Although mascots didn't arrive on the Olympics scene until 1972, they have become an indispensable component of the Olympic Games. While most Olympic mascots are clever, exciting, and representative of the host country's culture, some are just downright bizarre.
Here is my list of the top 5 worst mascots in Olympic history:
Schuss, 1968 Winter Olympics, Grenoble
Although Schuss was the unofficial mascot of the 1968 Winter Olympics, he became known as "the skiing sperm," and was mass produced on pins and toys. The mascot's name, "Schuss," was inspired by the Alpine skiing term for a fast, straight, downhill run. Nobody really knows what the character Schuss is exactly, but I have to agree with the consensus that he does look awfully a lot like a skiing sperm. That's bizarre.
Hidy and Howdy, 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary, Canada
Hidy and Howdy, brother and sister polar bears, were the official mascots of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. Now, you're probably wondering how two polar bears can be bad mascots for the Winter Olympics because a polar bear is quite fitting as a winter mascot. However, these two particular polar bears were designed bizarrely. For starters, they are dressed in cowboy outfits, and to add insult to injury, they look as though they have been licking the inside of a coffee canister and got coffee grounds stuck around their mouths. They look awful. This demonstrates that in order to have a good Olympic mascot, you have to find a good artist to design it.
Izzy, 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta, USA
Now that I've picked on other countries for their bizarre and poorly designed mascots, I turn now to my own country and to "Izzy," the official mascot of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. Although Izzy the mascot made history by being the first Olympic mascot to be designed by a computer, this historical significance isn't necessarily for the better. His name points to the question everyone asked when the American mascot was first revealed: What is it? This abstract and obscure character just shows that in some cases, computers are not better than good old-fashioned human elbow grease.
Athena and Pevos, 2004 Summer Olympics, Athens, Greece
Athenos and Pevos, the official mascots of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, were modeled after two dolls that were found on an archaeological dig in Greece. Their names come from Greek mythology, where Athena and Pevos are brother and sister -- Athena being named after the goddess of wisdom and Pevos after the god of light and music. This rich cultural background was a wonderful idea for the creation of these Olympic mascots, however, they look downright strange. They have huge heads and ankles and feet that are so fat they look like they were drawn by children. You would think that professional artists could come up with better representations than this.
Wenlock and Mandeville, 2012 Summer Olympics, London, U.K
Yes, this year's one-eyed mascots made my worst list. Wenlock and Mandeville, the official mascots of the upcoming Summer Olympics in London, are two characters named after the Wenlock Olympian Society and the Stoke Mandeville Games. I'm sorry, but they just look bizarre. They are one-eyed, futuristic, abstract creatures that I just don't care for in the same way I don't like "Izzy," the 1996 American mascot. What are they? Of course, I'm particularly critical of London this Olympics because Beijing set the bar so high with their festivities and Opening Ceremony. It would take a miracle to usurp the magic that Beijing created when it hosted the Summer Olympics.
Ruqaiyya Noor is a student English teacher at Marshall University and a featured contributor in education for Yahoo! Voices. Ruqaiyya is an avid fan of the Olympics and can be found glued to the television set for the entirety of the Olympic Games.