UPDATE AUG. 9: Warner Robins police say they’ve charged pastor Donald Crosby with picketing without a license for protesting Warner Robins High School’s “Demon” nickname and mascot. Police spokeswoman Tabitha Pugh says 36-year-old Crosby was arrested on Monday after police told him he didn’t have a permit, as required by the city.
Crosby and supporters set up the protest outside the school on the opening day of classes because of their opposition to the nickname. He says his son attends the school and he doesn’t want him exposed to the name’s connotations
The crusade to rid Warner Robins High School of its demon name and mascot seems as silly to me as an effort I once read about to ban devil costumes from school Halloween parades.
I understand the concerns of the pastor leading the effort but don’t believe that cheering on their football team iby exhorting “Go demons” is going to lead Warner Robins High students astray.
Mascot fervor seems to depend on the school. Some schools have mascots that they never mention, while others revere their their mascots and consider them a sacred tradition. (See UGA bulldogs.)
(I am one of those parents who goes to soccer games and yells, “Go blue.” I never use the team’s official name or mascot name.)
I found an interesting array of high school team names online, including the Criminals, the Poets (my favorite), Rice Birds, Daredevils, Dirt Devils, Horned Toads, Fighting Zee-Bees, Fighting Zebras , Fighting Sandcrabs and Fighting Frogs, Jack Rabbits, Honkers, Winged Beavers, Berries, Cavemen and Chipmunks.
As a reporter, I have covered other debates over school mascots, including in schools that use Indian names. I am not sure why schools even began using mascots. Why can’t the crowds just yell “Go Warner Robins,” rather than “Go Demons”?
Anyone know the history of mascots in general?
Here is the AJC story. See what you think:
A Warner Robins pastor is on a crusade against something sacred to many in the middle Georgia town: high school football.
The devil is at the center of a fight that seems to start every few years when someone new to Warner Robins realizes that the city’s oldest high school, which has one of the most successful football programs in Georgia, rallies around a green-eyed, pitchfork-carrying demon.
The Warner Robins High School Demons.
A pastor at Kingdom Builders Church of Jesus Christ was shocked when he realized his own son could be among the hundreds of students shouting ‘Go Demons!’ to cheer on the school’s sports teams, but particularly in football, where the Demons have won four state championships over the years.
“It’s the equivalent of us gathering into a church on Sunday morning and shouting ‘Go Jesus’ or ‘Hallelujah Jesus,’” Donald Crosby, a Warner Robins resident for about a year, told Macon television station WMAZ.
The preacher has tried to move his ninth-grade son to a different school, one with a mascot more to the family’s liking. In the meanwhile, he is collecting signatures on a petition to change the symbol.
“Again?” was the reaction from Jenni Ruff, class of ’81 and mother of two Demons.
“This is not something new.” Ruff told the AJC on Wednesday. “This is typical when you have somebody new to the community. We’ve had people complain about this … I just don’t even connect that with Satan. It’s just a mascot.”
Crosby begs to differ.
“A demon never has a good connotation. Never,” Crosby told the Macon TV station. “If you look it up in Webster’s Dictionary, there’s nothing good about a demon.”
Brian Ruff, class of ‘82, told the AJC that’s part of the point. “Most mascots are supposed to strike fear,” Ruff told the AJC.
His 15-year-old daughter, Brianna, doesn’t get the preacher’s argument either. “I’ve been part of Demon football since I was a baby,” she said.
Her father was president of the football booster club from 2004-07.
“It has nothing to do with worshiping the Devil. I’m a Christian myself. I love God to death. But the demon mascot has never changed my thoughts about worshiping the Devil.”
Brian Ruff says he researched the mascot’s history. He said the Air Force paid to have the high school built and the mascot was chosen to honor the 7th fighter squadron the “Screamin’ Demons” which came to Robins Air Force Base for repairs. Warner Robins High School adopted the mascot when it opened in 1946.
Houston County school officials said it was unlikely the mascot would be changed