Mascot Mania: The Science of Spirit

Written By Sarah Gibson, Sports Columnist

Wearing a mascot suit isn’t easy; anyone who’s worn one will tell you that. All of your senses used for navigation and general awareness as a human are muffled and limited when you’re wearing a big clunky suit with a giant head on top. I remember wearing the Black Diamond suit for a brief stint before the pandemic for a Pioneer Sideline promo, and I felt like I was in a sensory deprivation tank! I couldn’t imagine what it would actually be like, doing stunts or even merely spending more than an hour in the suit. So, this week, I thought I’d take a look at some of the more practical aspects of being a mascot, the science behind it and how mascot performers deal with the conditions inside of the suit.

Let’s start with the weight of the head in and of itself. While the body suit probably weighs a fair few pounds, I wasn’t able to find an exact number. However, according to the folks at “How to be a mascot,” a blog written by mascots-turned-mascot manufacturers, the heads can weigh anywhere from 2.5 to 15 pounds! From what I understand, the 15 pound example was sent in by another mascot, and is probably an outlier, but still. Imagine putting a 5 lb weight on your head and keeping it there all day. Most likely, a lot of these mascot heads are made out of fiberglass. However, it looks like mascot heads for the most part are getting lighter, as more and more often, mascot manufacturers are switching from fiberglass to a durable foam, which can also be used to make the feet of the costume. 

This brings me to the temperature inside the suit. I was unable to find any consistent instances of certain numbers, but after some research, it becomes clear that the temperatures attainable in the mascot suit can get so high, they’re dangerous for the performer. According to some former mascots, that temperature can approach 140 degrees on some of the hottest days. Thankfully, there are several precautions that mascot manufacturers and performers alike take to ensure that the mascot does not become a liability. One example is as simple as frequent hydration. The performer will be sweating near constantly in the suit on a hot day, which means that they’re losing a lot of water and can become dehydrated. Making sure that you’re drinking enough while performing as a mascot is super important. 

Another precaution taken to ensure the safety of the person inside in regards to temperature is a tiny fan, built into the tops of the head. In a “How it’s Made” special on mascot suits, you can see a tiny square fan being fitted into a mascot head made from thick foam. These fans are also normally fitted with a battery pack. Coolant vests are also a veteran-favorite method for keeping your body temperature down when you have to wear the suit in sweltering temperatures. Because of these temperatures, most mascot suits have to be cleaned and air-dried very methodically to ensure that bacteria doesn’t grow while sustaining the longevity of the suit itself. 

I hope you enjoyed this little ‘behind the mask’ bit. I thought it was really interesting and admittedly, I didn’t feel like throwing shade this week. Have a good week! Here’s hoping that we can all see a little more of the sun in the next month!