Who is the most iconic mascot in sports? There are countless famous mascots who are known for their crazy stunts and shenanigans, such as Benny the Bull for the Chicago Bulls and Blue the Horse for the Indianapolis Colts. The two previously named mascots are tied to massive professional organizations in the NBA and NFL, and as a result, have been pushed into the national spotlight. However, any resident of Tuscaloosa would argue that Big Al, the face of Alabama Athletics, should receive just as much attention and respect as any of these other costumed crusaders.
The reasons for this are numerous, seeing as Big Al is an extremely active member of the local community who can be seen wherever there is a big event. But as much as Big Al is known and loved, is he actually understood? What are his responsibilities? How did he come to be? What will he do next? Who will be the next individual blessed to don the trunk and script A? Discovering the answers to these questions is key to truly believing that Big Al is the best mascot in sports.
The elephant has not always been a symbol of UA. In fact, it’s thanks to the football program that there is not a crimson tide Kool-Aid jar patrolling campus events. In 1930, sports writer Everett Strupper said that the Alabama football team ran onto the field and shook the ground like elephants. From then on, the elephant was adopted as the mascot of Alabama and served as a unique way to communicate the strength and spirit of our athletes. As time has gone by, Big Al has transitioned from an intimidating figure to one who shows spirit and encouragement to the student body and community at large.
The selection process for Big Al is a rigorous ordeal. Not just any average performer can take up the mantle of Big Al. A candidate must not only have boundless energy, fire, and humorous mannerisms, but also social poise and grace. Big Al is a versatile source of joy and pride in all of his interactions and needs to be able to act the part.
Big Al has to be a senior because candidates need to know everything that it takes to embody Big Al. This shows that there is a deeper meaning behind Big Al and his impact on the community. “Whoever is chosen to be the representative needs to understand the heavy responsibility that it is to be representative of this university,” Says UA freshman Lyndsay Mclaughlin, a Big Al superfan.
When the general public investigates everything that goes into a non-verbal elephant, they will realize that there is so much more than what they see on the surface. Big Al has overwhelming responsibility and handles it to the best of his ability. This versatility and skill should be applauded and should convince anyone that Big Al really is the best in his field. It is a role built on tradition, understanding, and love for everything Alabama. Head and shoulders above the crowd, the Elephant bows to no one.