Why can’t Norsemen get any respect? If any tribe deserves the obeisance of the NCAA, it should be the Vandals. Who, after all, among the Vandal tribe gave permission to the University of Idaho to make a caricature of their culture? And, has any tribe ever had its good name more, well, vandalized? After all, if one “Dutches,” chocolate, it’s considered an improvement upon the product. A French kiss is quite intimate. But, to vandalize something, well that’s criminal.
However, when the arbiters of all that is good and decent, namely the National Collegiate Athletic Association executive committee, saw fit to ban specific ethnic names as team mascots, those deep thinkers failed to consider the sensibilities of descendents of that fabled tribe of Norsemen, known today as the Vandals.
They also overlooked the Irish. At least two schools use Irish nicknames. The “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame is just fine with the politically correct crowd that chose to ban such names as the “Seminoles” of Florida State University, even though the Seminole tribe approves.
I have a trace of Irish in my blood and I’m not all that easy to offend. Nevertheless, I’m not at all sure I approve of having those few drops of Irish ancestry represented by a caricature of a pugnacious leprechaun. But, the NCAA seems unbothered. Saint Mary’s College in California calls itself the Gaels. Again, nobody seems concerned about that.
The real Irish don’t even seem particularly bothered by the Syracuse Orangemen. The Orangemen in Ireland are a particularly provocative, and even violent association of Irish Protestants. If anyone should complain about a mascot, it should be Irish Catholics who should find the name Orangemen offensive.
Vikings and Scots, also known as “Highlanders,” manage to serve as mascots without anyone getting especially bothered. Although Sonoma State University in California recently abolished its “Cossacks” mascot in deference to offended sensibilities, even though the offended parties were not Russians, but the descendents of races that had been victims of long ago Cossack rampages.
What the NCAA and all the chronically indignant weenies who complain about the use of Indian nicknames seem incapable of grasping is that, it’s an honor to be selected as a mascot. A team chooses a mascot because it hopes to live up to the reputation of that mascot. The cougar, not the pussycat, represents Washington State University. WSU also wisely passed on calling itself the possums or the skunks. Ewedub just as wisely chose not to take the field as the French Poodles or the Chihuahuas.
There are exceptions of course. Evergreen State College in Washington has elected to call itself the “Geoducks.” Although the geoduck is quite a large (and tasty) species of clam, it’s not considered especially fierce and no opponent of Evergreen state would be particularly intimidated by the prospect of engaging a bivalve mollusk in single combat.
The University of California at Santa Cruz marches onto the athletic field as the “Banana Slugs.” Again, bananas slugs are pretty big, as slugs go, but few opponents will quiver at the prospect of being slimed.
It’s just as well that neither school places much emphasis on sports. As I recall, Evergreen engages only in intramural ultimate Frisbee games and bong smoking competitions, while UC Santa Cruz fields the nation’s only division one flag burning team.
Some years ago, whiny white liberals shamed Eastern Michigan into changing its mascot from the Hurons to the Golden Eagles, much to the surprise of the Huron tribe who very much approved of the university’s use of its tribal name.
The fact is that by condemning Indian nicknames as “hostile and abusive,” the NCAA’s executive committee did not so much make fools of itself as it exposed its membership for the fools they are. By banning only Indian nicknames they portrayed Indians as being excessively sensitive and themselves as particularly ignorant. If Indian nicknames are so offensive that they should be banned, then should not Irish, Norwegian, and Scottish nicknames also be banned?
The thing is, the NCAA knows that it is in fact an honor to have one’s tribe chosen as a mascot and they are simply bowing before the alter of political correctness. Considering how the NCAA requires the exploitation of young athletes, it’s a hollow facade of compassion.