We have some weird mascots for our sports teams in this country. Badgers, tornadoes, horned toads, gophers, and even, simply, a tree (who apparently has different sets of leaves for different times of year!). But the idea of having a mascot to begin with is kinda strange, if you stop to think about it, so I thought I’d dig around and see where this uniquely American tradition came from.
While symbolism and metaphor have been around since the beginning of time, the use of mascots in school sport situations started back in the 19th century, often using live animals instead of individuals in costumes! Teams and supporters would then wear likenesses of the mascot on school lapel pins to show their allegiance. But as you can imagine, the cost and time involved in maintaining some of the more exotic mascots became burdensome and led to the invention of the mascot costume.
Of course, this shift from real animals to cartoon versions of them led to far more creativity in regards to the mascots themselves, as well as to the school lapel pins worn in solidarity. Bright colors, crazy shapes and other bells and whistles were added to keep up with the outlandish costumes. And one of the first nationally known mascots? The Chicago Cubs Cubby Bear! Introduced in 1908, the design has definitely evolved in the past century, but the intense dedication by fans to wear Cubs baseball caps, jerseys, and lapel pins has not changed one bit over that time, unless it has simply become more fervent.
No matter what the mascot is though, chances are there are plenty of items to adorn yourself with that have their likeness on it. And with schools starting up this week, a lot of moms and dads are sporting school lapel pins or drinking out of school mugs to support their children as they head back to college or high school. So gear up and support your team, whether they’re the Packers (not a terribly romantic figure) or the Buccaneers (who doesn’t love a good pirate?). Go team!