Mascot Mania: Who is left when the lights go out?

Written By Sarah Gibson, SGA Beat Writer

Hello! My name is Sarah Gibson. You may know me as the SGA Beat writer for the Point Park Globe, but if you’ve seen the Pioneer Sideline on UView, you’ve probably also seen me as the Senior Mascot Correspondent, a role I’ve held for about a year now. At the Pioneer Sideline, my job was to cover the best that the mascots of the sports world had to offer, and now I’m extending that coverage to the Globe! And while sports may be on hold, I don’t think this could have come at a better time. 

Something I’ve always loved about mascots is that there is an air of levity to them. They charm the audience and intimidate the other side. Their job requires a certain amount of joyfulness and charisma. If there was ever a time where sports fans and non-fans alike could use that spirit, it’s now. When the world is at a standstill, when the stadiums are forced to close their doors, when every sport you’re watching is a rerun, when the lights go out, who’s left?

Your friends, the mascots. 

I think when everything started locking down, I wasn’t really thinking about how this would affect the execution of the role of mascot. It only occurred to me that the execution could change once it did. I was on Tiktok, a serial time waster for me during the Quarantine, and I saw a video of Gritty (Because of course it was Gritty) doing trick shots with a ping pong ball and some pots and pans. I smiled. ‘Well, we’ll be back someday.’ I thought to myself. And I don’t even like the Flyers. I hate them. But the presence of a mascot serves as a pleasant distraction and a fresh ignition of the fan’s flames that we have had to temporarily douse in the times of athletic COVID bubbles and empty stadiums. 

Not only that, but the platform mascots are now more rapidly taking to reach their audiences are also drawing in the appreciation of non-sports fans as well. I understand that mascots have been on Twitter, Tiktok, and other platforms for a while, but I think Gritty was the first mascot to break the barrier from a sports-based icon to a mainstream cultural icon, which set the stage for the new vehicle of mascot performance: Tiktok. It’s other social media sites as well, but in terms of a funeral procession, every other platform is a sad loved one, but Tiktok is the main event, driving the hearse out front. Tiktok is an empire based on silly, partially non-vocal trends that are hyper-connected to each other and streamlined to an audience that has been algorithm-ed to perfection. 

Gritty’s trick shots have been pretty great, but there have been some other mascots using Tiktok to its full potential, including the San Antonio Spurs’ Coyote mascot, who made some waves by dueting Tiktok dances and claiming himself to the the spurs official “Mask-cot” whenever they started playing again. (It’s all pretty cute and clever, but I’ll warn you before you look it up that this mascot looks like one of my sleep paralysis demons.) Another one to catch up on is Benny the Bull, of the Chicago Bulls, who celebrated his 50th birthday in quarantine, pulled off the Timothy Chalamet challenge with a mascot twist, and reminded people to stay in their homes because “It isn’t that hard.”

At the end of all of this, I guess what I’m trying to say is that to some extent, this is all temporary. It may change the way we do certain things for a while, but regular sports, vacations, Game nights, they’re not gone for good. I don’t know if looking at a slam-dunking coyote nightmare makes you feel any better about that, but it makes me smile. And it serves as a gentle nudge to the ribs. The lights may be out, but they’ll turn back on again.

And your friends will be waiting.