Change is inevitable, so why did people freak out over Sparky?
Basketball uniforms used to look like this.
Tennis rackets once looked like this.
The Simpsons once looked like this.
Updating the design led to vast improvements in all three instances.
The initial reaction to the 1990 Michigan Wolverines taking the court in long, baggy shorts was near outrage. Over two decades later, those shorts are the norm on courts all over the world.
How watchable would tennis be if Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were “firing” serves at 68 miles per hour with antiquated wooden rackets?
Think Homer and Marge’s storybook marriage would have lasted 24 years if they were still the crudely-drawn images that originally appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show?
Things change over time. So why, pray tell, did anyone who’s ever even driven by the Tempe campus of Arizona State University seemingly freak the hell out over the change of the school’s mascot, Sparky?
On the first day of March, amid a lot of pomp and circumstance, ASU introduced the face-lifted imp to the public — and it was followed by a nearly unanimous gasp from Sun Devil faithful.
Tuesday, the university announced they were scrapping the new design for the iconic mascot which was introduced less than three weeks ago. Instead fans, alumni, students, faculty and staff will have a hand in designing Sparky’s new facial features.
The over-arching question here is: did Sparky need an update? I’d say no, but then again, it wasn’t me who originally had the plan to make the devil mascot more “kid friendly.”
This isn’t the first time Sparky has received an update. Did people freak out when the mascot’s look changed from this in 1970s? I highly doubt it.
If the university really wanted to modernize Sparky’s appearance, they should have done so in April of 2011 when they proudly showed off their new Nike-designed athletic uniforms that were such a hit. To have two phases of the athletic branding makeover was a mistake. If they would have done it in one fell swoop, the positivity over the uniforms would have trumped the negativity over the mascot’s makeover.
Instead, ASU finds itself in damage-control mode. Again, Sparky didn’t need a change. But if you’re going to invest time, resources and money in working hand-in-hand with Disney to freshen things up, at least have the backbone to stick to your guns and stand by your decision.
Hell, in 1985 even Coca-Cola waited almost three months before they announced they were bringing back old Coke. They sold both products simultaneously for seven years before phasing out the “revamped” product in 1992.
Maybe that’s the solution for ASU. Old Sparky and new Sparky working together. Other schools utilize different versions of their mascot.
If that happened, the Sparky purists (I can’t believe I just typed that) would be satisfied and the university wouldn’t appear spineless for performing an about-face on a new idea so soon.
Somebody get Michael Crow on the horn!