Monday, February 5, 2007

Wanted: Mascot Handler (Apply Within)

Are you interested in an exciting career in entertainment? Do you love sports? Can you restrain a seven foot tall pseudo-animal from mauling fans? Then the Cleveland Indians have the job for you.

According to the official job site of Major League Baseball, the Indians are seeking two mascot handlers to work with Slider, the Indians' mascot. These lucky individuals will "generate excitement and entertainment throughout the Ballpark and surrounding areas." Sounds great, right?

Unfortunately, as with many job listings, the job of mascot handler carries with it many unlisted responsibilities.

Ever wonder who feeds the mascot? Who watches the mascot while the team is on the road? Who is the first person looked at when the mascot inexplicably attacks an innocent fan? The mascot handler, of course.

The life of a mascot handler is not quite as glorious as the Cleveland Indians describe. Do you think mascots were born cheering for the home team? And who do you think cleans up when a mascot forgets his potty training?

A mascot handler must train a mascot to behave appropriately, no matter what team or element they represent. The job is not just one of brute enforcement, but one of subtleness. Prior to even being considered, mascot handlers must be well-versed in Pavlovian training techniques. Years of training goes into ensuring mascots don't root for the wrong team. All that training can be all for not in moments with one bad incident. Of course, the pressure facing mascot handlers is much greater now more than ever due to several embarrassing incidents between mascots and fans or coaches.

Being a mascot handler is hard work. While the team is on the road, your responsibilities are to care and maintain the mascot. Few people realize the energy needed to groom, feed, and keep a mascot entertained. The mascot handler is also responsible for the mascot's fitness program and may often have to run stairs with the mascot in the off-season.

Sadly, mascot handlers get little credit in the success of a mascot. Like other types of managers in the entertainment industry, mascot handlers are often ignored when a mascot achieves a high level of success. Many mascots, such as The Famous Chicken, have left their team-affiliated handlers and ventured solo, becoming more general "sports mascots". Others, such as former Montreal Expos mascot Youppi, have negotiated their own contracts with other organizations and moved on without bringing their former handlers. Of course, considering the absent-mindedness of many mascots, we may never see a mascot handler nominated into the Mascot Hall of Fame, although without a handler's loving guidance, every mascots could have ended up in the Orphanage of Cast-Off Mascots.

Finally, before considering a career as a mascot handler, keep in mind an emotional attachment may occur between handler and mascot. Like any pet, caring for a mascot becomes a labor of love. Mascot handlers must continuously remind themselves that being a mascot handler is a profession, and the mascot does not belong to the handler, but to the people. And if the mascot passes away or is killed on their watch, they must be strong and move on. Although some mascots are still cheered in death as they were in life, a mascot handler must be prepared to train the next generation of Phillie Phanatics, Sliders, or Mr. Mets.

Still interested? Apply to be Slider's mascot handler here.