The new NRL logo, and the Cricket Australia one it is being compared to, continue the proud Australian tradition of not using humans as sporting symbols.
Star formations? (sure!). The rising sun? (you bet!). The colours of our natural landscape? (no problem!). Us, the players and spectators? (you’ve got to be joking!).
There was a rumour going around that the MGM lion mauled and partly consumed one of its handlers.
It was nonsense but such is our devotion to animal mascots I imagined the studio execs waiting until the animal had finished, cleaning its teeth with a toothpick, and filming it roaring for the upcoming Bond film Skyfall.
Is a healthy misanthropy at the heart of our preference for animals over people as symbols of our sporting teams? Probably.
Despite sporting teams comprising humans (well, mostly) and supporters being human (well, mainly) we still prefer animals for our mascots.
Why would you have pictures of aged care nurses, garbage truck drivers, and drinkers of long cans of bourbon and cola emblazoned on our sporting jerseys when we can have lions, tigers, wallabies, emus, roosters and spotted eels.
There are some mascots in human form although saints, demons, vikings and titans are pushing the envelope.
Essendon, to their credit, went for something that is neither animal or human. But the design doesn’t look like a bomber at all.
They should have used the grand old Lancaster.
Alright, it was as slow as a wet week and would today be shot out of the sky by an Afghan goat herder with an AK- 47 but it looks magnificent.
Birds are perfect sporting icons.
To us they are a combination of grace and frightening depravity. They can also be symbols of peace and freedom. They’ve got serious historical credibility too, being related to the dinosaurs.
And like all animals, they are scarily unpredictable.
Which is probably why the year’s top five AFL teams have avian mascots. Hawthorn and West Coast chose the Hawk and the Eagle – both equally at home soaring majestically or pulling your pet guinea pig apart.
The crow is one of the smartest birds and a perfect mascot. It’s a shame its intelligence wasn’t absorbed by Adelaide’s recruitment staff in their dealings with Kurt Tippett.
This is a genuinely creepy looking creature too, with its glistening black feathers and piercing white eyes.
It had a starring role in Hitchcock’s The Birds and I once saw one on the road outside my house tucking into its freshly run-over partner.
It ate the eyes in a blink of an eye and immediately proceeded to the heart; its thick beak thudding into the chest of its former beloved.
The ‘waddle giggle gargle’ sound of Collingwood’s magpie evokes lovely images of the Australian suburbs where much of the game is played. It also evokes the frightening image of a winged shadow growing larger on the road in front of you as a male of the species dive-bombs you in the springtime.
I suppose then it is appropriate that the 2012 Premiers – the Sydney Swans – have as their mascot a bird that is the epitome of physical grace, the subject of a great romantic ballet, and (if you cross it) a right vicious b*st*rd.
The expansion of corporate sponsorship has seen a proliferation of logos and an unsightly blending of corporate and team symbols.
The Melbourne Storm’s human mascot Storm Man had his thunder stolen on Grand Final day by sponsor Hogs Breath Cafe’s large pink headed mascot who was seen hugging all the players.
On the NSW State of Origin jersey there’s a patchwork of labels.
There are the native animals, of course – the majestically moving Kangaroo of the Classic clothing brand on the throat, and the noble shield-bearing roos of the NSWRL on the left breast but the latter is besmirched by the Harvey Norman-Fuji Film sign immediately below.
On the opposite breast is the State of Origin insignia sullied by the tiny VB one above it (although the large sky blue Bupa heartbeat currently above the green,gold and brown Sheffield Shield is the greater eyesore).
And holding pride of place in the centre is the largest and least representative logo of all – the Victoria Bitter disk. Victoria Bitter has become VB so that people may forget its origins and begin thinking it stands for Very good Beer which it definitely is not.
Not only is it from a State not represented in the series, it’s not even available for purchase during the games: the even more insipid midstrength beers are all there is.
If the ARLC wanted to be seen to be more progressive it probably should have put a human somewhere on its logo. I’m glad it didn’t.
And a final note on its similarity to the CA logo. Apparently the ‘asymmetrical shield’, as it is referred to at Cricket Australia, is proving to be a little heart-throb.
CA’s three on board lawyers have been busy sending cease-and-desist letters to designers all over the land – including most likely the one employed by our local primary school – who have been unable to desist from giving their prototype shields a little asymmetrical slant.