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Why your mascot sucks: Arizona State University

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Nice mustache, did you lose a bet?

It’s back! Why your mascot sucks, is making its triumphant return ahead of the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl, that pits ours beloved Wisconsin Badgers (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) against the odious Arizona State Sun Devils (8-4, 6-3 PAC 10).

That’s right, Badgers vs. Sun Devils.

Good vs. Evil.

Omnivore vs... actually, what the hell is a Sun Devil?

About

Sun Devils is the third nickname that Arizona State has taken on in it’s history, dating back to the days when it first went by Tempe Normal School when it was the Owls. Then they switched to Bulldogs when the school became Arizona State Teachers College. And finally on Nov. 8, 1946 ASU settled on Sun Devils, when the student body voted 819-196 in favor of the change. This vote took place after frequent appeals made in The State Press, the school’s student newspaper.

A Sun Devil isn’t an animal or something like that, it is actually a weather phenonenon, also known as a whirlwind, or Dust Devil.

This is caused by super-heated air above a sun-baked ground that rises into cooler air. This occurrence is also known as a “dancing devil” and as a “whirling dervish.” Most tend to be 3-feet in diameter or less, but some have been known to be 300-feet wide.

Now, you may be wondering how would one illustrate such a thing, well Arizona State called on an artist from Disney. Bert Anthony designed the Sparky illustration that is still widely used today, while the mascot has changed throughout the years, with the current design being adopted in 2012.

The original Sparky illustration was rumored to be drawn with Bert’s boss, Walt Disney in mind...

I mean, it doesn’t NOT look like him.

While ASU fans far and wide love Sparky, those outside of Arizona are not a fan. In fact Quality Logo Products placed Sparky No. 8 on their list of most offensive college mascots in America.

The most offensive on their list was Osceola and Renegade (Florida State), followed by Aztec Warriors (San Diego State University), Vili the Warrior (Hawaii), with Leprechaun (Notre Dame) rounding out the top-four.

Quality Logo Products also produced top-10 lists of the best, worst and sexiest mascots...

Fellow B1G mascots for Northwestern (Willie the Wildcat) and Minnesota (Goldy Gopher) were featured on the best list with Willie coming in first and Goldy, ninth. While Purdue Pete (No. 2), Nittany Lion (No. 6) and our old friend Flash The Golden Eagle (Kent State University, No. 7), appeared on the worst list.

Willie was considered the sexiest... with Scarlet Knight (Rutgers), coming in ninth sexiest. A little weird to make a list of the sexiest mascots, but to each their own... maybe some of the people over at Quality Logo Products are furries. Also, why didn’t Bucky break into the top-10 list for best mascot? Goldy made it and he’s garbage.

Anyway, back to the Sparky hate... some have even suggested that the school change its name to the Sun Angels, which appeared in a change.com petition.

The petition states: “What once might have been viewed as acceptable - is now just plain demonic. Anyone with an ounce of Christian belief will have a hard time pledging allegiance to…being loyal to…or spending money with the devil. With every T-shirt, souvenir and game ticket they sell, they solidify their consent that idolizing the devil is just fine with them. This must stop - and the solution is a simple one. ASU can simply flip the switch and rename their teams, the ‘Sun Angels.’ A precedent already exists for this and it has existed for over 44 years in plain sight, right on the ASU campus. In direct opposition to the Sun Devil moniker, the university’s track & field stadium is already named the ‘Sun Angel Stadium,’ and is considered one of the finer facilities of its kind in the country. Oddly, it sits within walking distance to the Sun Devil Football Stadium.”

Appearance

Sparky is well...a devil, with a sunny disposition - his yellow tint. He has maroon features as well — his Vincent Price-like mustache, goatee, eye brows, hair and horns. He is a creepy looking creature for sure, with a devilish grin, which makes sense, since he is, well, a Sun Devil.

He will typically wear the uniform of the team he is cheering on, whether it be football, or basketball and he wears what look to be wrist bands of sort, to complete is ensemble.

Sparky also has a trident, because why not?

A recent re-brand took place in 2013 in conjunction with Disney, that left Sparky looking more like an ant, than anything and it caused a bit of uproar as people were not a fan of the changes.

Left: Old Sparky / Right: New Design

Luckily they did make some slight changes, bringing it to it’s current appearance, which I guess made him look better. And to be honest, the original look wasn’t that great either.

I cannot quite get behind the whole “offensive mascot thing,” simply based on the the religious aspects of the offensiveness. Sparky is not the devil, no one is worshiping the devil by being a fan of ASU.

That being said, I still think Sparky is a sucky mascot. He just looks like the villain in an old-timey cartoon, who has tied a woman to railroad tracks, or like someone that would lure children into their van with candy.