All told, there are probably only two main stories that the brass here at Temple wouldn’t want making national headlines: The relative danger of our little corner of Philadelphia, and the fact that the glass windows on Main Campus kill roughly 1,000 birds each year. While not much can be immediately done about the former issue, avoiding conversation about the latter merely requires quite literally anything else newsworthy about the university to happen on a given day. It isn’t hard.
So you can imagine my massive facepalm when media juggernauts ESPN created a national commercial wherein our dear strigiform mascot, Hooter T. Owl, runs into a clear, glass window for America’s enjoyment.
For those that care less about sports than I do, life is currently rough for the Philadelphia sporting enthusiast. Our professional bird-based football squad was recently forced to euthanize its adorably incompetent walrus mascot after 14 years. The city’s new basketball superstar came directly from Sports IKEA without any proper knee parts and a voided warranty. Temple’s football coaches keep assuring us that they’ll “love us forever,” all the while knowing that they plan on running out the back door for bigger and more successful schools once the morning rolls around. As such, I need not explain away my glee upon hearing that Hooter had been recognized nationally by sports-monopolist ESPN, thrusting Temple into the country-wide spotlight, and helping the school gain notoriety for something more than going a full day without an armed robbery.
Instead, whenever an intrepid Googler attempts to hunt down our newest commercial by searching for the terms “Temple bird flies into glass,” they will be happily greeted by more than a handful of articles attempting to explain why it has become increasingly hip for fowl of all kinds to fly haphazardly into glass windows on Main Campus, and just what the university plans on doing about it.
So far, our dear university’s only response has been to hold a contest to see who could come up with a way to stop the madness. The winner’s idea was to paste silhouettes of black, artificial birds on each of the problematic windows in question, in what must only be an attempt to make Tyler seem like a hip, populated place for bird-students to hang out and certainly not fly directly into headfirst at breakneck speeds. No word yet from Temple’s bird population as to whether or not they would consent to fall for it.
Personally, I think we, as students, should embrace our newfound bird-murdering fame and milk it for all it’s worth. For example, since attempting to intimidate our cross-city rivals with our actual athletic teams seems to fail pretty consistently, maybe introducing our football squad with the caveat that our team is “totally unafraid of and sort-of-cool-with the fact that our buildings needlessly kill 1,000 animals every year” may drum up the fear in our rivals that has been so sorely lacking up until this point.
Jokes aside, the problem is actually so bad that Audubon, Pennsylvania’s Academy of Natural Sciences, got involved in Temple’s pursuit of a solution. News outlets as large and far-reaching as the Smithsonian magazine have picked up the issue. Which begs the question: How does a news organization as massive and omnipotent as ESPN make a commercial poking fun at birds flying into windows without, at any point, finding out that they have enlisted the services of a university whose buildings will not stop killing birds? Did they find out slightly too late, and decide to press ever onward, for the sake of budgeting and time constraints? Did Temple slyly cover up its avian issue in order to win a huge PR bump from the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network? There is a conspiracy afoot, and by Jove, I intend to get to the bottom of this.
You have no idea how high up this goes.
Jerry Iannelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jerryiannelli.