And Then There Was the Time a School District Thought “Cougars” Was Offensive

Does this remind you of women? No? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

A school district decides to choose a new mascot for a new high school. They let the students pick it by ballot. The students choose the cougar. It even has some added alliterative appeal: the Corner Canyon High Cougars of Drapter, Utah. Catchy, no?

Well, the school district decided to veto that decision. Why? Well, for the obvious reason that using the term “cougar” is offensive to women.

No, really.

Now, perhaps I’m a bit old-fashioned and behind the times, but I think a cougar is a great mascot. It’s a strong, proud animal. I even have a bit of history with cougars; my high school’s crosstown rival had a cougar for their mascot as well. From all appearances, Corner Canyon High would’ve been great going with the animal. After all, cougars—also known as mountain lions—are pretty prevalent in Utah.  However, the principal of the high school, one Mary Bailey, worried that folks would have the image of predatory women leap to mind.

To be fair to her, she wasn’t the only one. Allegedly several parents e-mailed and called members of Draper’s school board to inform them that they were uncomfortable with the nickname. The school board acquiesced and imposed the “Charger” mascot. While charger was also one of the choices on the ballot, it didn’t receive nearly as many votes as the cougar.

Did they happen to forget that Brigham Young University, one of the most straitlaced institutions of higher education in the country, the best known university in Utah, also uses a cougar as its mascot? It would be amusing if it didn’t treat the kids who chose the mascot like infants. In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine that none of them were aware of the connotations of the word. None of them were bothered by it, apparently. Nevertheless, political correctness marches on.

Sterling C. Beard