Olympic Mascots and Baseball
Just looking over some old photos from the past few Baseball Summer Olympic Games and noticed a theme developing of some strange-looking mascots. In our biz, turf managers work pretty closely with the Mascots giving them some direction as to where they can and can’t go on the field. The last mascots that appeared to have some connection to the country were in Sydney for the 2000 Olympics. We had Ollie (after the kookaburra), Syd ( the platypus) and Millie (the Echidna). Made sense… animals from Australia, right? They even looked like animals.
The Athens 2004 Olympics is where it appears that the mascot theme began a movement towards the oddly shaped fellas. The names were spot on with Phoebus and Athena, God of light and music. I can understand the history behind why the mascots were chosen, but not the look of the actual character. I don’t think Athena looked like that. Don’t get me wrong the kids loved them but really what were they?
In 2008 Beijing, they expanded the mascot world with a host of more strange-looking things known as the Fuwa. I guess they were supposed to mimic the popular animals in china like the panda, antelope, the swallow bird and a fish. Unfortunately they all looked pretty similar (except for the colors). They reminded me of the Poke-man characters. They were fun but the only one I could connect with was the panda because it was black and white. I forgot they also added the “Olympic Flame” mascot. Guess which one that is?
For London 2012 it appears they are keeping up with the theme of different looking mascots. These guys ( gals …not sure) are called Wenlock and Mandeville. They are supposed to represent a couple of cities in London. Cities? Ok…I do like the color and their eye.
With London’s 2012 Olympics around the corner its pretty sad knowing baseball and softball will not be represented for the first time in 20 years. I don’t want to get into the politics as to why we are not in the games for 2012. As one can assume it has to do with the politics of multiple organizations and different agendas. It’s ironic that around about the time they introduced the strange mascots in 2004 they started talking about booting baseball and softball.
I do know that the IBAF, ISF and MLB are working together to get baseball and softball back in the games for 2020. Maybe by then, the phase of odd-looking mascots will fade.