The Kingfisher

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I've been a sports fan all my life. Whether it was profesional or college, mascots have never been the reason for it. And Benny the Bull is the s***. If it would have been because of any mascot, it would have been him.

People stay fans because the teams give them good memories, not the mascot/symbol. If the team is terrible, it doesn't matter how cute it is once the kid is 7+. In my opinion, we just need to win and stuff the conversation about mascot. We don't need it.
Don't get why there was a comment about Disney World. I watch Disney and go to the parks for movie magic. I want a different kind of magic at a sporting event. They're not analogous in my mind which is probably why your example isn't moving me.

If it's a matter of pride for some, please detail how the kingfisher specifically inspires pride in the State/university. I've lived in Illinois all my life and never heard or cared about kingfishers. They're not like the ISU Redbirds; that one makes sense because they're playing off the State bird, not just a bird who happens to be native to the State.

Am I totally shut down on a mascot? No. I am shut down on the kingfisher because I think we could do better. This feels like a desperation option instead of a good one.
I am confused - are you open to mascot or not?

The Disney reference, as well as my other comments re: the music, entertainment, jumbo trons, and mascots is that it all can enhance the game experience and create emotional attachment above and beyond the players/team. DisneyWorld is much more than just a park for movie magic. Their complete and utter focus is on a vastly expanded experience well above and beyond the obvious.

Pride in something, yes, that can be pre-existing, but it can also be developed. I am not sure how much pride there was in the idea of a white guy dressed in a native american costume dancing on hardwood prior to the experience of seeing and experiencing it along with the music, etc.

For instance:
I didn't have a clue about the Chief before attending the UofI. I developed emotional attachment very quickly once i got there because of the experience.

I liked "Enter Sandman" prior to my oldest attending VATech. It now gives me goosebumps when i even think about the song after having attended many Tech games.

So my point is that I don't think we need a one sentence explanation of why we chose a particular mascot other than it would be nice to have a clear tie-in. Over time, it's more important in what the character of the mascot is. I personally do not like man-type mascots like a Spartan-ish, Irish-guy, Mountaineer-eh, Boiler-type-guy - they don't convey the likable character I think works better in the mascot world. If the Kingfisher could be fashioned to be more like Hokie Bird, SanDiego Chicken, rather than life-like and serious bird type, I think that has more appeal.

Perhaps once we put up the statue of King Kofi it will all make sense. ;)
 
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We really should have gone with the squirrel mascot. It’s cute for kids and can take pictures. Make it a moveable costume (think new Bennie the bull vs old fat Bennie) and have it do trampoline dunks, dancing, backwards halfcourt shots, and kissing somebody on kiss cam. Put an Illinois shirt on it and call it a day.
 
Chicago, IL
I am confused - are you open to mascot or not?

The Disney reference, as well as my other comments re: the music, entertainment, jumbo trons, and mascots is that it all can enhance the game experience and create emotional attachment above and beyond the players/team. DisneyWorld is much more than just a park for movie magic. Their complete and utter focus is on a vastly expanded experience well above and beyond the obvious.

Pride in something, yes, that can be pre-existing, but it can also be developed. I am not sure how much pride there was in the idea of a white guy dressed in a native american costume dancing on hardwood prior to the experience of seeing and experiencing it along with the music, etc.

For instance:
I didn't have a clue about the Chief before attending the UofI. I developed emotional attachment very quickly once i got there because of the experience.

I liked "Enter Sandman" prior to my oldest attending VATech. It now gives me goosebumps when i even think about the song after having attended many Tech games.

So my point is that I don't think we need a one sentence explanation of why we chose a particular mascot other than it would be nice to have a clear tie-in. Over time, it's more important in what the character of the mascot is. I personally do not like man-type mascots like a Spartan-ish, Irish-guy, Mountaineer-eh, Boiler-type-guy - they don't convey the likable character I think works better in the mascot world. If the Kingfisher could be fashioned to be more like Hokie Bird, SanDiego Chicken, rather than life-like and serious bird type, I think that has more appeal.

Perhaps once we put up the statue of King Kofi it will all make sense. ;)
I made it clear in my last post. I'm open to a good mascot. The kingfisher isn't good enough in my opinion. I'm saying that if it comes down to kingfisher or nothing, we're good with nothing.

Your comment about Disney came off as needlessly snarky to me.
 
Pride in something, yes, that can be pre-existing, but it can also be developed. I am not sure how much pride there was in the idea of a white guy dressed in a native american costume dancing on hardwood prior to the experience of seeing and experiencing it along with the music, etc.
I would argue it's always developed. Nobody is born prideful of a mascot, their hometown, their country, etc. -- all of that is developed through experiences, relationships, etc. that generate a sense of pride for that given phenomena.

The reality is that a new mascot for the University is not being proposed to satiate the desires of long-time fans but to create something that amplifies the experience of fandom for younger folks and makes them have fond emotions, memories, etc. that increase their fandom, and therein their desire to go to more games, buy more merchandise, and so on. Those with strong emotional connections to the Chief, as we've seen on this board, are unlikely to be satisfied by any new mascot. From what I've seen, this criticism has less to do with the merits of the proposed new mascot -- the Kingfisher -- and more to do with a sense that any new mascot is essentially a symbol of the continued removal of the prior mascot. Or, in other words, further wiping away of the mascot that, along with many other factors, produced a strong sense of pride and connection to this University.

Essentially, this whole debate comes down to whether the emphasis should be placed on protecting a source of pride/emotional connection of long-time fans vs. creating a new source of pride/emotional connection for new fans. Naturally, this board is going to trend towards the former, but if we're being pragmatic, I think we can acknowledge that the latter group will ultimately win out (growth trumps stasis). If that is to be the case, I would like to hear, from those that oppose the Kingfisher, reasons why this particular mascot is unsatisfactory and what alternative might be better. Otherwise, the negative response appears to be an implicit criticism of the move for any new mascot (given the last decade+) rather than the proposed mascot before us.
 
I made it clear in my last post. I'm open to a good mascot. The kingfisher isn't good enough in my opinion. I'm saying that if it comes down to kingfisher or nothing, we're good with nothing.

Your comment about Disney came off as needlessly snarky to me.
Hey, your post to "stuff the conversation of the mascot" could be taken as a bit snarky as well - so let's call it even.

DisneyWorld was meant to be in jest - based on stuffing mascots but I did omit the smiley winky face - so my fault on that one.

I don't have a huge dog in this fight, but I think a caricature type mascot can be entertaining to some. To those who don't like them - just ignore it. I don't fully get into everything presented to me at a game - so we can all chose what to enjoy and what to ignore.
 
Chicago, IL
Hey, your post to "stuff the conversation of the mascot" could be taken as a bit snarky as well - so let's call it even.

DisneyWorld was meant to be in jest - based on stuffing mascots but I did omit the smiley winky face - so my fault on that one.

I don't have a huge dog in this fight, but I think a caricature type mascot can be entertaining to some. To those who don't like them - just ignore it. I don't fully get into everything presented to me at a game - so we can all chose what to enjoy and what to ignore.
Fair enough on all counts. I can see how that phrasing would rub someone the wrong way and apologize if that's what happened.

I'm not someone who's a huge fan of overly cartoonish mascots (live Disney princesses and the ND leprechaun > Purdue Pete and the MSU Spartan if you will), so aesthetically we're just not on the same page. I also don't have children yet, so that may change based on how much they do/do not enjoy them. But that's for another time.

I'm still not sold on the kingfisher as an adequate mascot. I agree with what was said earlier that every suggestion seems to have simply been to replace the Chief. I think that if a new mascot/symbol is going to get support from all stakeholders, it needs to be something that's brought up on its own merits and not because admin wants the Chief gone for good.
 
.....From what I've seen, this criticism has less to do with the merits of the proposed new mascot -- the Kingfisher -- and more to do with a sense that any new mascot is essentially a symbol of the continued removal of the prior mascot. Or, in other words, further wiping away of the mascot that, along with many other factors, produced a strong sense of pride and connection to this University.

.... If that is to be the case, I would like to hear, from those that oppose the Kingfisher, reasons why this particular mascot is unsatisfactory and what alternative might be better. Otherwise, the negative response appears to be an implicit criticism of the move for any new mascot (given the last decade+) rather than the proposed mascot before us.
Kat summed this up fairly well, and it's sentiment that many people, including me, have - right here:

If it's a matter of pride for some, please detail how the kingfisher specifically inspires pride in the State/university. I've lived in Illinois all my life and never heard or cared about kingfishers. They're not like the ISU Redbirds; that one makes sense because they're playing off the State bird, not just a bird who happens to be native to the State.

I'll say it as plainly as I possibly can. I find the kingfisher to be a poor prospective mascot because the reasoning behind it is overly cerebral. If it takes more than a sentence to explain, you probably need to go back to the drawingboard on mascot ideas.
Find something obvious that people from Illinois almost universally recognize. Not some obscure bird that no one's ever heard of or seen.
 
Fair enough on all counts. I can see how that phrasing would rub someone the wrong way and apologize if that's what happened.

I'm not someone who's a huge fan of overly cartoonish mascots (live Disney princesses and the ND leprechaun > Purdue Pete and the MSU Spartan if you will), so aesthetically we're just not on the same page. I also don't have children yet, so that may change based on how much they do/do not enjoy them. But that's for another time.

I'm still not sold on the kingfisher as an adequate mascot. I agree with what was said earlier that every suggestion seems to have simply been to replace the Chief. I think that if a new mascot/symbol is going to get support from all stakeholders, it needs to be something that's brought up on its own merits and not because admin wants the Chief gone for good.
Fair as well.

Although we are on the same page re: Human type cartoonish mascots. If I did not, I meant to imply a big NO on any human type of mascot including the Doughboy (my apologies to the DB fan club)- unless of course Pillsbury buys out State Farm rights - but that's a thread for another day. ;)

And, heads up - if you do go to WDW with young ones - avoid (when they return) the autograph lines if you can. Although they loved it when they could. My youngest is now 23 so i guess we're past that. But i digress.
 
Chicago, IL
Fair as well.

Although we are on the same page re: Human type cartoonish mascots. If I did not, I meant to imply a big NO on any human type of mascot including the Doughboy (my apologies to the DB fan club)- unless of course Pillsbury buys out State Farm rights - but that's a thread for another day. ;)

And, heads up - if you do go to WDW with young ones - avoid (when they return) the autograph lines if you can. Although they loved it when they could. My youngest is now 23 so i guess we're past that. But i digress.
We are absolutely on the same page re: cartoon human mascots. 😂

We were supposed to take our 6 year-end nephew this December. We're bummed that we have to skip this year but are holding onto the silverlining that waiting means he'll remember more of it.
 
Find something obvious that people from Illinois almost universally recognize. Not some obscure bird that no one's ever heard of or seen.
I totally get that, but two points: 1) this statement underscores my point. The gut reaction is "no" without any alternative provided, even though this train is almost certainly going to leave the station (i.e. we'll likely adopt a mascot at some point if we're being realistic). So, what is that obvious alternative? If we're going to discuss the merits of the Kingfisher, and people are going to flat-out say it's a bad idea, then it would be nice to see some productive proposals rather than dismissive negativity. 2) how was the Chief universally recognizable as associated with Illinois prior to it becoming the actual mascot? People don't typically associate Illinois with wildcats or panthers, yet two big state-based schools have those for mascots. The association you speak of comes after the fact just as much as it comes before the fact when examining the context behind other mascots.
 
I find the kingfisher to be a poor prospective mascot because the reasoning behind it is overly cerebral.
I actually think the explanation is pretty simple: the kingfisher is an orange and blue colored predator bird native to Illinois. Sounds pretty simple to me, with a fairly plain (color) connection to Illinois (beyond it being native to the state).

Also, kingfisher sounds way cooler than cardinal or redbird.
 
I totally get that, but two points: 1) this statement underscores my point. The gut reaction is "no" without any alternative provided, even though this train is almost certainly going to leave the station (i.e. we'll likely adopt a mascot at some point if we're being realistic). So, what is that obvious alternative? If we're going to discuss the merits of the Kingfisher, and people are going to flat-out say it's a bad idea, then it would be nice to see some productive proposals rather than dismissive negativity. 2) how was the Chief universally recognizable as associated with Illinois prior to it becoming the actual mascot? People don't typically associate Illinois with wildcats or panthers, yet two big state-based schools have those for mascots. The association you speak of comes after the fact just as much as it comes before the fact when examining the context behind other mascots.
First, don't gatekeep me or other people who don't have specific replacements for the Chief. Insinuating that my dislike of the kingfisher for the reasons I've already stated is invalid because I don't have another solution is BS. Liking/disliking any mascot or symbol or team name or whatever is a matter of personal opinion. Lists of alternatives have been discussed here ad nauseum and I'm not going to discuss every single one of them. As I've already stated, if they're going to have a new mascot, find something that is iconic and recognizable to the residents of Illinois. That's my productive proposal that you're requiring. Do I have something specific? No, because brainstorming potential mascots is not my forte.

Second, he wasn't at the time - same as every other mascot. He was something created that the students/administration/whoever at the time thought would be dignified and honor our state's history and Native American traditions. Eighty years later, he was iconic and many people could see the Chief logo and associate it with Illinois. The kingfisher is trying to replace an icon with a generic animal that is native to Illinois and over half of the other states in the US. It's incredibly generic. We're the flagship school of Illinois, not a directional school. We can do better in honoring our state and school history. I lived in Illinois, including rural central Illinois, for many years and had never even heard of kingfishers in Illinois until six months ago. I'm far from alone on that one.

The other significant problem that many people have with this is that all of the imagery for this replacement so far has been artwork and redesigned logos. If this is supposed to be a person wearing a mascot suit on the sidelines, why are there no mockups of the actual mascot suit? There's genuine concern that if this goes through, there will be a push to change our name from the Fighting Illini, which has NOTHING TO DO WITH NATIVE AMERICANS to the University of Illinois Kingfishers or Fighting Kingfishers. That's unacceptable to most alumni. IMO, the best solution if the University wants to proceed, is to hire an advertising/marketing firm and have them come up with several proposals, or have a open fan contest where they assemble ideas, instead of listening to one random recent graduate who thinks birds are cool and then pushing that agenda through because the administration is desperate to purge all memory of the Chief from our program. Let the long-time fans and alumni have a serious say in this change. It's the only way for a replacement to succeed. They need to make it clear that we will still be and always be the Fighting Illini. They'd have a lot more success with a new mascot if they would recognize the Chief as a honored but outdated symbol in our history, instead of trying to purge all references to him from the program. If they branded a new mascot as a new step in our history and tradition, instead of a replacement, they'd have a lot more success with this.
 
Ordained Dudeist Priest
Johns Creek, GA
I actually think the explanation is pretty simple: the kingfisher is an orange and blue colored predator bird native to Illinois. Sounds pretty simple to me, with a fairly plain (color) connection to Illinois (beyond it being native to the state).

Also, kingfisher sounds way cooler than cardinal or redbird.
I lived in Illinois for 30 years, rural Illinois for a big chunk of that. I never once saw a bird and thought to myself "that's a kingfisher." I never once thought that kingfishers were in any way a symbol of Illinois, Illinoisans, or the U of I. Neither is the cardinal, for that matter, but that was established in 1929 by a vote of schoolchildren (inside tip--the kingfisher wasn't among the candidates).

A lot of support for the kingfisher seems to be coming from a place of "it could be worse, and it actually exists in Illinois."

Honestly, the most accurate representation of the state of Illinois would be ex-governors in prison garb, or bankruptcy court judges.
 
First, don't gatekeep me or other people who don't have specific replacements for the Chief. Insinuating that my dislike of the kingfisher for the reasons I've already stated is invalid because I don't have another solution is BS. Liking/disliking any mascot or symbol or team name or whatever is a matter of personal opinion. Lists of alternatives have been discussed here ad nauseum and I'm not going to discuss every single one of them. As I've already stated, if they're going to have a new mascot, find something that is iconic and recognizable to the residents of Illinois. That's my productive proposal that you're requiring. Do I have something specific? No, because brainstorming potential mascots is not my forte.

Second, he wasn't at the time - same as every other mascot. He was something created that the students/administration/whoever at the time thought would be dignified and honor our state's history and Native American traditions. Eighty years later, he was iconic and many people could see the Chief logo and associate it with Illinois. The kingfisher is trying to replace an icon with a generic animal that is native to Illinois and over half of the other states in the US. It's incredibly generic. We're the flagship school of Illinois, not a directional school. We can do better in honoring our state and school history. I lived in Illinois, including rural central Illinois, for many years and had never even heard of kingfishers in Illinois until six months ago. I'm far from alone on that one.

The other significant problem that many people have with this is that all of the imagery for this replacement so far has been artwork and redesigned logos. If this is supposed to be a person wearing a mascot suit on the sidelines, why are there no mockups of the actual mascot suit? There's genuine concern that if this goes through, there will be a push to change our name from the Fighting Illini, which has NOTHING TO DO WITH NATIVE AMERICANS to the University of Illinois Kingfishers or Fighting Kingfishers. That's unacceptable to most alumni. IMO, the best solution if the University wants to proceed, is to hire an advertising/marketing firm and have them come up with several proposals, or have a open fan contest where they assemble ideas, instead of listening to one random recent graduate who thinks birds are cool and then pushing that agenda through because the administration is desperate to purge all memory of the Chief from our program. Let the long-time fans and alumni have a serious say in this change. It's the only way for a replacement to succeed. They need to make it clear that we will still be and always be the Fighting Illini. They'd have a lot more success with a new mascot if they would recognize the Chief as a honored but outdated symbol in our history, instead of trying to purge all references to him from the program. If they branded a new mascot as a new step in our history and tradition, instead of a replacement, they'd have a lot more success with this.
If anyone has an example of a mascot that screams "Fighting Illini" without invoking a racist symbol, war or MMA, I think we are all ears. The issue we have is one of disconnect between the name we would all like to keep and a mascot that represents said name. I don't think an Abe Lincoln looking for a fight will do the job. Thus the turn to something that exists in the state and has our team colors - but is not going to be direct connect.

I have to admit I've only kept one big toe in these waters - but is a collective group suggesting we change our name as well? Or is this just the slippery slope theory?
 
Ordained Dudeist Priest
Johns Creek, GA
but is a collective group suggesting we change our name as well?
I don't know if there's a collective group, but there are a handful of blog posts/crappy articles/op-eds on the topic that fan the flames. A random sampling:

https://dawindycity.com/2020/07/09/university-illinois-fighting-illini-change-name/

https://www.nwherald.com/2017/08/30/olson-change-university-of-illinois-nickname-now/ag0cbbp/

https://beltmag.com/chief-illinewek-still-reigns-at-u-illinois/
 
If anyone has an example of a mascot that screams "Fighting Illini" without invoking a racist symbol, war or MMA, I think we are all ears. The issue we have is one of disconnect between the name we would all like to keep and a mascot that represents said name. I don't think an Abe Lincoln looking for a fight will do the job. Thus the turn to something that exists in the state and has our team colors - but is not going to be direct connect.

I have to admit I've only kept one big toe in these waters - but is a collective group suggesting we change our name as well? Or is this just the slippery slope theory?
You could classify it as the slippery slope, but it’s not as far fetched as other slippery slope theories of the past.

There has already been a push to get rid of the 3 in 1 and the fact that the school and news agencies/other pundits have made a specific effort to show the term “Fighting Illini” predates the Chief means people have been coming for it.

What people are afraid of is the idea that “now that we have a mascot, why are we still holding on to the name Illini?”

They (as well as I) are predicting that line of thinking and action will happen sometime in the next decade once the Kingfisher is here to stay.
 
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