So I was listening to the news on the radio this morning. As I’ve said before, I tend to be woefully behind on news. For instance, I had no idea that T-Paw had left the GOP race, until my husband mentioned it last night. (Really? T-Paw’s gone, but Newt Gingrich is still there? Needless to say, I’m disappointed. Here’s hoping the eventual nominee picks T-Paw as their running mate just so I can continue to have opportunities to say “T-Paw.”) Anyway, I’m trying to do better; hence, my radio news-listening. After just two minutes, I was already better-informed than I have been in months. Did you know that the University of North Dakota has to change its mascot from the Fighting Sioux to something less Native American-y in order to comply with NCAA rules? I had no idea. Well, I might have had an idea at some point–I probably could have guessed, but such was not at the forefront of my mind until just this morning, when I heard it on the radio. You see how being up on the news can change your life? Don’t you feel better informed already?
Apparently there is an exception to the NCAA rule if the tribe you have named yourself after approves, but the Sioux have not approved. I can’t say I blame them. After hundreds of years of maltreatment by the U.S. government and various non-native Americans, it must be nice to be in the driver’s seat for once. So more power and whatnot to the Sioux, but I was just wondering if I would make the same decision in their shoes.
I remember someone asking Dennis Prager on his radio show how he would feel if someone wanted to name their team the Fighting Jews. Dennis said he would be ecstatic because it would be the first time in 4,000 years that the Jews have had fans. (Ha ha. Oh, and GO JEWS!) It’s a good question, though. How would I feel if someone wanted to name their team the Fighting Mormons? If their mascot was some big dude with a long beard surrounded by a bunch of cheerleading wives? That would be perpetuating a hurtful stereotype. And yet, it would also be kind of awesome. But what if their mascot was John D. Lee impersonating an Indian and throwing tomahawks and crap? Well, that would be pretty tacky–sort of like naming your team the Fighting Manson Family. But I would be more concerned about glamorizing violent crimes than I would about how it reflected on Mormons. Anyway, now we’re right back where we started, with white guys dressing up as Native Americans and not acquitting themselves appropriately.
There is also the fact that religion is not necessarily comparable to ethnicity. Which brings us to the fact that you don’t see a lot of teams named after Caucasians. What would you call them, the Fighting Whiteys? The Fighting Caucs? That might be offensive, but maybe not on racial grounds.
Which reminds me, when I was in middle school, we were the Ruddock Rebels. As in Confederate Rebels. Why on earth a middle school in California would choose a Confederate soldier as its mascot, I do not know. But that’s what we were. The school closed after my eighth grade year. (In fact, I have a t-shirt that says “Rebels’ Last Stand” on it.) Like the Confederacy, it was destined for demise. But, like the South, will it rise again? Well, funny you should ask that. It’s now a Christian school called “Sonrise.” So…there you go. There seem to be a lot of Christian schools called Sonrise, have you noticed that? I understand why, but what a cheesy name. Really. I have no idea what Sonrise’s mascot is, or if they even have one. Might it be something offensive like…the Crusaders? The Holy Rollers? The Fighting (Jesus) Freaks? What if they decided to call themselves the Mormons? I think that would be more offensive to them than it would to us.
So many schools have boring mascots. The mascot for my Virginia Baptist college was the Cougar. I don’t know why. Are there a lot of cougars in Virginia? I googled it and all I came up with was this. (I’m sure at least some of those ladies are Baptists, but I’m still not getting the connection.) Say what you will about Oregon team names, but at least they make sense. The Ducks. The Beavers. (Although “Ducks” is a much better name for a team than “Beavers.” Sorry, Beavs.) If I make a sizable donation to my alma mater, it may come with the stipulation that they change their mascot to the Fighting Mormons. Or alternatively, the Gentle Giraffes. I’m not particular.
Anyway, if North Dakota has to give up the “Fighting Sioux,” I hope they replace it with something at least as cool. Or at least as offensive (while non-Native American), just to stick it to the Man. I’m sure North Dakota already has some alternative names in the works, but who cares what they think? The comments section is now open to your suggestions for North Dakota’s new mascot. Also for any commentary-slash-anecdotes about cool, offensive, or lame mascots in your past or just out there at all.