What will the National Mascot Hall of Fame mean for furries? – Part 3 of mascot series.

by Patch O'Furr

A three part series:

1) The beginning of mascots and fursuiting.
2) Fursuiting crossover with pro sports.
3) The National Mascot Hall of Fame.

mascot-hall-of-fameMascot art, business, culture, and a Hall of Fame to celebrate it all.

Let’s peer into the strange, distant futureworld of 2017.

How much respect do mascots get?  It’s kind of a stereotype that they deserve mocking and noogies from jocks.  Some would say that enjoying mascots too much is like loving the sauce while ignoring the main course.  They might consider it ridiculous to give sole focus for celebration of mascots.

Now there’s a whole institution for that.  The Mascot Hall of Fame was founded by David Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic from 1978-1993. It’s been around since 2005 in online-only form.  Now it’s getting a 25,000 square-foot building in Whiting, Indiana. (With the crowd capacity of this place, imagine a jock giving noogies to so many thousands of mascot lovers- his arms would fall off.)

I don’t even like sports, and I’d love to go to this.  It opens in 2017.

My first reaction… is that someone is making a lot of money on this silliness. I’ve always thought the players and the game were the main attractions. But, the Mascot Hall of Fame web site argues that these people dressed in animal costumes bring equally as much to the event. If this is so, then I have visions of a day in the future when the mascots will be the main attraction and the players will be the sideshow. – (Essay: Anne Brandt)

They call furries weird for their creative obsessions.  Meanwhile, sports fans paint their faces blue and scream for their teams.  Some let their lives revolve around it.  There’s the platitude, “Baseball is America’s national pastime.”

If sports represent the soul of a nation, and mascots represent the teams – what is mascotting the soul of?

At Anthrocon 2015, it was awesome to hear the San Diego Chicken (Guest of Honor) talk about making a whole stadium laugh. When he hatched out of an egg it was one of the most famous sports promotions ever.  Call me silly, but I got more out of 15 minutes of his talk than 15 Super Bowls.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, remember 2015’s halftime show?  Katy Perry’s “Left Shark” was a viral sensation, that kicked off a legal offensive play for ownership of the branding.  (A furry posted this video seen by millions. It’s on the Ursa Major awards list, too.  We have our paws on the pulse.)

Big Business.

There’s more than love and creativity in this.  Money moves this show business forward. And mascot character licensing terms must be a whole other ball game from hiring an athlete on salary.  Amazing-mascots.com prices the legal rights to characters:

Rights to characters… can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The rights to the Phillie Phanatic were notoriously purchased for $250,000 five years after his debut after the team mistakenly passed on purchasing the rights for $1,200 when they first ordered the costumes.

$250,000 was 1983 money.  Today that can buy 10,000 square feet of fake fur or 100 fursuits.  (I would hug them all). The money is big, and growing.

A new institution like the Mascot Hall of Fame will step out from the sideshow to run it’s own premiere business. It will bring millions of investment for new content and hype.  That could be great for furries. Are there any more devoted fans for mascotting itself?

Big Fans.

I think furries like each other the most, but many do like sports.  There’s the Furry Basketball Association, popular bowling meets, and some of their most popular books are about sports. (OK, gay football romance. Still counts.)

Consider the strange overlap of LGBT, furry, and sports. Pro sports has been a notoriously difficult place for gays to come out, somewhat related to race barriers. Well, mascots are meant to carry messages… It’s usually very tame, but characters don’t exactly have personal lives to protect like athletes, do they?

Call it silly to hint that mascots can carry social issues, but that’s what happened with headlines about Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger supporting gay pride.  He’s an icon of a sports jock, who happens to be a sex symbol for a very special niche of furries. This is a weird and amazing intersection of interests.

300px-FBA_Logo_2oop_coverCIr36AVUEAAHOmmtony2In the end, it’s much more than simple fun.  There’s vibrant art – from slapstick to pantomime performance, with historic artists from Charlie Chaplin to designers for the biggest movies.  These days, digital media is saturated to overflowing… Real life, non-downloadable social experiences are getting more and more valuable in comparison.  (Fursuiting is all that with hugs on top.) Respected or not, this is important.

Perhaps this Hall of Fame will be a fairly modest attraction just for Indiana.  But indulge me… I can imagine this crossing over with Furry activities. It could be subtle, or directly work with Anthrocon and it’s family-friendly policies for an amateur costuming exhibit.

Imagine fans being inspired to join exhibits – or find a place for a Furry Hall of Fame. (Then there was Fred Patten’s Furry Walk of Fame idea, shared in my “Furry Good Ideas” post.)

Success for mascotting could indirectly raise popularity for furry stuff.  And at least this Hall of Fame would be a cool place to visit and gain inspiration.  I’m surprised that I haven’t heard a word from the Furry grapevine about it.  Keep your ears perked for more.

Furries, nerds, jocks, and sports fans aren’t always on the same page.  Remember the part in Part 1. about not caring for sports, and mocking of “stupid costume enthusiasts?” Maybe this is where we all hug it out.

More details about the National Mascot Hall of Fame.

The NMHOF will be a 25,000-square-foot building constructed of glass, steel and concrete.  It opens in 2017 at 119th and Front streets in Whiting, Indiana.  (That’s in the Chicago Metro area, near Midwest FurFest, the world’s second biggest Furry convention.)

Imagine how much awakening of new fursonas could happen here, like werewolves seeing a full moon for the first time:

“The multimillion-dollar museum will includes an interactive family fun zone with a range of exhibits, activities and events. Components may include a multipurpose theater space known as “The Fur-itorium” and a Science of Mascots “life experience” designed to make visitors feel what it might be like as a mascot performer.

Attractions may also include a Sky Zone with high-flying trampolines designed for visitors to feel what it’s like to launch off into the air and dunk basketballs. A virtual Mascot Closet would offer visitors a chance to dress in their favorite mascot clothes.

Other components will include photos, artifacts and videos showcasing how many mascots became part of the fabric of sports in America and a “Did You Know” large interactive touch screen program that will walk visitors through an animated history of mascots.”

– Times of Northwest Indiana