The new Sparky mascot coincides with Disney's attempt to bring happiness to ASU's campus, yet approximately 80% of feedback displays complaints about the mascot's updated look. I completely agree, the look seems a tad creepy. However, the breaking news shouldn't ruin Sun Devil Nation's weekend.
Friends say I'm overwhelmingly optimistic; the glass is half full not half empty. The more important ASU headlines currently are: the softball team remaining undefeated, the baseball team possibly foreshadowing Omaha, the men's basketball program exceeding expectations, and Todd Graham's football squad may end up smelling roses next season. Therefore, today is a great day to be a Sun Devil.
In addition, don't most college kids love the retro outfits anyway—snapbacks and mid 90's Jordans? Think about the positives frat stars, you now own some pretty legit throw back Sparky gear.
Remember: Disney's goal is to please a younger target audience, and the changes should help. As House of Sparky founder Cory Williams said here, Sparky almost resembles Buzz Lightyear, and we all know kids love action figures. Conversely, lots of feedback via Twitter believes Steve Patterson's main objective should be pleasing current students. Again, no disagreement here, but unlike all the tweeps and harsh reactions, I refuse to question Patterson's decision-making process.
Lets rewind to about one year ago. If I told you the biggest problem ASU's athletic department faced was an awkward looking Sparky, what would you say? I would say that ASU sports are on the rise.
Last year's women's volleyball team finished with an atrocious 9-22 mark, and a similar roster this fall compiled a 20-14 record. ASU's highly touted 2011-2012 football season collapsed and finished 6-7 overall, while the 2012-2013 team (a projected .500 squad at best) ended up winning a bowl game for the first time in five seasons, had a starting quarterback in Taylor Kelly with no prior experience chasing down school records, while in-state players elected to remain hometown heroes, leading to a 8-5 season. Those are only two examples, but the two accurately depict the improvements nearly every single ASU athletic team made, regardless of their following.
Since the departure of Lisa Love, practically nothing has gone truly wrong. Patterson's been the savior, and he deserves a huge thank you for revitalizing ASU's future pertaining to sports. How can anyone question the man who hired Todd Graham, became business partners with Nike, consistently builds state of the art facilities, stresses the importance of academics, and simply always strives for the schools greatest benefit? By whining and ranting today, fans are unknowingly taking a shot at Patterson's leadership ability.
In life, parents often say, "don't bite the hand that feeds you." Right now, seemingly everyone is biting Patterson's hands, and that is a bold call. It's almost impossible to name one decision or thing that's gone wrong during Patterson's tenure. The sole glaring frustration resides on the diamond, as the Chicago Cubs and ASU baseball failed to join forces on a break taking proposed stadium located in Mesa. On the contrary, if the biggest disappointment is failing to team up with a 100-plus year loser, it's not too shabby, right?
To the surprise of many Arizona natives, Sparky isn't extremely famous beyond the confines of Tempe. I'm not saying Sparky lacks history, but the mascot won't get mentioned alongside Puddles (Oregon's Duck). Mascots add a cool element to universities, but winning is everything. Trust me, Alabama football has formed into a dynasty because of incredible coaching and talent, not due to Big Al (their awesome elephant).
Believe it or not, recruits D.J. Foster, Marion Grice, Jaxon Hood, Jahii Carson and every other notable ASU player didn't place meeting Sparky on their top three list of activities for official visits. More importantly, these high profile names wanted to see ASU's ability to win.
In conclusion, it's fine to wish Sparky never changed on March 1st, 2013, yet I personally believe Patterson has accumulated numerous get out of jail free cards. Yesterday, he should've considered passing one ever, and if you make him roll the dice three times to get out, he will accomplish the task on the first try (don't get it, play Monopoly!) Also, it's important to understand it only took one year for the ASU athletic program to complete a 150-degree image change, occurring much faster than anticipated. The final thirty degrees, and the red zone will certainly be the toughest challenge, but at least ASU is finally in striking position.
Married couples out there commonly state, pick your battles wisely. The battle over Sparky's restructured design isn't worth complaining about, especially with all the progress ASU sports are making.