They date back to medieval times and connections to the occult, dark powers and witchcraft. In modern times they are usually cute and likeable.
Mascots – love them or hate them, they are all around. The sporting world is full to the brim with mascots – from the World Cup of Football to the Olympics – with most teams at all levels featuring their own version of someone dressed up in an animal costume and performing antics on the field to pump up the crowd. This post features pictures of mascots from around the world.
Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics mascots.
Beijing 2008 Olympics mascot.
In 2008 the NFL [American] football team Pittsburgh Steelers unveiled a new mascot named is Steely McBeam. Before this the Steelers never had a mascot or cheerleaders for that matter, since there are is really no need for them when all 64,000 fans scream the entire game. After this mascot was unveiled there were websites up almost immediately with shirts saying things like “more like Steely McStupid”.
A Nara-based Buddhist group announced in 2008 that it had created its own mascot to mark the 1,300th anniversary of Nara becoming capital of Japan. The mascot�s name is Namu-kun, and he is made to look like Prince Shotoku, a leader whose palace is said to have been located in Nara.
Carolina Hurricanes mascot, Stormy and Atlanta Thrashers mascot, Thrash.
The Tree, known as The Stanford Tree, is the mascot for the prestigious Ivy league Stanford University. Maybe this is as creative as eggheads get…could have been worse though. In 1975, just prior to the Tree�s creation, other mascot candidates included the French Fry and the Steaming Manhole.� By comparison, a tree doesn’t seem so bad.
Colorado Rockies mascot – Yo, Barney!
A Brief History of the Mascot:
The use of mascots goes back to antiquity but they were not always called mascots. The word “mascot” itself suggests a connection with the occult, being derived from the French slang word ‘mascotte’. This is the diminutive of the Provencal word “masco” meaning ” witch”.
How the word entered the English language is a story in itself. At the turn of the century, a French composer, Edmond Audran (1842-1901) wrote a series of operettas. One of the most popular was called ‘La Mascotte’ (1880) a light hearted plot about a farm girl who brought good luck to whoever possessed her, provided that she remained wholesome. This ran for over 1,000 performances between 1800 and 1882. Its popularity was so great that it was translated into English and staged in England (Comedy Theatre, London, Oct 15, 1881), and the USA (Gaiety Theatre, Boston, April 11, 1882).The translated title became “The Mascot” and the concept of a mascot as a person, animal or thing, bringing luck was thus established.
Man has always admired the wild beasts he used to hunt, the grace and power of the big cats, the speed and persistence of the wolf, the intelligence of the fox and sheer power of the bear. All of these animals made fearsome opponents and early humans must have had a fair amount of guts to tackle them without today’s weapons. It was this awe and respect that probably led to the adoption of these animals as tribal symbols or totems and the belief that by communing with these animals, some of these powers will magically transfer to “their” tribe. They used likenesses of these animals in their ceremonies, both in primitive costume form, and as models and statues to bring good fortune in battle, a bountiful harvest, protection against misfortune, to heal the sick, and to bring misfortune on their enemies. Some of their gods were, in fact, mascots. The earliest example of mascots in graphical and model form has to be the cave paintings in various parts of the world and the tribal statues and totem poles in existence even today.
There is much in common with a tribal elder doing a fertility dance in a mask and animal skin and a modern sporting or business mascot character. Mascots existed in model form as well as live characters. The totem poles of the North American Indians is one example, the Roman eagle is another. The English refer to themselves as the bulldog breed with the lion and bear used extensively as heraldic symbols.
The military are one of the biggest users of mascot characters, usually in graphic form. Many military units both in Australia and the USA have their own mascots. One example in Australia is W.O. Quintus, a fully grown Bengal tiger, the mascot of one of Australia’s army units. Now too dangerous to take on parade, he resides in Taronga Zoo Sydney. Because of their ferocity, big cats are popular as military mascots. Bears are used as well. Most of the Australian Navy ships have their own mascots, examples include; the black panther of HMAS Brisbane, and the bat from HMAS Vampire (now decommissioned). Air force squadrons also have mascot characters.
Many of these military mascots have a long and illustrious tradition and have, in some cases, outlived their original units or ships. In some cases, the unit is formally known by its mascots name. One famous mascot, known throughout the internet is the University of Minnesota’s, where a popular piece of internet software originated. It is, of course, the Gopher. “Spirit building” has become a peculiarly American phenomena, almost without equal anywhere in the world.”