Thinking About Sports: Dartmouth needs a new nickname, and I’ve got one in mind
Looking back over the past four years, there’s a lot about Dartmouth that I’ve come to appreciate. First-Year Trips. A small, tight-knit campus. Exceptional professors.
But try as I might, I’ll never be able to appreciate Keggy the Keg.
For those of you from outside the Dartmouth bubble, Keggy the Keg is the unofficial mascot of Dartmouth College. If you decide to stop reading this column to look it up, I guarantee you that it’s the stupidest thing you’ll see all day.
That’s probably an unpopular opinion among Dartmouth students and alumni, who seem to have a special affinity for all things related to beer. After all, Dartmouth is one of two schools that served as inspiration for the movie “Animal House.” We have a reputation to uphold.
Then again, from what I hear, beer is pretty popular at most institutions of higher learning, which leads me to question why the Harvard of New Hampshire should disgrace itself with such an absurd tradition.
I think the main reason is because Dartmouth has kind of a lousy nickname. The Big Green. I mean, what the hell is that? What is it referring to? The color? The big grassy area in the middle of campus?
For a school that prides itself on intellectual creativity, you’d think we’d be able to do a lot better.
The first problem is that, grammatically speaking, Big Green is a singular term. So if you’re talking about a Dartmouth sports team, you have to say, “The Big Green is …” instead of “The Big Green are …”
I get that team sports are supposed to have an “all-for-one” mentality, but making a big group of people singular like that is just too communitarian, even for a liberal like myself.
It’s also impractical. What are you supposed to call an individual person? People from Indiana say, “I’m a Hoosier.” People from Florida say, “I’m a Gator.” What are we supposed to say? “I’m a Big Green?”
I know I’m not the first person to raise these questions, because in addition to Keggy, which became the unofficial mascot in 2003, Dartmouth has had some other unofficial nicknames over the years.
Unfortunately, like Keggy, they haven’t been an improvement from the Big Green. For a long time, Dartmouth sports teams were referred to as the Indians. Given that Dartmouth was founded as a school for Native Americans but quickly became an exclusive college for rich, white America, it’s kind of perverse the way that nickname was just rubbing it in.
For the most part, Dartmouth has not done well in the nickname department compared to the other Ivy League schools.
Harvard is known as the Crimson. That’s almost as bad as the Big Green, but Harvard gets a pass because they graduated eight U.S. presidents. All we have is Nelson Rockefeller.
Yale probably has the best one: the Bulldogs. Though in crossword puzzles they’re known as Elis. I don’t know what that’s all about.
Other schools have done well with animal nicknames. Columbia, Princeton and Brown are the Lions and Tigers and Bears.
Penn is the Quakers. Also a great nickname. Nothing to me evokes the image of a Quaker more than a Philadelphia sports fan.
And then you’ve got Cornell. The Big Red. How embarrassing.
But we’re not any better. If there’s a common thread among great nicknames, it’s that they capture the culture of a school and give its sports teams a sense of identity. And Big Green just doesn’t do that.
So, I propose a new nickname for the College on the Hill: the Dartmouth Day Traders.
I think that name perfectly encapsulates Dartmouth’s culture. About a quarter of students each year go into finance after they graduate. To put it another way, I bet a lot of Dartmouth students watch “Wall Street” and root for Gordon Gekko.
You know, Dartmouth is very good at sending its best and brightest to where they can be most economically productive, so we might as well embrace it. There are only so many high school seniors out there who want to go into private equity. Why not be more explicit about who we are? Branding is everything.
Think of the sponsorships that could come from this. The Dartmouth Day Trader baseball team, brought to you by Bain Capital. Sounds about right to me.
And this new nickname would be perfect for our football team, too. Wall Street has been known to recruit from the ranks of Ivy League football clubs. They say that Ivy League quarterbacks make great floor traders because they’ve got the right kind of brains and physical presence to do the job well.
Who can blame them? Stock trading is just like football. It’s that combination of being smart and aggressive that makes someone a winner on the field and the floor.
Speaking of which, former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson ’68 was a star offensive lineman for Dartmouth back in the late ’60s. They called him “Hank the Hammer.” Now there’s a good nickname.
Of course, there could be other good nicknames for Dartmouth out there, too. In fact, if you can think of an idea for a nickname or mascot, shoot me an email or leave a message in the comments. I’ve still got a few more columns to write and I’m running out of ideas, so maybe we can get the ball rolling on this. It’s not like the athletics department has many other things to decide on right now.
Frankly, with no sports going on, I can’t think of a better time.