal angst. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars drowning the Burrowing Owl like a replica of the Titanic in a Blue Wave, our faithful mascot rose from the dead like an action hero, more fierce and generic than ever before, as the “Fighting Owl.”

Our mascot began as an endangered and native subterranean species of bird. He returned fresh from a session at the Logo Salon, a fictional creature of an aggressive and violent nature. Don’t tell him he needs to get his eyebrows waxed; that eye moustache means he is angry.

Both the NCAA and FAU moved to cut off deadweight mascots for the sake of publicity and money. The NCAA was fearful of impending suits from offended tribes. In FAU’s case, the Burrowing Owl wasn’t thought to be a strong enough logo to help sell the overpriced crap colleges are required to sell at their Barnes & Noble bookstores.

Moving away from the Burrowing Owl is definitely the right move for FAU. After all, who wants a mascot that stands in the way of its own school’s progress?

So FAU turned its marketing firm to updating our school’s iconic image to something that was native to Boca Raton but could also keep up with the pace of progress, or at least the pace of the bulldozers. How about the Fighting Gucci Bags? Or the Charging Rhinoplasties to Daddy’s Amex? None of these had the kind of pizzazz FAU was looking for. So voila, the FIGHTING OWL!

It isn’t that FAU administrators don’t sympathize with the plight of the burrowing owl. They recognize that the indigenous Burrowing Owls have suffered under the weight of Manifest Destiny and expansionism. It’s just that that’s not the kind of information you want to publish in your brochures, or have to tell idealistic high school seniors while your unarmed and walking backwards.

One major difference between the owls and the Native Americans whose tribes sued colleges is that owls have no opposable thumbs, and are unable to handle a telephone or sign a contract or, frankly, speak legalese. In short, they lack the necessary skills to bring a suit on their behalf against FAU.

FAU’s use of the owl as their mascot, though, offends at least me. And I can completely see how such use might be deemed “hostile and abusive,” which is the standard for determining the validity of a group’s claim against the use of a school mascot. If nothing else, the owl mascot is surely exploitative in the worst way.

The proposed on-campus football stadium, which you will likely be hearing a lot about in the current semester, will wipe out a huge section of untouched land on the FAU property. And, while it isn’t clear whether any owls live in that area, the move would be devastating for any remaining wildlife. In addition, the stadium would certainly have images of owls draped along its mountainous sides or perched atop its altitudinous lighting fixtures.

Owls have pretty spectacular eyesight. They can see about 100 times better than we can in the dark. They make full use of stereoscopic vision thanks to the parallax effect. This means that, under a new moon sky, the FAU owls could see life-sized images of their replacements mocking them in safe repose from up to a third of a mile away.

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