Story Ideas Week: “The Magic of Being a Mascot” (The Statesman, Stony Brook)

This CMM series features a sampling of crazy cool, highly relevant or offbeat stories by student journalists that can be localized for different campus audiences- along with suggestions on ways to create and present that content. Next up…

The Magic of Being a Mascot

He is nearly seven feet tall.  He has wool paws and a massively oversized head.  He dances to entertain the crowds at major sporting events.  “What the crowd doesn’t know is that he’s a senior too. . . . They can’t know about the three years he’s devoted himself to transforming the university’s mascot from a mere character into a symbol. . . . For him, that’s what it means to hold 25,000 students in the palm of his paw, to be the representative of an entire university. For him, that’s what it means to be Wolfie.”

Wolfie is the mascot for Stony Brook University athletics and the center of a fantastic profile of sorts published last semester in The Statesman, SBU’s student newspaper.  “The Magic of Being a Mascot” is a behind-the-mask glimpse of everything involved in a student’s mascot experience.  It chronicles how the student came to be Wolfie, his practice routine, costume preparation, the challenges of the required “dancing, chest pounding, [and] somersault-rolling,” and the deeper identity issues of being a beloved character one moment and an anonymous undergrad the next.

The piece also provides an overview of the essential elements of modern mascot marketing: “In less than two years, [a school athletics department staffer] built and nurtured Wolfie’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Blogger accounts.  She’s also created a Wolfie business card– complete with a telephone and fax number and an email address– and a Wolfie contact sheet that interested parties can use to hire the mascot for an event.”

Come fall semester, profile your own school’s mascot.  Talk to the student(s) who embody the character(s).  Walk a mile in their suits for a first-person piece. Go with the historical angle- talk to alumni who formerly strutted and cheered in costume and provide a graphic showing the mascot’s evolution over time. Follow this piece’s lead and get the full story- the marketing, athletic department support, university logistics, and off-campus events involved in a mascot’s existence.  (For example, one question this piece prompted: What is Stony Brook’s Wolfie-related revenue- from booked events and stuffed animal sales, etc.?)

A few other ideas: Shoot a how-to video with a student getting in and out of the costume step-by-step.  Run a fun photo spread showing the mascot posing in various spots around campus or the nearby community.  If campus sentiment is just so-so on the current school mascot, hold a contest asking students and staff to brainstorm a new one, including desired name, creature type, and clothing choices.

One Response to “Story Ideas Week: “The Magic of Being a Mascot” (The Statesman, Stony Brook)”
  1. fposillico says:

    Statesman’s EIC here. Thanks for the mention!