A nice hard look at a deeply goofy tradition

Published September 9, 2023

A logo for the RISD Nads hockey team features two hockey pucks suggestively astride a long red hockey stick.

If this logo doesn't amuse you, maybe just click back to the front page now.

UPDATE: A version of this story appeared May 17, 2022, on the news page of Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. But RISD began its fall semester this week, so re-running it seemed like – ahem – low-hanging fruit.

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) isn’t short on famous alums: the prestigious art school’s graduates include glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, street artist Shepard ‘I did those Obama HOPE posters’ Fairey, and every original member of the Talking Heads

What it doesn’t have is a super-strong athletics program, which is why its sports teams seem to exist just so its students can make dick jokes. The hockey team is nicknamed ‘The Nads’ – yup, everybody’s required to giggle while they yell “GO NADS!” — the basketball team is ‘The Balls,” the fencers are ‘The Pricks”; and the sailing squad is “The Seamen.” You get it, right? Dick jokes! 

Nothing really underscores RISD’s commitment to the bit like the hockey team’s unofficial mascot, a giant anthropomorphic penis and testicles called “Scrotie.” Although the first Nads hockey team was put together in 1961, they didn’t have any kind of mascot until 30 years later, when a group of students decided that a giant peen would be perfect. (According to MEL Magazine, one of Scrotie’s creators was Nads captain Brian Chesky, who co-founded and is the current CEO of Airbnb.) 

“When Scrotie was created, the ‘Nads’ name had already been tried and true, and we decided we wanted to build a mascot,” RISD alum and Scrotie design team member Paul Osimo told MEL. “A pal of mine […] was a puppet guy. I said, ‘That’s the guy who needs to build this stupid thing.’ So he got commissioned [by us] and built this huge goddamn dick. It was incredible.”

An archived article on RISD’s website said that the original Scrotie costume lasted for eight years until it “succumbed to understandable wear and tear.” There is some debate about whether a second Scrotie filled that gap — as well as what happened to this possibly non-existent costume — but it was given a dramatic redesign in 2010 by then-student Sean Devare. 

Scrotie’s, should we say, classic appearance was scrapped in favor of a dramatic redesign with a bright red shaft and tip and a set of bulbous purple balls. (“We wanted Scrotie to be race-blind,” Devare told the RISD website.) 

By 2012, complaints about this more realistic version — the costume had meticulously sculpted veins on the shaft and “hair follicles [made] out of fishing line” dotted its testicles — so it was retired to that big supply closet in the sky. “There was a preference for the older, more cartoonish Scrotie,” the then-vice president of the RISD Student Alliance said.

Scrotie’s current incarnation is fire engine-red and wears a blue cape. Although he’s still welcome at Nads hockey games, the costume cannot make appearances at on-campus events. “We’re getting to a point where I think Scrotie may soon not be able to be a thing anymore,” Osimo sighed.