Last Friday’s announcement that the students of Long Beach State voted to adopt “Sharks” as the new mascot of the school caused a major reaction among the university’s sports fans, who were posting all over social media wondering if they’d be rooting for the Sharks come the Fall.
Long Beach State athletic director Andy Fee said that for those who aren’t excited about that change, there’s nothing to be worried about.
“We will not be rebranding uniforms, logos, or any other marks related to the athletic department,” he tweeted. “We continue to be ‘The Beach!’”
Reached via phone, Fee said that from his perspective, it will be similar to the way Alabama’s sports teams are called the Crimson Tide, while the mascot is an elephant. The Dirtbags will remain the Dirtbags, and the rest of the school’s sports teams will continue to be called “Beach,” as they have been since the athletic department phased out “49ers” five years ago.
Because of the wording of the university’s press release, fans had also expressed confusion over whether or not the athletic department would be forced into adopting “Sharks” in a year, when the 12-month long process of designing the Shark mascot was complete.
Fee, again, said not to worry.
“We aren’t deviating from Beach Athletics or the Dirtbags,” he said. “I feel very comfortable saying that–I’ve had the same conversation with (university president Jane Close Conoley) all along, that’s been confirmed numerous times.”
Fee said the large reaction online was caused by a misunderstanding of the difference between a nickname (like Beach, or like 49ers) and a mascot.
“The mascot used to be Prospector Pete, but we weren’t the Long Beach State Prospectors,” said Fee. “People are confusing the mascot and the nickname–the students voted on a new mascot, not a new nickname. Sometimes the two are the same, but not always. We’re not the only school out there with them being different.”
While Fee was emphatic that his teams won’t be running onto the floor with a Shark logo on their chest any time soon, he did say fans can expect to see some Shark presence next year.
“The mascot will be running around at games getting people pumped up,” said Fee. “I’m sure at commencement 2020 the shark will jump on stage next to Jane and there’s the new mascot.”
There’s already been a person in a shark costume running around the Pyramid this year drumming up support for the concept, as well as someone in a giraffe costume, one of the other initial proposals. Fee emphasized that the presence of the Shark won’t change the names of the school’s teams.
“Fullerton is the Titans but has an elephant, Alabama is the Crimson Tide but has an elephant, at Auburn they fly the eagle around the stadium but they’re the Tigers,” said Fee. “We will continue to refer to ourselves as Beach Athletics as we have for many years.”