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Why Your Pet Sucks: Sun Devils from Arizona State University

He's back! Why Your Mascot Sucks, is making its triumphant return before the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl, which pits our beloved Wisconsin Badgers (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) against the hateful Arizona State Sun Devils (8-4, 6 – 3 PAC 10).

That's right, Badgers vs. Sun Devils.

Good against evil.

Omnivore vs.… actually, what the heck is a solar demon?


Sun Devils is the third nickname that the state of Arizona has acquired in its history, dating back to the days when he first went through Tempe Normal School when they were the Owls. They then switched to Bulldogs when the school became Arizona State Teachers College. And finally, on November 8, 1946, ASU settled on Sun Devils, when the student body voted 819-196 in favor of the change. This vote followed frequent appeals made in The State Press, the school's student newspaper.

A Sun Devil is not an animal or something like that, it is actually a meteorological phenomenon, also known as a whirlwind or Dust Devil.

This is caused by superheated air over sunburned soil rising to cooler air. This occurrence is also known as a "dancing devil" and as a "whirling dervish". Most tend to be 3 feet in diameter or less, but some are known to be 300 feet wide.

Now you might be wondering how such a thing would be illustrated, well, the state of Arizona called in a Disney artist. Bert Anthony designed the Sparky illustration which is still widely used today, while the mascot has changed over the years, and the current design was adopted in 2012.

It was rumored that Sparky's original illustration was drawn with Bert's boss, Walt Disney, in mind…

I mean, it does NOT look like him.

While ASU fans love Sparky, those outside of Arizona aren't fans. In fact, Quality Logo Products ranked Sparky # 8 on their list of America's Most Offensive College Mascots.

The most offensive on their list were Osceola and Renegade (Florida State), followed by Aztec Warriors (San Diego State University), Vili the Warrior (Hawaii), with Leprechaun (Notre Dame) completing the top four.

Quality Logo Products also produced lists of the 10 best, worst and sexiest pets…

B1G companion pets from Northwestern (Willie the Wildcat) and Minnesota (Goldy Gopher) were included in the best list with Willie on first place and Goldy in ninth. While Purdue Pete (No. 2), Nittany Lion (No. 6) and our old friend Flash The Golden Eagle (Kent State University, No. 7), all made the worst list.

Willie was considered the sexiest… with Scarlet Knight (Rutgers), coming in ninth sexiest. It's a bit strange to list the sexiest pets, but for each one… maybe some of the people at Quality Logo Products are furry. Also, why didn't Bucky make the top 10 list for best pet? Goldy did it and it's rubbish.

Anyway, back to Sparky's hatred… some have even suggested that the school change its name to Sun Angels, which appeared in a petition.

The petition reads: “What was once considered acceptable is now simply demonic. Anyone with a shred of Christian faith will have a hard time swearing allegiance to… being loyal to… or spending money with the devil. With every t-shirt, souvenir, and game ticket they sell, they solidify their consent that idolizing the devil is okay with them. This must end, and the solution is simple. ASU can simply change the name of their teams, the "Angels of the Sun". There is already a precedent for this and it has been around for more than 44 years in sight, right on the ASU campus. In direct opposition to the Sun Devil moniker, the university's track and field stadium is already called "Sun Angel Stadium" and is considered one of the best facilities of its kind in the country. Interestingly, it is located a short distance from the Sun Devil football stadium. ”


Sparky is good… a devil, with a cheerful disposition, his yellow tint. He also has brown features: his Vincent Price-like mustache, goatee, eyebrows, hair, and horns. It sure is a creepy-looking creature with a devilish grin, which makes sense, since it's, well, a Sun Devil.

Typically, he will wear the uniform of the cheering team, be it football or basketball, and wears what appear to be wristbands, to complete his outfit.

Sparky also has a trident, because why not?

A recent rebrand was carried out in 2013 together with Disney, which left Sparky more like an ant than nothing and caused a bit of a ruckus already that people weren't fans of change.

Left: Old Sparky / Right: New design

Fortunately, they made some slight changes, bringing it to its current appearance, which I suppose made it look better . And to be honest, the original look wasn't that great either.

I cannot endorse the whole "offensive mascot" theme simply on the basis of the religious aspects of the offense. Sparky is not the devil, nobody worships the devil for being a fan of ASU.

That said, I still think Sparky is a horrible pet. He just looks like a cartoon villain from yesteryear, who has tied a woman to the train tracks, or someone who would lure children into his van with candy.

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