Students vote on four new, yet similar, designs for Sparky the Sun Devil mascot

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XXX. (Madeline Pado/DD)

Sparky’s design hasn’t had an update since 2011, the last major change occurring in 2009. Students can view all the previous designs and vote on the new look at sparky.asu.edu. (Madeline Pado/DD)

ASU students, staff, faculty, alumni, season-ticket holders and donors can make their voices heard in an online poll to select the next incarnation of the Sparky the Sun Devil mascot.

The online voting, featuring four different Sparky designs, opened yesterday. It comes as a response to the overwhelming public backlash of the March 1 reveal of a Disney-reimagined mascot.

The four final designs were decided on by the university in partnership with student leaders, the Sun Devil Coalition Advocacy Board, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the Alumni Board and Chapter Leaders and representatives from the Sun Devil Club board.

The four new Sparkys and the online poll can be found on the Sparky website. Options A and B appear to be similar to the version of Sparky that many in the ASU community have come to refer to as “the old Sparky.” Option A’s primary difference is Sparky’s open mouth.

Options C and D appear to be similar to the reimagined Disney version of Sparky. Option D is most like the Disney Sparky, and Option C’s eyes features a black pupil with a red iris.

“It isn’t something I thought would spark so much controversy,” said social work graduate student Abbie Hardel.

She said she believes Option C is too cute and Option A has too large a smile. Neither could be a “feared mascot,” Hardel said.

“There’s no intimidation factor,” Hardel said. “I like B or D.”

Sparky was first created as ASU’s mascot in 1946, after ASU made the mascot change from bulldogs to Sun Devils.

According to Natasha Karaczan, an ASU media-relations officer, Sparky has been redesigned many times.

“We’ve counted a little over twelve times,” Karaczan said. “We’ve only been able to find those photos, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t others.”

Karaczan said the Sparky redesign stems from changing times.

“We wanted to update it and keep it modern,” she said. “It hasn’t been updated in a while. We all want a cooler mascot, right?”

The poll closes at midnight on May 5. The winner will be announced on ASU’s social media channels on May 7.

“I think A and B are good updates that I can work with,” nursing freshman Makena Scheller said. “C and D are a little too close to what they were going for originally.”

Journalism freshman Nicole Fox said she hasn’t voted yet, but plans to vote for option B.

“I think it’s the least cartoon-looking,” Fox said. “I think all four are an improvement over the last design they tried to pull. I’ll be going with B because it’s the closest to what we have now.”

Many students looking at the four new Sparky options believe they all look the same. Social work graduate student Billy Shepard said he wondered if that was intentional.

“Are they supposed to be the same?” Shepard asked. “I’ll go with Option B.”

Jorge Garcia, a chemical engineering sophomore, said the only major difference between the new Sparky options are their eyes.

“No offense to Disney,” Garcia said, “but they should have kept the old Sparky.”

Health solutions senior Christopher Bradshaw said he thinks the Sparky that was released on March 1 looks like the main character from 2007’s “Bee Movie.” Bradshaw’s friend Thomas Pearson, also a health solutions senior, said he believes the disputed Sparky looks like “the Cheerio guy”.

“They all look very similar,” Pearson said. “I would go with Option D. It’s a little more menacing.”

Bradshaw said he would vote for Option B or D. He said he believes ASU would have saved themselves some trouble if they had used this voting process to begin with.

“Maybe they should’ve included the students on it before they pulled the trigger on it,” Bradshaw said. “They should have done this first to include the students. He’s representing us.”

Pearson said he believes the change is a good thing.

“He definitely needed an upgrade,” Pearson said. “He looked kind of raggedy, not very intimidating. The more athletic Devil does make it more appealing, as opposed to the frumpy, old Sparky.”

Bradshaw seconded the notion that maybe change is not all bad.

“He could use an upgrade, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Bradshaw said. “I mean, we all change, don’t we?”

Contact the reporter at ashley.mcculley@asu.edu