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Every sports team in the world has a mascot. But what are they and what is their purpose? From the dictionary definition of mascot, it is either an animal, person or object likened to a talisman to bring good luck to a team. This behavior emulating the near-idolization of sport mascot designs has been going on for centuries and is very apparent within native cultures of indigenous peoples. The people of Papua New Guinea, do a dance, while decorated with colors and feathers representing a local majestic bird of prey as a sign of bravery and for good luck in the hunt.
In fairness, it is appropriate to ask if the concept of the mascot is just to sell things. With any particular university, your professional sports team could certainly convince you, that was the case. But it may be more precise to consider that the mascot is a way for the diverse community of tens to condense into one cohesive and supportive unit. If you’re a fan of a team called the Bulldogs, it is almost certain you have a shirt jacket, hat or some other emblazoned with bulldog.
Perhaps originally the idea of dressing up or camouflaging oneself to look like a majestic animal was done in the hopes of somehow channeling the ferocious spirit into oneself. And there is certainly something to that regarding sports teams, which is why the majority of physical sports to something fearsome or ferocious as a mascot to inspire the team’s success. Those who have graduated from an institute seem to never leave the mascot behind.
Mascots may help sell a lot of trinkets but there’s a more serious side to it. They are truly motivational images. The team, school and community actually embrace the mascot is an overarching identity. And a two-college town one can immediately identify the we-they aura in almost any public gathering area. It becomes almost half of all, close to a rivalry game between two teams.
It can be almost amusing to see grown men and women as well as children dressing up in jerseys designed to look just like the players uniforms, and yet no matter how gaudy and out of place they may look, on game day if you’re not wearing one, you are out of style. And even in high school are usually treated to the first taste of fame when strangers wear jerseys with their name on the back, all in the name of sport.
Mascot can be a central part of the history and lore of the school or community. The Saints demonstrated the ability to lift an entire community by representing their city. A football team and the name came to represent the people lifting themselves up after a devastating hurricane. When the Saints actually won the Super Bowl the people in the town of New Orleans, stated in interviews that it was a good omen for the city. In this case, the mascot took on a much larger meaning than the name of a football team.
It is possible, however, for a mascot to stir up unanticipated trouble. For many non-natives any reference to Native Americans is meant to honor the bravery, integrity, and honesty the indigenous Americans have come to represent. But during football games when an entire crowd starts making any symbolic tomahawk gesture, it is not always received a positive light.
There have been numerous attempts to eliminate or reduce references to Native Americans as mascots for sporting teams. Inevitably, the icons remain but only after heated discussions which may largely be a healthy approach to keeping respect for one another in the limelight. This is just another example of how the emblems of sports and specifically sport design mascots and bring out emotions and feelings beyond just a sporting team.
write by Mital Patel