Do Over

The University of Oregon needs to change their mascot.

Full disclosure:  My favorite college football team is the UCLA Bruins.  That’s correct, my football team is from a school that’s known for basketball, math, and violating the rights of the handicapped.

I’m a Bruin fan because I’m from SoCal, and I’m not a USC Trojan fan because I’m from North Los Angeles County, not Frontrunner County.  That being said, The University of Oregon failed miserably during the School Mascot Draft of nineteen thirty whenever.

For those unfamiliar with the legend surrounding the Oregon mascot, here it is in 3 sentences:  In 1876 the university began competing under the name “Webfoots”.  Sometime in the 1930’s a duckling named “Puddles” began making appearances as the schools mascot.  Eventually someone appropriated Donald Duck’s likeness, Walt Disney thought it was cute, and now an entire state is stuck with a mascot that even Denny Crane can’t defend in court.

I’m not saying the Ducks aren’t the best college football program west of Texas, I’m saying that their mascot ranks just slightly above the Stanford Tree but below the Irvine Anteater in terms of intimidating flora and fauna.

Duck fans can’t argue this point; they know their mascot is the culmination of a historical comedy of errors that cascades towards the present day like a green and yellow domino rally:  “Webfoots” is grammatically inferior to “Webfeet”, Puddles is the kind of name you give to a cowardly puppy, and choosing any one of Disney’s seven dwarves would have produced better results than choosing an incoherent and impotent oceangoing nincompoop.

We know the University feels this way because they are consistently doing things to “improve” the image of the duck.  Consider 2003’s ill-fated “Mandrake” upgrade.  While it’s been years since we’ve seen the spawn of Batman and Daffy Duck roam the sidelines, no one’s forgotten that they tried to turn Donald into “Duck Vader”.

The most recent attempt is the “Pirate Duck” flag that keeps rearing its head out of the bed of pick up trucks from Sheldon to Coos Bay.  This “Raiderizing” of the brand is ridiculous because not only do people hate the Raiders, the Raiders stink at football!  Instead of retooling the duck, A better idea would be to just start over from scratch.

There’s no credible reason for Oregon to stick with the duck.  Consider how awesome an Oregon halftime show could be if they decided to own the whole “Sasquatch of the Northwest” concept.  Imagine the pandemonium in Autzen Stadium as a reeking, yowling, man ape zip-lines down to the 50-yard line from a tree house of horror amid shotgun blasts!  Bigfoot touches down, steals the ball, does a couple of back flips as the cheer squad fires the PBR cannons, and then he rides out of the stadium “teen wolf style” on the roof of the Mystery Machine.  It would be an unparalleled sequence of awesome that’s uniquely Oregon… take that SEC!

I came up with that off of the top of my head and I’m just one of those idiot Californians.  Imagine what the university could do for the future of mascotting if they put the advertising department on the job while wielding Phil Knight’s checkbook?

Of course this would mean admitting that a cartoon doing push-ups isn’t really working… and there’s the rub right?  For good or for ill humans become emotionally attached to things that have worked for us in the past at the expense of both the present and our future.

In leadership we often find ourselves deeply invested in a strategy that previously produced positive results but is currently creating problems.  For instance, canvassing people for ideas can be an effective form of creative problem solving, but it also gives them the idea that you are going to be implementing the ideas they give you.  When you combine that assumption with an understanding that the majority of ideas are only useful as stepping-stones to the solution, you have the recipe for a lot of disappointed people.

Remember that the idea of flight existed millennia before the mechanical age made it possible.  As awesome as Bigfoot style ideas are, they’re only effective if you have Nike type resources to accomplish them.  Placing a high value on ideas without tempering the expectations of the group is a great initial strategy for problem solving, but a terrible one over the long haul.  Recognizing that certain things are appropriate for certain times, and that some must be jettisoned as the organization moves forward, is an essential component of effective leadership.

This means that it’s as important to audit what you are already doing as it is to make plans for what you are hoping to do.  Most of us correctly believe that achievement is connected to “goal sheets” and “to do lists” but we fail to recognize that we’ll run short on resources if we don’t also make “quit doing” lists.

Jesus told a story about a man and an unfinished tower to illustrate the importance of taking difficulty into consideration when attempting to follow him.  Jesus compelled his followers to begin tasks with the end result in mind.  The writer of Hebrews spoke about casting aside anything that holds us back and we generally consider these to be sinful things, but what about good things that are no longer necessary?  Scripture makes it clear that as we grow, we no longer desire or need things we once depended on.  Leading others to the path God is calling them to means that we have to find it ourselves first, and that means abandoning dead ends even when that road has sentimental value.

What about you?  Have you ever stuck with something longer than you should have?

I saw Van Halen with Gary Cherone.

Has a leader’s slavish devotion to the past ever cost you?

I had to buy Star Wars Episode 1 on VHS in the year 2000.

What would you put on a “stop doing list” if you knew it would help reach a Godly goal?

2 Responses to “Do Over”

  1. Jordan March 31, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    I don’t know if Puddles needs to be replaced, maybe he just needs a make over. I think a Howard the Duck look could bring some attitude to the Pac 10 Champions.

  2. Jon March 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    The coolest it could get would be Dark Wing Duck… they may as well use Sir Hiss.

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