If all mascots were like Aubie, I wouldn’t be writing this.

Now that we’ve revealed our mascot as the Raptors to the Research Triangle High School student body and community, more than one person has asked me, “Hey, are you guys gonna have a Raptor mascot at your games?”

What comes out of my mouth: “I guess we can look into that.”  What I say in my head: “Jesus, I hope not.”

Why?  Well, for starters, those costumes aren’t cheap.  I also love the suggestion from Deb, our lead English teacher, to get a faculty member’s dog and do this.

Hugo the Hornet, in George Shinn-forced exile since 2002.

But mainly, I hate mascots.

Now, before you start sending me hate mail, there are exceptions to this.  I’m still very partial to Hugo the Hornet, the symbol of the first sports team I ever truly loved (and that will hopefully return to the Queen City one day).  And Auburn University’s Aubie, seven-time winner of the college mascot national championships (yes, that’s a thing), is very enjoyable to be around at games and university functions.   But more often than not, mascots just creep me out, and they should creep you out too.  Let’s explore the reasons why.

1. Mascots smell awful.  I didn’t actually know this until I started working in sports, but the smell of a mascot costume is pungent and disgusting enough to knock out a full-grown elephant.  Imagine the wettest, sweatiest stench you can imagine – locker room, high school semi-formal, whatever – and then imagine it combined with gallons and gallons of Febreze.  The problem is that Febreze never actually gets rid of the smell of sweat; it just smells like sweat and Febreze, which is even worse.  The happiest day of my life was when the Kannapolis Intimidators created a mascot dressing room, which meant that they weren’t storing that cesspool of a costume in the press box anymore.  Oh, and speaking of the Intimidators…

Dub, the blue-furred root of my mascot distrust.

2. Dub.  The Intimidators had several years of misery trying to find someone suitable to play Dub, the Phillie Phanatic-inspired creature that for some reason symbolized the team (was a Dale Earnhardt costume just too creepy?).  When I first started working for them, they had a strange guy who would actually yell on the field while in the costume – isn’t that against mascot code or something?  After he quit, they got a younger guy who seemed like he was going to be pretty good, until he was fired after the team got reports of him walking up to the wife or girlfriend of a current player, leaning down in her ear, and saying, “Hey baby, how would you like a little monster in you?”  After a later incarnation of Dub tripped over third base during a race against a kid – causing Dub’s head to fall off and roll away, doubtlessly traumatizing the children in attendance – the Intimidators decided to just cut their losses and retire Dub.  In 2010 he was replaced by Tim E. Gator the Intimidator.  Because when I think of legendary NASCAR drivers, I think of alligators.  Whatever.

3. Mascots are people in a freakin’ costume, man!  Think about it.  When you let a mascot take a picture with your kids, are they getting their picture taken with a real cute, cuddly anthropomorphic animal?  Hell no they’re not; they’re getting their picture taken with a grown-ass person who walks around in a costume for a living and probably horses around with children and chases after the attractive female patrons with something approaching a fervor all night.  Do you think every team does background checks on the people in those costumes?  I seriously doubt it; for all you know they could be a pedophile, or a plushie, or god-only-knows-what.  They might want to put a monster in you!

I basically view mascots the way I view clowns.  I’m not afraid of them, but I just don’t normally like them.  I feel like I’ve built up a pretty good rapport with Norm the Niner and Aubie, but any other mascots out there… if you’re reading this, just stay away from me and let me enjoy the game.

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