The case for Broncos as the new Saddleback College mascot

Saddleback plans to replace the Gaucho with a new mascot in May.  Brandon Chavez/ Lariat

Saddleback College student on why Broncos should be the next school mascot

The end of the Saddleback Gauchos nears as the college has just eliminated 279 suggestions for a new mascot. With only 21 candidates remaining, it’s a race to the finish to see which option will be crowned the new symbol of pride, college-wide. Of course, it can’t just happen overnight like a trend on Twitter, so prepare to play the waiting game for the final results in May. 

Saddleback removed the Gaucho due to a lack of cultural appropriation. The design appeared much less like an Argentinian cowboy and instead favored the stereotypical Mexican-American look, complete with a sombrero and elongated mustache. In the meantime, the college scheduled a series of online forums for April, which will limit the options even more. They have also released the complete list of mascots that can take the place of the Gaucho, revealing some great and not-so-great choices.

Is there one worth advocating for? Yes, the Bronco. 

Saddleback’s criteria state that the Gaucho’s replacement needs to excel at fostering support towards the school by means of remaining engaging and effective. While not as exciting as a space pirate, Broncos fall into the category of powerful creatures not to be trifled with. The Bronco will fight for glory and with determination, standing proud above all who oppose them. In a rodeo, they will do everything in their power to throw a rider off and regain control. 

Broncos have a defined and recognizable shape, yet at the same time, only one species. They stand out in a world where every mascot falls under a bird, canine or feline category. It’s a nice refresher from what’s conventional and overused; something Saddleback should embrace. 

There may exist only one horse species, but that doesn’t mean each one looks the same. Broncos are composed of hundreds of different horse breeds that vary in color and appearance, some white and others black. Even though the colors don’t appear super colorful, each horse has a unique flair and can allow each education department to represent themselves in a particular way. 

The former Gaucho mascot represents the history of Saddleback College, calling back to the culture and people that once occupied the area contributed to the land. With it gone, how will that legacy carry over? Enter the horse, a relic that once allowed real gauchos to travel. While the Broncos didn’t change anything geographically, their role in transportation deserves acknowledgment. 

Saddleback wants to tie in the mascot to the school’s Hispanic origins, so why not incorporate the Bronco? After all, the term first originated from the Mexican language, meaning “rough,” which accurately describes the behavior of this horse type it’s named after. Additionally, the college’s design of the original gaucho mascot included a horse, something unnecessary if it had no cultural significance to the figure. 

Saddleback will remove all former mention of the Gauchos. Brandon Chavez/ Lariat

 Unlike the male-oriented gaucho, the bronco horse has no restriction to any particular gender and appearance, making it better suited for a broad appeal. Both men’s and women’s sports can display the mascot the way they want, yet the symbol means the same thing for both groups. After the Gaucho fiasco, the college does not need another mascot that discriminates against and disrespects any category of people. The Bronco is a safer alternative that will ensure everyone feels accepted.

How much less risky? Although somewhat aggressive, Broncos don’t behave savagely or cause serious harm to send out a negative message. Current broncos fall under the category of domesticated horses and do nothing more than express their discontent when ridden or touched. 

Although the suggested Bronco mascot fails to top the historical impact of the Gaucho, it excels at incorporating multiple perspectives and stays true to the heart of Saddleback. It’s not the coolest sounding mascot by any means, nor is it a game-changer for community colleges, but it is a step in the right direction.