Monday, September 6, 2004

No More

If you haven’t heard, the Syracuse Orangemen are now known, simply, as the Syracuse Orange. A subtle name change….but a move into the politically correct side of things. Of course, if you are young enough…you may believe that the “Orangemen” were indeed just a big orange with legs, hat and a nice smile. In the NCAA’s ongoing movement to eliminate Native American stereotypes as mascots….this goes along with the Marquette Warriors now known as the Eagles…..the Miami Redskins now known as the Redhawks….the St. John’s Redmen as the Red Storm…and the Stanford Indians now the Stanford Cardinal.

Of course, the Florida State Seminoles and Illinois Fighting Illini remain [as well as others]. The fight to take the “Illini” out of the mascot game has been quite well documented. The Seminoles haven’t received as much flack about their name….though it is obviously there. But, there are still others out there. Southeastern Oklahoma State…a division II school….is nicknamed the “Savages”. This name is akin to the dreaded “Redskins” name that has since been all but obliterated from the collegiate landscape…but remains in the NFL [side note: my favorite NFL team is the Washington Redskins].

For the most part, in the major college sporting world….this is the last of those type of offensive nicknames. As I stated, Stanford, St. John’s, Marquette and Miami all have found new nicknames for their programs. Back in 1969, Dartmouth changed from “Indians” to “Big Green”. St. Bonaventure used to be the “Brown Indians”. Eastern Michigan changed from “Hurons” to “Eagles”. UT-Chattanooga shortened their name from Moccasins to just the “Mocs”…which keeps their old tradition and yet is also associated with the state bird….the mockingbird.

Some people want all mascots involving people gone. The East Carolina/Seton Hall Pirates, Idaho Vandals or even the Massachusetts Minutemen. Even the ‘cowboys’. One of the most interesting, yet, seemingly uncontroversial, nickname is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Not only are they “fighting” Irish…but the logo and mascot are a leprechaun. Is that not offensive??  The Boston Celtics have a leprechan as well. 

Ole Miss Rebels has been one of the biggest hotbed of controversy. Not only are they the “Rebels”….but the state flag, which features the stars-and-bars of the Confederacy, was incorporated into the logo and the very fabric of the school. The UNLV Rebels don’t see as much even though their mascot is an obvious caricature of an ol’ southern general with his musket.

One of the most interesting recent development is actually when a NCAA school CHANGED their name. The University of Hawaii’s sports programs are now know as the Warriors. And no, it isn’t the Native American context which has people riled up [well, some are]. Hawaii used to be known as the “Rainbow Warriors”…or simply the Rainbows. The school made the change in 2000, and the athletic director made this statement about the change: "That logo really put a stigma on our program at times in regards to it's part of the gay community, their flags and so forth." Since a rainbow is associated with gay pride…UH wanted nothing to do with the…uh…mix-up. This, of course, set off a ton of negative feedback. The Gay and Lesbian Community Center responded by saying "a statement like that I can understand coming from student-athletes, but to come from the athletic director, I am surprised and disappointed." And this isn’t the first time this has occurred. In the 1960s, Hawaii added the “Warriors” to the nickname after the student newspapers ridiculed the school for the Hawaii Rainbows name as it was linked to homosexuals. The residents of Hawaii are offended because the Rainbow is acknowledged as a source of strength and unity amongst the people….and they didn’t like the name change either.

In 2002, the University of Northern Colorado had an intramural team called the “Fightin’ Whites”. The team was made up by a group of Native American students who entered in the hoops league. They also adopted a 50s-style logo featuring a white man in a business suit and slicked back hair. This is from their web site: “We came up with the "Fighting Whites" logo and slogan to have a little satirical fun and to deliver a simple, sincere, message about ethnic stereotyping. Since March 6, when our campus newspaper first reported on the "Fighting Whites", we have been launched into the national spotlight, propelled by a national debate over stereotyping American Indians in sports symbolism”. Due to the national attention this team has gotten…they have been able to set up a “Fighting Whites” scholarship fund to help with the education of Native American students at Northern Colorado. That, in turn, has some people confused how a team that obviously is shedding a humorist light on using a group of people as mascots would, in turn, use it to help fund the education for a certain type of people.

Which, in turn brings us back to the use of Redskins, Braves and Indians. If the Braves logo was perceived as firemen, policemen or other “brave” vocations….then I don’t see the need for a name change. The Indians not only have the improper name…but also The Logo. Chief Wahoo. C’mon guys…why do you need that logo?? And, please stop with the whole “it is in honor of a Native American that played for the old Cleveland Spiders. It isn’t. When the name was changed, various advertisements were out supporting the behavior of giving war cries and featured an “Indian” with a large piece of wood saying “me swing heap stick”.

And, again, my favorite NFL team is the Redskins. I understand the hurtfulness of the name…but, I don’t want the name to change. Heck, make the mascot the Redskin peanuts if you have too [*chuckle*]. If there has to be a change….then do what Mr. Cooke was suggesting and change it to just the Skins and go back and feature the “R” in the circle on the helmet….sort of like the Utah Utes do on their helmets.

Or, in honor of the hogs….stick a plump pig on there.  Or with Danny Boy Snyder there....a FedEx logo.

1 comment:

monponsett said...

  I played soccer for the Duxbury High School Tribadism...we had an elderly principal, and an outgoing AD got the name approved by convincing him that "tribadism" was a Wampanoag word that meant "will enjoy great success."

  In my Senior year, the team name was changed to the Duxbury High School Wealthy White Kids, and we haven't lost a lacrosse game since.

 "Orangemen" are Irish Protestants. Orangemen's Day commemorates the 1690 Protestant victory over Roman Catholic forces in the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland.  King William III of Orange, the Protestant King of England, defeated former King James II, a Catholic.

  Sorry...I'm a History teacher when I'm not having sportswriter delusions. Keeping it sportz, there is an offshore betting company that includes provisions in its' bets that cover the company on any potential Washington Redskins name change.