19.5.05

BY THE SHORES OF GITCHEE GUMEE Via Sykes Writes, a Michael Hunt column on the follies of renaming the Marquette Not-Yet-The-Golden Porcupines without giving offense.

Up at the Lac du Flambeau Public School, on the Lac du Flambeau reservation in the northern part of the state, the athletic teams go by the nickname Warriors. The logo is a profile of a Chippewa Indian.

The school district is virtually all Native American, including the Ojibwa tribe. There is an academic and values achievement program called the Warrior Challenge. It's about prideful self-determination.

Right. No pseudo-nostalgia by Rich White Guys here, which casts a shadow on the logic of the rest of the column.
Maybe the sight of Chief Osceola riding a horse onto midfield and planting a burning spear into the ground before Florida State Seminoles football games is offensive to some. FSU has assured the NCAA that it has the full support of the Seminole tribe; even if that were not the case, the NCAA must allow Florida State and others - Illinois and the halftime-dancing Chief Illiniwek come to mind - to determine their identities without Big Brotherism run amok. Schools should have the right to appear silly or dignified, insulting or representative, all by themselves.
On the other hand, perhaps the entire college sports enterprise is silly and insulting, not to mention money-losing.

Marquette was way ahead of the sensitivity curve all on its own.

It dropped the offensive Willie Wampum character without being prodded. Hank Raymonds personally asked the state's 11 tribes years ago whether they considered the use of Warriors to be insensitive (none did). Thing is, Marquette's athletic teams are currently nameless and its people are embarrassed because the school had the freedom to make a divisive, unilateral decision without NCAA intervention.

So did Wisconsin when it adopted a hypocritical and meaningless policy on
nicknames. The Badgers will not play a school with a Native American nickname unless it is already in the conference, such as Illinois of the Big Ten and the North Dakota Fighting Sioux of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Bowl games (the Badgers played the Utah Utes in the 1996 Copper Bowl) are also exempt. But hey, outside of necessity and money, no go.

Even at that, the Badgers and the No-Longer-The-Warriors are a drain of resources. Even with indentured servant labor.
Besides, the NCAA has more pressing matters, like explaining why a kid who makes it millions can't have pizza money.
Perhaps the time has come to end the amateur sports sham.

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