As LSU battles in the final round of the College World Series, could the Tigers be facing extinction?
According to a recent article, an LSU student petition is calling for the elimination of the Louisiana Tigers moniker and mascot. The student petition states that the tiger symbol and name were used in the Jim Crow south to honor a Confederate regiment called Louisiana’s Tigers. The Tigers were ferocious fighters and committed numerous racist atrocities. Additionally, the petition goes on to state that “It’s also cruel to cage a wild animal for the amusement of privileged white people. They’ve never been in a cage!”
A quote (below) on the LSU website about the origin of the Tiger name confirms some of the claims but offers a slightly different interpretation, according to the first football head coach to their first head coach Charles H. Coates, Jr.:
It was the custom at that time, for some occult reason, to call football teams by the names of vicious animals; the Yale Bulldogs and the Princeton Tigers, for example. This is still the vogue. It struck me that purple and gold looked Tigerish enough and I suggested that we choose “Louisiana Tigers,” all in conference with the boys. The Louisiana Tigers had represented the state in Civil War and had been known for their hard fighting. This name was applied collectively to the New Orleans Zouaves, the Donaldsonville Cannoniers, and to a number of other Louisiana companies sent to Virginia, who seemed to have the faculty of getting into the hardest part of the fighting and staying there, most of them permanently. One company I knew of went in 200 strong; only 28 returned and many of these were wounded.
Proponents of the status quo would argue that 100 years of history with the LSU Tiger has replaced memories of the past and in fact, most fans only see the mascot as a cartoon character who creates school spirit at the Baton Rouge campus – making little or no connection to the origin of the LSU Tiger name.