High school students who will attend the newest high school in Utah were disappointed this week when the school board vetoed their choice for the school’s mascot. Twenty-three percent of the students voted to call themselves the Corner Canyon High Cougars, but the school board decided that the mascot would instead be the “Chargers”, because “Cougars” could be considered offensive towards women.
In popular culture, the term “cougar” has come to mean an older woman who has a sexual or romantic relationship with a younger man. Many parents were aware of this meaning and called the school board in order to protest the mascot being a cougar.
Another problem with the cougar mascot is that nearby university, Brigham Young, also has the feline as their mascot. The school board did not want the high school to be confused with the university, based on their mascots.
“We have received numerous e-mail messages and phone calls from parents and patrons in Draper asking us to reconsider the inclusion of ‘Cougars’ as a mascot option,” said Canyons Superintendent David Doty. “Opposition to the ‘Cougars’ focuses on a concern that the mascot, combined with the school’s blue/white/silver color scheme, will be too similar to Brigham Young University. Many also have commented on the negative double entendre of the word ‘cougar.’”
However, not everyone agrees with this decision. Bill Cosper is the athletic director and football coach of Kearns High School, another high school in the district. Kearns High School’s mascot is also a cougar and Cosper thinks that the idea that the word cougar would be insulting to women is a little bit out there.
“To me, a mascot is usually an animal,” he said. “I mean, I don’t know how to even respond to that. In all my years here, or in all of sports, that’s never been brought up. Maybe somebody just watched a sow or something about it on TV. That is pretty wild, though.”
The topic is actually earning a lot of media attention. USA Today commented that the new mascot, the Chargers, would be a good mascot, “unless, of course, someone decides that would be offensive to people who use credit cards.”
Also, Colorado state Representative Mike May made a little joke about the banning of mascots in January 2010.
“It is just not fair that these institutions carry on these offensive characterizations,” May said. “Cougars are people, too.”
Personally, I think that this is a little bit ridiculous. A mascot is supposed to just be a fun symbol that students can rally behind to show their school spirit. However, in a world where we are becoming more and more concerned with being politically correct, even this age-old-tradition is coming under fire.