Last weekend the tables turned when a University of Minnesota fan landed a couple jabs on Goldy Gopher, mascot for teams at the Twin Cities campus.
According to a witness quoted on the Web sites of The Minnesota Daily and Chicago Breaking Sports, Douglas P. Dokken, a math professor at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minn., was watching a gymnastics competition when Goldy tapped him on the shoulder and mussed his hair. Mr. Dokken, who got his Ph.D. at Minnesota, apparently tried to ignore the attention, but the oversized rodent persisted, and the professor ended up losing his temper and thumping the mascot, or, as a St. Thomas spokesman pointed out in a statement to Minnesota Public Radio, “the mascot’s face” (i.e. not the student’s face).
Tweed officially deplores all violence (except if, say, a group of ninjas were to catch a trio of muggers), but in this case we find ourselves sympathizing with the tousled mathematician for a whole bunch of reasons.
First off, when is the last time you heard of a mathematician punching anyone, let alone an annoying mascot? Second, it was a gymnastics competition; shouldn’t the mascot have been at a basketball game or something? Third, the 19-year-old student inside the costume was not hurt, while the 60-year-old guy who lost his temper reportedly expressed regret and has been banned from the premises for a year. And finally, we have immense respect for any professor whose faculty bio shot depicts him climbing a tree.
Goldy, we’re honestly sorry your mask got damaged, and we’re glad the human inside you wasn’t hurt. But next time a fan gets annoyed with you, move on. He may be a tree-climbing mathematician who just wants to watch some gymnastics.