My Take on Oberlin's Squirrel Mascot
June 23, 2019
Jason Hewitt ’20
As always, I'm going to be completely honest with you. I'm not a fan of Oberlin's squirrel mascot.
Don't get me wrong; the squirrel is a very cute animal. I see them roaming all around campus, and they are pretty cool to see on a beautiful day. However, I don't understand how it ended up becoming one of our mascots. I know that the albino squirrel became a pretty big deal to see in Oberlin, and it is a unique animal to see there, even if it is rare. Oberlin's love for squirrels isn't the problem in this case. The problem is that this love was taken just a little too far when it was named as one of the mascots.
The term "Yeomen" was already hard enough to explain to people. Farmers? Sure, they are extremely hard-working people, but... farmers? That's what this great institution decided to go with? That's okay, I guess. I know some farmers who could give some of my fellow athletes a run for their money in terms of physical fitness, so "Yeomen" is okay with me. It's still annoying to explain to folks, though. Along with trying to explain that, I have to explain why Oberlin chose a squirrel out of all of the mascots it could have chosen. There were so many ways that Oberlin could have implemented squirrels into its culture without making it a mascot. Take away my role as a student-athlete for just a second and view me as a sports fan here.
If I saw a team with a squirrel on their uniform, I would probably chuckle. Just imagine watching a college team in some form of athletic competition and seeing a squirrel on the jersey. Would you find anything intimidating about it? Would you look at that team and think, “Wow, they look pretty tough! They might be able to dominate us!” I know for a fact that I would not. In fact, I would think the opposite. I would be motivated to dominate that team even more after seeing a squirrel as its mascot.
As a competitor, intimidating your opponent is one of the most important things you can do. It’s honestly a mental thing. If you are not able to get into your opponent’s head, your chances of winning are decreased. Imagine the susceptibility of Obie athletes for getting trash-talked as it is. Obies are already viewed as students that come from a “nerdy” school because of Oberlin’s high prestige. The trash talk is only amplified when squirrels are being displayed on their equipment. The football team doesn’t have any squirrels on any of the equipment, so I can’t imagine what that’s like. I’m sure that a few of our athletic teams have squirrels on their gear, and I’m pretty sure that they probably receive some form of criticism for it. I wish that they didn’t, because they are my classmates, after all. In fact, I’m pretty good friends with a lot of athletes in the Oberlin community, so seeing the squirrel on some of their uniforms does seem a little unfortunate to say the least. It wasn’t like they got to choose to have it on their uniforms either. It was just... there.
I want you all to know that I have absolutely nothing against squirrels! They are one of the cutest little animals that you will see in the world. Watching them do their thing is totally adorable. However, that’s also the problem with using them as a mascot. Why would you want a “cute” and “cuddly” animal as a mascot when you could use something that embodies a higher sense of pride? What if Oberlin used something more respectable that they could display?
I have some alternative ideas that Oberlin could consider as a replacement to the squirrel.
One of them is a spider. Now, hear me out on this one. I have seen plenty of spiders in Obieland. No, there isn’t an infestation in any of the buildings or anything crazy like that. I see them more in nature and dark corners of classrooms. A spider is a scary creature to a lot of people, including me. There could be really cool designs associated with them as well. There could be spider webs and all sorts of designs that could be placed on different types of sports equipment.
Another cool mascot that could replace the squirrel is the Thunder. This is entirely inspired by the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is an NBA basketball team. It storms quite a bit in Oberlin, and thunder is a pretty big part of it. Imagine how cool it would be if there were lightning designs that were associated with Oberlin? What if the “OC” logo had a lightning strike behind it? How insane would that be? Also, it could be an understandable mascot to have since it can get stormy on campus at times.
One more mascot that could be a replacement to the squirrel is my personal favorite. That mascot is an owl. First, if an owl replaced the “yeomen” mascot, I would be completely okay with it. The “Oberlin Owls"? It has a great ring to it! Along with this, an owl is viewed one of the most respected animals in the ecosystem. They’re also rather prominent in Ohio, so it would make complete sense for Oberlin to use it as its mascot. Owls are also a nice aesthetic to the academic side of Oberlin, as they are seen as some of the most intelligent creatures on the planet. An owl on a jersey would look much better than a squirrel. That’s just my opinion, though.
Squirrels are cool... or whatever. However, they aren’t the ideal idea of a mascot that could truly represent Oberlin. They may be all around campus, but they aren’t the best mascot for our athletes. They deserve a better representation as a display for other teams to see and respect, especially as hard as they work. I’m sure that the mascot is here to stay, and I don’t mind that too much. I just felt like giving my take on the whole “squirrel” thing that we have going on here. I guess you can say it’s... nuts... *ba, dum, tss*
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