October 1, 2018

7:17 pm

Elephants On The Rampage -- In Sports

Elephants are clearly not to be messed with in the wild, but right now they are dominating international sports, too.

On Wednesday night, the Oakland A’s will play the New York Yankees in a playoff game on Wednesday evening. The A’s mascot is an elephant, Stomper.

Stomper’s origin dates back to more than 100 years ago, when their opponents in the World Series “cruelly compared them to white elephants,” the meaning of that insult being somewhat comparable to an expensive albatross. The insult became a rallying cry and the manager of the team adopted the elephant as the team’s mascot. (He’s on Twitter, too, at @Stomper00.)

Meanwhile, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide are ranked Number 1 in all college football weekly polls, and have been on a dynastic run of late, having won five championships in the last nine years. This year, they are currently ranked Number 1, in both the coaches’ and sportswriters’ polls. The Tide’s mascot is also an elephant, Big Al.

In this instance, the elephant mascot was adopted from a compliment, written by a sportswriter (Everett Strupper of the Atlanta Journal), who reported that some Alabama fans in the crowd at a game in 1930 had said “Hold your horses, the elephants are coming.” (Big Al is also on Twitter, at @Official_Big_Al.)

Now 2018 could be the third time that both teams win their respective championships in the same year: they both previously won in 1930 (the year that Alabama team earned its elephant comparisons and a year when the A’s were based in their original home, Philadelphia) and in 1973 (by which time the A’s had moved to Oakland and were known for their flashy mustaches and superstars like Reggie Jackson).

But also this year, there are a few other teams to keep an eye on, especially in soccer.

Everton Football Club, a British team in England’s Premier League, has a match tomorrow against Southhampton in the third round of England’s Football League Cup. A win would place them into the final 16 of that competition. Everton’s mascot is Changy the Elephant. (Everton’s mascot used to be “Mr. Toffee,” but was replaced by Changy when the Thai beer Chang took over as the team’s primary sponsor in 2004.)

And then the nations of Guinea and Ivory Coast are competing in an elephant derby of sorts in the Africa Cup of Nations, 2019. There are 12 groups of four teams in the continent-wide cup, and remarkably, Guinea and Ivory Coast — both nicknamed the Elephants (many African countries’ teams are named after an iconic wildlife species) — are in the same group. The rival elephants squared off this summer, and the Guinean elephants prevailed, 3-2. But the top two teams in each group move on, and Guinea and Ivory Coast occupy the top two positions presently. Next matches for both are next week, both home games, when Guinea faces off against Rwanda and Ivory Coast takes on Central African Republic.

The big takeaway here: pachyderms will prevail in 2018!