Mascot Mania: Keeping up with the Keystone State

Written By Sarah Gibson

Oftentimes, when I’m casually talking to people about mascots (Which happens more than I think it should) they ask me how I know what makes a good mascot. While I could say that it all chalks up to preference, I don’t really think it does. Mascottery is a combination of performance and technical skill. If you’re looking for a good guideline, I’d recommend looking at the 2020 College Mascot National Championship Mascot Entry Rules and Info. It’s essentially a combination of character, crowd involvement, game situations, and activities outside of games. Sometimes I think examples are easier to provide than just reading off the rules, so here’s a definitive ranking of Pennsylvania Mascots, from worst to best, to give you an idea of what I value in a good mascot. 


  1. Steely McBeam of the Pittsburgh Steelers: Let’s start with the absolute worst. Steely. Mc. Beam. Awful. I should disclose that I am automatically not a fan of a mascot if it’s supposed to be a person, but they make a suit for it. It has the possibility of being acceptable if they’re cartoony like Youppi or have some sort of fantasy element to them, but mascots like The Ichabod of Washburn University and Steely McBeam are terrible because they are people in suits designed to look like people. It’s weird. He’s also super uncomfortable to look at. He isn’t intimidating in a fun way, he just looks . . . weird. He looks like the guy who comes over once a year to mess with the light box in your basement. Lastly, if you have a bad design, you can still be a good mascot, but McBeam’s biggest flaw is that he is literally the most boring mascot on this list. I cannot find a single thing about him worth mentioning. And that, my friends, is the biggest mascot sin. If you’re ugly, fine; If your name is bad, you can work around it, but boring me is the worst thing you can do when it’s literally your job not to do that. 


  1. Swoop of the Philadelphia Eagles: This one almost ties with Iceburgh, admittedly. So Swoop is an Eagle, which is cool. It’s a fine mascot concept. I’m not thrilled when I see eagles since they’re such a common mascot, but at the very least, Swoop is pretty well designed. His expression isn’t angry, but it’s not too cuddly-cute either. Definitely one of the better eagle mascots around. The website for the Philadelphia Eagles claims that Swoop is one of the most well-loved mascots in the NFL, and I don’t doubt that there are people out there who love Swoop, but the team certainly doesn’t do much with him outside of his game appearances. He doesn’t have socials or anything. He was recently a part of a campaign to urge Pennsylvanians to vote, which was cute. I don’t know. He seems a little generic, but not lazily so, and that’s why he’s number six. 


  1. Iceburgh of the Pittsburgh Penguins: Admittedly, I like Iceburgh because I like the Penguins, but objectively, he’s kind of bland. He’s cute and good for kids I suppose, but he really isn’t a super big focal point of the team’s brand, and you can see that. 


  1. Franklin the Dog of the Philadelphia 76ers: This is a mascot literally designed by kids to cater to kids. I haven’t seen much of him, but it’s a good idea, and much better than Hip Hop, the last mascot for the 76ers. Hip Hop was just some dude in a grey morph suit with muscles and this horrible bunny face. Too anthropomorphic for my taste. 


  1. Pirate Parrot of the Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirate Parrot is fine. He was made as a competitor to the Philly Phanatic, but he’s never acted that way. The Parrot’s biggest pull is with kids, which is an absolutely fine route to take if you’re a mascot. His image is a lot of what holds Pirates promotional events together since the team is bad. That being said, his personality could use a little more nuance, but otherwise, the Parrot does his job very well. 


  1. Gritty of the Philadelphia Flyers: I’ve spoken about Gritty before, but to sum it up: Gritty is a great, well defined character, but I think he needs to keep things up for a few more years before I consider him one of the greats. I also think he needs to cause a little more mayhem and maybe get sued so he can be a true Philly mascot, but that’s a personal opinion of mine. 


  1. Phanatic of the Philadelphia Phillies: The Phanatic is arguably one of the best mascots of all time. He’s got it all. He’s cute, he’s got good design, and he is so terrifying I hope to never meet him in person. Literally, I could probably do an entire piece with my favorite stories about the Phanatic pushing the envelope. You will never find another mascot that brandishes the gruff persona of Philadelphia sports while possessing near-perfect design.