Today’s sports world is flushed with “what if’s” and hypotheticals due to the mass cancellations of sporting events because of the COVID-19 virus.
With this, NCAA Tournament simulations are prevalent in the “Twitter-verse.” Fans can’t help but speculate what would be happening in NBA action right now. Numerous articles have been written about how MLB will approach a shortened season.
As speculation starts to become background noise, it is time to take the sports hypotheticals outside the box. In this time of darkness and empty stadiums, fans need to use their imagination to take themselves to a different, more creative place.
This is where the battle of Missouri Valley Conference mascots comes in. Inspired by Levi Weaver’s article in The Athletic about who would win a battle of MLB namesakes, the hypothetical rules are simple; if all of the real-life editions of the conference’s mascots were dropped into an arena, which would be the last one standing?
Only the mascots of the 10 basketball member schools will be invited to this “Hunger Games” style fight. Apologies to the Stony Brook Seawolves and Little Rock Trojans.
That leaves us with a Bradley Gargoyle, a Drake Bulldog, an Evansville Purple Ace, an Illinois State Redbird, an Indiana State Sycamore, a Loyola Wolf, a Missouri State Bear, a Northern Iowa Panther, a Southern Illinois Saluki and a Valparaiso Crusader.
May the fittest survive.
Picture a large, empty football stadium – perhaps Hancock Stadium in Bloomington-Normal or Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute. All mascots abruptly appear out of thin air and forcefully drop to the surface of the field.
Within seconds, the battle claims its first victim. An immobile stone figure that somewhat resembles a bat with horns in the position of “the thinker” doesn’t even have a moment to ponder its next move, as it is immediately crushed to bits by an 80-foot American Sycamore tree.
Around the sturdy tree, now firmly planted at mid-field, the mascots begin to get their wits about them and fight or flight begins to kick in.
The members of the canine family immediately identify each other as foes. The creature that resembles a wolf lets out a large howl, before slowly creeping toward the bulldog and Saluki. The short and stocky dog, not knowing what it is getting into, barks back. Soon, the slow walk of the wolf turns into a trot. Using its elusive speed, the Saluki escapes for now. The bulldog is not so lucky.
A mustached man in a purple suit jacket and a iron-cladded man carrying a shield flee into the concourse. The redbird finds great joy in the sturdy branches of the sycamore.
For now, all is relatively calm.
Eliminated: Bradley, Drake.
After things have remained calm for a while, the purple ace decides to come back down to the field to try and use tree limbs to craft a spear.
Unfortunately for the purple-garbed man, he fails to spot two green eyes staring down at him from the tree. The ace’s well-groomed facial hair and large top hat provide little defense against the powerful pounce of the large panther.
All the commotion has awakened the 300-pound American black bear that had settled down for a nap on the manicured turf. To express its displeasure, the bear thunderously roars, loud enough to cause the redbird to drop straight out of the tree on its head. It shrivels then dies.
All the remaining creatures dart away from the immediate vicinity, but the wolf caught aimlessly rambling around, is trampled by the bear.
The crusader is greatly disturbed by such violence and comes back to the field in an attempt to restore peace. An expert in goodwill and service, the religious leader has no such training in taming angry bears.
The field is narrowed to four.
Eliminated: Evansville, Illinois State, Loyola, Valparaiso
Now that both humans have been eliminated, things are really up for grabs. The three remaining mobile creatures initially create a standoff, but a chase eventually ensues between the panther and the Saluki.
While the Saluki’s top speed of 43 miles per hour is a bit quicker than the big cat’s 37, the scrawny dog makes a few elusive moves, yet eventually runs out of gas.
The battle will come down to the two largest animals and a hearty tree.
The panther again finds a perch in the tree, but the bear has little patience for a waiting game and tries to scale the trunk himself. The cat, taken aback by this, pounces down and a wrestling match ensues.
Both black-coated creatures bring lots of weight to the table, making things a struggle of epic proportions. Eventually, the behemoth bear, trained by hunting deep in the forests of Central Missouri, comes out on top.
With seemingly all opponents defeated, the bear settles back down underneath the sycamore to finish what he started – a nap.
You may be wondering, how does a bear defeat a full, healthy sycamore tree? The answer is simple. It doesn’t.
The sycamore outlives the bear by many years and comes out on top of the Valley mascot battle.
Champion: Indiana State
Runner up: Missouri State
Third place: Northern Iowa