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.
"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 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
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.
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.