Jun 22, 2010

Article: Finding a mascot a key to pro sports organizations

Here's an article from nwi.com about mascots in professional sports. Some highlights:

"You have to miss family birthday parties and weddings to go to other people's birthday parties and weddings," said Carrie Norwood, mascot coordinator with the White Sox. "You have to have a bigger than life personality, and know when not to have a bigger than life personality."


Professional sports teams see the importance of a mascot equal to who is on the field. The mascot is the friendly member of the team that fans can touch and interact with, while athletes aren't always as available.

"When kids think of the RailCats, they do think of Rusty as being No. 1," said Laura Blakeley, Manager of Merchandise and Community Relations for the RailCats. "For a lot of people, when they hear 'RailCats', they think of Rusty."

Rusty the RailCat, mascot for Gary's Northern League baseball team, makes between $50 to $70 per appearance. Southpaw is a full-time front office staff member in the franchise with a full slate of regular-season home games plus an additional 250 outside appearances.

"A fair range is between $30,000 to $200,000 per year, but it just depends on who the character is," Norwood said. "It's about how much experience you have, because someone like the Philly Phanatic is going to get paid more because he's flying all over the country."


The secrecy of keeping a mascot's identity varies from team to team. While Famous Chicken Ted Giannoulas isn't shy about giving interviews, talking to a crowd or revealing who he is, Norwood said that there are members of Southpaw's family who don't know about the day job.

Blackhawks media representative Adam Rogowin said the team has a policy of not allowing Tommy Hawk to speak with the media or public. When Rusty practiced routines with the RailCats' dance team last season, media and cameras were limited so as not to reveal the identity of the man behind the suit.

"It's kind of like being Superman," Norwood said. "Once people realize there's someone inside, then the fantasy is ruined. That's one reason our performer doesn't go around telling people what he does. The way adults react toward Southpaw, they totally forget there's someone inside. We want to keep it that way."

Unlike most colleges, which rotate mascots as performers graduate, most professional teams hope to keep performers on the staff as long as possible. The directors say that fans notice anomalies in behavior of mascots, which is why a major league mascot like Southpaw has maintained continuity.

"People notice if Jammer goes from right-handed to left-handed when signing an autograph," Keegan said. "They note the small changes. ... Last year, our Jammer could ride a skateboard. If we have to find someone new, we have to find certain traits.

Read the entire article...

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Prince said...
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