Many athletes have specific rituals before games. These habits are generally a time of focus or prioritization. During last Saturday’s Big Ten matchup between Penn State and Minnesota, several Penn State players trotted to the end zone, knelt on one knee, bowed, and prayed before the start of the game.
The Minnesota Mascot, Goldy Gopher, welcomed the players to his corner by pinching his nose in disgust and then imitating one player, Jerome Hayes, getting down on one knee right in front of him. After the prayer, Goldy attempted to make contact with Hayes, but the Penn State defensive end from Bayonne, N.J. ignored the mascot’s mockery. The Gopher then found an amused cheerleader and gave her a high five.
This incident may have gone fairly unnoticed, but not in the age of cyber communication - it was caught on tape and posted on YouTube. The University of Minnesota issued an official apology yesterday after the video’s 70,000 plus views prompted some national attention.
A spokesman for Minnesota , Dan Wolter, says the stunt was "plainly a mistake" and the mascot didn't intend to offend anyone or trivialize religion.
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Minnesota mascot mocks praying Penn State player.