Often forgotten in the shuffle of college athletics is just how big of an impact mascots have.
I'll be the first to admit I take them for granted. For the longest time, I viewed them as mildly entertaining parts of the game that little kids got excited about, and that was it.
Throw in the fact that often times mascots smell pretty horrible, and they have a tendency to mess with people holding a camera…I had gotten to the point where the novelty was entirely lost on me. That was until earlier this week.
We were joined by Monte the Bear in studio to help announce our UM football broadcast schedule. The best mascots are the ones who are essentially the same person whether in or out of their mascot outfit.
While I won't give out any details on the identity of Monte, suffice it to say…he is as energetic and happy and excitable out of the suit as he is when he's Monte. However, when he is Monte, he turns it up to an extreme level. The individual who is inside the Monte suit completely transforms into another personality when they become Monte.
Monte can convey plenty of emotions (mostly excitement) in a number of ways without using verbal communication. I think we could take a page out of Monte's book and realize how much we actually say without speaking.
In addition to that, the effect he has on kids is incredible. For the most part, Monte brightens up the day of the young kids he runs into. In many games, he's the main attraction to the kids who could care less to Will Cherry or Jordan Tripp are. If it wasn't for Monte, I'm curious how many parents would be forced to leave early because their kid loses interest so quickly. Sure, there are the occasional boy or girl who are terrified of a gigantic moving stuffed bear, but Monte deals with them very well.
It's not only kids who get excited to see Monte. We had full grown adults at the station giddy to have their picture taken with Monte. It may not be a real life bear…but it's real life excitement and joy.
Throw in all the acrobatic and athletic moves Monte and his counterpart Mo do during those games, it's incredible. Add in how hot those suits are, especially on a warm fall afternoon in Missoula,, you have to be in shape. Those suits are NOT warm, nor do they have good ventilation.
Ultimately, before Monte visited the station, I was skeptical of mascots. I understood their purpose, but didn't appreciate them. After this week, I have full appreciation for the work that Mascots do. For me, it was much more than meets the eye.