What’s in a mascot?


What seems to be years ago, during a lull in sporting activities, this writer began writing about team mascots, especially “weird” ones.  

There were bunnies, pretzels, orphans, the caxy (the sound a frog makes I’m told) and others.  

In this time of “shelter-in-place” and only essential happenings, many are lost in the duldrums of sitting at home watching drastic news reports and reruns from years ago and need a lift.  

Here goes the return of those pesky “weird” mascots.  The original mascots were from Illinois high schools (believe it or not).  So, we’ll continue with more of those.

First to appear are the teams from Argo, Ill.  For some reason schools look to ancient history, or fiction, when naming teams.  

This time, Greek mythology takes a hand; there were ancient heroes who sailed in a ship called the “Argo” searching for a golden fleece.  These mythological heroes were called the “Argonauts.” Thus, the teams from Argo, ever in search of the next win, however elusive, were named the Argonauts.

Next we come upon a controversial team mascot and name for the athletes from Freeburg, Ill. 

In the early 1900s the basketball team was very successful, although not tall in stature.  The moniker can be blamed on a sports reorter, of all things.  

After one unbelievable win over a much taller team, the sports reporter called the exceptionally talented team the “Midgets” because no one on the team was taller than 5-foot 10-inches.  As for the controversy, the school board has been approached various times, first by the Little People of America requesting the name be changed.  

However, many from the community spoke in favor of the name, feeling  the name promoted citizenship, responsibility and school spirit and had been part of the community for over 100 years.  At last check, the name still stands.

Another name from out of the past is that of the athletic teams of Polo, Ill.  

Despite the similarity of the team’s name to the childhood swimming pool game “Marco Polo,” the school has no swimming teams or even a pool to swim in.  They are named for the early Italian explorer Marco Polo.  Again, another team taking to the pages of history for its teams mascot/nickname, the Polo Marcos.

For the final entry in this episode of our query into mascots, we approach a team closer to home.  

An eternal foe of our local teams are the teams from Monticello.

The city is named for the estate of one Thomas Jefferson, early American statesman and president.  Mr. Jefferson was known as the “Sage of Monticello,” thus, the school board and residents decided on “Sages” for the team nickname with an owl, supposed to be wise-or a sage, as the mascot.