Mascots Need to Get Better at Using T-shirt Cannons: A Personal Essay
When I was about 13 or so, my dad worked for the local PBS affiliate station in Harrisburg, Pa. Part of his job entailed putting together events at local libraries, shopping malls and community centers that focused on childhood literacy, all the while promoting PBS programming. That meant that there was typically an appearance by Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George and at least one of the Berenstain Bears.
Guess who was the perfect size to fit in those costumes?
My job in those suits was mostly just to dance around, wave at kids and pose for some pictures, and even that was difficult. Here's why:
- The costumes are extremely hot.
- They're extremely heavy, especially on your head.
- To conceal the identity of the wearer, the eyeholes are barely see-through, and your peripheral vision is virtually gone.
So, the idea of using a T-shirt cannon at all, let alone accurately, while battling those costumes is something I couldn't fathom. But, let's remember—I was a kid, not a professional.
Just like professional and collegiate athletes are held to higher standards than little leaguers, our professional and collegiate mascots should be able to operate a T-shirt cannon without injuring themselves or bystanders. Our fans deserve better, and our mascots are not holding up their end of the deal.
Earlier this month, the University of Colorado's mascot, Chip the Buffalo, accidentally had his T-shirt cannon facing the wrong direction, which resulted in him shooting himself right in the gut with a T-shirt at point blank range and immediately crumbling into a heap on the turf. Those suits are heavy, but they're not that protective. This definitely hurt.
I AM DYING https://t.co/VEX3GVz4ia
— Josh Parcell (@JoshParcell) September 19, 2018
It apparently knocked him out of the game, too.
Something you don't see every day: Chip the Buffalo's t-shirt gun malfunctioned and he had to be carted off the field! Never took his head off though... respect the commitment #footballguy pic.twitter.com/qi0lrPM4Dk
— Lindsay Joy (@LindsayJoyTV) September 15, 2018
He's since recovered.
I’m good guys! Thanks for all the love ❤️ pic.twitter.com/VK9vKm8xvM
— Chip the Buffalo (@Chipthebuffalo) September 15, 2018
Thankfully for Chip, he's wearing a big Buffalo head, so his secret identity (and therefore his streetcred around Boulder) is safe. And there was another T-shirt cannon incident just days later that mercifully took him out of the get-a-load-of-this-dope news cycle.
The Philadelphia Flyers introduced their wacky new mascot, Gritty, yesterday. His first game out on the ice, a preseason contest against the Boston Bruins, was the same day.
Gritty had a bad first day on the job. He not only slipped and fell, but also shot a Flyers employee during a T-shirt giveaway.
Gritty just shot a dude in the back pic.twitter.com/A1KdXdobpe
— Amanda Hugnkiss 💖 (@orangeandsass) September 24, 2018
This is the kind of slapstick comedy that's undeniably hilarious pretty much all the time. But, it's unacceptable for our mascots to think that this level of play is acceptable. If mascots were subject to the relegation/promotion rules of European soccer, Gritty would already be down in the AHL, and Chip would be down in Division II, or at the very least a CU satellite campus.
I feel very confident passing this judgment on them because, as I said before, I know how hard this is. I know what it's like to be in a big, furry sensory deprivation tank surrounded by screaming children and sweating your life out of your pores. But, again, I was an amateur. A tourist. I merely adopted the mascot life—Chip and Gritty were born in it, molded by it.
These are the big leagues, kids. And if you can't point that T-shirt cannon at Paul McCartney's waiting hands, then you just ain't got what it takes.