Mascot Bracket Final Four: Sparty versus Albert and Alberta Gator
Sparty is the mascot of Michigan State University. Sparty is usually depicted as a muscular male Spartan warrior/athlete dressed in stylized Greek costume. After changing the team name from “Aggies” to “Spartans” in 1925, various incarnations of a Spartan warrior with a prominent chin appeared at university events and in university literature. In 1943, MSU art professor Leonard D. Jungwirth designed a statue for the university, which had to be cast in terra cotta because of World War IIrationing. In 2005, the university replaced Jungwirth’s original statue with a bronze replica, moving the original indoors to protect it from the elements. Sparty appears in several other incarnations. In printed literature, the university uses a copyrighted cartoon Spartan, usually drawn with a grimace and several days worth of whiskers, lending the nickname of “Gruff” Sparty. Finally, Sparty appears as a foam rubber mascot with an oversized head. The mascot costume, worn by an anonymous student, appears at most university sporting, alumni, and fundraising events; he is often portrayed in MSU notices and materials.
Albert E. Gator and Alberta Gator are the official mascots of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. Costumed in plush, Albert and Alberta areanthropomorphic representations of American alligators, which are commonly found throughout the state of Florida. The University of Florida fielded its first official intercollegiate sports team (football) in the fall of 1906. It adopted orange and blue as its official colors, combining the orange and black of the former Florida Agricultural College in Lake City with the blue and white of the former East Florida Seminary in Gainesville, the university’s two oldest predecessor institutions. The football team did not initially have an official nickname or mascot, and was often referred to as the “Orange and Blue” or “Pee Wee’s Boys,” after the team’s first head coach, Jack “Pee Wee” Forsythe. In 1908, local merchant Phillip Miller and his son Austin Miller, with no official sanction from the university or athletic association, selected the alligator as an emblem to represent the university on pennants offered for sale in Miller’s Gainesville store. With the state of Florida being home to millions of alligators, the ‘gator proved a popular choice among members of the student body, and the Florida football team began to refer to itself as the “Gators” during the 1911 fall season. A live alligator named Albert first appeared at football games during the 1957 season, and served as the mascot of the football team on the field before the costumed version of Albert became the mascot in 1970. He was joined by a female version, Alberta, in 1984. They often appear as a couple, but also appear alone. They both cheer on the football team, but Albert appears solo at Gators baseball and men’s basketball games, while Alberta cheers on the women’s basketball and gymnastics teams, among others.