Merry Christmas to all!

Domer is finally home for the holidays!

One of our favorite places to get in the Christmas spirit — ever since he was little — is an immense lighting display put on by our community’s tourism office at a local park.

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Hey Reb

Something (or rather, someone) caught my eye last night as I watched the NCAA men’s basketball game between Illinois and UNLV on TV (the Fighting Illini won, for those who missed it!).

The “Rebels” of UNLV have a mascot that looks amazingly like Ole Miss’s Colonel Reb!

How is it possible that this school of more than 28,000 students located hundreds of miles from the Deep South can still have a Confederate-based mascot and Ole Miss had to ban ours?

So I did some research. “Hey Reb” debuted in 1983 and underwent several makeovers. Today, he wears UNLV’s school colors of scarlet and gray, a Confederate gray hat, and has a flowing white handlebar mustache. He even was named one of 12 All-American mascots.

UNLV got its start in the 1950s as an extension campus of the University of Nevada, Reno. In 1965, it became Nevada Southern University, adopting the “Rebels” name and Confederate-styled symbols as a way of breaking free from its northern neighbor. Its first mascot was Beauregard, a winking Confederate-styled cartoon wolf that played opposite to UNR’s Wolf Pack mascot.

Beauregard was ditched in the 1970s after a group of black athletes complained about its connection with the wrong side of the Civil War. The student senate selected the human “Hey Reb” mascot and it stuck, sending UNLV to the top in college apparel licensing in 10 years.

I hate to belabor the point, but it’s all about Tradition.

Obviously, a cartoony college mascot dancing on the sidelines of an athletic event isn’t a big deal in the overall scheme of things. Not when you consider all the grave events taking place in our world today.

But that mascot symbolizes something to past and present students. It unifies them the way songs and slang unify generations.

Outsiders have a right to dislike a school’s mascot, but does any outsider have a right to strip an institution of its long-held, much-loved traditions?

I think not.

Don’t Kill Ole Miss, Part 2

You know, I just hate it when people carp and complain and criticize without offering any suggestions on remedying the problem at hand.

Therefore, I’m going to continue the discussion I started the other day regarding Ole Miss’s mascot, or more correctly, the absence of a mascot.

Here are my suggestions to waylay the death of my beloved alma mater:

  • Bring back Colonel Reb. I’m NOT talking about that cartoony caricature of a colonel that was used most recently. I’m talking about a real, live Colonel Reb. A male student with some athletic ability who can rally crowds with lots of spirit, somebody with class and dignity who can represent this University wherever its athletic teams go. I’m talking about someone who can liaison between the cheerleaders, the band, the students, and the alumni. And I don’t care whether this person is white, black, pink, or green — he should bleed “red and blue”!
  • Colonel Reb’s attire. Cheerleader-type slacks, perhaps in gray with gold stripes down the sides of the legs, and a matching gray top (long-sleeved for cold weather, short-sleeved for hot) with gold military-looking embroidered thin stripes across the chest.
  • Spirit. Admittedly, I haven’t been to a football game in years, but do we have anything to take the place of our Confederate Flag? I understand the administration banned it, claiming it was “offensive.” Personally, I don’t see it as anything more than a symbol of Ole Miss, not something of “white oppression.” Why, it’s no more offensive than Mississippi State snubbing Golden Retrievers in favor of the English Bulldog! But if fans can’t wave the flag, what can we use — red and blue pom poms maybe? Or red, white, and blue hand towels to twirl? Or those annoying Vuvuzela horns used at soccer games? Or maybe somebody can invent a noisemaker (like a kazoo) for us?
  • Songs. Okay, when did we eliminate “Dixie” from our song-list? Talk about taking away everything! Sigh. Since we no longer can play/sing this rousing song, perhaps it’s time to initiate a new tradition. How about the playing/singing of our Alma Mater before games or at halftime? I didn’t know until I graduated that we even had an Alma Mater! The words are beautiful; so’s the melody. It could be very moving if everyone learned the words, rose to their feet, and joined in together.

Here’s the thing, people. I’ve heard and read far too many complaints that spirit at Ole Miss is down, that those attending games are lifeless, that we have nothing tangible to bind us together, generation to generation. That’s unacceptable.

Tradition is a big part of life. Greek organizations have their traditions; religious denominations, countries, universities, and even families have theirs. Alums should be able to go back to their university and feel “right at home,” knowing the old traditions are intact and open to adopting some new ones.

I’ve said it before — people don’t choose or reject a university based on its colors, mascot, or traditions. They learn to embrace and love those traditions, often before they even go off to kindergarten. And if they can’t stomach them, they choose another place to further their education. That’s the beauty of freedom.