Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thing 346 Sports Mascot

I promised you it wouldn't be serious, and I wasn't kidding. There's just no way on earth to inject some gravitas into the wearing of a giant lion suit. Underneath that suit, what looks feels like a fake pregnancy suit to add some bulk, as if I needed it eh? It's only chubbier I'm getting.

Limerick FC's mascot is Leo the Lion. Tragically, lions suffer from a serious lack of originality and tend to name most of their kids Leo. As a lion though, he's pretty awesome. If you're a regular attendant at Limerick soccer matches, as I used to be, you'll see him parading about the outside of the pitch lines, entertaining kids who aren't exactly impressed with the standard of football on display at Airtricity League Division One matches. Which, if we're being honest, isn't sky high.

To be fair, that's not why you go to see your team play. You go to cheer them on, to support the club, to hope and pray that your guys will hit the net often and you can go home with a big smile on your face. I know quite a few guys who used to go to matches purely so they could say they were there. "I stood for ninety minutes in the rain in Hogan Park watching Limerick FC... I'm a real football fan". No, you're not, you're a tool.
I'm off topic. Sorry. Back to Leo. As mascots go, this one is pretty awesome. The suit is cool, and the kids love him. Most of the adults do too, even if they're pretending that they don't. I don't think I was turned down for a single hug all night. Is there something sinister about a man in a giant lion suit walking around hugging people? If there is, I don't wanna know about it!

I got the gig because I asked the people in the know. The Footballer knows all the people involved at the club, and I know the footballer, so, you know. Put those together and voila! The thing was that I was only going to get to do one half, since there's a regular guy who always does it, but they were going to ask if he'd let me take one half, for fun.

He never showed up. Holy crap. This is my moment. My time to shine. Time to don the lion-head and mascot the crap out of this match... I'm really glad the club officials took the time to warn me to bring shorts and a t-shirt. I was going to do the whole gig in my clothes, and that would have been an unmitigated disaster. That suit is like fifty million degrees too hot to be wearing. You can put that thing on, stand completely still, and you're going to sweat.

Imagine what it was like putting it one, and running around like a jack-ass and doing face-plants onto the turf to amuse the children? It's no wonder I was about to pass out. Apparently wearing mascot outfits and running around in them is just another thing that fat people shouldn't do.
The kids were good fun though. They seemed to love my dive-roll. I'd mime like I was revving up a lawnmower, then I'd sprint for a few yards and dive into the air, doing a flip as I went. Nine out of ten times I'd land on my back, and the kids would roar their approval. And then because they're kids, they'd start shouting: "Do it again, do it again..." And I would. And then I'd die a little from exhaustion.

The only irksome bit was when the kids tried to steal the head off the suit. I tell you folks, kids these days have no respect for twenty somethings who wear giant lion outfits and make prats of themselves. Sign of the times...

Loved it overall. I'll look at Leo the Lion a different way from now on. And it's reignited my love for Limerick soccer... C'mon Limerick!!!

P.S. Sluggary TV is still going ahead this Thursday, thanks to an excellent suggestion on one of the blogs. Our house will be reality TV for a day. I promise you several hours of mind numbing boredom watching bunch of people not really doing anything.

P.P.S. The feedback for the Sleeping Rough Thing has been amazing. Thank you. At the end of Project Party in the O'Connell's at the Old Quarter on April 14th (public party, come on down if you're about) there'll be buckets out to collect some cash for Focus Ireland who work with the homeless. See if we can't raise some cash eh?


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