"Mascots are just wannabe athletes."

By Jonathan Schlosser

This is the last of the Mascot pieces, and as such, I felt it needed to go a step further. Previously, I looked at horrible school mascots throughout history, and then at the impact of mascots in "NCAA Football 10." Now, for the end, I’m taking that step. Well, I’m not, the mascots are. Quite literally. They’re taking a lot of steps, actually, and getting themselves right into the action.



During a game, you see, I don’t know exactly what the mascots are supposed to do. I’m not even sure that the mascots themselves know. Do they cheer? Are they just glorified cheerleaders with more clothing and less synchronization and less, well, attention being paid to them by the beer-drinking, male section of the fans? Or are they just glorified clowns, a circus act for between the quarters or periods or halves or whatever you have? I don’t know and the mascots don’t know, and that has led to many problems.

Many ill-informed mascots with identity issues.

Many mascots itching to impact the game. To get in there. To mix it up with everyone else. To join in the games even when they shouldn’t. Because, if they don’t know what they should do, they’ll do almost anything.

I have a theory about this; I’ve been working it out for a long time. I think that referees are guys who wish they could be athletes.

Take this one, for example:



As fast as a track star? Ready to race and beat out Usain Bolt for that record and take home those golden shoes (and, hopefully, a part of the Berlin Wall)? Maybe. I mean, before he hit that thing, he had a good head of steam going. Not sure what he was looking at when he got it - maybe at his own feet, unable to believe that he was finally living out his dream. I’m sure that, somewhere, his father and mother are very proud.

Sometimes, they just want to play. I saw a football game once, where a kick went into the end zone. Pretty routine play. But the mascot, standing on the end line, suddenly dove out and onto the ball. There was no reason for it, no way could he have thought that was the thing he ought to do. But he had visions of glory. He had visions of Devin Hester and Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush. He had visions of picking that ball up and running it back for a touchdown. Then, I’m sure, he had visions of Rudy. And he couldn’t help himself. He just couldn’t.

Though, imagining Rudy with the crowd cheering “Buckeye! Buckeye!” just isn’t the same. Try it. Granted, I don’t know if it was a Buckeye who made that little mistake, but I’ll take the gamble and say it probably was.

Sometimes, they’re heavyweight fighters. They have their pride to think about, after all, which already has to be taking a hit from having to wear that mascot uniform in the first place. Here’s one of the best, with the Duck (“Ducks fly together!” Sorry. Had to.) coming out on top:



Seriously, these guys are probably more hardcore than the guys who are actually on the team, who are actually hitting each other out on the field. I mean, it takes a whole squad of cheerleaders just to fend that Duck off. That’s something. A whole squad.

On a related note, I’m guessing that Oregon’s RB Legarrette Blount spent more time watching tape of that fight than he did tape of Boise State’s defense.

BYLINE:

Jonathan Schlosser is a writer and part-time library worker. He has published some short fiction and is working on finding a publisher for his novel. He has a B.A. in Writing, which means that, for a living, he is allowed to put away books at the library. He is also allowed to tell parents to tell their children to be quiet. He lives in Grand Rapids, MI. Email Jonathan at jonathan@zoiksonline.com.

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