June 25, 2019

King’s Court: Mascot Madness

The Gorlok earned the distinction of America’s most unusual college mascot by winning the Mascot Madness championship last week. The Webster University community was very active in supporting their mascot. This got me wondering why Webster doesn’t show the same support for student athletes and their teams.
When the Mascot Madness competition started, I began receiving emails that encouraged me to vote for the Gorlok. At first, I thought it was pretty cool to see the support. But the further the Gorlok got in the tournament, the more I was shocked by the amount of people invested in the outcome of the mascot competition.
Once the Gorlok reached the finals, I started seeing a number of people updating their Facebook statuses with how the Gorlok was doing and encouraging people to vote.
I had never seen the Webster community get into a competition so much. There was so much support that in The Journal’s Gorlok Approved graphic, the Gorlok advancing in Mascot Madness was ranked as better than Webster students collecting money for the Japan relief effort. This was when I decided something was wrong.
Don’t get me wrong; I love seeing this campus backing its mascot. But the Gorlok got more support than I have ever seen Webster student athletes and teams receive.
April 6 was student athlete appreciation day. The athletics department showed Webster athletes their appreciation by giving them Gatorade and Ted Drewe’s ice cream. But I don’t recall seeing any Facebook status updates showing support for the athletes. Instead, I saw people come into the University Center wondering how they too could get some free ice cream.
Until I asked one of the athletes what the reason for the free stuff was, I didn’t even know there was a student athlete appreciation day. Once I found out, I told a fellow student why they were able to get the free ice cream, and they didn’t seem to care. They were just happy they got free Ted Drewe’s.
This same lack of support transfers over to the athletic teams. When the men’s and women’s basketball teams won the SLIAC postseason tournaments, there was a nice amount of support. People finally came to the games. But it took the teams getting into the championship games for people to show up.
The other athletic teams have had even less support. In 2009, the softball team advanced to regionals in the NCAA tournament. In 2008, the baseball team was six outs away from advancing to the College World Series. In both cases, the amount of support was less than impressive.
There were emails, Facebook posts, mass text message alerts from the athletics department and countless stories written when the Gorlok won Mascot Madness. But our teams’ successes are only supported by stories in The Journal, written by journalists who are just doing their job.
Student athletes take a great amount of time out of their schedules for their sports. The fact that it often takes championship-level success for people to finally show support for the teams is bad enough. But when Webster’s mascot gets more support for a competition on an Arizona radio station than a team being successful close to campus, something is wrong.
These athletes work very hard to be successful, and it’s time they get the support and respect they deserve. After all, if a mascot can get so much support, why can’t our fellow student athletes get the same amount of support, if not more?

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