Sports, Halloween together for one night


Halloween is one of those holidays that infiltrates every corner of pop culture, including sports.

Bats, ghosts and jack-o-lanterns embellished the M&M’s theme on Kyle Busch’s Halloween paint scheme for the NASCAR race at Kansas earlier this month. (Collectors-edition models of the special race car are already for sale.)

Over the weekend, NFL broadcasts featured spooky themes, Halloween graphics packages and lots of costume-clad fans in the stands.

Tonight’s World Series Game 6 in Los Angeles is expected to draw Halloween-celebrants, who will have to consider a long list of security guidelines when choosing their costumes to cheer on their team. No masks, props or noisemakers are allowed, but face paint is permitted; indecent and obscene clothing is a no-go and shoes are required. Surely there are some Halloween costume options, even with the many restrictions.

Unique sports-themed costumes can be found everywhere. Some of my favorites are Squints and Wendy Peffercorn from The Sand Lot and Dottie from A League of Their Own. And maybe most creative: an elementary student dressed up as the athlete on the front of a box of Wheaties.

Halloween gives the young and young-at-heart the chance to showcase their creativity and maybe even pay homage to a personal hero. For some that may be a fictitious comic book character, while for others, it’s a superstar athlete.

In spite of negative news on many sports fronts, there are still plenty of role models in the world of athletics, and you don’t have to look very far to find them.

Just last week a childhood friend, who now coaches high school football at my alma mater, took a photo of his pre-schooler high-fiving the varsity players as they walked off the practice field. His Facebook post about his son: “He thinks they’re superheroes. I know the feeling.”

Certainly, scholastic athletes are revered by youngsters who look up to them, especially on the football field, where the helmets and shoulder pads can almost pass for an Ironman costume. But the most endearing quality of those teenage role models in any sport is taking the time to acknowledge and encourage those who look up to them.

At Penn State this weekend, student-athletes stood at posts inside the All-Sports Museum for their 9th annual Trick-or-Treat event. More than a thousand costumed children filed through the museum during the two-hour visit, taking in the images of legendary Nittany Lions on the walls while meeting current classes of Penn State athletes in person. Some of them have to seem like a real-life Superman or Wonder Woman. The free event has become a Happy Valley tradition.

From high school to college to pro sports, the backdrop of athletics adds another element of fun to the clever costumes and spirited celebrations; but Halloween festivities are also the chance for children to dream big.

Goodman Shaffer can be reached at