Happy Friday! It’s cloudy above and slushy below.
As college basketball players compete this weekend for fame and glory at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Brooklyn and the Big East tournament in Midtown Manhattan, a group of athletes alongside them will end the season in complete anonymity: the mascots.
Sure, they rile crowds, needle opponents and channel a game’s emotional thrust into abstract, wordless performances for thousands of fans. But often, the people inside the suits must hide their true identities from even their closest friends.
We contacted a few of the current and former mascots at the tournaments, and after some serious journalistic negotiating, they agreed to go on the record about life behind the mask.
“It’s very secretive,” said Isaac Clark, who until last year played the role of Otto the Orange, the hyperactive anthropomorphic fruit that represents the spirit of Syracuse.
The process involved in choosing that upstate university’s mascot is very hush-hush, but the gist is, You don’t choose Otto — Otto chooses you.
Once selected, Mr. Clark was asked to follow the “rule of five”: During his time as Otto, he was allowed to tell only five people (aside from family).
“I was telling white lies, literally all the time,” he said.
The mascot team — there are typically several students who play the role — would often meet to trade “excuses,” Mr. Clark said.
Sweating in a meeting after practice? Intense gym session. Disappeared at game time? Econ class. Got home late at night? Long date.
It’s also important to make sure the character is not rubbing off on you, said Spencer Godine, a senior at the University of Virginia.
He plays Cavman, the school’s muscular, goateed cavalier, who beats his chest and has swagger to spare.
He’s been told he moves like Cavman by friends who suspect he might be the mascot, and often has to check himself: “Oh wait, am I dancing like Cavman now?”
Living a double life can be tough, but the anonymity is one of the best parts of the job, the mascots said.
Not so much for the fibbing, Mr. Godine said, but because “it’s selfless.”
“I don’t want it to be about me,” he said. “I want it to be about something that’s bigger than myself.”
The A.C.C. semifinal matches begin at Barclays Center at 7 tonight, and the Big East semifinal games tip off at Madison Square Garden at 6:30 p.m.
Here’s what else is happening:
Three cheers for the weekend forecast.
Two for Saturday and Sunday: They’re set to be sunny and mild.
One for today: Expect partly sunny skies with a high near 43.
In the News
• With so much attention focused on the troubles of the subway, have we forgotten about the equally dire situation with the city’s buses? [New York Times]
• An acquittal in a Yale rape case shows how consent standards may differ between on-campus and off-campus perspectives. [New York Times]
• He was forced out of his Lower East Side home by an urban renewal project over 50 years ago. When he finally moved back, his homecoming was cut short. [New York Times]
• Three days before two Manhattan children were stabbed to death, the nanny charged in their deaths was begging a psychologist to fit her into his schedule. [New York Times]
• After Wednesday’s storm pounded the region, fallen trees caused chaos for commuters. [New York Times]
• Tenants are wondering, Will there be a rent freeze in 2018? [New York Times]
• A top neuroscientist at Columbia University has been removed from his post and had his lab shut down after an investigation found that he violated “university policies and values.” [New York Times]
• Tony Soprano will hit the screen again, but this times as a boy. David Chase is putting together a big-screen prequel. [New York Times]
• Do you think bike lanes should be incorporated into streets when they are repaved? Most of City Council thinks so. [Streetsblog]
• The state is looking to fast-track repairs to a damaged section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. [Brooklyn Paper]
• Today’s Metropolitan Diary: “Empathy From a Pro.”
• For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Morning Briefing.
Coming Up Today
• Enjoy extended hours, free admission and drinks at the Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn Heights. 5 to 9 p.m. [Free]
• André Aciman, the author of the novel “Call Me by Your Name,” discusses his work at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center in Greenwich Village. 6:30 p.m. [Free]
• A lecture about weather on other planets, followed by stargazing, at Columbia University in Morningside Heights. 7 p.m. [Free]
• Knicks at Bucks, 8 p.m. (MSG).
• Watch “The New York Times Close Up,” featuring playwright Tony Kushner and other guests. Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on CUNY-TV.
• Alternate-side parking remains in effect until March 29.
• Take a tour of High Rock Park and learn about the woman who helped save it from development at the High Rock Park in Staten Island. 11 a.m. [Free]
• A wine tasting and discussion of wine-growing in the Hudson Valley at Wave Hill in the Bronx. 1 p.m. [$8]
• Learn the art of Chinese paper cutting at the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing. 2 p.m. [$20]
• Learn about the history of afternoon tea while sipping tea and listening to music at the Center at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens, Queens. 5 p.m. [$30]
• Rangers at Panthers, 7 p.m. (MSG). New York Red Bulls at Portland, 7 p.m. (MSG2). Devils at Predators, 8 p.m. (MSG+).
• The Reelabilities film festival presents an afternoon of films about people with disabilities in New York City at the Central Queens Y in Forest Hills. Beginning at 10 a.m. [Pay what you wish]
• Science demonstrations and activities for children at the City of Science event at Lehman College in the Bronx. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. [Free]
• Explore 19th Century NoHo on a tour beginning at the Merchant’s House Museum in Greenwich Village. 12:30 p.m. [Free]
• Learn about Irish culture, step dancing and whiskey at A Celebration of Irish Culture at Rocky Sullivan’s in Red Hook, Brooklyn. 4 p.m. [$15]
• New York City F.C. at Galaxy, 5 p.m. (YES). Islanders at Flames, 7 p.m. (MSG+). Nets host 76ers, 7:30 p.m. (YES).
• For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.
And Finally …
Here in New York, we have two soccer teams, but zero mascots.
Which might not be a bad thing. Who needs a high-five from a guy in a suit when you can get on the pitch with real footballers?
To get New Yorkers in the soccer spirit, New York City F.C. is hosting a 24-hour match marathon this weekend at Rockefeller Center.
More than 500 locals will be given the chance to be coached by the team and play with current N.Y.C.F.C. players like David Villa, Ronald Matarrita, Rodney Wallace, Anton Tinnerholm, Tommy McNamara and Alex Ring.
The five-on-five matches will take place every 30 minutes from 4 p.m. Friday through 4 p.m. Saturday, with a halftime break at 4 a.m.
The matches are free to watch. For your chance to play, head to the registration area and sign up. The list is full, but standbys will be called upon in the case of no-shows.
The best time to get a spot, we’re told, will be between midnight and 6 a.m., when the chance of registered players canceling is greatest.
New York Today is a morning roundup that is published weekdays at 6 a.m. If you don’t get it in your inbox already, you can sign up to receive it by email here.
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Published at Fri, 09 Mar 2018 11:00:08 +0000