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The term mascot – defined as a term for any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck[1] – colloquially (informally) includes anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name. Mascots are also used as fictional, representative spokespeople for consumer products, such as the rabbit used in advertising and marketing for the General Mills brand of breakfast cereal, Trix.

In the world of sports, mascots are also used for merchandising. Team mascots are often confused with team nicknames.[2] While the two can be interchangeable, they are not always the same. For example, the athletic teams of the University of Alabama are nicknamed the Crimson Tide, while their mascot is an elephant named Big Al. Team mascots may take the form of a logo, person, live animal, inanimate object, or a costumed character, and often appear at team matches and other related events, sports mascots are often used as marketing tools for their teams to children. Since the mid-20th century, costumed characters have provided teams with an opportunity to choose a fantasy creature as their mascot, as is the case with the Philadelphia Phillies' mascot, the Phillie Phanatic.

Costumed mascots are commonplace, and are regularly used as goodwill ambassadors in the community for their team, company, or organization such as the U.S. Forest Service's Smokey Bear.

EtymologyEdit

The word mascot has been traced back to a dialectal use in Provence and Gascony in France, where it was used to describe anything which brought luck to a household.[3]

The French word "mascotte" (Provençal version: "mascoto") means talisman, charm, and is derivative of the word "masco" meaning sorceress.

The word was first popularized in 1880, when French composer Edmond Audran wrote a popular comic operetta titled La Mascotte. However, it had been in use in France long before this, as French slang among gamblers, derived from the Occitan word masco, meaning "witch" (perhaps from Portuguese mascotto, meaning "witchcraft"), and also mascoto, meaning "spell".

Audran's operetta was so popular that it was translated into English as The Mascot, introducing into the English language a word for any animal, person, or object that brings good luck. The word with this definition was then incorporated into many other languages, although often in the French form mascotte.

Choices and identitiesEdit

Often the choice of mascot reflects a desired quality; a common example of this is the "fighting spirit," in which a competitive nature is personified by warriors or predatory animals.

Mascots may also symbolize a local or regional trait, such as the Nebraska Cornhuskers' mascot, Herbie Husker: a stylized version of a farmer, owing to the agricultural traditions of the area in which the university is located.

In the United States, controversy[4] surrounds some mascot choices, especially those using human likenesses. Mascots based on Native American tribes are particularly contentious, as many argue that they constitute offensive exploitations of an oppressed culture.[5] However this may be a case of political correctness in some situations, since many indian tribes have actually come out in support of keeping the names. For example Chief Osceola is sanctioned by the Seminole tribe of Florida, as are the Utah Utes, and the Michigan Hurons [6]

Some sports teams have "unofficial" mascots: individual supporters or fans that have become identified with the team. The New York Yankees have such an individual in fan Freddy Sez. Former Toronto Blue Jays mascot BJ Birdie was a costumed character created by a Blue Jays fan, ultimately hired by the team to perform at their home games. USC Trojans mascot is Tommy Trojan who rides on his horse (and the official mascot of the school) Traveler.

Sports mascotsEdit

See also: Lists of sports mascots: Australian sports, Brazilian football, MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympics and Paralympics, U.S. colleges (post-secondary)
See also: Native American mascot controversy, List of sports team names and mascots derived from indigenous peoples

One of the earliest sports mascots was for the Chicago Cubs, in 1908.[7]

In Britain, some teams have young fans become "mascots". These representatives sometimes have medical issues, and the appearance is a wish grant,[8] the winner of a contest,[9] or under other circumstances. Unlike the anonymous performers of costumed characters, however, their actions can be associated with the club later on.[10]

Corporate MascotsEdit

Mascots are very common in the corporate world. There are many very recognizable mascots such as Chester Cheeto, Keebler Elf, Fruit_of_the_Loom_Guys, Pizza Pizza Guy for Little Ceasars, Rocky the Elf, Coca Cola Bear, and the NBC Peacock. These mascots are typically known without even having to refer to the company or brand. This is a great example of corporate branding, and soft selling a company. Mascots are able to act as brand ambassadors where advertising is not allowed. For example many corporate mascots can attend non-profit events, or sports and promote their brand while entertaining the crowd. Some mascots are simply cartoons or virtual mascots, others are characters in commercials, and others are actually created as costumes and will appear in person in front of the public at tradeshows or events.

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School MascotsEdit

Most schools have a mascot. High schools, colleges, and even middle and elementary schools typically have mascots. Most of them have their mascot created as a costume, and use this costume at sports or social events. Examples of School mascots include University of NC Ram, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Scrappy the Mocking Bird, Temple Owl, Villanova Wildcat, MIT Beaver, Boston University Terrier, and St. Joes Hawk.

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NASA mascotEdit

Camilla Corona SDO is the mission mascot for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and assists the mission with Education and Public Outreach (EPO).

Military mascotsEdit

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Mascots are also popular in military units. For example, the United States Marine Corps uses the bald eagle as a formal emblem; the bulldog is also popularly associated with the U.S. Marines.

The goat in the Royal Welsh is officially not a mascot but a ranking soldier. Lance Corporal William Windsor retired on 20 May 2009, and a replacement is expected in June.[11] Several regiments of the British Army have a live animal mascot which appear on parades. The Parachute Regiment and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders have a Shetland pony as their mascot, a ram for The Mercian Regiment; an Irish Wolfhound for the Irish Guards and the Royal Irish Regiment; a drum horse for the Queen's Royal Hussars and the Royal Scots Deagon Guards; an antelope for the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers; and a goat for the Royal Welsh. Other British military mascots include a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a pair of ferrets.

The Norwegian Royal Guard adopted a King Penguin named Nils Olav as its mascot on the occasion of a visit to Edinburgh by its regimental band. The (very large) penguin remains resident at Edinburgh Zoo and has been formally promoted by one rank on the occasion of each subsequent visit to Britain by the band or other detachments of the Guard. Regimental Sergeant Major Olav was awarded the Norwegian Army's Long Service and Good Conduct medal at a ceremony in 2005.

Mascots in musicEdit

Some bands, particularly in the Heavy Metal genre use band mascots to promote their music. The mascots are usually found on album covers or merchandise such as band T-shirts, but can also make appearances in live shows or music videos. A famous example of a band mascot is Eddie the Head of the English Heavy Metal band Iron Maiden. Eddie is a zombie-like creature which is personified in different forms on all of the band's albums, most of its singles and some of its promotional merchandise. Eddie is also known to make live appearances, especially during the song Iron Maiden. Another notable example of a mascot in music is Skeleton Sam of [The Grateful Dead]. South Korean hip hop band B.A.P uses rabbits named Matoki as their mascot, each bunny a different color representing each member, Yongguk, Himchan, Daehyun, Youngjae, Jongup, and Zelo. Although rabbits have an innocent image, BAP gives off a tough image. Hip hop artist Kanye West uses a teddy bear named Dropout Bear as his mascot; Dropout Bear has appeared on the cover of three of West's studio albums, and serves as the main character of West's music video, Good Morning.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. mascot - Definitions from Dictionary.com
  2. Marc's Collection of Mascots: Introduction
  3. Online Etymology Dictionary
  4. ESPN.com - Dick Vitale - NCAA mascot, nickname ban is confusing
  5. Native American Mascots: Racial Slur or Cherished Tradition?
  6. Time to Rethink Native American Imagery
  7. Brown, David (27 January 2012). "Photo: 1908 Cubs protect their mascot’s back". Yahoo! Sports. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/photo-1908-cubs-protect-mascot-back-093654011.html. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  8. Halewood, Simon (6 July 2011). "Wimboldsley couple celebrate after grandson walks tall with England heroes". Crewe Chronicle. http://www.crewechronicle.co.uk/crewe-news/local-crewe-news/2011/07/06/wimboldsley-couple-celebrate-after-grandson-walks-tall-with-england-heroes-96135-29000095/. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  9. "Brazil Mascot Competition". The Scottish Football Association. Glasgow UK: The Scottish Football Association Ltd,. 2011. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. http://www.webcitation.org/60AmRzAdc. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  10. McDermott, Nick (14 July 2011). "Ex-England mascot stabbed to death on last day of Greek holiday with friends was attacked in row over laser pens shone at motorists". The Daily Mail (London UK). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2014268/British-teenager-stabbed-death-dream-holiday-attack-Greek-taxi-drivers.html. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  11. "Retiring army goat's new zoo home". BBC News. 20 May 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8058249.stm. Retrieved 5 January 2010.

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