Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mudcats No More: Spoon River College Ditches Mascot After Minor League Team Threatens to Sue

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 2:30 PM

A mudcat is a type of catfish that lives in the Spoon River in west-central Illinois. So it would make some sort of sense that Spoon River College, a community college with four campuses along said river, would adopt the mudcat as its mascot.

Well, okay, it would make sense if you ignore the fact that a mudcat is, technically, a bottom-feeder. But it sounds scrappy. And sort of cool.

So cool, in fact, that news of the Spoon River Mudcats traveled as far as Zebulon, North Carolina, home of the Carolina Mudcats, the Cincinnati Reds' AA affiliate. Apparently the nickname Mudcats can only be used once in all of sports, professional or collegiate. Or so the Carolina Mudcats claim.

click to enlarge mudcats.JPG

"It's not like we're trying to be the Grinch who stole Christmas, it's just that we think right is right, and that's our mark," Steve Bryant, owner of the Carolina Mudcats, told The Chronicle of Higher Education. "We feel like a mark is a valuable asset, and if it's diluted across the country then it's not as valuable."

Or maybe Carolina was just upset that Spoon River's interpretation of the mudcat mascot was cuter than its own Muddy the Mudcat. In any case, they threatened to sue.

Although Spoon River had registered its logo and the motto "Spoon River Mudcats, Ruler of the River" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2007 and thought it might have a shot at winning in court, the school eventually folded before the wrath of Minor League Baseball and the prospect of exhorbitant legal fees.

"As soon as we decided not to pursue a legal challenge, we stopped using the logo or the mascot or Mudcat name," said Gary Schindler, Spoon River's dean of student services.

click to enlarge Do you think old Muddy's reading The Spoon River Anthology? - FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/28022105@N06
  • flickr.com/photos/28022105@N06
  • Do you think old Muddy's reading The Spoon River Anthology?
Now Spoon River College is mascot-less. The college will be sponsoring a contest to find a new one next month. May we suggest the Anthologists? Not as scrappy as Mudcats, by any means, but it does reflect Spoon River's main claim to fame, Edgar Lee Masters' 1915 poetry collection, Spoon River Anthology. And we're pretty sure nobody in Minor League Baseball has thought of it.

(By the way, a quick Internet search uncovered other Muddy the Mudcats in Dunnville, Ontario, and Chillicothe, Missouri. Uh, Carolina? Are you going to get on those, too, or do you only pick on community colleges?)

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