Hoyas' Mascot Laps Up The Love
Friday, March 30, 2007
The other day, the bulldog mascot cruised around Georgetown University in a golf cart, as he often does, riding shotgun with the Jesuit priest who takes care of him, getting out to see his people. Students called his name. "Jack, Jack!"
Most schools like their mascots. But even before the men's basketball team made it to the Final Four, Georgetown's love for Jack had risen to another level.
"He is like a demigod on campus," junior Chris Seneca said.
Jack is in such constant demand for appearances and photo opportunities that he has an e-mail address and people to handle the requests. When he stumps around campus, students swarm him. There is an application process for the privilege of walking him -- which includes proving an ability to sing the Hoyas' fight song and a willingness to yank from his mouth whatever he should not be eating.
And there's a waiting list.
Maybe it's because he's a real dog. (The school also has a human in a furry dog suit.) And he lives on campus with everyone else. Maybe it's his marked personality: Jack has an imperious manner, a sense of entitlement and a stubborn streak. He's so ugly, with a squashed face and an awkward, snuffling gait, that he often makes people laugh.
And he's never happier, the Rev. Christopher Steck said, than when he's in the thick of the excitement on the basketball court.
A lot has been said about family legacies on the Hoyas team, which plays Ohio State tomorrow in Atlanta. Jack is one more celebrity with a proud Georgetown lineage: A forefather paced the sidelines during Patrick Ewing and John Thompson Jr.'s day. Now, as Ewing and Thompson's sons arrive for games, Jack swaggers into the arena with them.
Why wouldn't he?
"Everyone loves Jack," said Walid Khaliseh, 20, a student from Jordan who walks him. Take him to a game-viewing party, and everyone stops watching to play with Jack, he said. Take him to a concert, and everyone stops listening to the singers.
Jack expects the attention.
Around campus, students often run up to pet him. "People are saying, 'Jack! Jack! Jack! Jack!' " said Seneca, who has been walking him for a few years now. "He keeps walking, doesn't even acknowledge it."