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Thursday, February 20, 2014

SF State May Give Gator Mascot the Boot

Posted By on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Endangered species?
  • Endangered species?

San Franciscans are a progressive lot, but we also hate change. It seems contradictory, but there you go. That's how we roll. 

In a town priding itself on innovation, the constituency for the status quo is almost always much more powerful than the constituency for change. SF State President Leslie Wong seems poised to find this out the hard way. 

In a recent interview with the school's paper, the Xpress, he stated he was "90 percent sure" SFSU would be dumping its 85-year-old mascot, the Gator. "It's overwhelming that people don't get the Gator thing at all." 

It doesn't seem all that complicated; an alligator isn't exactly an outlandish college mascot. We don't get that people don't get the Gator thing. At all. 

Wong also told the Xpress he'd like to re-make State into "a more sports-oriented university," plunking $2.1 million into remaking the gym and rebranding the school via a new mascot "that best fits us and the new future." 

Pumping money into athletics at an institution where, only recently, cutbacks forced students to pack classes like lifeboats on the Titanic and -- no joke -- put in 48 hours notice for books at the library seems to be an interesting take. 

Beware hoping for a mascot "that best fits us and the new future." You may get it. 

As recently as last year, by the way, Wong was talking up "the Gator brand." He must have talked to some interesting people in the interim; people who "don't get the Gator thing." 

While you don't find many gators in Northern California, it's hardly an objectionable nickname of the sort that spurred the most recent mascot-dumping at a local university. Sonoma State's teams are now known as the "Seawolves," a Jack London-influenced nickname. But, prior to 2002, they were the "Cossacks." 

Gators may, literally, be cold-blooded killers. But they aren't responsible for slaughtering entire villages of Jews throughout old Russia during a litany of pogroms (or, for that matter, horsewhipping Pussy Riot). 

Good luck to the future blue-ribbon panel charged with finding an SFSU mascot that pleases everybody -- and assuages the discomfort of doing away with an 85-year-old tradition. 

Midway through some of those meetings, "the Gator thing" may, suddenly, become a whole lot more understandable. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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