Team mascots aren’t always the most graceful, composed people/animals/things, but that’s central to their appeal. These magnetic, larger-than-life creatures often have some athletic skill of their own, but their true charm comes in their ability to entertain crowds – often at their own expense.
It’s all well and good to offer a high-five or a hug to a young fan, but let’s be honest here – the real joy in watching mascots do their thing comes in seeing what gimmicky fun and games they get up to and what stunts they have up their sleeves.
Of course, a “go big or go home” approach to these gimmicked stunts can tend to carry some element of risk. Often, these flops, drops and pratfalls are deliberately planned and executed, but sometimes things don’t go according to plan. As much as you may not want to, it’s hard to avoid laughing when a stunt goes off the rails and a pratfall becomes a little too real.
That is, if you can catch it. It can typically be hard to tell when things are operating in accordance with the planned skit and when things are going awry with costumed mascots. In these 10 instances, however, it becomes pretty clear that the end result wasn’t exactly in the cards initially.
10. Dugout Moonwalk Fail
You’d think that rule #1 in walking backwards while atop a dugout would be having an awareness of your surroundings. Apparently poor Wolfie, the University of Nevada mascot, forgot that rule as he moonwalked right off the edge, a stunt that looks too risky to be pre-planned. Credit goes to his furry red dance partner, who quickly reacts by checking on his fallen brethren and then – hopefully upon seeing that Wolfie was okay – immediately goes back to whooping it up with the crowd. When it comes to mascot dugout dancing, the show must go on!
9. Happy Birth-whoops!
The ol’ have-a-mascot-drop-a-cake bit may seem like it’s taken right out of the mascot canon, but this is either real or someone in the Utah Jazz game operations department went way over the line. Those are lit candles on a cake being presented to a season ticket holder in the upper deck, which is then dropped on a whole bunch of fans seated below… not that any of those fans, who went on to engineer a spontaneous food fight, seem to mind! If it was a planned gag, it doesn’t exactly represent the safest way to earn a laugh but it also wouldn’t be the first fan prank involving the Jazz Bear.
8. Cooked Duck
Apparently Johnny Cash isn’t the only guy who has fallen into a burning ring of fire. Wild Wing, mascot of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, almost became duck confit when he didn’t quite complete his journey through the flames. Here, Wild Wing’s skate gets caught up in the trampoline and forces him directly into the lit wall. As in the above clip, I’m not sure any game ops department is sadistic enough to set their feathered mascot on fire, particularly a fan-friendly duck spun off from a Disney movie (The Mighty Ducks). Guess you could call him one hot Wing.
7. Mascot + Snowballs = Prison
Believe it or not, this was a legitimate police situation. The Cincinnati Bearcat seemed to be having a bit too much fun lobbing snowballs into a crowd prior to a college football game between Cincy and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, targeting Panther supporters while ignoring several police requests to stop and even shoving a security guard who tried to intercede. This badly behaved Bearcat was ultimately cited for disorderly conduct, in spite of the booing crowd as the mascot is escorted away by police. Amazingly, the Bearcat isn’t the only NCAA Division 1 mascot with a rap sheet.
6. There Goes the Tongue
Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish didn’t take too kindly to some taunting from Calgary Flames’ mascot Harvey the Hound during a game between the teams, so he silenced Harvey by taking his tongue. Literally. On the plus side, one lucky fan came away with an interesting souvenir. The clip of the 2003 incident became so popular that the Jay Leno Show contacted the Flames organization to have Harvey on the show for a live re-stitching, a request that the Flames denied. The incident did gain traction at that year’s All-Star Game, however, as mascots from around the league appeared with comically large tongues.
5. Raptor Double Drop
The Raptor, the mascot of my hometown Toronto Raptors, has earned a large fan base for his willingness to go to any lengths to entertain, even rollerblading down a staircase in an inflated suit. Needless to say, this doesn’t go well and the poor guy is left with two laughable fails in one poorly thought out stunt. First, he falls tail-first on the stainless steel steps. Then, he deflates into a puddle of plastic on the court. It isn’t the first time that the Raptor has put his own body on the line, but I guess that’s why he’s so popular.
4. Piggyback Gone Wrong
Jamaican hurdler Melanie Walker decided to celebrate her first place finish at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany with a victory lap on the back of the event’s bear mascot. It started off well enough, but the triumphant lap got plenty bumpy when the bear ran smack dab into a stack of hurdles, knocking the track star flat on her rear. Walker, who probably should have heeded her surname, seemed to take the incident in – no pun intended – stride. However, I wouldn’t expect her to be using a mascot as a form of transportation any time soon.
3. Sebastian the Ibis Gets Flagged
In football, a team has enough working against it in the form of a menacing group of 11 large foes on the other side of the ball looking to stop them in their tracks. For the Miami Hurricanes, it didn’t help matters when their own mascot, Sebastian the Ibis, sent them back 15 yards when he was flagged for a taunting penalty in a big game against the rival University of Florida Gators. This wasn’t the first taste of bad behavior from Sebastian, who was tackled by a group of police officers in 1989 for attempting to douse the flaming spear of Florida State Seminoles’ mascot Chief Osceola.
2. Beware the ATV-Riding Moose
I’m not sure at what point a moose riding an ATV around a ballpark seemed like a good idea to the Seattle Mariners, but I imagine that it didn’t seem terribly bright after The Mariner Moose clipped Coco Crisp of the visiting Red Sox in an incident that could have been much worse. Fortunately, Crisp was able to leap out of the path of the high speed ATV, only being grazed by the Moose and able to laugh about it in the aftermath. Its also fairly remarkable to have a mascot incident involving a ‘Coco Crisp’ – and to have that not be the mascot’s name!
1. Mascot Fight!!!
Yep, this was real. Apparently Rufus the Bobcat has some anger management issues. Crazy as it seems, this was a planned-a-year-in-advance attack targeting Brutus Buckeye, the mascot of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Brandon Hanning, the Ohio University student inside the Bobcat costume, tried out for the Rufus role specifically for the opportunity to get after Brutus during the annual football game between the in-state rivals. From the looks of the video, he didn’t waste a whole lot of time in executing his plan. Hanning received a lifetime ban from all Ohio University sporting events, but judging by some post-game interviews he didn’t exactly seem remorseful.