Mascots: A Tradition Evolved
School mascots have been a tradition in academic institutes for a very long time, representing a school with an animal chosen by those who build the spirit. It's hard to pinpoint exactly the way this tradition has evolved, but most people would be surprised to know that it wasn't exactly the way they thought, or in the order thought for that matter. Mascots have become a very important part of modern-day sports teams & higher learning institutions. Ranging from all kinds of animals, mascots are used to back up their team's sacrifice and effort to bring pride home; among other things.
Contrary to popular belief, mascots didn't start in academic institutions like schools but first made their mark in sports. In French, the equivalent of the word ‘mascot’ is mascotte. As you can see, both words have a huge resemblance when it comes to the way they look, sound and their spelling. As you probably guessed by now, this is because the word we know as ‘mascot’ in the English language came from the word known as mascotte in the French language.
Back in 1881, there was a French play named "La Mascotte”., which translates, in modern English, to The Mascot. "La Mascotte” was a very popular playback in the 1880’s, and it managed to become popular in the United States. In French, mascot or, "Mascotte”., means someone or something, could be an animal, which brings good luck or happiness. All this considered, mascots (in sports) originated shortly after (27 years) the 1881 play "La Mascotte” was popularized in the United States. Back in those days, mascots were very similar to how there are now, easy comparisons can be made between the way they worked then and the way they work now.
Since the origin of mascots, their purpose is to bring good luck to their team, a property given after the French definition of the word. Teams saw an opportunity to use this new addition to their teams as a way to provide extra entertainment for the public & to try and intimidate their rival teams, hence why most mascots are predatory animals.
In 1930, 22 years after professional sports teams started using mascots to complement their teams, sports teams on an academic level, like universities and high schools, started implementing mascots into their teams or institutions. Ever since mascots became a tradition, they have been a huge part of both professional-level and academic-level sports. The use of "fuzzy" mascots (costumes) didn't begin until 1960 when Jim Hanson's puppets became famous and influenced the way people saw things like mascots. One famous example was the first walk around character named “Splurge” from the ‘Hey Cinderella’ series that showed the potential of how a mascot costume was a real game changer so-to-speak.
The belief that mascots actually originates in academic institutions and, from there, moved on to be used on a professional level is probably due to the fact that there are more academic institutions in the US than professional sport teams; and let's not forget that many entertainment films promoting high school and university lifestyles popularized mascots on a more global level than professional sports.
In the end, all things considered, mascots are a very important part of sports on all levels, they're a healthy and diverse way to take on the rivalry, without having to create such a big spectacle. No matter how the evolution of mascots went by, one thing the whole world can probably agree on is that they're here to stay.