Okay, some of you fans out there might be struggling to hold back your smirks as you get pumped up for a heated battle between your Wolverines and the Oregon … Ducks?

Kate Green

Some of you may think that a duck isn’t quite a worthy mascot for a football team. You might think that ducks don’t do much other than paddle around in their little ponds. And you might hold back laughter as you ask, ‘Who could possibly be afraid of a duck?’

I, of course, would never suggest that the duck is, shall I say, a wimpy, mascot. I, and the good people of Eugene, know that a duck can be a fine mascot.

So maybe it seems odd for a bunch of big, sweaty football players to be named after a small type of waterfowl. It’s true, they don’t exactly bring to mind thoughts of ferocity and intimidation.

But ducks are certainly noble and graceful animals – birds – whatever. What’s not to like about ducks? They’re excellent at fishing for example. And I think they have waterproof feathers, which is pretty cool. With their fantastic flying ability, they can make quick escapes when danger arises (such as, say, if they think they might be devoured by a traditional football powerhouse).

What could you possibly have against ducks? They’ve never bothered anybody. For example, I bet you’ve never heard of anyone that has been attacked by a duck. Of course, you cynics out there might say that’s the point, but let’s move on.

There have been plenty of beloved, honorable, ducks in history; I’m sure of it. I just can’t think of any right now. Wait, yes I can! Who doesn’t like Daisy and Donald Duck? And don’t forget Daffy. Although I did always find Daffy rather annoying. What’s up with spraying saliva every time he talks? But wait, what about the Ugly Duckling? Well, I guess even he wasn’t a duck in the end.

Come on, now. If you think about it, I bet you’ll find that ducks have provided you with many happy memories. Your rubber ducky. Or throwing breadcrumbs in a pond to feed ducks. And everybody likes Duck-Duck-Goose.

Besides, mascots don’t have much to do with the actual team, anyway. Yes, the football ducks, like real ducks, do much better through the air than on the ground. But it’s not like the players try to psyche themselves up in the lockerrooms by walking (waddling?) around and quacking. (Speaking of lockerrooms, maybe it doesn’t matter what you call yourself when you have a state-of-the-art lockerroom where you can watch one of three 60-inch plasma TV’s and connect to the Internet directly from your locker, as the Oregon Ducks do).

What? You’re still not convinced? Didn’t any of you see “The Mighty Ducks?” Don’t you remember Coach Bombay telling his rag-tag District 5 team that a duck would make a great mascot? Pointing out that ducks never have to fight? Okay, that might not be the image you want your football team projecting, but hey, the “flying V” worked, right? Except against Iceland.

Seriously now, wipe those smirks off your faces and take a good look at Oregon’s mascot. Take the “Velcro Duckie” the Oregon athletic website sells to “rally” the fans, for example. With a somewhat-sharp beak and those big, cartoonish eyes. Imagine it’s ferocious roar … err … quack? You wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley, would you? Okay, maybe you wouldn’t even notice him in a dark alley, but so what?

What’s wrong with having an animal that everybody likes as your mascot? So it doesn’t exactly make you shake in your cleats, but who cares?

Besides, real wolverines are extinct in Michigan, so at least the ducks have that going for them, right?

Courtney Lewis can be reached at cmlewis@umich.edu.















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