The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

BEYOND THUNDERBUG
he scores
Hockey fans have heard all about the impending end of the current NHL collective bargaining agreement, and what that means for the owners and the players. But aren't we forgetting about the other people in this?

I'm talking, of course, about the team mascots. Those tireless performers that yuk it up all game long, and then take their act to every shopping mall and car dealership within 20 miles of the arena. People like Jason Franke, aka Thunderbug, who is putting it all on the line for next season:

How long Franke continues as ThunderBug "depends on the possibility of a lockout next year [the NHL's collective bargaining agreement expires after this season]. If that happens, I may be hanging it up."

If that doesn't motivate the NHL powers to get together and hammer out an agreement, then nothing will.

Ah, my cherished memories of Thunderbug... I remember years ago at a game that the Lightning was losing badly, he planted himself right in front of our section. A little kid started pelting him with peanuts; da Bug loved it and asked for more. So our whole section started shooting him with peanuts. Fun-fun!

There used to be a Mrs. Thunderbug, or Thunderbuggette, or whatever she was called; I don't think she lasted more than a season. Seeing them side-by-side, I used to absently wonder if there was a girl or a guy inside the female bug uniform, and whether or not that really mattered.

I always knew that being a mascot was harder work than it looked--the suit's unbearably heavy, it's hot, and all that. However, I had no idea of the advanced ergonomics involved in the costume design. Especially the importance of Head Superiority.