Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
Everybody roots for something. It's often sports teams, but it's not only sports teams. Sometimes it's the novel you're reading that simply must end a certain way. Sometimes it's a first date (it doesn't even have to be your own first date). Sometimes it's a political outcome (like, oh, you know, the 12th or 13th Speaker of the House vote).
The sports thing is probably the thing that brings the most people together at the same time to support and cheer for teams, games, record-breaking outcomes, individuals, and so forth. One of the biggest sporting events that involves the most massive levels of fan interest is the quadrennial World Cup soccer/football championship.
We just had a World Cup, and even though everyone was embarrassed about the location and uncomfortable about the organizing entity, lots and lots of people came together over a one-month period November and December to cheer for, hope for — in some cases pray for — and wildly root for players, teams, and games.
Oh, and yes, this is a Salary Survey article, and yes, we're discussing one of those questions from the very end of the survey where we say, "Thanks for everything, do you want to answer a few offbeat, non-IT questions, or are you totally done?" Roughly 47 percent of survey respondents essentially told us what we could do with our goofy extra questions this year.
Everyone else played along, however, and here we are talking about the World Cup. More specifically, we're talking about World Cup mascots. Because you don't just root for a country, or a team at the World Cup. You root for a thing that forges your collective identity, uniting fans and players as a single indomitable force. You know, a thing like, say, the color blue.
As noted in our phrasing of this question, there's not as much creativity as you might expect from this realm: Sports team mascots can be literally anything, from banana slugs (sports teams at the University of California, Santa Cruz) to jazz (the musical genre famously embodied by a pro basketball team from the noted jazz cultural capital of ... Salt Lake City, in Utah).
So it's a little unusual that most World Cup mascots are kinda boring and sorta plain. Yes, it's a pain to pin an entire national identity on just one thing. And, as some would surely argue, the dignity of a national sports teams rules out many (possibly even most) options.
With all of that in mind, we decided to find out which of all the mascots in play at the 2022 World Cup — minus the super boring ones — is the best. A subjective judgement? Sure. On the other hand, remember that we're asking certified IT professionals, and not necessarily rabid football/soccer fans. There's probably a bit more dispassionate reserve here than you might find elsewhere.
Here's what we learned:
Q: Which national team that will compete in the men's 2022 World Cup has the best nickname/mascot? (Automatically disqualified: Every team whose mascot is just [Term for people from this nation]. Yanks, Canucks, etc. You guys are all boring. At least the teams that are just named after colors have a little imagination.)
Little Canaries (Brazil) — 9.3 percent
Dragons (Wales) — 8.9 percent
Socceroos (Australia) — 8.6 percent
White and Sky Blues (Argentina) — 8.4 percent
Red Devils (Belgium) — 6.9 percent
Three Lions (England) — 6.7 percent
Samurai Blues (Japan) — 5.5 percent
Indomitable Lions (Cameroon) — 5.3 percent
Danish Dynamite (Denmark) — 5.0 percent
Fiery Boys (Croatia) — 4.1 percent
Red Fury (Spain) — 3.6 percent
The National Team (Germany) — 3.3 percent
Blues (France) — 2.7 percent
Orange (Netherlands) — 2.6 percent
Five-Sided Fortresses (Portugal) — 2.6 percent
Crimsons (Qatar) — 2.3 percent
Black Stars (Ghana) — 2.0 percent
Tricolor (Ecuador) — 2.0 percent
Polish Eagles (Poland) — 1.9 percent
Eagles of Carthage (Tunisia) — 1.8 percent
Asian Tigers (South Korea) — 1.6 percent
Lions of Hospitality (Senegal) — 1.4 percent
Eagles (Serbia) — 1.0 percent
Persian Lions (Iran) — 0.9 percent
Green Hawks (Saudi Arabia) — 0.9 percent
Atlas Lions (Morocco) 0.7 — percent
The Salary Survey big winner is the Little Canaries of Brazil. Brazil got knocked out of the actual World Cup in the quarterfinal round, so maybe this tiny victory will offer a degree of consolation to all of the disappointed fans in Brazil. It's also worth noting that "Little Canaries" doesn't really sound imposing or intimidating, but the actual in-person guy-in-a-suit mascot (retooled prior to the 2018 World Cup) at least has the appearance of not being a wimpy pushover.
Runner-up is Wales, which uses a dragon as its mascot. You basically can't go wrong with a dragon. Dragons are powerful, majestic, breathe fire, and fly. They're usually darn near invincible, and did we mention that they also breathe fire? Oh, sure, dragons sometimes get depicted as being petty, greedy, and vain, and they at least occasionally, you know, eat people and kidnap maidens — but basically the good PR overwhelms the bad.
It's fun to see that an imaginative mascot that marries both sport and national character did so well, with the "Socceroos" of Australia also appearing on the podium. Argentina, the actual World Cup champion, beat out all the other "color" mascots, perhaps via its unique strategy of invoking two colors (White and Sky Blues) instead of just one.
There are a lot of lion mascots, which perhaps explains why most of them did poorly — splitting the vote and such. England and its Three Lions was the best-performing lion country, with a decent showing also put together by the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. On the other hand, the Persian Lions (Iran) and the Lions of Hospitality (Senegal) are way down at the bottom, and actual 2022 World Cup darling Morocco — which made the semifinal round before getting blasted by France — was the big loser of the mascot battle: the Atlas Lions of Morocco finished dead last.
And even though a bird mascot was the big winner, bird mascots overall did not represent their respective fan bases well. The Polish Eagles (Poland), Eagles of Carthage (Tunisia), Eagles (Serbia), and Green Hawks (Saudi Arabia) are right down at the bottom with the lions and the Asian Tigers of South Korea. Lions and tigers and birds ... oh my!