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2005
9
Aug

The Name Game

You’ve got to give the NCAA credit: when it comes to tackling the tough issues, they don’t screw around. To say there are problems these days in collegiate sport is to engage in serious understatement. There are the ever-escalating athletics arms races being conducted on a grand scale that threaten to price out of I-A existence any school not associated with one of five conferences.

There is the Title IX nonsense that demands the awarding of athletic scholarships not on a desire to participate or any economically viable formula but federally mandated sexual quotas. This has resulted in increased sports opportunities for the federally approved gender, but reduced ones for the other. There is the increasing amount of criminal behavior by athletes, leading one to believe that collegiate athletics is devoted to the reinstitution of the ancient Hindu practice of Thuggee; pretty soon contests will begin not with the National Anthem but homage paid to the goddess Kali. Then there is the SEC.

According to the NCAA, however, these are mere annoyances, trivial when compared to the really big issue that threatens to rip apart the societal fabric of intercollegiate athletic competition. That, of course, is the use by some schools of Indian nicknames. The NCAA seems to have finally gone off the reservation.

The NCAA Executive Committee has decreed ‘that institutions with student-athletes wearing uniforms or having paraphernalia with hostile or abusive references must ensure that those uniforms or paraphernalia not be worn or displayed at NCAA championship competitions.’ According to this latest NCAA judicial fiat, ‘hostile’ and ‘abusive’ means Indian mascots.

The NCAA didn’t come right out and ban the use of the offending nicks and mascots by member institutions, as that would indicate the presence of a bit of spine, no matter how wrong-headed. The brave NCAA gang took the initial path of least resistance, banning their use during ‘championship competitions.’ That means the NCAA’s biggie, the basketball tournament. I assume that if Illinois with its verboten ‘Illini’ nick again makes a run to the Final Two, CBS will be borrowing the technology used by the E! Network on the ‘Howard Stern Show’ and blurring out the front of the Illini’s uniforms.

Is this how the NCAA bureaucracy spends its time when not redistributing basketball tournament monies to Division III volleyball teams? H. L. Mencken once wrote, The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. In these days of gun control, a bow and arrow seems to work just as well.

The bureaucrat who emerged from the NCAA wigwam to deliver the tribal council’s edict was Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA Vice-President for Diversity and Inclusion. Now there’s a job. Ms. Westerhaus read a joint statement on behalf of her boss, NCAA Chief Myles Brand and NCAA Executive Committee Chairman Walter Harrison, President of athletics powerhouse the University of Hartford.

Brand, of course, is a guy who has spent his adult life hanging around pointy-headed academicians. He is past president at the University of Oregon and Indiana University. Having figured he had done enough damage to impressionable young minds, Brand decided that he should spend his entire career without ever once doing anything useful and moved on to the NCAA. At Indiana his major accomplishment was the wrecking of the Hoosiers’ basketball program. He now seems to be attempting the same on a grand scale.

Brand, Harrison and all of the rest of those around the NCAA with runny oatmeal inside their skulls are succumbing to the phenomena known as the pressure group. Those who are unable to function in normal society have taken notice of the fine living made by the Rev. Jesse Jackson through the fine art of preying on liberal guilt. They want a piece of the action.

There is any number of Indian groups out there, all devoted to getting themselves on the news. The best way to do that is to declare themselves ‘victims,’ find something to complain about and stick their hands out for a generous amount of other people’s wampum. Their whining always revolves around their claim that the US is the most unjust society ever created in the annals of human history. This, or course, is why Miami has become deserted as all of its inhabitants have left seeking a better life in Fidel’s island paradise and the Mexican government spends billions attempting to keep Texans from crossing the border to take part in Mexico’s economic miracle.

The Association of Professional Complainers, Native American Division, have determined that the use of Indian symbols and names by sports teams is somehow demeaning. I would think it would be much more demeaning to Native Americans to have such whiners claiming to be speaking on their behalf. If the University of North Dakota calling its teams the Fighting Sioux damages anybody’s tender self-esteem, certainly a trip to Little Big Horn should shore it right up.

I have wondered why teams have chosen Indian nicknames. The standard explanation given is that it honors the brave spirit and fighting capabilities of Indians. Exactly what fighting capabilities? While the Indians crossed the Bering Straits a few thousand years ago and took up residence in North America, spending centuries happily slaughtering each other in tribal warfare, things didn’t go so well once the European pale faces showed up. With the exception of Little Big Horn, recent Indian military history has pretty much been an unbroken record of defeat.

It was not a sign of good things to come when the Indians chose their alliance during the French and Indian War. By the time they realized they had put their money on the wrong frog, British General Amherst was laying siege to Quebec and the French were quickly surrendering all of their claims in the entire North American landmass from Montreal to New Orleans. The association with the French rubbed off and things went downhill militarily for the Indians from then on.

If schools choose to associate their sports teams with losers on such a grand scale as the Indians, that should be their business. In many cases, the affected tribes don’t mind. Florida State calls themselves the Seminoles with the full consent and support of the tribe. That doesn’t matter to those seeking to publicize themselves, however. The Seminole Nation doesn’t speak for the Seminole Nation, politically-correct publicity seekers do and THEY find it offensive, or at least complaining about it good for the business of getting themselves in front of television cameras. Who cares what the Seminoles or Utes think about it, anyway? Obviously what we need here is a little political re-indoctrination. That seems to be a specialty of the college campuses that these days produce the likes of Miles Brand. Natives of the tribes involved cannot be trusted to decide whether something offends them or not; that is why we have pressure groups, to determine the groupthink.

logo-floridastate1Florida State President T. K. Wetherell announced that his school would fight the NCAA’s mindless command, if necessary in court. Good for him. While FSU damaging any tender sensibilities by appearing in the NCAA basketball tournament doesn’t happen too often, the ‘Noles do have a pretty good baseball program that usually makes NCAA appearances and often hosts regional tournaments. They should be able to continue doing so, and doing so as the Florida State Seminoles. Go get ‘em, T. K. It’s unfortunate that the NCAA doesn’t possess the same brave fighting spirit.

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