NCAA Champion — To explore the history of the college sports mascot, to genuinely investigate how we’ve evolved into a culture that can rally tens of thousands of stadium-goers with live buffaloes, flaming spears and dancing anthropomorphic ducks, we must start at the very beginning and reach back to … uh, early 1880s France, apparently.
That’s when the French debuted an opera named “La Mascotte,” a title that translates loosely into “lucky charm.” Mostly obscure now, “La Mascotte” concerns a poor Italian farmer whose crops refuse to grow until he’s visited by a mysterious and lovely stranger named Bettina. His crops thrive, his luck turns, and his life shines. By the 1900s, the term had jumped the Atlantic and become known as a talisman that brought good fortune; by the 1970s, it had come to mean a grown man in a chicken suit. But the centurylong history of the mascot can be described in one very 2017 term: branding. “A mascot is the personification of a school’s brand,” says Michael Lewis, a marketing professor at Emory. “They work because they give something for the community to rally around, something for everyone to have in common. Everyone at the University of Florida knows about the Gators. Everyone at Texas A&M knows the collie. It’s a social point for the university and the community.”
The Loop / Golf Digest — White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus reportedly emerged from the GOP’s House healthcare victory last week by telling a reporter, “The president stepped up and helped punt the ball into the end zone,” a statement that assumes:
You can score touchdowns while punting.
Punters have helpers, and . . .
Trump wanted to… safely return the ball to the opposing team?
Success — Here’s the story I usually tell when someone brings up nutty sports parents.
At the first T-ball practice of the season, back when my son was 7, I introduced him to the coach. I told the man that Jake had begun playing only the year before, on a team named after a fine local flooring store. The words were apparently a trigger.
“I remember you guys!” The coach suddenly exclaimed, more animated than people usually are when discussing the marketing strategies of local flooring stores.
“We played you in the championship—you beat us 7-3! You had orange uniforms, right? And you had those little blond twins who were really good.” Here he turned to his own son, who ambled up behind him. “You remember, right?” The kid rattled off their names. This went on for a few minutes, and the whole time I stood there dumbly thinking, Wait, there was a championship?
GQ — Despite having the same last name as a three-time Super Bowl-winning linebacker (the New England Patriots’ Mike Vrabel, or as I call him when I’m trying to impress people or drinking, Dad), I should not play football. I’ve heard as much from lots of places: my family, my bones, the nice people in the ambulance, the other guys with whom I’m playing football. Because though summer is the time to get outside, boost your heart rate and ramp up your blood flow, the fact is not all guys are equipped to play all sports. To help you decide which sports you shouldn’t play, we offer this unscientific and also unresearched guide to amateur sports, with equal emphasis on difficulty level, cardiovascular benefit and how cool you look doing them. Sorry about that last one, croquet.
This is the sort of headline that only a country where half of the Major Presidential Candidates are still wobbly on this confusing “science” situation would require, the sort of news that’s news only if your daily planner includes the words “Nancy Grace” in pink bubble lettering, yet here we are: Last week the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Canadian counterpart, Rush, issued a joint report that came out against the sport of boxing for children and adolescents. Reasons included: a high risk of injury, potential for possible concussions and Listening To The Instincts Burned Deep Within The DNA Of Every Human Alive Over Millions Of Years Of Evolution.
Hilton Head Monthly — I should start by saying that with apologies to both my mom and Jim Furyk, I’ve never really been into golf.
This is for one extremely simple, profound reason: I am terrible at golf. I am terrible at it in grave, hideous fashion. I am terrible at it in ways that make it so you can actually watch my 7-year-old lose respect for me in real time, in ways that should be sung about by Tom Waits, in ways that if our culture somehow celebrated the appearance of playing golf as though you’re being repeatedly jabbed in the brain with an electric toothbrush, I would be totally winning.
It’s not, I should make clear, for lack of trying. Once, at a driving range, I literally hit a ball that ended up — and I’m still not entirely sure how the physics worked on this — beneath my car, which was interesting, since the car was about 30 feet away, and also behind me. On the depressingly infrequent occasions when I managed to orient the ball in the direction I was facing already, it would most often fly in a reasonably straight line for about 20 feet, then stop dead, make an inexplicable right turn and promptly careen into whatever was off to the right: forest, batting cage, birthday party, pile of angry alligators, whatever.
But here’s my other thing with golf, and, again, I’m an outsider, so please correct me if I’m wrong: Average pinheads like me can attend, say, a baseball game. We can go see basketball in street clothes. But I’m not sure I can ever adapt to golf’s established, tradition-filled world based almost entirely — and I apologize if this sounds discriminatory — on my taste in pants.
GateHouse — Despite watching, for the 78th consecutive year, my embarrassing “bracket” spot-decompose into a puddle of semi-gelatinous goo by 3:15 p.m. on Thursday afternoon — seriously that was FIVE DOLLARS — I love the tournament. I love learning that there are things like “Long Island University.” I love watching Rick Pitino walk directly from his first-round loss to the television studio. I love the equitability, the idea that any school has a chance, though that chance is a sad exercise in futility and that school will almost certainly lose huge to Ohio State. And I love coming up, every single March, with a new reason to think Duke sucks; this year, I’m going with that 45-minute-long Bobby Hurley commercial for moisturizer or whatever.
But that said, the tournament is lacking something this year: commercials made by trained adult professionals.
This year, unlike, say, the Super Bowl, the NCAA apparently sold a grand total of six commercials and is repeating them across basic cable channels with the irrational, iron determination of a four-year-old who just learned “Toy Story” existed; I’ve been flipping pretty regularly all weekend and have literally not spent 18 minutes without encountering well-lit Caucasians forced to act as though there’s the remotest possibility of connecting the word “Applebee’s” with the phrase “Bourbon Street.” Here are other things you can learn from The Cheap Commercials You’ve Been Watching For Four Days:
The phrase “uric acid” gets funnier every single time you hear it. Every. Single. Time. If you are making a commercial that says “uric acid” 14 times, you have to know this. Though I also enjoy how one of the side effects of this gout medicine are gout flares, which is sort of like saying that the side effects of this diet pill include getting fat. Finally, uric acid apparently looks like lime Kool-Aid but I bet it tastes slightly better.
Kyle Busch, or possibly Dale D. Daleington, dances on a car
GateHouse — The air-quotes sport of NASCAR has never, for many reasons, appealed to me. I’m not really into cars, or deafening rackets, or thick brown clouds of fume, or stickers trumpeting the greatness of cereal companies and auto-parts superstores or cleaning solutions, or people named Dale, or funnel cakes. OK, I’m lying. I’m very much into funnel cakes. Actually, if it came down to it I’d gladly live for three weeks inside a cochlea-shattering speedway packed tight with tire chunks and Dales if I could get regular access to beer and funnel cakes because, if you haven’t guessed already, I’m sort of obsessed with my health.
But like millions of other things, my NASCAR-free lifestyle was something I subscribed to before I had a child, back when I got to select — all by myself — the events and pastimes to which I would donate my time.
GateHouse– I think I ran into a foosball hustler last weekend at the bar.
I can’t be sure, because I’ve never seen a foosball hustler, never considered the possibility that a foosball hustler might exist, never remotely believed that someone could take seriously an activity wherein you rocket a marble across a table populated by red plastic molds with a curtain rod through their torsos, that there would be someone who would look at average Joe Punchclocks in an average bar playing some average foosball and sniff, “These guys are A VULGAR EMBARRASSMENT TO THE GAME.”
Writer: GQ, Men’s Health,
the Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Indianapolis Monthly, Golf Digest, Vice, BruceSpringsteen.net,
the Indy 500, Fatherly, etc. Proud owner of a Bruce-related Guinness World Record. Even longer bio/clips.