I was chatting over the weekend about the still undecided mascot for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. I’d heard that Edinburg city council had passed a resolution in support of keeping the current mascot, the bronc.
What I hadn’t known was that Edinburg’s resolution had prompted counter resolutions, by a lot of local organizations and councils, either supporting or condemning the Edinburg resolution. And the split is generally the McAllen metro area (Edinburg, McAllen, Pharr) versus the rest of the Rio Grande Valley. A Texas Monthly article noted:
Ultimately, this will come down to power and politics, as much as anything, which is presumably why the anti-Bucky crowd is concerned: UTPA is the larger and more powerful of the schools, and Edinburg is by a substantial margin the wealthier of the two communities, compared to Brownsville (Edinburg's median household income is more then 30% higher than Brownsville's).
It is surprising to me the amount of political heat that mascot names generate, but the UTRGV mascot situation is far from unique. At the national level, we have the Washington Redskins being pressured to change their name. And a few years ago, the change of another university mascot, from a plantation owner to bear, got national attention.
Dan Solomon has been covering the mascot debate at Texas Monthly. He arrives as similar conclusions to my own about the shortlist. Having reflected on the short list some more, I am coming around to like “Tortoises.” A tortoise reflects tenacity, resilience, and maybe even wisdom. The Texas tortoise has character:
If the University of California Santa Cruz can have a banana slug as a popular mascot, why not a tortoise?
Update: Same day I posted this, I get an email about another survey on the UTRGV mascot. Interestingly, some of the options were not on the previous shortlist of ten. I see “Green Jays” and “Vaqueros” as choices (which I’d heard before), “Storm” (what? – another seemingly random surprise option) in addition to “Phoenix.”
Update, 6 October 2014: Brownsville has gotten in on the action, joining the “Anything but Bucky” campaign. The Texas Monthly wryly observes:
(T)he resolution highlights how sensitive everyone can be when it comes to debating pagan-like animal worship.
Update, 28 October 2014: The Texas Monthly considers the biggest sporting debate in Texas right now to be, “Are you for or against Bucky?” The article raises the specter of this being a bellwether for constant infighting over the direction of UTRGV.
In search of an identity for UTRGV, or: why Bucky must go
UT-RGV Has Narrowed Its Search For a New Mascot Down to the Final Ten Contenders
The Debate Over What The Mascot For The New UT-RGV Campus Is Getting Heated, Y'all (Quotes this blog)
And then there were 4
Brownsville city leaders request ‘new identity” for UT-RGV
Tortoise pic by Sara Viernum on Flickr; used under a Creative Commons license.