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October 16, 1989 - Image 17

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-10-16

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The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - October 16,1989 - Page 5

Willy

the

Wolverine: the debate

rages

* Yes! Willy is

the 'M'
by Jamie Burgess
Daily Sports Writer

spirit

I just can't believe the things we stand for on this
campus.
We let twelve-year-old curb puppies turn our Union
into a skateboard exhibition. We pay three dollar fees
for our cars to touch the ground (the city calls these
"parking tickets.") And now, we're letting the Athletic
Department tell us whether we need a mascot.
And it's nothing new. This whole. issue started a few
years back when two Michigan students named
Blumenkranz and Kaufman left a proposal on the
university's doorstep with their campaign to make
Willy the Wolverine our official mascot. It's been left
to sit ever since.
Unfortunately, there are those in Ann Arbor who
would leave Willy orphaned forever. "I can't see that it
would add anything to our program," said Associate
Athletic Director Jack Weidenbach. "We're really not
interested in it at all."
Well hold on a minute...who's 'we'? Aren't
Michigan Athletics and football in particular, at least in
part, meant for us?... For us to lose our voices
screaming, to play 'hide the wineskin,' to work on our
curving-marshmallow pitch? And for that matter, who
blows-off homework, braves the cold, and drops as
much as a hundred bucks to see a three-hour game?
It's not those mop-headed skaters or Lovely Rita
Meter Thief.
It's you and me.
And from the look of things, you and I want Willy.
Many of us are in fact jealous; after all, we should be.
Wisconsin's got it's buck-toothed badger, Iowa has its
version of Big Bird, Ohio State rallies around a glossy
brown nut, for crissake! All very different; but
everybody loves them.
So what do the champions of the West have?... that
inflatable sex doll someone always brings to bounce
around like a beach ball. Is this cool? Unless someone
thinks the 'Michigan Nymphos' could strike fear in the
hearts of opponents, it is definitely time for a change.
No way, says Weidenbach.
And the reason? It's all numeral. 172. That's the
number of years we've gone without, and they see no
reason for our state of 'mascotlessness' to end. That's
an excuse? I understand that the athletic department has
the school's mighty reputation resting on its shoulders
- but is Willy going to ruin it? I'd like to know
what's wrong with a little fun on a football Saturday -
with seeing some alum's kid giggling at that big silly
wolverine. If you're not touched just a little by that,
then you must be the one who spent your first weeks
here waiting for someone to jump out of the belltower.
Or brought three alarm clocks to ward off the attempts
of the curve-conscious roommate.
Ah, tradition.
The athletic department should relax. In the name of
Michigan, of marshmallows, and of naughty naked
dolls, the time has come. We want Willy.

Willy entrepreneurs unable to gain athletic
department approval for their creation

by Judith Droz
Daily Sports Contributor
For 172 years Michigan never
has had a mascot. However, now
there is a movement to bring the
only school in the Big Ten without
a mascot a cheerful, smiling
Wolverine.
The entrepreneurial team of
seniors Adam Blumenkranz and
David Kaufman created Willy the
Wolverine four years ago. "We've
never had a mascot, so we invested
in market research and after six
different drafts Willy was born,"
Blumenkranz said.
But who is Willy?
Most students know Willy -
the furry guy on the- cover of
coupon books or the costumed
character spotted throughout
campus.
There is some campus support
to make Willy the Wolverine an
official part of the University.
According to Michigan running
back Leroy Hoard, "I think a
mascot would add to our program,
everybody else has one...It would
be easier to be inspired by 105,000
fans - but it might take Willy to
inspire those fans to inspire me
Cheerleader Jeff Marcus believes
Willy could be an asset if done the
right way, "First of all it cannot be
a commercial gimmick. A mascot
is an asset if it's done right. We
need someone who is interested in
supporting the team with us. At
other schools, the mascots work
closely with their cheerleaders. He

could add to our program."
Part of the athletic department's
complaints about Willy the
Wolverine is that it is a commercial
venture. "The issue is we have
decided that we really'don't need a
mascot to start off with," said
Senior Associate Athletic Director
Jack Weidenbach. "If you look at
Willy the Wolverine and the ads in
the paper, it's a commercial
promotion. We have no business
being in that. We don't think we
should be sponsoring commercial
promotions."
Blumenkranz and Kaufman start-
ed selling novelty tee shirts their
first two years at Michigan and
stumbled into something bigger.
Every other school has a mascot to
arouse fans and they wondered why
couldn't Michigan fans share in the
same fun and excitement.
Weidenbach sees Willy the
Wolverine as a promotion to bring
profit to its related ventures, not as
an affiliate of the University. The
idea to create an official Wolverine
mascot without commercial ties has
not been considered. "The mascot
issue has never come up,"
Weidenbach said. "With the Willy
thing, they just want access to
Crisler, the football stadium and all
of our facilities. We're not going to
give that."

Willy should receive the support of
the University.
"At the football games students
await anxiously for the band to play
Bullwinkle and stick their thumbs
in their ears," LSA junior Sandra
User said. "I don't think it is too
hard to conceive Michigan fans
becoming attached to a cute mascot
like Willy."
But other students feel a mascot
this late in the University's
existence would only break
tradition. "I believe the University
of Michigan is a school largely
based on tradition, particularly
sports - from the maize and blue
colors, to the large block M.
However, this does not include a
cheery-looking bear.... Why break a
172 year tradition," LSA senior
Mick Kelleher asked.
Instead of the smiling cartoon
creature Blumenkranz hopes to see
in Michigan Stadium, Weidenbach
remembers a time when a real
Wolverine prowled the sidelines. "I
understand at one time they had a
live Wolverine who was paraded
around in a cage. But they couldn't
let him out of the cage because I
understand Wolverines aren't too
friendly."
-Daily Sports Editor Steve
Blonder contributed to this story.

No! Willy is a
fuzzball goof
by Richard Eisen
Daily Sports Editor
What can be more annoying than watching some
overgrown ball of fuzz named Willy run around
Michigan Stadium, acting like a buffoon?.
Picture it. In the midst of all the action, the acrobatic
cheerleaders and the Michigan Marching Band comes
some cheesehead dressed as a Wolverine running all over
the place to lead the crowd in cheers.
In Michigan Stadium, for crying out loud. Where Bo
works. Just say no to Willy.
Once vogue, mascots are foolish. Who creates new
mascots in this day and age? Mascots were fine when
everybody came to the game with pennants and fur
coats. You know, just like everybody dressed for
football games in Archie Comics.
But now things are changed. People don't come with
pennants, but with marshmallows and wineskins neatly
tucked beneath the underwear. No more fur coats, either.
Mascots aren't cool, they're dumb and stupid. Each
week, the Michigan fans show their disdain toward mas-
cots when they roar loudly at the sight of an opposing
mascot getting its groin crunched on the goal posts.
How would you feel seeing that happen to Willy?
Wouldn't that just be so embarrassing. That might
make even Bo wince.
How counterproductive and ludicrous would a
Michigan mascot be? Because we all know that for the
first few Michigan home games, everyone will think
Willy the Wolverine is cute. That's everyone's first
reaction to any moveable fuzzball. I mean, who doesn't
like Fozzy Bear?
And then, after a while, Willy will just be another
target for marshmallow throwers. Because Michigan just
does not need a mascot.
There's more than enough spirit at Michigan sport-
ing events already. Michigan fans aren't ignorant; they
don't need any fuzzy pituitary case named Willy telling
them how they should feel about their team. Tradition is
what makes Michigan fans feel proud, not some mascot.
Last year, I took a persuasive speaking class in
which one person tried to persuade the audience to induct
Willy the Wolverine as a mascot. He even brought
Willy into the room for a visual aid.
Nice guy, but stupid, stupid mascot. This thing has
the doofiest grin on its face, along with a head and neck
that's just as big as its body. It looks like Ed Norton
with a wall to wall skin condition.
So, Willy walks up to some girl in the class and
sticks her head in its huge mouth. Boy, I've never seen
a mascot do that before. In a stadium in which the coach
kicks some major tail, we don't need a Muppet running
around swallowing people's heads.
And since when does a wolverine have a sweet and
fun-loving disposition? If I had a choice to be in a room
with a pit bull or a wolverine, I'd chose the dog.
So, be proud of the fact that we're one of the only
schools without a mascot, not ashamed of it. Say no to
Willy.

Debate
throughout

is split
campus on

among
whether

Willy.

---q

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