The other day, I was watching a documentary on the 1979 baseball season on the MLB Network and the World Series winner of that season, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Those Pirates were know for its team slogan and team song, the hit song by Sister Sledge, We are Family. As they were recollecting that season and that team, several times, the man who played the team mascot- the Pittsburgh Parrot, Greg Brown, was interviewed and would comment on the intricacies of that team. Now, Brown isn’t your typical mascot as he ultimately in later years become an announcer for the Pirates which is probably why he had the clout to be included in the list of people to comment on the team, but just hearing from a mascot for the first time, made me think, what is it really like to be a mascot, from someone who actually was a mascot?
Well, an ESPN article a couple of years ago lays out some of the details and particularly the travails of the life of a mascot pretty clearly. Patrick Hruby’s article The seedier side of Fur and Fun, documents some of these hazards, risks, health-related realities, and other anecdotes. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights from the article:
- Heat– Inside a costume, temperatures are routinely 40 degrees higher inside the suit than outside the suit. Given the heat, most professional teams have multiple people play the mascot and alternate regularly throughout the game for the safety of each person playing the mascot. Mascots, on average, lose 8.6 pounds per performance—crazy!
- Stench- Performing inside that suit, apparently the stench is out of this world from all of the sweat the mascots lose during the game. No mascot would use someone else’s mascot suit—they know what the stench is like. Dry cleaning can’t get it completely clean, particularly the head of the mascot which you can’t just throw in the washing machine. Sounds like it’s reminiscent of the Seinfeld BO episosde, where Jerry couldn’t get the body odor smell from a car attendant out of the car even after trying all power washing techniques. He ultimately sold the car.
- Injury- Mascots get hurt. A study suggested half of all mascots have had a heat related injury, 40 percent had chronic lower back pain, and 20% have had knee injuries while performing. Their injury rate is comparable to gymnasts, which are the athletes with the highest injury rate. Now a days, mascots are jumping off trampolines through fire rings and even other risky maneuvers.
- Lawsuits- Mascots and their teams are often sued. The Philly Phanatic, perhaps the most famous mascot, has had a judgment against him for $2.5 million for hugging some one too hard amongst other lawsuits.
Moral of the story—it’s not easy being a mascot but if you want a quick way to lose weight, try being a mascot!