The mascot of Michigan State University. He is the world's largest ceramic statue - an 8 foot figure of a Spartan warrior. Every now and them, people from the University of Michigan try to paint him blue.

Sparty is the mascot of Michigan State University. Sparty is exemplified in two forms, a 1945 terra cotta statue located in the annex on the west side of MSU's Spartan Stadium, as well as a costumed version that appears and entertains at MSU sporting, alumni, and community events.

Sparty Statue

"The Spartan" was designed by Leonard D. Jungwirth, a member of the MSU art department, in 1943. Then university president John Hannah had commissioned Jungwirth to design a sculpture depicting an athletic Spartan warrior. Jungwirth's work was unveiled on June 9, 1945, a ten foot-six inch high statue mounted on a five feet-four inch brick-and-concrete base. Originally designed to be cast in bronze, Jungwirth was forced to use terra cotta due to bronze rations put in place due to World War II. The statue, widely believed to be one of the largest, if not the largest freestanding ceramic sculptures in the world, weighs in at over three tons.

Sparty Costume

Sparty the costumed mascot was born in 1989, replacing a papier-mâché helmet that was designed by the Theta Chi Fraternity and carried by the Spartan Marching Band into the stadium on football game days. Designed at the university's request by Real Characters of Atlanta, Georgia, each 30lb foam rubber / vinyl / fiberglass costume is reported to cost around $8,000.  The costume is designed to allow great freedom of movement that it allows the anonymous MSU student inside it to make the character extremely expressive, despite the fixed facial features of the character's oversized head. 

The costumed incarnation of Sparty is one of the most widely recognized mascots in the Big Ten and in the nation. Sparty's antics during games and events can range from shooting photos with people to participating in routines with the cheerleaders and dance teams, to doing one-handed pushups at half court to pump up the crowd at MSU's Breslin Center before a basketball game. Sparty has also garnered national notoriety by appearing in advertisements for ESPN's Sports Center in the 1990s, winning Muscle and Fitness Magazine's "buffest mascot" competition, as well as winning the National Mascot Competition at the Universal Cheer Association's National Championships in 2004, 2005, and 2007.

 

Sources

Ely, Sean. "Sparty on top". The State News. http://www.statenews.com/index.php/article/2007/11/sparty_on_top . Published 11/1/07. Accessed 11/05/07.

The Enlightened Spartan. MSU History. http://www.enlightenedspartan.com/history/history.htm . Accessed 11/5/07.

MSU Alumni Association. MSU Alumni Trivia. http://www.msualum.com/trivia/default-trivia.cfm?id=10 . Accessed 11/5/07.

MSUSpartans.com. MSU Traditions - Sparty. http://msuspartans.cstv.com/trads/msu-trads-sparty.html . Accessed 11/5/07.

MSU Student Alumni Foundation. Sparty Mascot Program. http://www.msusaf.com/Sparty_Mascot_Program/ Accessed 11/5/07

MSU Student Alumni Foundation. Sparty 2007 National Champion. http://www.msusaf.com/Sparty_Mascot_Program/nationals.cfm Accessed 11/5/07.

 

 

Sparty

The Sparty Statue stands at the intersection of Kalmazoo and Farmlane on the campus of Michigan State University (MSU). The statue was once located at the stadium but due to vandalism the statue was relocated to its current location. The new location has done very little with preventing sabotage attacks. In 2002, students of the University of Michigan drenched the statue with blue and maze paint and sent photos to the local newspaper. Students of UofM viewed this act as payback for the loss of a football game at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans beat the Wolverines 26-24, on a last-second touchdown pass to running back T.J. Duckett[link], despite claims by Michigan fans that the clock should have expired before that final play.

Sparty is one of the favorite photo subjects of visitors to the campus and for the seniors of the university on graduation day. The statue has figures representing the 12 intercollegiate sports of the varsity program incised on its base.

The Sparty mascot is a three time national champion[link] mascot competing at the Universal Cheer Association Nationals Competition in Orlando, Florida. He also participates in events across the country including the NCAA Hall of Champions: Mascot Mania

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