The Scottie mascot does not intimidate, does warm hearts
When I mentioned to a friend that my high school mascot was the Pioneer, she echoed the recent complaints of many, replying, “Wow. So this is your second lame mascot in a row?”
While I agree the new Tartan mascot, the Scottie dog, is less than intimidating, I held my tongue: Is it wrong to think our new mascot is just a little bit adorable?
In high school, the Pioneer wasn’t the strongest mascot. At football games, it’s hard to cheer it on as it dances on the sidelines. But the Pioneer, despite its inability to really pack a school-spirited punch, is an image to be feared — who else braves the assumption of unknown diseases picked up from bad nutrition while traversing an unknown country? What if the Pioneer were a cannibal, maybe an unknown survivor of the Donner Party? I’m afraid of such an image, and I think most would be. No one wants dysentery; no one wants to meet a Pioneer in a dark alley. The Pioneer could likely kill you in more ways than you’d expect.
But it’s harder to make a story out of the Scottie, as I cannot pretend to fear fleas, intestinal worms, or use of the pooper scooper as much as I tremble at the thought of an escaped cannibal or an unflinchingly valiant explorer.
The Scottie doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of our athletic enemies. It isn’t going to convince any competitors that our teams are a force with which to be reckoned. The volleyball team was just crowned Eastern College Athletic College (ECAC) South champions, and both of our soccer teams made it to the ECAC quarterfinals. Our football team’s performance during regular season earned a bowl game (and win) this past weekend. The Tartans, in every sport, are a threat. The Scottie isn’t necessary to provoke fear in our adversaries because the quality of athletics do that.
Moreover, do we even have athletic enemies? Is this a purpose the Scottie should even serve? I won’t lie: I didn’t come to Carnegie Mellon for its outstanding volleyball team; I don’t care about sports. I could only cite the aforementioned statistics after spending a lot of time on Google verifying every word.
There is a fair argument to be made that the Scottie will, in part, unite our scattered alumni, which might bring them closer to Carnegie Mellon and encourage them to give back to the university, further increasing our endowment, which is small for a school of our size and standing.
But in all honesty, the Scottie doesn’t do much of anything.
But despite all this, has anyone looked at the thing? It’s adorable. With its little plaid scarf, it’s the definition of heart-warming. How could we not love it? With this unnamed mascot, we’ve entered the dog hall of fame. The Scottie looks more adorable than its other, more famous dog counterparts, like Lassie or Toto or Eddie from Frasier. In terms of QPA (QT-Pie Adorability), we’ve achieved a perfect 4.0. The only way our Scottie could get more adorable would be if we were to slap a monocle on the terrier and pretend it’s an aristocrat.
This, I know, will never happen. But what if he did assume a name wholly punning the Carnegie Mellon spirit?
Soon enough, sitting in the black chairs in the UC, you will look over at the video screens by the Information Desk and some prospective student will have selected a short video about our sports teams. The screen will fade into a shot of the football field, and sniffing around on the ground will be an animated Scottish terrier. You will continue looking over the top of your laptop and see the large letters “Meet Heart!” pop up on the screen. “Here at Carnegie Mellon,” the screen will read as an image appears of the terrier prancing across a photograph of a quarterback ready to throw the football, “Heart is always in the work.” You and the prospective student will let out simultaneous groans, and your eyes will drift back to your paper while the prospect will consider looking at a less-corny school.
Maybe we don’t need to strike fear into the hearts of NYU or Washington & Lee, or any other school against which Carnegie Mellon competes. The Scottie doesn’t inspire a fanatical fervor the way a wolf or bear would, but we don’t need that over-the-top reaction anyway. It’s cute, and I’ll argue that Machiavelli was wrong, because in the case of our mascot, it’s much better to be loved than feared. Or rather, it’s better to provoke “awws” than screaming cheers.