Editor's note: As the MaxPreps Mascot Mondays series moves into its
second year, we are switching tactics. The 2013 edition will pick one
school from each state and go more in-depth about the mascot name, how
it came to be and other interesting aspects.
The story of the Orofino (Idaho)
Maniacs is one with unclear intent and differing opinions.
the State of Idaho not decided to place a mental hospital within a
stone's throw of the high school, the Maniacs mascot name would likely be a cool name and nothing more. But because the Idaho State Hospital
North is so close by, you get two different trains of thought: 1. To
some, it's a hilarious coincidence and a source of pride. 2. To others,
it's an unfortunate connection that should be changed.
Not all mascot names exist in a controversy-free vacuum, and this is one of the nation's most recognizable examples.
The original intent when they adopted the mascot name isn't clear. Newspaper accounts state that the school opened in 1903 and it went without a nickname for a long time. A 1990 story by the Deseret News
states that the mascot name came to be in the 1920s, and it was adopted because an observer at a local rival said that the school's basketball team played like a bunch of maniacs.
Since the Idaho State Hospital North campus opened in 1905, it could be true that the basis for that description had to do with the mental hospital. Or it could be a complete coincidence.
See fan photos of Orofino High athletics
To some, it doesn't matter where the name came from. They say it needs to be changed.
Go all the way back to 1992, when Spokane Spokesman-Review columnist Cathy Free
gave some insight into the town's thoughts. Someone from the hospital
told her "A Maniac mascot is not in good taste," while hospital
Administrator Marvin Lambrecht said "I'm concerned the name contributes
to the stigma attached to mental illness. ... The mascot is seen by some as a latent form of discrimination against the mentally ill. If I could select a mascot, it wouldn't be the Maniacs. But it's the students' decision, not mine."
On the other side, former principal Skip Wilson (an Orofino alum) told Free, "However it started, I've only had one complaint about the name. My response was when we eliminate the Vandals and Vikings and others who looted and plundered, perhaps then we'll take a second look at Maniacs."See the MaxPreps Mascot Mondays story on Idaho high school mascots
The issue came to a vote in 1981, and the students voted down the idea of changing the mascot. In fact, not one student voted to change it.
The dictionary further muddles the debate. If you look up the word maniac, you will get a few definitions from Merriam-Webster: 1. Madman, lunatic. 2. A person characterized by an inordinate or ungovernable enthusiasm for something.
Supporters of the mascot name cite definition No. 2, while detractors look solely at No. 1.Watch more videos of Orofino High School