I don’t like to say “I told you so,” but, well, I did indeed tell you so.
Yes, yes. We all know that gloating is terribly unbecoming. But I’m so infrequently right that on those rare occasions when I do happen to hit the proverbial nail on the head I feel the need to point it out to anyone who will listen.
On Friday evening, the brand new Farmington High School football team played its very first home game. And similar to the week before when they played their first away game, it turns out the biggest worry for the Mighty Phoenix isn’t what other schools might call them.
Last fall, the Davis School District announced that students bound for the new high school had overwhelmingly chosen the Phoenix for their mascot — beating out other student-suggested mascots such as Farmers, Eagles, Firebirds, Silverback, Fox and Silverfox. This didn’t sit well with a small group of Farmington residents, who started a petition to void the students’ decision and force the district to find a more “suitable” mascot.
Their argument? After practicing some cheers for the new high school, these alleged adults noticed if they used an obscure pluralization of Phoenix — “phoenices” — it sounds a bit too much like the word “penises.” They worried that opposing schools would use that wordplay to design all kinds of bullying, male-anatomy-intensive cheers and jeers.
These residents even managed to get Mayor Jim Talbot to endorse their crackpot idea. He used his mayor’s message in the February 2018 Farmington City newsletter to pressure the district to change the mascot name, which he called “embarrassing.”
To its credit, the district told the residents and mayor to go pound sand. Basically, district officials explained that the students chose “Phoenix,” it’s a legitimate mascot name, and no amount of sour grapes was going to get the school to change it to what I suspect the malcontents wanted — the uber-patriotic (and done to death) “Eagles.”
The new Farmington Phoenix started classes last Wednesday. And the Friday before that, the school opened its inaugural sports season on the road with the football team on the receiving end of a 48-7 spanking at the hands of the Timpanogos Timberwolves.
This week, the butt-whipping (36-0) was administered by the Northridge Knights, with the Phoenix again providing the butt.
Ah, but this is to be expected. It’s a new school, a new coach, and an incredibly young football team. Heck, they’re lucky if they’ve got half-a-dozen seniors on the entire squad.
But the supposed embarrassment from the taunts of other schools? That part never materialized. Not at last week’s game in Orem, and certainly not at this week’s game in Farmington.
I know it didn’t happen last week because I spoke with Farmington Principal Richard Swenson, who was at the Timpanogos game and said their opponent was the very picture of decorum. And I know it didn’t happen this week because I sat with the Northridge fans.
I listened closely to determine if I could detect the faintest hint of immature wordplay in the visitors’ bleachers. You know, a giggled “penis” reference. A Viagra joke. Anything.
Rather, the evening’s first cheer from the visiting fans was: “We are the Knights, and we are the best, and we will conquer!”
Then came: “Northridge! Number one!”
And then: “Northridge! Northridge! Northridge!”
You get the idea.
It was a similar scene over on the Farmington side of the field. Students chanted “Phoenix! Phoenix! Phoenix!” and “Start the Fire!”
In the interest of full disclosure, Standard-Examiner prep sports reporter Patrick Carr did mention he overheard one Farmington teenager make a “Phoenices” joke to a friend an hour before the game, but that was the extent of the scandal.
Despite the loss, Friday evening turned out to be one big party. Tailgating. Barbecues. TV and radio coverage. A pep band. Teenagers with painted faces, sitting in the rowdy student section — which is labeled with a hand-painted sign reading “The Order.” (I had to have the much-hipper Carr explain to me it was a “Harry Potter” reference.)
And although Farmington High is now 0-2 in football, having been outscored 84-7 in its first two games, one day the Phoenix will rise up. Because that’s the whole mythology of the Phoenix — a magical bird that rises from its own ashes to be reborn into glory and greatness.
It’s just that right now, as certain immature Farmington residents might put it, the Phoenices are getting their ashes handed to them.
Despite the setbacks, despite the controversy, Phoenix fans remain proud of their new school. In fact, one unnamed source close to the school goes so far as to insist others wish they could be just like the new Farmington High.
“Everybody,” he says, “has Phoenice envy.”