Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mascot needs more shine

Sports columnist discusses appeal of Lance Lute

By Nathan Shoup, Sports Columnist

The knight logo can be seen on all new athletic apparel. The mascot, however, has been given the name Lance Lute.

Many Pacific Lutheran students have been asked the question, “What is a Lute?” The answer in many cases being, “a Lutheran.” However, a Lutheran does not pose a very intimidating threat for PLU rivals.

Lance Lute can be spotted at all football, basketball and volleyball games. He doesn’t provide enough of a face for PLU athletics that the university can rally around, but he is close.

One of the obstacles of changing the face of an institution such as PLU athletics is marketing. The Student Athletic Advisory Committee created a Facebook page to help spread the word on the new face of PLU athletics.

On this page, Lance Lute alerts “friends” of upcoming sporting events on campus. Lance Lute is humorously quoted on the Facebook page saying, “I did my capstone on how to most effectively embarrass opponents.”

The Facebook page is one of the very beneficial traits of Lance Lute. The page is helping and will continue to help Lance Lute gain popularity over time. Lance Lute’s Facebook page has been open since Sept. 16.

Now, in Lance Lute’s second season, the real question is, what do people think of the mascot? There have been mixed reviews from students about Lance Lute.

One critique of the new mascot has been his appearance.

“I think that it looks cheap and plastic and sort of half a costume. It does not look like a typical college mascot,” said regular attendee of PLU athletic events senior Kell Duncan. “We need to have a good-looking, high quality mascot costume that our students can have pride in.”

Considering the fact that we are a Div. III private school, expenses are limited. Budget issues aside, however, the costume does appear cheaply constructed.

Knowing that the individuals inside the costume – Lance Lute is portrayed by more than one student – must hide their face, the costume must look good. A mascot ideally forms a presence on the sideline, one that looks sturdy and one that the community can take pride in. If Lance Lute is going to garnish attention and support, a couple bucks are going to have to be spent on his appearance.

Costume issues aside, Lance Lute is gathering marginal support.

“I like that Lance Lute is enthusiastic and supports us, I like having him at the games,” men’s basketball wing sophomore Kai Hoyt said. Hoyt suggested that Lance Lute to “do pushups like the Oregon Duck.”

This is not to say that Lance Lute must do pushups for every point scored by the basketball teams, but a go-to move certainly wouldn’t hurt.

An inherent responsibility of a mascot is to help get the crowd into the game.

“It is always fun to have a mascot at athletic events,” volleyball outside hitter senior Rose Mattson said. “The atmosphere is amazing, it’s so great having the school support us and I love playing at home.”

That being said, the appearance of Lance Lute is holding back the popularity of PLU’s mascot. He needs a wardrobe change and to do a pushup or two before becoming something PLU athletics can take serious pride in.

Either way, Lance Lute is what PLU needs.