Professional athletes usually need to keep themselves in great shape - unless they're one of those fatso relief pitchers or a sumo wrestler - that's what they get paid the big bucks for. The same is true for professional mascots - except they don't get paid as much. Still, their job is a real workout. It's not that easy wearing a 20 pound bird or cat costume when it's boiling hot outside, especially if they're dancing around or getting beat up by a player from the visiting team.
Sports Mascots - History
Teams have had mascots almost as long as sports have been around. Years and years ago, some teams even used to have real animals, like lions or bears, as their mascots. That ended because too many fans were getting eaten - and it's a lot cheaper to feed a guy in a bear suit than an actual bear. Now, most teams in sports have a mascot of some kind. This list of big, goofy looking characters includes the Famous Chicken who you see at San Diego Padres games, Go the Gorilla from the Phoenix Suns and Hugo the Hornet of the New Orleans Horents.
Sports Mascots - Pitfalls
Being a sports mascot isn't all fun and games. While it can be a blast to entertain large crowds and dress up, being a mascot can also be physically demanding and sometimes quite dangerous. Wild Wing, the mascot for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, was attempting to jump off a trampoline and over a wall of fire before the start of a hockey game in 1995 - but his skate got stuck in the trampoline and poor Wild Wing caught on fire! Other mascots have been punched by visiting players and Baltimore's Oriole Bird was once pushed off an outfield wall by a fan and broke his ankle!
Sports Mascots - How Do I Become One?
So you wanna be a sports mascot? Well, to be the guy who dresses up as Big Red of the Cardinals or Stormy the Ice Hog, you have to be fit, athletic and entertaining. Many sports mascots have had previous training as gymnasts or acrobats. That's how the Phoenix Gorilla and Hugo the Hornet pull off those slam dunks you see during the half-time show. There are even some schools in North America which offer training to people interested in starting a career as a mascot.