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History of Mascots

Mascot background

The history of mascots dates back to cavemen and early societies that hunted for a living. The first evidence of cloaked creatures, often resembling animals, were drawn or carved on cave walls and depicted in ancient art. Totem poles were filled with animal likenesses in ancient cultures. These similarities are very similar to the concept of team mascots that is evident in football stadiums and basketball courts. Usually in ancient times the history of mascots shows that these likenesses were often worshipped. This was especially true during hunting and harvesting seasons. The ancient tribesmen dressed themselves in the likeness of animals or those in totems to incite their goodwill. They believed that this would help with successful hunts and bountiful harvests. Also, ancient cultures dressed in masks or animal-like figures for fertility purposes. Many would dance with the “mascot” as a costume to bring fertility to the people of their tribe or village.

Evolution of Mascots

Society has come a long way in the current version of mascots. Mascots as we know them today have been in the same style and incarnation since the 1800s. They started popping up on high school and college stadiums around that time. Live animals were often used as the official team mascots, and athletes proudly wore a mascot patch on their uniform. The maintenance and upkeep of live animals became expensive and unwieldy, and as a result they were largely eliminated. They evolved to look like the puppet versions we see today.

They have personality

Mascots are now considered artists and entertainers with characteristics that now make them an art form. They have become an embodiment of what the team is and may be associated with the location of the team or some other dominant characteristic that makes the team unique. Effective mascots don’t learn their stage presence from a classroom. Having the ability to become one with the character and reflect that through physical action is vital to being a believable mascot. The person has to be able to put aside their individuality and really get into the character. Mascots are especially popular with children. They must act in a child-friendly and non-intimidating manner.

The more affordable a mascot is, the more affordable it will be. In addition, they will be well received by fans of all ages. The position of the mascot exerts great power over the crowds at the games. They have the ability to either really get the crowd involved in the game, or give a poor effort and have the crowd turn against them.

Mascots as symbols

Throughout the history of mascots, symbology is an important component that continues to surface. Mascots are often labeled with names that indicate gender and/or certain characteristics. For example, a mascot called Robbie the Rabbit would feature a male rabbit who is quick on his feet. This does a lot to create an image in the minds of fans and anyone who thinks of the particular team that the mascot represents. Fans will also expect the mascot to react in a consistent and specific manner to them on an ongoing 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 on. It is a position that requires creativity, consistency, individuality and strong symbolism. Mascots may not be worshiped as in ancient societies, but they are powerful images etched in the minds of fans everywhere. Many times the team is synonymous with the mascot itself.

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