Category Archives: News Sports

How Those Cheerleader-Eating Mascots Are Helping Kids With Their Autism [Video]

Erik Malinowski

How Those Cheerleader-Eating Mascots Are Helping Kids With Their Autism Those weird, inflatable mascots that seem to have an insatiable appetite for cheerleaders? Well, their creator is using them to not only entertain us sports-goers but also to assist kids with autism, using the suits to help them work on their social interactions. In a story in this month’s Wired, Ben Paynter details how Lee Bowen, who debuted his line of mascots in the early ’90s, improbably discovered that the suits held promise beyond just entertaining those of us in the stands:

In 2005, Lee Bowen went to a firefighter convention in Indianapolis to hawk blow-up suits and fire safety programs-a side business that had evolved out of the mascot thing. Bowen needed someone to demo a suit, so he asked a custodian named Sherri Hughes if she had a kid who might want to make a few bucks. Hughes agreed, but her youngest son bailed. Instead, Hughes showed up with her son Joe, an 18-year-old who was, as Hughes put it, nonsocial. “He won’t look at anybody or approach anybody,” she says. “All he does is look at the floor and mumble.” But Bowen needed that demo. They decided Joe would give it a try. “You wouldn’t believe it. This kid was fine,” Hughes says. “He started running up to people and tapping them on the shoulder. I started crying. It is the only time I’ve seen my son having a good time and reaching out to people. He told me, ‘Mom, when I’m in the suit, I don’t need to be afraid no more. I can be with people.'”

The Bowens were stunned. After Joe Hughes repeated his performance at the same conference for two more years, they called in Keith Allen, a psychologist at the Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Allen asked if Hughes was autistic, and it turned out that he’d just been diagnosed with Asperger’s. So the Bowens shipped a suit to Scott’s sister Beth, who works with special education students in Pinetop, Arizona. She saw the same thing-an autistic high school student seemed to come alive in the suit. “At first, I was wary,” Allen says. “It seemed like they had the idea these suits might somehow be therapeutic. I don’t know what they really meant by that. Like, are you going to put someone inside one of these things and they’ll come out less autistic?”

Allen suggested a more testable hypothesis: The costume might simply help autistic people become pretty good mascots. The payoff would be small but important. “People who are employed have a greater sense of independence and well-being,” Allen says. But up to 90 percent of adults with autism don’t have jobs.

Do check out the rest of Paynter’s story, which delves extensively into how the suits were developed and what improvements Bowen may make in the future. Good news is, no matter what, these mascots should maintain their cheerleader-devouring regimen.

Air-Pumped Mascot Costumes Turn Autistic Kids Into Outgoing Entertainers [Wired]

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The Greatest Olympic Cauldron Lighting Ever Happened 20 Years Ago Today [Video]

Erik Malinowski

The Greatest Olympic Cauldron Lighting Ever Happened 20 Years Ago Today Look, there’s a lot about the 1992 Opening Ceremonies in Barcelona that is just a little too ’90s for most folks. The short shorts. The glow sticks. The high socks. However, every single time I watch the ending, I get chills, my brain unable to wrap itself around the fact that HE SHOT A FUCKING ARROW FROM 181 FEET AWAY AT A SEVEN-STORY-HIGH TARGET. (Fact: Antonio Rebollo, a Paralympic archer who was stricken with polio when he was eight months old, was selected from over 200 archers for the event. His arrow actually landed in a sandbox set up outside the stadium.)

Four years later, Rebollo recounted the moment as such:

There were no fears. I was practically a robot. I focused on my positioning and reaching the target. My feelings were taken from the people who described to me how they saw it. What they felt, their emotions, their cries. This is what made me realize what the moment actually meant.

Why we don’t have someone do this at every single Opening Ceremonies, I’ll never know.

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After 20 Years, Footage From The Dream Team’s Monaco Scrimmage Finally Airs (UPDATE) [Video]

Erik Malinowski

After 20 Years, Footage From The Dream Team's Monaco Scrimmage Finally Airs [UPDATE] Three days before the 1992 Summer Olympics kicked off, the Dream Team played an intrasquad scrimmage in Monaco, Magic’s side vs. Jordan’s, arguably the greatest assemblage of basketball legends playing against each other in the same game. As Jack McCallum started researching his book Dream Team, finding the tape became “an obsession” for him, as people were certain that it existed but no one knew who had it and it had certainly never been aired on TV before.

Well, McCallum found the tape and portions of it aired Tuesday night on the premiere episode of Sports Illustrated, a new monthly show on the NBC Sports Network. Perhaps one day we’ll get to see the whole thing, but a few highlights are definitely good enough for now.

UPDATE: D’oh. Parts of this footage actually premiered for the first time during NBA TV’s excellent documentary The Dream Team, which you should watch here in its entirety. This most recent footage isn’t the same cut as NBA TV’s and it does give a bit more context than what the documentary used, including noting the final score of the scrimmage, but this wasn’t quite the unveiling we initially made it out to be. Apologies. (Although, we still want to see the entire scrimmage.)

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Deadspin Up All Night: Blimps [Video]

Dom Cosentino

Deadspin Up All Night: Blimps Thank you for your continued support of Deadspin. Erik will be with you shortly.

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Ichiro’s First At-Bat As A Yankee: A Double Bow To Mariners Fans, Followed By A Slap Single Up The Middle [Video]

Timothy Burke

Ichiro's First At-Bat As A Yankee: A Double Bow To Mariners Fans, Followed By A Slap Single Up The Middle It’s a little weird to see Ichiro sporting a Yankee cap (especially the custom low-profile 5150 they seem to have given him) but how his first plate appearance for the Yankees went couldn’t have been more predictable. And, yet, it was wonderful, as the veteran gave a respectful bow to both sides of the stadium then did what Mariners fans have seen 2,000-some times: slapped a ball up the middle for a single.

We may have declared Ichiro “done” last year, and fans of the other AL East teams certainly hope we were on the ball. But for a moment tonight, Ichiro hit all the right spots. [Root Sports]

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Deadspin Up All Night: Freak Out And Give In [Video]

Jack Dickey

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Deadspin Up All Night: Freak Out And Give In Thank you for your continued support of Deadspin. See you tomorrow.

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