"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Mascot Madness Goes Beyond Marquette

Kudos to Kavita Kumar at the St. Louis Post Dispatch for putting her wide-angle journalistic lens to use in evaluating mascot issues from universities around the country.

Per Kumar's reporting, "School nicknames and mascots have been getting closer looks across the country in the last decade in an era of increased sensitivity to issues such as race and gender. As a result, many names and symbols are being de-gendered, de-ethnicized, and de-offensified in the hopes of not excluding or insulting anyone."

This kind of national perspective is refreshing from a major metropolitan newspaper. Kumar consciously avoided avoided the regurgitation of predictable local commentary, and instead relied on insights from a range experts and other participants in various mascot debates from around the country.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to politically correct USA, home of the liberal weenies. This is why everyone should receive A's, every kid a trophy, let's not teach them any competition, let us not offend anyone.

We wonder why this country is going in the toilet, this is just another example of many.

Anonymous said...

To say the logic behind many of the statements in this article is "half baked" is to give the writer too much credit by far. Stating that "some American Indian nicknames and mascots have been especially resistant to pressure to change" ignores the idea that ANY school or sports organization has a desire to continue their tradition. Do you think that change would be embraced at Columbia if someone advocated changing the nickname from Tigers to Banana Slugs? Fans of the Green Bay Packers were "especially resistant to change" when PETA pressured them to become the "Pickers" instead of Packers. Yet this had nothing to with American Indians.

Yes, Chief Illiniwek sat out the Final Four. He also sat out the NCAA Regional Finals in Rosemont and the tournament's first two rounds in Indianapolis. Chief didn't appear at the Big Ten Tourney either; and now that I think about it he hasn't been at any road games in many years. If the Ram from North Carolina, Michigan State's Spartan, or the Cardinal from Louisville had gotten about 5 minutes of the halftime break for themselves I would think that Chief might have been at the St Louis Dome. But as far as I know, for at least the last fifteen years no school has gotten about 5 minutes of each halftime during Final Four games to continue their own particular traditions. Chief Illiniwek doesn't come out during the game to shake a giant foam "Number One" finger, he doesn't walk around the sidelines trying to put the hex on his opponents, their cheerleaders or their fans and he doesn't get into mock wrestling matches with paper mache and fur creations. Halftime is the only time you'll see Chief Illiniwek. The next time an opponent allows Illinois to play three school songs and take up a great deal of their halftime the Post-Dispatch will have a story. But until then, this is sensationalistic claptrap.

Was anyone else at SEMO asked to comment on the nickname change besides the chairman of the committee to advocate/publicize/facilitate the change of nicknames? I believe that fair people might believe that the chairman said committee might not be the most objective source for opinions about his own groups' success and the level of "school spirit"-not to mention the cause of such a great increase in University pride. While the Post-Dispatch didn't mention how exactly much the total alumni donations had changed at SEMO, I believe a relevant comparison would also be the average increase of alumni donations at all schools. Just because alumni giving is up nationwide is not an endorsement of the change in mascots or does it confirm the lack of an alumni backlash at SEMO.

I would also suggest that if for the last 18 years the only T-shirts and other souvenirs sold by the University of Missouri were ones with "Missouri" on it, purchases may have leveled off at some point. And in this hypothetical scenario, if Mizzou had finally decided to once again sell "Tigers" merchandise they would also report an exponential increase in sales. I think the Cardinals sell more merchandise with their nickname than with the words "St Louis". Attributing a gain in sales solely to the new nickname is wildly inaccurate.

And the top two ANNOUNCED vote-getters at Marquette were Hilltoppers and Golden Eagles. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the overwhelming first choice among alumni and fans was Warriors. But this option was not given to them: nor was the number of write-in votes disclosed.

And "Warriors" is NOT an American Indian nickname.