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.



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MSU Student Alumni Foundation. Sparty Mascot Program. Accessed 11/5/07

MSU Student Alumni Foundation. Sparty 2007 National Champion. Accessed 11/5/07.