Mascot Madness

In Philadelphia, police are investigating a complaint that “Gritty” — the mascot of the Flyers hockey team — punched a 13-year-old kid after a photo shoot last year.

hi-res-999ed1323129c7ca5ddd46c81d3a67c4_crop_northThe kid’s father claims that after the kid patted “Gritty” on top of his furry orange head, the bug-eyed creature took a running start and punched the kid in the back, leaving a bruise.  The Flyers say that they conducted an investigation and concluded that “Gritty” did nothing wrong and there was no evidence to support the assault claim.

I suppose one could argue that the combination of circumstances — the fact that the incident allegedly happened in Philadelphia, where sports fans are notorious, involved a goggle-eyed mascot named “Gritty” for a team playing a sport where dropping the gloves and taking a few swings is an accepted part of the game, and a franchise that recently unveiled a “rage room” to allow frustrated fans, and “Gritty,” blow off steam by wrecking various household items — should be factored into the investigation, but clearly we need to let normal police investigative techniques take their course.

The more important lesson here is that all anthropomorphic mascots should be given as wide a berth as possible, whether they are found at a hockey game, a ballpark, or an amusement park.  Unless you’re a “furrie” — that is, somebody who gets his or her jollies wearing a fuzzy or hairy costume depicting some kind of character — being a mascot would be one of the worst jobs imaginable.  You’re stuck in a hot, probably smelly costume with inadequate breathing capabilities, you’ve got the heavy burden of engaging in “zany” behavior at all times, and the fans around you undoubtedly aren’t respecting your personal space in any way.  Pats on the head, and for that matter kicks in the behind, are probably a regular occurrence.

I’m guessing that, in the professional mascot world, “Gritty” isn’t alone in wanting to use a “rage room” now and then.

Rage Rooms

The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, where the Philadelphia Flyers play, has announced a first for major-league American sports arenas.  It has developed a “rage room” where disappointed, angry sports fans can go and vent their frustration at their team’s performance by smashing things up.

rage-roomThe Disassembly Room — the rage room’s official name — allows users to don some protective gear and then smash plates, throw stemware, splinter mirrors into shards, break the opposing team’s logo, and take a sledgehammer to a television set.  Philadelphia fans apparently endorsed the idea of a rage room as allowing them  to have some “harmless fun.”  Although the linked article doesn’t say, presumably the use of the Disassembly Room comes at a cost — and I expect that only one person at a time gets to use it.  When it’s in use, by the way, other guests can watch the rage in progress via closed-circuit TV and get their violent activities fix remotely.

Speaking as a lifelong Cleveland sports fan who has experienced some of the boiling frustration that comes from failed sports teams, I can understand the impetus for a sports “rage room.”  But, seriously, is giving angry sports fans a place to vent really a good idea that is “harmless fun” — or is it encouraging acting out violent tendencies that people should be trying to control instead?  I’m not sure handing a sledgehammer or tire iron to somebody whose team just lost a crucial game really makes a lot of sense.

Maybe a Calming Room, where soothing lights and music are featured and back and neck massages are administered to users, would be a better idea.