April 07, 2005

Illinois Mascot Controversey:: Mr. Couch puts forth a great challange to the University regarding their wishy washy approach to the use of Chief Illiniwek as their mascot. The University allows the mascot at home games, but does not travel the mascot to away games (nor did they allow him to appear at the Final 4). Couch says that after 15 years of controversey, the University needs to decide one way or the other. Good read.

posted by newage38 to other at 06:46 PM - 8 comments

Maybe they could use this as their mascot...oh, wait, it's already taken... Last year I went to a journalism conference that had a panel on Indian mascots. One of the panelists pointed out that, rather than getting bogged down in the particulars about whether this portrayal is racist or merely insensitive or if it honors the history of the blah blah blah, it's worth noting that human mascots of any sort don't tend to stand the test of time well. Somewhere down the road, what seemed like a good idea at the time becomes wince-producing, as history rumbles on and people's ideas change. One humorous example that was kicked around at this panel was a newly created high school where one group wanted to name the new sports teams "The White Knights". Apparently, one of the school's female athletes responded, "So what are we -- the Damsels in Distress?" IMO, schools would do better to get out of the human mascot business sooner rather than later, before all the cool animal mascots are taken.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:27 PM on April 07, 2005

Thanks for the post, newage. I agree, a very good read. I've always found such mascots to be an indefensible disgrace. But like most people all I ever do about it is roll my eyes. And that's only when the subject is raised in forums like this. We've become anesthetized because it's woven into our cultural fabric as a harmless vestige of another era. The truth of the matter is that while some groups are off-limits, it's tolerable to exploit Native Americans in this way. The Fighting Whites satire is a good way to raise awareness. But I would love it if some small college went in the other direction and announced that it had a Jewish or African American mascot in the same vein as Chief Wahoo. In spite of the intended irony, the public outrage would be deafening.

posted by bluesdog at 12:40 AM on April 08, 2005

They never really want to change any of those mascots, they just want to be reassured its okay to use them. I have seen this same stuff over and over at the University of North Dakota, with the Fighting Sioux nickname and rich ass Ralph Englestad. Nickname issues aside, I was very happy when Englestad died. I never liked him. The people who supported continued use of the Fighting Sioux name loved how he swayed the Board of Education behind the scenes. Nothing like the Board of Ed. whoring itself out over a new hockey arena, just change it to the Board of Hockey instead, its more truthful. I hate how all of the time they act like they have to convince the people they are "honoring" that its an honor...wow, must be a great job honoring them if they can't even tell that is what it is. I had to laugh at the suggestion in the article that a guy went to South Dakota to get some authentic "Indian Tradition" to use for the mascot. Of course, the Indians (on the reservations) out in South Dakota are in fact Sioux tribes, not Illiniwek...but why have that get in the way. They are all the same right? An Indian living on the Pine Ridge reservation or Standing Rock is the same as one living in Illinois right? I guess the guy couldn't find any Indians in Illinois, yeah right. Just co-opt Sioux traditions to honor the Illiniwek Indian tribes, what a crock of shit. The one exception to this type of thing is the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. At least I don't know any people of Irish ancestry who are offended by it, but there could be some. I know, personally being of Irish ancestry too, I'm not offended by it or anything (of course, I'm not offended by Central Michigan being the Chippewas either, but that is me). I don't think that the Fighting Irish human mascot will go anywhere this eternity. To end a tirade on a lighter note (even though this is getting kind of long), I was talking to my Grandmother about the UND mascot/nickname controversy (she is all German and my Grandfather was French & Chippewa Indian) and she goes: "I don't understand the controversy...why are they opposing the name...I think they should change the name to The Fighting Germans!" So, then I explained to her (imagining the mascot, etc.) that I doubted that anyone would go for that nickname/mascot because of World War II and the Holocaust, and so on, but you never know. She still thought Fighting Germans would be a kick-ass nickname/mascot, so there you go. I should have told her to try in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania maybe. (forgive the ramble...its late pm/ early am).

posted by chris2sy at 01:09 AM on April 08, 2005

Florida State's defense for its use of the mascot is that the Seminole tribe in Florida supports its use. It is unclear if they support it for philosophical or financial reasons, but they do publicly support it. It's difficult to change a mascot because the school & its history become so tied up in it. So, I think people are trying to find other ways to deal with the glaring stereotypes that are a part of the tradition. FSU's fight song includes the lyrics "you got to scalp 'em Seminoles", so perhaps we don't have the best balance.

posted by bperk at 08:46 AM on April 08, 2005

While I agree with what has been written, sometimes the arguement, on both sides, gets silly. If you tried really hard, any name could be found to be offensive to somebody. I often laugh at a Local High School whose nickname is "Bulldogs".. Some dont like the female teams there being called "Lady Bulldogs" I am sure if they called themselves "Bitches" that would offended somebody.... Seriously Native American are shamelessly sterotyped by schools using them as Mascots. Changes need to be made and they have. The "fighting Sioux" example is one that has gotten really out of hand. Money does talk but sometimes so does common sence. Maybe we should be judging school mascots with a broader brush. Dont just look at the obvious, but take a look at all mascots and how they came to be........Good taste and respect shuld be at the forfront. Good read

posted by daddisamm at 09:05 AM on April 08, 2005

I'm ready for all of these Native American sports mascots to die, starting with the blatantly racist Chief Wahoo.

posted by rcade at 10:22 AM on April 08, 2005

...wanted to name the new sports teams "The White Knights". Apparently, one of the school's female athletes responded, "So what are we -- the Damsels in Distress?" Did somebody say White Knights and Distressed Damsels? (Not very safe for work due to words, not images) Seriously, the White Knights? Isn't that more of a Klan thing these days?

posted by NoMich at 10:25 AM on April 08, 2005

I agree, we should ban all team names, mascots, and references to all ethnic minorities. This would go along way to stop offending them. I am all for replacing these with ethnic European majority team names, mascots, and references. That would then create a harmonious society. WHATS SMADA WIT U GUYS ANYWAY

posted by smada at 05:19 AM on April 30, 2005

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