Gamecock students and fans are used to seeing the university mascot, Cocky, cheer on teams at athletic events. However, if the roles were reversed, what sport would Cocky play?
USC professors April South, an expert in animal and veterinary sciences, and Dr. Gerald Brasington, a human anatomy professor, considered Cocky's anthropomorphic build through the lens of athletics. They said his combination of human and rooster qualities would make him best suited to compete as a sprinter or jumper.
Cocky’s relatively hollow bones and bird-like stamina would likely hold him back from longer-lasting, contact intensive sports according to the professors. Dr. Brasington and South agreed that Cocky would be better off in quicker sports where he could focus on performing at a high level for a short amount of time.
“I think he'd be a track and field expert at short distances and events where he's meeting to jump,” South said.
South said Cocky would have an advantage over his human competitors because of his feathers. She said Cocky’s human-sized body would likely make it so that he couldn’t fly with his wings — similar to a dinosaur with wings or short arms — but he would be able to propel himself forward to run faster.
Beyond propelling himself further, Cocky should see some other advantages with his flightless wings.
“He’d be able to glide,” Dr. Brasington said. “The advantages would be glide, the disadvantages would be drag.”
Cocky might have a hard time strictly running, or not using his wings to lift himself, because of the drag. However, Dr. Brasington said if Cocky does flap his wings to his advantage for a quick boost, his advanced breast muscles should make him very agile and quick when he runs.
Using this, it’s apparent that Cocky would be a great sprinter when he uses his wings to give him a boost. He could similarly achieve lengthy long jumps with his gliding ability. Outside of a potential role with the track and field team, Cocky’s unusual anthropomorphic build also opens a number of other sports opportunities.
“There could be leg up under there that you’re not seeing,” South said — referring to the bottom half of Cocky’s costume. “So rugby, lacrosse, football — you’re opening up the whole world of sports, almost.”
South said that not only could Cocky’s thighs help for physically tough sports, but that they — combined with the claw on the back of his foot — could help him in combat sports. She said that the spur on his foot would likely make him a very difficult opponent in wrestling. Additionally, she noted that the aggressive nature of roosters when enraged would make Cocky a formidable foe in any sort of combat.
Dr. Brasington provided more insight regarding Cocky’s technical advantages as a rooster-human hybrid.
“Since he has a bird-like feature, of course, the main interest for most people that are looking at any kind of chicken-type thing would be the breasts,” Dr. Brasington said. “I would imagine that proportionally his breasts would be gigantic muscular-wise.”
Cocky’s large chest muscles would give him advantages in sports like tennis or baseball where swinging and throwing motions are the main movement.
As for the lower half of Cocky’s body, Dr. Brasington said his legs would likely be able to get very low as roosters tend to be flexible enough to almost hide their legs to sit low on the ground. Thus, he could have the ability to duck under a defense and slip by easily as a running back in football.
Despite all of these advantages Cocky gains from his rooster qualities, he would in turn experience a few disadvantages because of his enlarged state.
“My first concern is that he’s top heavy,” Dr. Brasington said. “If he were to block for the football team, it might not be quite so easy to use that to his advantage.”
Overall, Cocky’s anthropomorphic body should provide more benefits than detriments to his athletic career, they said. Regardless of this natural talent, he would still have to work hard to earn a spot on South Carolina's track team.
"We compete in a very competitive league, and what these athletes do to compete at that high level takes a lot of preparation and training," track and field assistant coach Kevin Brown said. "We would have to train him and prepare him to see how well he could perform."
While expectations for Cocky as a track athlete would be high, Brown said he's sure the team would be excited to welcome him in because of the enthusiasm he'd bring.