Say hello to Blob

“Do I have to become a Philadelphia Stars fan because of this exceedingly stupid mascot? The answer is not no”: Welcome, Blob

While I was in Philadelphia this past weekend, the big sports news, apart from the launch of another disastrous season for the Phillies, was the debut of Blob, the mascot of the Philadelphia Stars, the new United States Football League soccer team. The unlikely name, chosen via an online poll a la that for Boaty McBoatface, does seem appropriate: Those narcoleptic drooping eyelids and insipid slackjawed smile over a pile of red velour protoplasm suggest a vaguely disconcerting oversized globule of apathy. Not that Philadelphians themselves will have a chance to see Blob meandering around the field in a marijuana-induced haze any time soon; all of the eight games the Stars will play this season will take place in Birmingham, Alabama. The excellent Billy Penn web site has the whole story.

Sports mascots have had a pretty ambivalent history in Philadelphia since the introduction of the Phillie Phanatic at Veterans Stadium in 1978 to attract more children and families to home games; unlike the cheery, coked-up, but kid-friendly Mr. Met, there’s something disturbing about all of them. The frantic, oversized green Big Bird mutant, for all his appeal to youngsters, has been called “the most-sued mascot in the majors,” having been dragged into court several times on personal injury charges, leading the Philadelphia Daily News to dub it the “big green litigation machine” in 2010. Once memorably described as “the mascot version of a stab wound,” Gritty, the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers, is just as frantic as the Phanatic, but exhibits more than a touch of a bug-eyed, amphetamine-fuelled sociopath as well, and I have no doubt he’ll also end up in a courtroom sometime soon.

All sports mascots have a bit of the stupid in them, and in a way the Phanatic, Gritty, and now Blob — together the cast of a nightmarish acid trip — are allowing Philadelphians to provide something of a metacommentary on that stupidity. By christening Blob with his weird name and embracing the psychotic antics of Gritty, Philly sports fans indulge in a little comic hostility to the whole idea of giant furries traipsing about a stadium, getting in the way of the game and generally wreaking dumb havoc.

You can keep your Mr. Met. I’ll throw my lot in with the sociopaths and Philadelphians. As the Billy Penn reporter concludes, “All hail Blob. Go Stars!”

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