If you’ve ever been to a high school, college or professional sporting event, you’ve probably seen a mascot or two. If not in person, you’ve most likely seen them on television broadcasts of sporting events and commercials.

Mascots are those larger-than-life people, animals or objects that schools, teams and organizations adopt as symbolic figures. Mascots encourage crowds to cheer for their cause and often engage in all sorts of entertaining behavior.

Many people think mascots bring good luck. In fact, the word “mascot” is a French word that has been used for hundreds of years to describe something that brings luck to a household.

In addition to appearances at sporting events or large gatherings, mascots may also make public appearances to support a variety of causes. As goodwill ambassadors, mascots can donate time at community events to show an organization’s support of local causes.

Mascots can be adopted by any group seeking a common public identity. In addition to sports teams and schools, these groups can include military units and even consumer products. Sports mascots are by far the most popular, though.

Mascots often reflect team nicknames. For example, the National Football League’s Denver Broncos are represented by Miles, a white bronco horse.

However, mascots do not necessarily have anything to do with a team’s nickname. For example, the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets are not represented by a rocket. Instead, Clutch the Bear brings Rockets fans to their feet during games.

Some mascots are chosen for the qualities they possess. Sports teams seeking a competitive edge, for example, might choose a predatory animal, such as a buffalo or a tiger, to represent them.

Other organizations might choose a person, an inanimate object or a costumed character to represent other qualities they want to be associated with.

Other organizations might create a mascot that’s completely unique and pure fantasy. For example, Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies created the Phillie Phanatic as their mascot.

From taunting referees to shooting hot dogs into the stands, the Phillie Phanatic has become one of the most popular mascots in the United States. Even if young Phillies fans don’t remember the score of their first game, they’ll probably remember the Phillie Phanatic’s on-field antics.

Depending on the game, a mascot’s entertainment value can be just as valuable as the team’s performance.

Not all schools and sports teams have a mascot, though. Take Indiana University, for example. The Hoosiers, as they’re known, do not have an official school mascot. Although various sports teams at the school have tried a mascot from time to time (the football team tried a bison a while back), nothing has stuck.

Perhaps this is because no one knows for sure what a “hoosier” is! There are many theories out there about where the nickname came from, but no one really knows the true story.

At least one plausible explanation is that it came from a mispronunciation of a Polish word — “huzar” or “husar” — which referred to light cavalry fighters like the ones who fought with George Washington during the Revolutionary War. So maybe the “Hoosiers” should adopt a mascot that has the fighting spirit of the cavalry. What do you think?

 

46 Join the Discussion

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  1. We LOVED the video! How neat to watch, we would have loved to watch in person! We noticed that some of the mascots were not just sports teams but came from movies, for example Scooby Doo and Chester the Cheeta!!

    We also thought it was cool how some mascots have real names, for example “Miles” for the Denver Bronco’s. We also learned that the word “mascot” was French and it meant to bring good luck. How interesting!

    Thanks again! Have a good weekend, we will see you Monday! :)

    • That’s a whole LOT of learning about mascots, Kerrick Elementary 2nd/EBD classroom, and WE LOVE IT! What do you think a mascot for Wonderopolis would look like? Would it have a real name or a funny, creative one? Thanks for always leaving us such awesome comments! :-)

  2. Good Morning Wonderopolis! I am very proud of my class for being able to use context clues to predict today’s wonder. GO BEACH! As always, thank you Wonderopolis for a WONDERful lesson.

    • We agree completely, Mrs. Guerin…GO, BEACH! Your students are super smart for putting on their thinking caps and figuring out beforehand what today’s Wonder of the Day® would be about! We are so happy to count you all as Wonder Friends! :-)

  3. Obviously the BEST mascot is BRUTUS the BUCKEYE since we live outside Columbus, OH. We think tomorrow’s Wonder might be
    about your nose, germs or microscopic organisms. We’re very proud of stretching our vocabulary today!!

    • We’ve seen BRUTUS before! He’s very energetic! We wanted to let you know that we think “stretching your vocabulary” sounds like a WONDERful brain exercise! Keep it up, Mrs. Caplin’s Class! :-)

  4. Hey Mrs. Caplin’s Class,
    I like your thinking and prediction about tomorrow’s Wonder. Personally, I am leaning toward a question about glasses. Can you tell me why I am thinking along this way? BTW- BRUTUS ROCKS!!

    • We love to see our Wonder Friends communicating with each other and WONDERing together! We think Mrs. Guerin’s Class AND Mrs. Caplin’s Class both ROCK! :-)

  5. First and foremost- I have to say Go Pirates!! In Pike County, GA, we LOVE our mascot and have HUGE school pride. Our mascot unifies our school district. Wonderopolis, once again you have inspired me and my ideas to share with my students! Thanks for making your site a wonderful addition to my day! P.S. A mascot for Wonderopolis??? hmmm big possibilities.

    • WE are the ones who are inspired when we read comments like yours, Angie! Thank you for sharing Wonderopolis with your students! :-)

  6. Hey Wonderopolis, my mother’s favorite mascot is the Rutgers Knight from the college she went to. My father’s favorite mascot is Mr. Met from the NY Mets baseball team. My brother’s is lighthouse Pete. My favorite mascot is the Knight from my dad’s school. What is your favorite Mascot?

    Maddy M.

    • Thank you for sharing your family’s favorite mascots with us, Maddy! We don’t have a favorite mascot…we like them ALL! Being a mascot means you have a LOT of spirit for your team or cause, and we appreciate that! :-)

    • You are all so AMAZING for trying to guess each next day’s Wonder! Keep it up…we LOVE hearing about all the extra thinking that’s going on in your classrooms, Mrs. Caplin and Mrs. Guerin! :-)

    • We have a LOT of favorite mascots, Rhino Fan! There are so many interesting mascots for sports teams, businesses and schools…it’s hard to choose just one! Thank you for sharing your favorite mascot with your friends in Wonderopolis! :-)

    • Hello, fhsd! Thanks for sharing your favorite mascot with us! There are SO MANY wonderful things in Wonderopolis, we’d have a hard time choosing which type of mascot would be best! What do YOU think a mascot for Wonderopolis might look like? :-)

    • We like that idea, Rhino Fan! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis and sharing what you think a WONDER mascot might look like!

  7. Hi Wonderopolis,

    I loved the mascot basketball game in the video!! After reading the article, I learned two new words 1: inanimate 2: ambassador. Did you know Indiana University’s mascot used to be a bison! Also the word “mascot” is a french word! What is your favorite mascot? Mine is the pink panther in the video.

    Thank you for listening, Wonderopolis.

    • We didn’t know that about Indiana University’s mascot, Team McNeil 10! Thanks so much for sharing…you taught us something new! We have LOTS of favorite mascots, so it’s hard to pick just one. We have also learned about even more cool mascots from Wonder Friends like YOU who visited this Wonder and shared what their favorite ones are! :-)

  8. They should have mascots from AFL playing a game or the best mascots from every league around the world should have a competition, like a race. It would be really funny seeing some roll on the ground.

    THE GRAND MASCOT RACE

    • We like your idea for The Grand Mascot Race, Hayden! We think it would be super FUN to see all the mascots competing in different events, as well! Mascots sure help the level of team and fan spirit! :-)

  9. I think it would be good to see a Wonderopolis mascot. If you decide to make one, please let me know because I LOVE WONDEROPOLIS!

    • Hello, Buckley! Thanks for letting us know you’d like to see a Wonderopolis mascot! We think that would be really awesome, too! :-)

    • O-H-I-O! We think that Brutus is a pretty cool mascot, Odie! We’re glad that you’ve shared your favorite mascot with us– thanks for WONDERing today! :)

  10. Dear wonderopolis ok my favorite mascot is Brutus the Buckeye because he can do flips and he prays to the players and he’s for Ohio State Buckeyes and they are the best team ever. I think they will win the championship.

    • Very cool, Trollolol! We think Peter Puck is a cool character from Hockey Night in Canada and Hockey Game of the Week! Thanks for sharing your comment with us! :)

  11. Hey wonderopolis I really liked the video I love basketball and those mascots were not the best but I enjoyed the cool mascot costumes and hope to see more videos like this.

  12. My favorite mascot was v dogs. That is always my user name on games. The blizzard was my 2nd favorite one because he could like hardly see!!

  13. I love the Denver Broncos but they didn’t do so well in the Super Bowl last season. I went to the Broncos field in Denver in the Winter a got a tour of the stadium including the locker rooms! We saw their mascot and got to take a picture in front of it.

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is your favorite mascot?
  • Why do sports teams have mascots?
  • What are some of the most famous mascots?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Ready to learn a little bit more about some of the most famous mascots of all time? Head on over to the Mascot Hall of Fame to see which mascots have made it to the big time!

Why do you think The Famous Chicken, Mr. Met and Slider are so popular?

Of course, there are many mascots in the world. Not all of them can be in the Mascot Hall of Fame.

Here are a few less-well-known mascots we thought you might find interesting:

  • A lot of people are unsure about exactly what the Saint Louis University Billiken mascot is. But most Billikens fans agree he — it? — brings good luck!
  • The Akron Zippers — now known simply as the Zips — feature “Zippy” the kangaroo on the sidelines.
  • Even though Irvine, California, is not known for a plentiful supply of anteaters, Peter the Anteater nevertheless roams the fields at the University of California-Irvine.
  • Some mascots are meant to strike fear into the hearts of opponents. Some aren’t. For example, the University of California-Santa Cruz’s Banana Slugs are represented by none other than Sammy the Slug.

Does your school or favorite sports team have a mascot? If you’re up for a challenge, design a mascot for your school, a sports team, your family or even a favorite product.

Email us a picture of your mascot creation. We’d love to see what you come up with!

 

Still Wondering

Explore the cultural significance of masks with EDSITEment’s The Meaning Behind the Mask lesson!

 

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