School is back in session, and with the arrival of the new school year, so too comes the arrival of school rallies, pep assemblies, and fall sporting events, including football games, volleyball matches, soccer matches, and cross-country races. These events are the mainstay of fall.
It’s nearly impossible to imagine a school sporting event without the beloved ambassadors of school pride, the school mascot. Mascots invoke a sense of community cohesiveness, while being the prominent figureheads of the cheer and pep bad squads. They buoy school spirits, energize athletes while rallying fans, and their appearance on the playing field appeals to our sense of belonging. Without a doubt, school mascots help lay the basic framework for the memories of our high school experience.
While we tend to connect mascots to sports-related activities, the term “mascot” has French roots, originating from the French term “mascotte”, meaning good luck charm. The word, as we know it today, was originally popularized by an obscure 1880 French comic opera written by playwright Edmond Audran, entitled La Mascotte, which tells the story of a poor Italian whose crops failed to thrive until the arrival of a mysterious woman named Bettina (a living good luck charm). Although the word “mascot” wasn’t coined in the United States until after La Mascotte, the concept of the mascot, or a talisman of good luck, has been widely recognized throughout history, and well before organized sports evolved as we know them today.
School mascots represent symbols of good fortune, and fall into a few common categories: the fierce and ferocious animal (such as the Central High Panthers), the mystical creature (think Dallas Dragons), and the historical figure who appears larger than life (our very own Corvallis Spartans). Such symbols help boost school spirits and create a sense of solidarity.
Mascots promote widespread enthusiasm while creating powerful emotions, building on a sense of tradition by becoming the visual representation of school spirit. Rather than saying, “Our school mascot is the Spartan,” we’re more inclined to make the declaration, “We are the Spartans.” The later statement embodies a sense of belonging for our generation, and connects us to the many generations of Corvallis Spartans who have come before us, as well as those yet to come.