What are the odds that Oski and the Pac-12 mascots could survive the COVID-19 pandemic?

Which Pac-12 mascot is best-suited for surviving the COVID-19 pandemic?

Image modified from the Cal Athletics Twitter

With no sports for the foreseeable future, we must find a new way to vet out which Pac-12 school is better than the best. And given the grand spectacle of sports like college football and March Madness and this ye—er, next year’s—Olympics, what better battle than to go the complete opposite of flashy extravagance and square off against the microscopic malady menacing man- and womankind?

As we discussed in a previous story on Cal’s battle with SARS-CoV-2, coronaviruses are quite adept at jumping from one target species to another. Thus, let’s assume that the virus is no longer attacking just the Austin Community College Riverbats and all human-based mascots (like the Boilermakers and the Fighting Irish). In this hypothetiCal, SARS-CoV-2 is able of infecting all kinds of creatures, including bears, ducks, and felt-based beings. So in this world, which Pac-12 mascot is best-suited for surviving the pandemic?

For starters, I wish we could disqualify the Stanfurd Cardinal. Their representative/nickname is a color. That’s a lame non-answer to evade the virus. Instead, we’ll focus on their (atrocious) band’s (atrocious) mascot—that vile Tree.

For the worst odds, I have to go with the Trojans. They can pray all they want to Hygieia, Goddess of Health, but the fact of the matter is that the easiest way to stay safe against a virus is by washing your hands, which didn’t come into prominence until the mid-1800s through the work of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis—well after the peak of Troy.

When it comes to wearing face masks, all of the remaining mascots are equally disadvantaged due to their fur blocking the face masks from forming a perfect seal. But when you have a big dumb mouth like the Stanfurd tree, then none of these masks could even fit. Sorry not sorry, but this tree is getting chopped down.

With ten mascots left, we take a look at another relatively easy tactic for pathogen avoidance, which is to wear gloves while outside—if you have to touch any potentially contaminated or high-traffic surfaces like door handles or touchscreens, then you can shed the gloves and dump any virus. And on that note, we dump Washington’s Harry the Husky, the Oregon Duck, Benny Beaver (seen here carelessly touching some random surface with his bare beaver hands), noted fake-bear Joe Bruin, and Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat—half the field.

Still standing in their gloved glory, we have Butch T. Cougar, ASU’s Sparky (though lord only knows where he’s putting that gloved hand if it’s making signals like that), Swoop representing Utah, Chip (replacing Ralphie), and our beloved Oski. But while gloves can be great, they can also offer a false sense of security.

Gloves are meaningless at a restaurant when you see an employee touch his gloved hand to his face and then go back to preparing your food. Or when you see a member of hospital staff applauding with one gloved and one ungloved hand. Gloves aren’t some magical all-disinfecting surface that turns you into the Mr. Clean version of King Midas. It’s all too common for people to defeat the purpose of wearing gloves by then carelessly touching this that and the other and materials that are supposed to be protected.

But there’s one mascot who’s aware of that. One mascot who—from his origin to countless examples today—is known for holding his hands behind his back and minimizing how much they touch other surfaces or his own face. One mascot who’s been photographed in a set of PPE.

The one mascot left standing in the COVID-19 pandemic is Oski. Of all the Pac-12 mascots, Oski is the one with the best chances of surviving the coronavirus.