You probably just groaned.
It’s a name (and a face) that is burnt into the minds of Bradley students all over campus. It’s convincingly the most questionable part of the Hilltop.
It’s our mascot. His name is Kaboom!. Is the exclamation point really a part of the name? Are we sure it isn’t spelled in all caps? Is it an onomatopoeia? Not really, but it all seems fitting.
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, it seems like I have to constantly explain the origin story of Kaboom!. Every time I show family members and friends a picture of him, they ask the same question: “What is that thing?”
I respond, “It’s a gargoyle.”
Because there are gargoyles are on top of campus buildings. It seems to be the storyline we chose to go with. In reality, there are only few visible gargoyles on Bradley Hall and Hayden-Clark Alumni Center. Why was a gargoyle the go-to choice for the mascot?
According to an article in The Scout from 2016, when the university was searching for a new mascot, suggestions included “Braveheart, Westlake Hall’s clock, a gargoyle, military personnel, a superhero, a squirrel and having no mascot.”
I don’t know what’s more depressing: having a clock as your mascot, having no mascot or having a gray limestone beast with small horns. Now, it’s a little more clear what we were dealing with when Kaboom! was chosen.
It’s been five years since Kaboom! was unveiled to us at a Bradley basketball game versus Loyola on Feb. 22, 2014. This was also the first time that people looked at Kaboom! and said, “But why?”
In those five years, the mascot has been called “the most terrifying new mascot in college sports” by the USA Today and even featured in Sports Illustrated.
It’s clear: Kaboom! is not the most popular mascot in the nation. People are confused when they look at him and the internet immediately labels him a nightmare.
Now, in no way am I bashing Kaboom!. I’m just citing the opinion the internet protrays. Once you get used to him, he isn’t so confusing or terrifying.
If a gargoyle was confusing to my uncle at the dinner table, then explaining the concept of Saint Louis University’s Billiken will make him rethink time and space. I’ll let you do the research on that one; I’d need a whole other column to go over what a Billiken is.
And if it’s the factor of “terrifying” that we are talking about, then don’t look any farther than the New Orleans Pelicans’ King Cake Baby. In honor of Mardi Gras, the Pelicans present a monster that is supposed to be a celebratory symbol. Search Google Images for it, just not at night.
I want to be proud of Kaboom!, I really do. Bradley hasn’t had the pride of mascot in so long. The Native American imagery was removed in 1992 and the bobcat never worked out. In this case, we have to put in an extra effort to make a mark with Kaboom!.
Now, this is where I get critical: it’s once you see Kaboom! try to pump up a crowd you realize he’s just not getting the job done. The webbed feet are too big; he’s awkward when he walks. This holds him back from running around and bringing energy to fans. He needs to be able to at least attempt a half-court shot.
Specifically, it’s a costume department issue and the funds may not be there for a new suit right away. Hopefully, in the near future, demand will come for a Kaboom! costume upgrade and appropriate arrangements will be made.
What we need is an atheltic Kaboom!, one that can do backflips and is a spectacular dancer. BYU’s Cosmo the Cougar can pull off a choreographed hip-hop dance with cheerleaders while Kaboom! would have a hard time keeping his head on while attempting the “Cupid Shuffle.”
Uniquely enough, Kaboom!’s signature entrance to men’s basketball is riding in on a motorcycle, which people really like. Unique is a word that can describe the last few years with Kaboom!. People have laughed and stared, but there are solutions to alter the mascot stigma.
Just this year, the Philadelphia Flyers were given Gritty, a googly-eyed, deranged-looking muppet mascot whom the world shouted down with criticism. In this case, however, the Philadelphia fans took it personally.
They knew their mascot looked freaky, they knew their mascot didn’t make sense and they even asked the question. “But why?” But when it seemed like the world kept mocking something apart of Philadelphia’s identity, the fans went to Gritty’s side. They defended and accepted him for what he was. That’s family.
Do you think Kaboom! is creepy? Do you want another mascot? Maybe it’s time we accept him for what he represents but add some smaller feet.