They came from opposite ends of the world, with different backgrounds and upbringings, each having prepared for the challenge that lay ahead. This would be a one-on-one for the ages, and both sides were going to give it their all. Major media coverage had been arranged, and over a thousand young enthusiasts would be on hand to witness this historic first meeting between two icons of the sport, set to take place at the 2016 Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA tip-off event. And so it came to pass, one sunny Saturday afternoon at the Don Bosco Technical Institute’s covered courts, that the Alaska Aces’ beloved bovine mascot, E-Cow, met the Atlanta Hawks’ Harry T. Hawk for an epic dance-off.
Each brought their own stylized dance techniques to the fore, to the delight of the gathered children, parents, and media. The animal heroes even let their fans join in the fun, allowing some of the children to show off their best moves and settling the dance-off peacefully before Harry wowed the crowd with his dunking ability as E-Cow cheered him on. As E-Cow gave high-fives and posed for pictures with his fans, Harry cheerfully gobbled the scalps of his new-found friends.
When comparing E-Cow’s cute and cuddly self to the hyperactive showman that is Harry, one might wonder what the two could possibly have in common. While passions often have a tendency to run beyond mere appearances, the commonality linking these two much-loved mascots was clear from the moment they stepped on the court: their love for basketball.
Theirs is a profession integral to the basketball experience, yet one easily taken for granted, as the performers who bring these characters to life remain understandably anonymous. Team lineups may come and go, but for these mainstay mascots who speak volumes without uttering a word, armed with energetic dance moves and on-court abilities that have been honed to arena-pleasing levels, the smiles of their audiences serving as reward for a job well done.
For the performers who portray the characters, the thrill is very real, as is the gratification they get from making the crowd happy, which comes in various forms. As the performer behind the last two decades of E-Cow told Spin.PH , “Masarap talaga yung trabaho ko kasi para akong sikat. Para akong player,” said Pangaibat. “Masaya (dahil) kasama ako sa team. Mahilig din ako sa basketball, nandito pa mga idol ko.”
Harry’s alter-ego shared a similar sentiment in an interview with Creative Loafing, where he said, “One of the most wonderful things about my job is the looks that people give you. When people look at a costume, they don’t have any inhibitions. I see just huge smiles and great reactions, and I very seldom get any negative feedback at all.”
True enough, on that day, under the covered courts, it didn’t matter if you were white, red, hawk, or cow. On that day, everyone was a fan, and it was a privilege to be in the company of two pros who were more than happy to show us how it was done.
Preparing to meet E-Cow, Harry the Hawk makes his entrance at the Don Bosco Technical Institute.