Stop Trying to Play (Sun) God; UCSD’s King Triton is Here to Stay


Yup. A small campaign popped up on Facebook earlier this month that asked students to give feedback on a proposal to change the mascot from the son of Poseidon to the Sun God. The website fails to note whether or not we would become the UCSD Sun Gods or take the Stanford approach and become the singular Sun God, which is much more majestic.

Now, before you take a torch to the masterminds (read: nincompoops) behind the campaign, consider how important this statue is to our campus. Sun God, aside from being the namesake of the annual music festival, is a 1983 art piece in the university’s Stuart Collection by French sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle. Standing on a 15-foot pedestal, the Sun God is one of the more iconic landmarks on campus. The lawn that hosts the statue also bears the Sun God name, while a spot-color rendition of it also graces the Guardian masthead.

To many students, Sun God represents what is right with this campus. The giant crowned bird-thing stands for community, drinking way too much during week seven of spring quarter and making the most of our college experience. But the Triton legacy is too much a part of our athletic history to even consider replacing the mascot.

Thankfully, the campaign had fewer than 75 supporters by press time, and a poll on the page had 963 votes to stick to the status quo, 74 for the de Saint Phalle piece and 43 for “other.” Spoiler alert: The Triton is here to stay.

I was intrigued not so much by the Sun God campaign but by students’ ideas for an alternative. Suggestions ranged from the Unicorns to the Guinea Pigs to the Buttered Toasts (or, Stanford-style, Buttered Toast), ending with the Awkward Octopi and the Giant Blue waffle.

 The Tritons sit in that great range of mascots that are unique without being stupid. Some of our UC brethren to the north have some sort of bear mascot, and UC Davis’ mascot is the Aggies. We have those guys beat on rarity, and I don’t even think I need to mention the dumbness of the UC Irvine Anteaters (even if George Michael Bluth is one now) and the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.

Personally, I like the Triton, but I would be okay with interviewing candidates from the Stuart Collection to be a sidekick mascot to help King Triton entertain the crowd during UCSD games.

The Red Shoe (in a small eucalyptus forest near the theater district) could serve as King Triton’s vehicle to “kick” the competition off the field. The Snake Path (which leads into Earl Warren College from Geisel Library) could be personified to do the King’s bidding and help get the Tritons “wrap around” the opponents, and Fallen Star (that house on top of EBU I) could be used to disorient opponents before games begin (Side note: We should actually start using Fallen Star as the visitor’s locker room for swimming and diving meets).

 Triton’s legacy is still young, but the mighty ruler of the seas already has some friends on his side. At a “King Triton’s Birthday Party” last year, Triton played shootaround with some neighborhood mascots, including SeaWorld’s Shamu and Chick-Fil-A’s Cow during halftime of a Triton basketball game. While I’d like to think that Triton’s relationship with the latter has been strained since last summer, it’s good to know that our guy has a budding entourage.

Triton, “born” in 1964, will celebrate his 50th birthday next year. As the mascot becomes a semi-centenarian, we welcome the trident-laden merman into the next 50 years as the true icon of our campus.