Biola soars like an eagle
Although a common mascot, Biola students’ accomplishments bring extraordinary talent to the ordinary eagle. | Tomber Su/THE CHIMES
My first year at Biola, eight Aprils ago, I had an April Fool’s idea. On April 1, 2008 I sent an email to the vice presidents at Biola. It went something like this —
Dear Vice Presidents,
I’ve been somewhat troubled lately about the mascot at Biola. Even when I walk into the gym and see the painted image of the eagle on the wall, its angry beak and its threatening talons, I ask myself, “Is this what we want as a symbol of Biola?” And what does the Bible say about eagles other than “rising up” like one? After all, if we are thinking biblically about everything, it should include our mascot. And the Bible isn’t always portraying the eagle in a good light. They are unclean (Lev. 11:13). They are like an enemy of God’s people swooping down on their prey (Deut. 28:49, Hab. 1:8). Eagles are like fleeting riches that fly away and are gone (Prov. 23:5).
I’m not against birds, but why the eagle? At our next executive meeting I would like to discuss changing the name of our mascot to another biblical bird, something with tones that imply more of who we are. I am proposing a change to the Biola Sparrows.
Jesus never once talked about eagles. But he talked a lot about sparrows. The sparrow will not fall to the ground without God noticing (Matt. 10:31). Don’t be afraid, we are worth more than many sparrows (Luke 12:6). Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God (Luke 12:7).
I look forward to our conversation about changing the name of our mascot from the Biola Eagles to the Biola Sparrows. GO SPARROWS!
For the next few hours I kept checking my email to see if anyone responded. It was quiet. Later that day one of the vice presidents approached his assistant deeply concerned with the new president’s idea. “I have spent the last hour online looking at how many decent colleges and universities have the eagle as a mascot, and there are many! What’s he thinking changing Biola to the sparrows? I’m going to talk to him. And I’ve printed out all of these web pages of schools with eagle mascots.” The assistant rolled her eyes and asked her boss what date it was. He had fallen. Not everyone fell for it. Another vice president was on to me, countering my idea with a better Bible bird. “Let’s be the loving doves.”
Alas, eight years later we are still the Eagles, but we are changing. We have applied for the NCAA and are soaring to new heights. For decades Biola’s athletes have played with conviction and character. We are currently ranked number one in the nation within the NAIA in the Learfield Director’s Cup standings, which ranks the nation's best overall collegiate athletics programs, following a strong winter season. With this success has come recognition of our excellent coaching staff in the form of four GSAC Coach of the Year awards, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s cross country and men’s basketball as well as two NAIA Coach of the Year awards for our men’s basketball head coach and volleyball assistant coach. This year’s accomplishments remind me why I am glad to be an Eagle.