Background of Mascots
The history of mascots dates back to cavemen and early societies who hunted for their livelihood. Early accounts of masked creatures, often resembling animals were drawn or etched on cave walls and depicted in ancient art. Totem poles were filled with likenesses of animals in ancient cultures. These likenesses are much like the concept of the team mascots evident on football fields and basketball courts. Usually in ancient times the history of mascots’ shows that these likenesses were often worshiped. This was especially true during times of hunting and harvest. Ancient tribal people would dress up in the likeness of animals or those on totem poles to incite goodwill from them. They believed this would help with successful hunts and bountiful harvests. Also, ancient cultures would dress up in masks or animal like figures for purposes of fertility. Many would dance in the “mascot” like costume to bring about fertility for people in their tribe or village.
Evolution of Mascots
Society has come a long way in its current version of mascots. Mascots as we know them today have been in the same style and incarnation since the 1800’s. They began to spring up on high school and college playing fields during that era. Often live animals were used as the official mascots of teams, and athletes were proudly wearing a patch with the mascot on their uniform. The maintenance and upkeep of live animals became costly and cumbersome, so they were largely eliminated. They evolved to resemble the puppet-like versions we see today.
They’ve got Personality
Mascots are now seen as artists and entertainers with traits that now make it an art form. They have come to be an embodiment of what the team is and may correlate to the location of the team, or some other overriding characteristic that makes the team unique. Effective mascots do not learn their stage presence from a classroom. Having the ability to become one with the character and reflect this through physical action is crucial to being a believable mascot. The person must be able to put their individuality aside and really get into character. Mascots are especially popular with children. They need to act in a way that is child-friendly and not intimidating.
The more personable a mascot is, the more approachable they will be. Plus they will be well-received by fans of all ages. The position of mascot wields a lot of power over crowds at games. They have the ability to either really involve the crowd in the game, or make a poor attempt and cause the crowd to turn on them.
Mascots as Symbols
Throughout the history of mascots, symbology is a major component that keeps rising to the surface. Mascots are often tagged with names that indicate gender and/or certain attributes. For example, a mascot called Robbie the Rabbit would indicate a male rabbit that is fast on its feet. This does a lot to create an image in the mind of fans and anyone thinking about the particular team the mascot represents. Fans will also come to expect the mascot to react in consistent and specific ways to them on a continual basis.
If a mascot has a habit of doing a certain dance, fans may be disappointed if the mascot decides not to do the famous dance on game day. It is a unique job and the rich history of mascots continues to unfold as time goes by. It is a position that requires creativity, consistency, individuality, and strong symbology. Mascots may not be worshiped like they were in ancient societies, but they are powerful images etched upon the minds of fans everywhere. Many times the team is synonymous with the mascot itself.