Some sad news today in the world of college sports-- Uga VII, the mascot for the Georgia Bulldogs has died. Uga, who was only 4 years old, died of an unexpected heart illness. His sudden passing caught everyone by surprise, including Georgia head coach Mark Richt, who is said to be distraught by the bad news.
To anyone outside of Georgia this may not sound like a big deal. But for Georgia football and its fans, Uga is an icon-- a superstar in his own right.
I first learned of Uga's star power around 8 years ago. For starters, every Georgia mascot is named Uga. For example, Uga VII was the son of Uga VI.
Around 8 years ago, I noticed (by accident) that certain issues of Sports Illustrated were considered collectibles. So I went on eBay to check it out and was amazed at all the issues that people were bidding on. As a lifelong subscriber, I knew I had boxes full of them all over the house. So I monitored the bidding for a few days to learn which issues were the hot sellers and which weren't. It turned out that I had some of the hot sellers still lying around.
So logically, I decided to put them on eBay-- and did pretty well I might add. I made enough money to pretty much make back all the money I'd spent on subscriptions.
Anyway, to make a long story short-- one of the most popular issues, which I sold, was the April 28, 1997 issue featuring, you guessed it, Uga V, Georgia's then-mascot, on the cover. I can't remember the exact final bid, but I know it was around $10.00 and like 5 or 6 people bid on it. I know $10.00 may not sound like a lot of money but if you consider, at the time, I was paying like .75 cents an issue for my subscription-- its a pretty nice profit.
I remember being amazed at the issue's popularity-- and all the bids came from the state of Georgia. Obviously, I have no idea what has happened with my issue since then. On eBay, once you get paid and you ship the item, the buyer can do whatever he/she wants with it. But knowing how beloved Uga is to Georgia fans, it wouldn't surprise me if in some home or bar somewhere in Georgia, the issue (with my address label still on it) is framed and up on a wall.
So when I heard the news today of Uga's passing, I immediately thought about the fans of Georgia football. Uga's death may not get national press, but to Bulldog fans, I know its big news.
R.I.P. Uga VII.
Photos courtesy of si.com