The Oregon Duck.
You know the one: fluffy white feathers, big feet, good dancer. Always wears that infectious, if not permanent smile, even after hammering out a few hundred push-ups. The mascot for the University of Oregon has seen his popularity surge to unprecedented heights in the last decade. Largely attributable to entertaining gameday antics and a good-natured personality, combined with the team’s on-field success, the Duck has transformed into one of the most recognizable figures in sports.
The Duck’s rise in popularity has even sparked a level of jealousy among the less-charming peers in the conference. Like the sleaziest of politicians, some of these hideous trolls have even ventured out of their caves long enough to attempt an anti-Duck smear campaign. (Sparky who?)
Winning and having a good time are priorities for the Oregon Duck, not dealing with petty internet tough-guy tactics. Managing to earn the public’s affection in a variety of ways, the Duck always handles any business personally. One minute, going “ground-and-pound” with a Cougar from Houston, then the next moment the Duck finds itself skydiving without a head, or shaking hands and kissing babies in the stands. We all have a special place reserved for the mascot that has served the fans since 1947.
However, this incarnation of The Duck is not “Puddles”. Frequently, questions arise about the the Oregon Duck’s name. As anyone that has been in the stands over the years can attest, you might hear people call out names like “Puddles”, “Ducky”, or even “Donald.” But, what is the actual name belonging to the mascot?
The name “Puddles” originated in 1920, when before each game, a real duck would be plucked by some well-lubricated students from the Eugene Millrace; or failing that, from one of the many ponds or “puddles” in the area surrounding campus. This duck was then brought to the game to serve as the team’s unofficial mascot. The tradition of allowing a wild duck onto the field and to venture through the stands at football games lasted until 1947, when activists from the local humane society led a successful campaign to ban the practice.
(Special thanks to Kurt Liedtke, who contributed to this post)