Off Limits: An incident at CU is the latest in a storied tradition of mascot misbehavior
It didn't take long for the media spotlight to go to Ralphie's head. Barely a month after she was included in the Associated Press's list of the twelve coolest mascots across the country, the University of Colorado's live buffalo was involved in an ugly paparazzi incident. Last Saturday, as Fox Sports sideline reporter Jim Knox (who's known for crazy antics) was trying to run alongside Ralphie before the game against Georgia, one of Ralphie's handlers lowered his shoulder and leveled him. Knox, not the buffalo.
The video, which you can find on the Latest Word blog at westword.com, is hilarious. But how does it rank when stacked up against other embarrassing antics by Colorado mascots? Here are some of the other more infamous moments:
In March 1999, a Chicago Blackhawks fan named Linda Sprehe claimed that the Colorado Avalanche mascot, Howler the yeti, had hurt her during a fracas in the stands at McNichols Arena. Sprehe was treated for stomach and arm injuries. Although the Avs declined to name the employee in the Howler suit, he was apparently cited by police for disturbing the peace, as was Sprehe, according to an AP story.
In August 1994, Sports Illustrated reported, Colorado Rockies radio announcer Jeff Kingery supposedly shoved and cursed at Dinger after the Colorado Rockies mascot bumped into him during a broadcast.
In January 2008, CU's fake mascot, Chip the buffalo (not to be confused with Ralphie), wore a gangsta-themed costume to a "kids' night" Nuggets basketball game in Denver. The outfit included a white T-shirt and baggy pants, a doorag, fake gold teeth and a teardrop tattoo below one eye. Speaking with the Boulder Daily Camera, a CU spokesman admitted that the outfit was "insensitive, unfortunate and thoughtless" and said the students responsible were sorry.
The man who plays Rocky, the Denver Nuggets mascot, was arrested in 2002 and charged with criminal trespass and harassment in a case involving his ex-wife. A stand-in filled the Rocky suit that night and during a few subsequent games.
In April 1994, Dinger was hatched.
In 2002, an intramural basketball team at the University of Northern Colorado named itself the Fightin' Whities to protest team mascots in Colorado and elsewhere based on Native American stereotypes. In particular, the Fightin' Whities were upset by the Eaton High School Fightin' Reds, based in the town just outside of Greeley. The mascot for the Reds was an Indian caricature; the Whities, in turn, used a picture of a plain-looking white man in a suit as their mascot and sold T-shirts of the logo.
Eight years later, the Eaton mascot is still an issue. In January of this year, Democratic state senator Suzanne Williams proposed legislation that would have made public high schools with Indian mascots get approval of the symbols from the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs. Williams withdrew the proposal after a firestorm of controversy.
Even so, the Denver-based Colorado Indian Education Foundation recently sent letters to forty or so public and charter schools across the country that have Indian-themed mascots, asking them to discuss the mascots and issue. But none of the forty schools responded, according to an article in Indian Country Today.
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