Sideline Chatter -- School Caters To Fuzzy-Suit Crowd

Team mascots might get paid to get laughs, but in Nashville, Tenn., it's the wanna-be mascots who do the paying - $795 in all, at the Professional Mascot School.

And it's no laughing matter.

"This is deadly serious work," says Dean Schoenewald, who runs the weeklong sessions.

Schoenewald has been a mascot for 16 years, working as the San Jose Shark and the New Jersey Devil in the NHL, the Philadelphia Eagle in the NFL, and is currently Champ, a lime-green dinosaur who is the mascot for the Nashville Sounds, a Class AAA baseball team.

And teams look to him for training.

"It's neat to have the teams calling," he says. "It's like they're looking for the first-round draft choice."

Cashing in

According to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, UCLA's first basketball title in 20 years helped boost its bank account considerably. The campus bookstore has sold $2 million worth of basketball-related items. Additional donations from boosters totaled $500,000. All home games are sold out for the first time in 20 years, and additional television exposure will add $210,000.

Skirting the issue

John Dimoff of Portland, a qualifier for the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, has an unusual claim to fame.

Dimoff, 24, ran a world record for a mile earlier this year in the Portland Highland Games. His time of 4:20.98 is the fastest ever run - while wearing a kilt.

He wrote it

-- Dan Barreiro of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Dick Butkus, former All-Pro linebacker of the Bears: "Butkus is known for three things: blowing his nose on the ball before many unlucky centers had no choice but to snap it, biting ball carriers in a pile and tackling with a ferocity unmatched in the game's history."

Compiled by Susan Wade, Seattle Times