Bevo’s well-being is more important than his game presence

Sanika Nayak

School spirit reaches an all-time peak at each home football game. Burnt orange covers the streets and the stadium as students, parents and alumni cheer on the Longhorns. Nearly 100,000 people come to watch, and it is the screams of these 100,000 people that Bevo is forced to endure as he is paraded onto the field by the Silver Spurs at the beginning of each home game. He usually bucks or shakes his horns before being led away to a corner of the field, where he stays for the entire duration of the game. UT should no longer continue the tradition of bringing a live mascot onto the field. It is stressful for the animal and does not necessarily increase the overall spirit of the game.

In a 1997 study published by Temple Grandin, an influential professor of animal science, it was found cattle can have stress-induced reactions. During games, Bevo, a steer, is restrained for long periods of time as well as subject to long periods of handling.

When contacted for information, the Silver Spurs, who handle and care for Bevo, did not respond. But his owners have claimed steers selected to be Bevo have a calm disposition and are halter-trained.

This, however, does not change the fact that a large football game is not a natural environment for cattle, who can become easily spooked for a variety of reasons. At games, aside from the deafening cheering and chanting of the crowd, a cannon blast also goes off after every touchdown, which can even cause students to jump.

Past Bevos have been involved in aggressive incidents resulting from fear, such as Bevo II, who was eventually banned from football games for not “peacefully accepting the transference” to the football scene. Although recent Bevos are said to be more docile, that does not change the fact he is an animal capable of having a fear-induced reaction at any moment. The University should not continue to subject what it claims to be a well-loved mascot to this sort of treatment.

For many students, the true spirit of football games lies in cheering passionately from the stands or chanting alongside the rest of the student section. It does not rise from seeing our live mascot on the field.

According to  Neha Dronamraju, a public health freshman, she has been enjoying the football culture of the school and going to as many games as possible with friends. For her, bringing out a live Bevo is a short-lived event that does not add much excitement.

“I think (the best way the school shows spirit) is with student turnout at the game and little things that they have, like the marching band and cheerleaders and pom squad to hype everyone up,” Dronamraju said. “Removing a live Bevo from the game wouldn’t change the experience at all.”

Even if the arrival of Bevo has been a long standing tradition, staff and students should be willing to give this up for the overall welfare of the steer. There are other ways in which our mascot can be honored at the games, such as putting a camera on Bevo in his offsite enclosure and projecting this onto the jumbotron. This would serve to excite the crowd as well as allow Bevo a peaceful setting while continuing to be the well-loved symbol of the University.

Nayak is a communication sciences and disorders freshman from Austin.