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Mascot misery

Katherine DeClerq | Fulcrum Staff

ALMOST EVERY YEAR the sports editor of the Fulcrum writes about how disappointed he or she was with the attendance at the Capital Hoops Classic. I considered doing the same, given the record was the lowest I’ve seen in the last four years, but figured it wasn’t worth it. Instead, I am going to rant a bit about why the U of O’s spirit—or the spirit of Canadian sports in general—seems to have gone the drain.

Five people have the potential to hold more spirit than 500, and that is exactly how I felt on the evening of Jan. 18 at Scotiabank Place. The responsibility of getting the crowd pumped falls under the job description of the mascot. We can have thousands of people decked out in garnet and grey, but if they are just sitting in the stands, it’s not much of a fan group.

I remember going to the Toronto Raptors’ home opener during my Christmas break, and the spirit was unbelievable. During time-outs and halftime, the mascot ran into the crowd, danced on the court, and even created an inflatable version of itself that did the dougie. The crowd went wild, despite the dreadful loss the Raptors were suffering.
Obviously, the U of O doesn’t have the funding to get an inflatable Gee-Gee, but it isn’t the flashy lights or special effects that create spirit. It’s having a mascot that pumps up the crowd and puts on a show.

During the Capital Hoops Classic, I saw the Gee-Gees mascot a total of three times. He was wandering through the crowds, stopping only to let students take photos with him. This is all well and good, but I also couldn’t help noticing the Raven would run onto the court with the Carleton dance team during halftime. The Raven also stood loyally behind the fans by the sidelines.

I’m not saying that our Gee-Gees mascot is not doing his or her job, because I  believe the Gee-Gee has become an icon of our athletic department. But gone are the days when the Raven and Gee-Gee host a dance-off as a halftime show, where people are entertained by the comedic gestures of a giant horse and bird.

And it isn’t just our university! I haven’t been to one game where the mascot on either team has wowed the crowd into screaming or held up a sign that said, “Kick Their Ass!” Not at any football game, hockey game, basketball game, volleyball game—not even at the Canadian Interuniversity Sports soccer semifinals.

Canadian university mascots are almost never seen—they don’t travel with the teams and rarely do anything other than act as a photo opportunity for really drunk students who think they look funny. Of course, if you take a look at any varsity college game in the United States, the mascot goes wild on the field and by the sidelines, and by consequence, so do the crowds.
Let’s raise the spirit at the U of O, and that’s not just a statement about attendance. Everyone, including our Gee-Gee, needs to get up, dance, scream, and show that our school is better than the others—not only in sports, but in spirit.