The Greenback took second place in the regional Best High School Sports Mascot in the Country competition sponsored by USA TODAY. Notice the wording. I didn't say "we lost." I said we took second place. It's something to celebrate, something to be proud of.
Unless you subscribe to the Ricky Bobby school of philosophy—"If you ain't first, you're last"— the recent mascot competition should be viewed as a total success and Greenback nation has nothing to feel bad about. Remember, in the movie Talledega Nights, Ricky Bobby's dad admitted he was drunk when he told him that little "if you ain't first, you're last" chestnut— and living by that misbegotten credo almost ruined Ricky's life.
I would point out that Greenback nation needs to view the entire experience as a positive and reflect upon the good things that participating in the exercise brought us.
To recap, the Fighting Frog prevailed in the State round of competition, tallying 122,434 votes which was virtually as many as the other 5 entries combined. The Frog's nearest competitor at the State level—the Fowler Goldbug—collected only 70,345.
At the regional level, it boiled down to a two-way race between the Greenback and the Sugarbeeter from Chinook, Montana. (And c'mon, let's face it. That's a pretty cute mascot. It's not like we came in second to 'Tigers' or something.)
The Greenback held a small lead as the regional voting approached its deadline, but then fate intervened. A technical glitch at the USA TODAY website caused irregularities and the contest deadline was extended by a few days. When regional voting ultimately closed, the Sugarbeeter had 2,767,229 votes to 2,442,257 for the Greenback. The other four mascots in the regional totaled about ½ million votes. The Sugarbeeter advances now to face other regional winners in the national portion of the contest.
So where does that leave Greenback nation? Hopefully not pouting and complaining that "we was robbed." I know it's got to be disappointing for those who invested a lot of time and energy voting for the Frog hundreds (thousands?) of times. And yes, the technical glitches that prevented us from voting, the website not counting our votes, all the other ways in which we could claim that the playing field was not level...that is all irritating. But Greenbacks, let's get some perspective here. What's really important?
Sure it would have been nice to "win". Everyone likes to win. But to me, what this contest demonstrated more than anything else is just how special it is to be a member of Greenback Nation. To me, it was not so much about winning as it was about having an opportunity to show our pride in being Greenbacks.
Do not ever question how special it is to be or to have been a Greenback. It really is true that "Once a Greenback, always a Greenback." It wasn't just current high school students or recent graduates who were caught up in the frenzy to support the Greenback. To me, one of the beautiful things about this contest was that it brought together in common cause Greenbacks from across the miles and across the generations.
Page 2 of 2 - In today's world of social media and electronic communication, it was not surprising that many former Frogs would get involved in the Support the Greenback effort. I know from correspondence I received that Greenbacks of all ages and from all over were organizing get-out-the-vote efforts, like Gary Eppler '60.
It caused many to go back and look at high school annuals, reminisce about being Greenbacks, talk to former classmates. Stories about the origin of the Fighting Frog were relayed and discussed. Incidentally, additional corroboration has reached this office substantiating the claim that the recently deceased Diane Baker Sevick '63 should be credited with designing the Greenback that we know today.
Phyllis Huffman Larue '62, now of Lawrence, reported having worn her fingers out voting for the Frog. So the Support the Greenback movement brought together current and former Greenbacks from all over (acknowledging that there are no 'former' Greenbacks—you're ALWAYS a Greenback) in an effort to express our school pride. That's a lovely thing.
Finishing 2nd also gave us an opportunity to show something else that defines us as being Greenbacks— good sportsmanship and being gracious in defeat as well as victory. I loved what Susan and Bryan Pixler wrote on the USA website after it was revealed that the Sugarbeeter had won. The Pixlers are teachers/coaches at PHS, and Susan is the pep/cheer sponsor, so I doubt there were many people with a more direct emotional investment in the outcome than they.
Yet their post contained no gnashing of teeth or bewailing the unfairness of it all. Rather, they congratulated the Chinooks on their victory and predicted that the Sugarbeeter would receive support from Greenback boosters in the national contest. Now is that classy, or what? It was a very "Greenback" type of thing to do.
So c'mon Greenbacks, let's not have any sour grapes. Regardless of the feelings we may have about the way the process seemed to work against us, let's try to remember what's really important here. We came together across the miles and the generations in order to express our common pride in being Greenbacks, and we get to show that Greenbacks are gracious even in defeat. That's something that can never be taken away from us.
In this case, the Ricky Bobby philosophy simply does not apply (if in fact it ever does.) We aren't first, but we aren't last— we are GREENBACKS!