Mascots in sport are inherently strange things. Who’d have thought that an essential component of any sporting team or event would be a guy dressed in a furry or plastic costume with a painted on smile, jumping around trying to whip up fans’ enthusiasm would have become an essential part of the sporting experience? Certainly not us, but it is now seemingly essential that every team from American colleges to non-league football teams have a physical manifestation of either their nickname or spirit, there to engage with their younger fans or entertain older ones. However some mascots are even more weird than others – especially one just revealed this week by Scottish football club Partick Thistle, Kingsley. So in honour of Partick’s mad mascot, here are 10 of the weirdest mascots in sport.
1. Kingsley, Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle have its fair to say rarely offended the world of football in their 139 year existence. That was until they unveiled their new mascot Kingsley in June 2015. Designed by Turner Prize nominaed artist David Shrigley, the mascot has been compared to Lisa Simpson on drugs by some, with most finding it utterly terrifying. The design will also appear on Partick’s shirts as part of a sponsorship deal. Fans have been left bemused, although some have praised the design, saying that at least it’s different – even if it is one of the weirdest ever seen.
Image source: ITV.com
2. The Blue Nose, Birmingham City FC
At some point in 1994, someone at Birmingham City FC decided that not only did the club need a new mascot, but that it should be a giant blue nose. Now ‘blue noses’ is a nickname for City fans, but what on Earth persuaded the club that a giant physical representation of this was a good idea? It’s one thing having to run around dressed as an anthropomorphic dog, owl or cat, but as an eyeless blob whose only two features, its nostrils hold the implication that they are filled with snot (possibly blue snot). What on Earth were Birmingham thinking?
Image source: ITV.com
3. Izzy, The 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games
The Olympic Games have had a few dud mascots – in fact another games’ mascots are on this list. ‘Whatizit’ or ‘Izzy’ for short stands out as particularly dreadful because it symbolised everything that people hated about the 1996 Olympics, one of the most criticised games of all time. With America having held the games in Los Angeles just 12 years previously, few could see the point of going to a sweltering southern city few outside America had ever heard of, let alone thought of as a glorious Olympic venue. ‘Whatizit’ seemed to sum up this featureless corporate games, which seemed to be more bothered about sponsorships than athletic achievements. A strange blue blob, as the name implied, no-one knew what it was and more importantly, nobody cared.
Image source: therichest.com
4. Hip Hop The Rabbit, Philadelphia 76ers
Another 1990s monstrosity, this is our first entry from American sports, namely basketball. With the rise of rap music from urban trend to multi-million dollar industry in the 1980s and 1990s, it was predictable that everyone would try and attach themselves to it. Just as every boy band of the time had one ‘rapper’ in it, the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team also attempted to attach themselves to the hip hop trend by introducing this rabbit. Like many attempts to appropriate rap culture, this one failed miserably by trying to turn it into something a cute cartoon character would wear. Instead it, like so many 1990s TV shows who suddenly found themselves with a ‘cool’ street character (inevitably with sunglasses and an askew headgear) it has dated horribly and was naff at the time.
Image source: Bleacherreport.com
5. Zoe-Lou, Cardiff City FC
Cardiff were known as the Bluebirds, then owner Vincent Tan changed their badge to a red dragon, representative of their Welsh roots. So what were Cardiff’s mascots? Two frighteningly weird superhero mascots who had nothing to do with either the club’s past or recent change. While a female version of mascots isn’t the worst idea in the world, Zoe-Lou, along with male counterpart is just terrible and downright weird – as giant plastic humans tend to be. Cardiff are proof that when designing mascots it’s better to go furry and cute.
Image source: Shortlist.com
6. Sammy The Shrimp, Southend United FC
Southend are known as ‘The Shrimpers’, so in some ways this mascot is fair enough – except that from a distance it looks rather like something else, a certain part of the male anatomy. While Southend are to be applauded for sticking with a mascot who relates to their historic nickname, surely the designers could’ve come up with something that didn’t look like a sharpened worm or worse? Sammy was eventually replaced by the equally weird Elvis the Eel – an eel who predictably had the hairstyle of a certain rock and role star from the 1950s and 60s but looked nothing like an eel.
Image source: Shortlist.com
7. Burnie, The Miami Heat
Burnie may well be sport’s most unlucky mascot. The Miami Heat’s supposed good luck charm looks more like a pipe cleaner than the flame he’s supposed to represent, and he was hit with a $1m lawsuit in 1994 after pulling a female fan on to the court during a game. Unfortunately, she was married to the local Supreme Court judge and sued him for the resulting bruises and emotional distress. Poor Burnie, mascots are supposed to bring their teams luck, not land themselves with lawsuits. When you’re covered in orange fur and have a basketball for a nose however, lawsuits aren’t this weird mascot’s only worry.
Image source: Independent.co.uk
8. The Jolly Green Giant, Yeovil Town FC
The Jolly Green Giant, Yeovil Town’s mascot, looks like something specifically designed to give children nightmares. It’s the sort of character you can imagine a child cowering under the bed from as it haunts their dreams. Considering children are a major part of any mascot’s audience, this makes it a pretty weird figure for a football club to choose as its mascot. Despite looking like something out of a horror film directed by Dr. Seuss, the giant has become something of a cult figure – especially after shrugging off being punched by a rival fan in 2013.
Image source: Ciderspace.com
9. Terry Byte, Fulham FC
In 2003 as part of a sponsorship deal with Dabs.com, Fulham FC unveiled a new mascot – the woefully named Terry Byte, a pun on a term for computer memory. This awful mascot stood in contrast to one of Fulham’s previous mascots, the brilliantly absurd Sir Craven of Cottage – a knight who jousted around their Craven Cottage stadium. This mascot shows the perils of allowing sponsors to become involved with mascots – however it could be worse, Fulham are the club who put up a bizarre statue of Michael Jackson.
Image source: sportsonearth.com
10. Wenlock and Mandeville, London 2012 Olympics
After years of delays, wrangling and arguing the London 2012 Olympic Games were an unexpectedly joyous occasion as the whole country got into the Olympic spirit. Despite the fantastic event however one thing wasn’t up to scratch – the mascots. Wenlock and Mandeville strangely were the opposite of everything people loved about the games – London’s unique backdrop and the British capacity to poke fun at ourselves, as shown in the idiosyncratic opening ceremony. These two though were strange metallic one-eyed blobs, phallic if one was being unkind. In a games whose success was partly down to their Britishness, Wenlock and Mandeville were a rare and weird misstep.
Image source: Guardian.co.uk