Let me start this discussion by saying I am proud to be an alumnus of the University of Richmond. I have fond memories of the academic experience, school spirit, and bikini-clad roller-bladers campus atmosphere. (And as a member of the pep band, a French major, and a newspaper columnist who railed against the Greek system, I was quite popular in college. At least, that’s what the frat guys told me as they duct-taped me to a lamp post every weekend.) I especially enjoyed that we had a unique mascot—the spider. And I mean unique in its literal sense; it’s one of a kind. We’re the only school in the United States with the spider as a mascot.
We occasionally write about branding and identity systems as they relate to sports here on IBD, so it was big news with me—as well as my fellow Spiders—when we learned recently that our mascot was getting a makeover. Not only that, but we would be allowed to vote on it.
Legend has it that the Spiders nickname came from a guy named Puss Ellyson, a pitcher on the university baseball team way back in the late 1800s, who earned the nickname “Spider” because of his abnormally long limbs. “Spidey,” as his name is officially not because of trademark law and Marvel Comics, is seen here in his current iteration.
This particular version of the mascot has been unpopular for several reasons. First and foremost (in my mind, anyway), it’s a little embarrassing that a university with one of the largest endowments per student in the nation is represented by a mascot that basically looks like a guy who was given $75 to spend in the campus book store.
Second, some of you naturalists out there might remember that spiders typically have eight legs. And while the closest thing to spiders—insects—have six legs, this mascot, I reiterate, basically looks like a guy with the normal human number of four limbs in shorts and a couple shirts. And also a cape. You’d figure that if only one school in the nation is going to be represented by a spider, it would get the number of limbs on its mascot correct.
So the UR community has been asked not only to vote on two new designs proposed by Rickabaugh Graphics in Columubus, Ohio, but to suggest names as well. The first option is called “Realistic” (with no apparent sense of irony). Just like in the wild, this realistic spider features web-launching cannons strapped to his wrist. For this one, I suggest the name Teenage Mutant Ninja Mascot.
I voted for the second option, called “Tough” (though I think of him as “Headband”). I like Headband, even if his face looks more like a schnauzer than a spider. He makes me think, “We’re gonna kick your butt in basketball (or possibly synchronized swimming), then we’re going jazzercizing.” For this option, I recommend the name “Olivia Newton Spider.”
Voting ends March 4, so I encourage all of you to go vote right away. (There’s a link where people not affiliated with Richmond can vote; I assume those results will be carefully tallied and ignored.) Results of the ballot will be announced in May.
(Image source: University of Richmond.)