Here's a do-and-don't list for mascots

Larry Lage Associated Press

Mr. Met could have used my advice a couple days ago.

The New York Mets' mascot, who flashed his "middle" finger at a fan, violated a code of conduct Wednesday night.

Take it from me, a former Michigan State mascot. I was one of two students to transform into Sparty during the 1993-94 season when I was also an aspiring journalist — out of costume, of course.

As a service for current and future mascots, here's my do-and-don't list:

DON'T TALK! Mascots are supposed to be seen, not heard. Ever.

DO DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING: No one can see you, so lose all inhibitions and shake what your mama gave ya!

DON'T TAKE THE HEAD OF THE MASCOT OFF IN PUBLIC: The last thing you want to do is freak out a kid, whose image of a mascot might be shattered if he or she knows there's a real person in that costume.

DON'T DO ANYTHING DUMB: As a mascot, you're representing an institution or a team that wants you to create warm and fuzzy feelings, not shame.

DO TREASURE THE OPPORTUNITY: It is a gift to be able to entertain people, anonymously, and that should not be wasted or taken for granted.

DON'T DRINK BOOZE BEFORE A GAME: I tried that once, to see what it felt like, before a Michigan State women's basketball game and it was a horrible idea.

DO HAVE SOMEONE TAKE PICTURES AND VIDEOS OF YOU: Family, especially your kids and their kids, along with friends will cherish pictures and videos along with stories even more if you can show and tell about your unique experience.

DON'T TELL MANY PEOPLE YOU'RE A MASCOT: Just a few close friends, and even fewer fraternity brothers, knew I was a mascot during my junior year in college. The last thing a mascot needs is his buddy trying to sabotage a performance.

DO MEET EVERYONE YOU CAN OUT OF THE COSTUME: As a mascot, anyone associated with that school or team will want to meet you and hear your stories. Take advantage of the captive audience.

DON'T GET OUT OF CHARACTER: Make huge movements, unlike anything you would do out of costume, because exaggerating everything makes you seem less like a person.

DO NOT LISTEN TO HECKLERS: That might have gotten Mr. Met in trouble, but he, or she, was not available for comment.