I Feel Your Pain (FSU Mascot Edition)

Although I’m not a fan of Florida State University (or any other college), I can sympathize with FSU fans who are upset over the modified logo which was prematurely revealed on a T-shirt sold at Wal-Mart.  Perhaps if the university had been able to explain the reasoning for the logo modification, before the leak, there’d have been less controversy.  Or maybe not.

But controversy there is, including thousands of signatures on an online petition and the creation of groups seeking to preserve the logo. This is not the first time FSU’s logo has been involved in controversy.  Some years ago, the NCAA proposed banning the logo in postseason games because the NCAA felt that using a Native American face as a symbol was inappropriate even though the Seminole Tribe of Florida has no problem with that use.

The reason for the logo modification appears to be primarily “technical” – it does not reproduce well in all mediums. The new logo presumably addresses that issue.

But change is often unsettling.  I know because my high school’s name and mascot were changed and I did not like it.  Neither did most alumni who attended the school before the changes.

My school’s name was the American School.  It was founded in 1920 (when the Philippines was a U.S. colony) as a college preparatory school for the Americans living there.  Even as late as 1970, when I graduated with the “golden class” (fifty year anniversary of the school’s founding), the majority of students were Americans.

Our mascot was uniquely “American”: we were the Indians.   An Indian was painted on our gym wall. The logo also appeared on the school’s seal.  Our cheerleaders dressed as “squaws.”

Onward Indians!

Onward Indians!

The good news is that I graduated from the American School. The bad news is that my class was the last class to graduate from it because the very next year the school’s name was changed to International School.

Technically, that name change was more descriptive of the student body.  Many nationalities were represented at the school. Although the school seal changed and the Indian head was removed, the sports teams retained the “Indians” name.

But a few years later, the mascot became a local animal – the bearcat.  It is a small carnivorous mammal.  (A mongoose is in the same family.)

Oh yeah, I'm fierce...better be frightened

I’m a bearcat; are you talking to ME?

While the school’s name change was understandable, the mascot change was incendiary to the “American School” alums.  Instead of a warrior, the school would be represented by a small animal? And how did that mascot jibe with “International”? What about an “international” theme such as “ambassadors”?  I would have been much more comfortable with that.

I suspect that the outrage over the new mascot was highest among the “old timer” alums (such as me) who had attended the school from K-12.  (There were about 15 in my class of 99.) And since I was on three varsity teams, I was especially galled by the change because I bled green and gold (the school colors).

The alumni organization in the U.S. was independent of the school.  Even though it did not form until the early 80’s, more than ten years after the name change, the organization was the “American School Alumni Association of Manila.” And in fact most of the membership was from the pre-1980 classes.  We used the American School seal on the website.


So for those FSU fans who are not happy with the mascot modification, I feel your pain.  At least it is still similar to the old one and the team is still Seminoles. My school and mascot are history but they will live on as long as any of the American School alumni are still on this earth.

Onward Indians!


6 responses to “I Feel Your Pain (FSU Mascot Edition)

  1. I didn’t learn of the logo change until I saw it .in Friday’s paper and I was incensed because I think it now looks more like a Caucasian person rather than a Native American. However, the article said the Seminole tribe approved the change, so I guess I’ll have to get over it. Still, something about it galls me….that you would change a logo with such history behind it because…it’s hard to reproduce on a T-shirt? I think the T-shirt manufacturers should improve their processes. Grrrrr. Can’t wait to hear pt’s take on this.
    And I too feel your pain about school name changes. I graduated from Memphis State University, which is now the University of Memphis. So what am I supposed to say now–that I graduated from MSU or UM? At least they are still the Tigers.
    I think that bearcat looks pretty fierce! And I assume it is, since mongooses are pretty fierce.
    Which one of those cheerleaders is “our” friend Marian?

    • I still always say I attended the American School. I also say I graduated from Florida Presbyterian College, which also changed it’s name at the end of my freshman year to…Eckerd College after a huge gift from Jack Eckerd, the founder of Eckerd Drugs, which was later bought out.

      Marian is on the floor at far left. She was a sophomore then.

      Standing at far left is Pam, who was in my class. When we went to NYC in 2010, we met her and a few other alums for dinner at a Filipino restaurant. Pam owns a small chain of medical tattoo shops.

      Standing at far right is Gail, who was also a top varsity tennis player. We often saw Gail at reunions. She has her own IT business now, with offices in Reno and Sacramento.

      Seated second from right is Patty, who I saw for the first time in 40 years at a DC renuion a few years ago. I used to regularly give her a ride home after practice since I had a car.

  2. Medical tattoo? What on earth is that? I have what I would call a medical tattoo, but it was done by a radiation therapist.

  3. I loath it! I have proposed a boycott of anything it is on. I will not wear it if I receive it as a gift. We have had the current warhead for almost 50 years and suddenly, after winning a national title we propose a change. And do it out of sight.

    Most of us understand the Golden Rule-those that have the gold make the rules. But as far as I’m concerned Nike can just go back to Oregon and play with their whores there. We shouldn’t spread for bread. grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    • Better buy up the old logo merchandise while it’s available. Keep some of it unused / unopened and a few years from now you can resell on eBay for a nice profit.

      When FPC changed to Eckerd, I bought up T-shirts and even a rocking chair with the FPC logo. I still have one of the shirts and the rocking chair.

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