Along with the excitement of watching world-class athletes perform, sports are an excellent form of entertainment. The cheering, the music, the crowd - are all part of the experience of attending a sporting event. One of the key pieces to this entertainment is the team mascot.

What is a mascot?: A mascot is anything that brings luck to a team. Usually, it's a person dressed up in a funny costume that helps lead cheers and gets the crowd into the game. The mascot can go onto the field, making the fans laugh during breaks in the action. Sometimes, mascots are actual animals. The University of Georgia Bulldogs have a mascot named Uga; an actual bulldog. At every football game, Uga is there, wearing a red Georgia shirt!

Some famous mascots: One of the most famous - and funniest - mascots is the Phillie Phanatic. At Philadelphia Phillies games, the Phanatic drives around on an ATV and entertains the crowd. The Phanatic is a round, green bird-like creature that has a big snout. The Phanatic has been a huge part of Phillies games since 1978. Another great mascot is Mr. Met, whose head is a giant baseball. He has been a part of the Mets since 1962. At Citi Field, Mr. Met hangs out with the fans and sometimes launches t-shirts into the crowd between innings. Many college teams have well-known mascots, including Notre Dame's Leprechaun, the Stanford Tree and the Boston College Eagle.

How long have mascots been around?: As long as teams have been playing sports in America, they have had mascots. One of the earliest mascots is Yale University's Handsome Dan. As early as the 1880s, Handsome Dan, a real bulldog, would walk across the field before Yale's football and baseball games. To this day, a bulldog named Handsome Dan brings luck to Yale's teams. Nobody knows for sure how the tradition of mascots got started, but many military units throughout history have used mascots to bring luck. It is believed that sports teams borrowed the tradition from the military.

Like home runs, touchdowns and slam dunks, mascots are a part of the game. When there is a break in the action, a great mascot can provide some good laughs. There's even a Mascot Hall of Fame!

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