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A mascot, originally a fetish-like term for any person, animal, or thing supposed to bring luck, is now something—typically an animal or human character—used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team (the name often corresponds with the mascot), society, military unit, or corporation.

Image:Mascots At Mascot Olympics.jpg
Mascots at the 'Mascot Olympics' in Orlando, Florida.


[edit] University and sports team mascots

Mascots are prominent among university and school sports teams, especially in the United States, where teams are often identified primarily by their mascot. Sports team merchandise often bears the team logo as well as mascot. The team will employ an individual to accompany them to home and away games who dresses up as the creature.

Image:Mascot with mobile.jpg
A tired lion mascot taking a break

In some cases the school itself may have a mascot, such as Rowdy the Roadrunner, the mascot of the University of Texas at San Antonio, appearing as a supporter.

Often the choice of mascot reflects some desired quality (e.g. fighting spirit, competition symbolized by warriors or predators) and/or an already well-known local, regional or other trait (e.g. Dallas Cowboys refers to the Texan ranching tradition, and has a virile image).

In cases where the traditional mascot is specifically male, with the rise of female athletic teams some creative naming can be required, such as the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, whose female teams are called the "Lady Gamecocks".

Image:Yale university bulldog mascot.jpg
Yale bulldog logo, showing its bulldog mascot, Handsome Dan

A mascot is not always an animal or person; for example, Stanford University's mascot is a color (cardinal), and its band's mascot is a tree.

In the United States, there has been controversy surrounding some mascot choices, especially those of human characters. Mascots based on Native American tribes have proven particularly contentious, as many argue that they constitute offensive exploitations of an oppressed race. However, such debates are not unique to Native American mascots: Alfred University, a school of about 2,000 students in Western New York State has the "Saxon" as its mascot, representated as a charging knight in armor; meant to symbolize strength and courage, others protest that the Saxon represents chauvinism and rape.

Outside the US, the most famous mascots in Australia[citation needed] are McHammerhead (Cronulla Sharks Rugby League Mascot), Jack the Razorback (West Sydney Razorbacks Basketball Mascot) and Syd (Sydney Football Club Mascot).

[edit] Military mascots

Main article: Military mascot

Mascots are also popular with military units. For example, the United States Marine Corps has the eagle as a formal emblem, and the bulldog is also popularly associated with the Marine Corps.

Many regiments of the British Army have a live animal mascot which may appear on formal parades. These curently include a ram (95th Derbyshire Regiment), a wolfhound (Irish Guards), a Shetland pony (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders), two drum horses, two goats, an antelope, and a ferret.

[edit] Word history

The word has been traced back to a dialectic use, in Provence and Gascony, where it meant something which brought luck to a household. The suggestion that it is from masqu (masked or concealed), the provincial French for a child born with a caul, in allusion to the lucky destiny of such children, is improbable.

The word was first popularized in 1880, when French composer Edmond Audran wrote a popular comic operetta called "La Mascotte", but it had been common in France long before as French slang among gamblers, derived from the Occitan word masco, meaning witch (perhaps from Portuguese mascotto, witchcraft), and also mascoto, meaning spell.

The operetta was so popular that it was translated into English as "The Mascot", creating an English word for an animal, person, or an object which brings good luck. In that sense it entered many languages, often in the French form mascotte.

[edit] See also

[edit] Sources and External links

de:Maskottchen fr:Mascotte id:Maskot it:Mascotte nl:Mascotte (symbool) ja:マスコット no:Maskot pt:Mascote ro:Mascote simple:Mascot sv:Maskot th:ตุ๊กตาสัญลักษณ์ tr:Maskot zh:吉祥物


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