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The Metamorphosis

6 September 2022

One morning, when Champ the Bulldog woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible yellow canine. He lay on his faux-fur back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his yellow belly, slightly domed and covered in short, pale-colored fur. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His legs, comically muscular compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.

“What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, a proper dog room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of sports jerseys lay spread out on the table—Champ was a college sports mascot—and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of a Sports Illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady fitted out with a hockey jersey and hockey skates who stood upright, raising a hockey stick that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer.

Champ then turned to look out the window at the dull weather. Drops of rain could be heard hitting the pane, which made him feel quite sad. “How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense”, he thought, but that was something he was unable to do because he was used to sleeping on his right, and in his present state couldn’t get into that position. However hard he threw himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he was. He must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so that he wouldn’t have to look at the muscular legs, and only stopped when he began to feel a mild, dull pain there that he had never felt before.

“Oh, God”, he thought, “what a strenuous career it is that I’ve chosen! Performing day in and day out. Pumping up the crowd like this takes much more effort than doing your own business at home, and on top of that there’s the curse of travelling, worries about making plane connections, bad and irregular food, contact with different people all the time so that you can never get to know anyone or become friendly with them. It can all go to Hell!” He felt a slight itch up between his eyes; pushed himself slowly up on his back towards the headboard so that he could see his face in the mirror; found where the itch was, and saw that it was between two deep black creases which he didn’t know what to make of; and when he tried to feel the place with one of his paws he drew it quickly back because as soon as he touched it he was overcome by a cold shudder.

Comrades, weren’t we all overcome with a collective cold shudder upon seeing this unexpected, unwelcome metamorphosis?

tUMD claims that the mascot was designed after this rendering of Champ, and I would agree that if the mascot actually did look like this, it would be awesome.

From the number of memes involving Winnie the Pooh and/or Regretsy-style fails, it’s pretty clear that the new Champ doesn’t actually resemble “Standing Champ.” It’s not even gold, it’s sort of buttery. The head is also considerably more cylindrical than either the previous Champ costume or the drawing. Instead of jowls, the new Champ looks like it has a mullet. I also don’t understand the mouth. It has both a cartoonish trompe-l’œil rendering of teeth and some very small “actual” canine teeth. The teeth are so small I only just noticed them while writing this post, and while I realize old Champ didn’t so much have teeth as it had tusks, at least it was clear what the concept was.

I’m curious if this switch from a jersey to this skin-tight Jersey Shore bro sweater look will be permanent, or if it was just for the reveal. I liked that Champ wore hockey jerseys and football jerseys and while I’ve never attended a pumpkin pushing game, I assume it wouldn’t be too hard to put on one of those. It’s very strange to see muscles built into this costume. Is this Champ on ‘roids? Will it start fights in fits of rage? Does it not need pants because it has shrivved its nards?

I know it could be worse. There are some previous incarnations of Champ where it looks diseased or deformed, and there are some other mascots in Duluth that are much more disturbing:

The existing Champ was pretty good as far as mascots go (although USAFABulldog doesn’t like the “hot pink mouth,” something I disagree with, as dogs have pink tongues), and I suppose if the costume was getting ratty it was probably time for an upgrade, but this was just weird. Unsettling. And also very annoying, because we’ve been banging on for years about getting a new gold men’s hockey jersey, and instead end up with a new gold all-purpose mascot. It’s like when you ask for a very specific clothing item for Christmas, and your mom goes to Kohl’s and gets something “similar” plus three other items you didn’t ask for which together come to $2.96 after Kohl’s Cash, which you discover when you try to return it all. Not that this has ever happened to me.

Ultimately, this is a mascot, not a sacred image of our lord and savior Hunter Shepard or something, so let’s not go hurling apples at it and dooming it to a long, slow, painful death as happened to Gregor Samsa, but we Dogs fans are perfectly within our rights to make jokes and memes about this to our hearts’ content. The only person I’ve seen actually like the change so far is Biddco, which only solidifies the absurdity of Yellow Champ. I’m still looking forward to seeing it in person, especially the strange tiny teeth. Maybe the sponsors of Smile Cam can put it under nitrous and yank those suckers out? That would be a great marketing opportunity. I’m sure to endear myself to the new AD with such brilliance.

Welcome to the 19th season of RWD, ya filthy animals.

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