Last week the NCAA, having successfully dealt with drugs, pay-to-play, free Hummers, athlete course-work done by ghost writers, and appalling graduation (or, more correctly, “non-graduation”) rates, moved on to truly important matters: nicknames and mascots. The national sanctioning body for most intercollegiate sports thundered that it would no longer stand for any such that it deemed “hostile” or “abusive.” And it immediately declared that all references to people or groups of people who managed take up residence in North America before Europeans happened by to be, ipso facto
, hostile and abusive.
Braves, Chippewas, Indians, Utes, Redmen, Illini, Choctaws, Fighting Sioux, Savages and, of course, the Florida State Seminoles, were all given notice that they resided in the outer darkness of intolerable insensitivity. Or insensitive intolerance. Or something like that.
One would have thought that sports teams had chosen to describe themselves in ways which sought to evoke the noble and admirable qualities of their nicknames. Surely we think that Cal wishes to associate itself with the imposing and stately aspects of the Golden Bear, rather than recalling that the beast harbors innumerable fleas, smells awful, and hibernates its way through most of football season.
Even Florida State’s long-standing formal relationship with the Seminole Tribe was brushed aside, since there might yet be some offended individual who could prove, via genetic testing, that he was at least one part in sixteen descended therefrom.
But, as they say, in for a penny, in for a pound, as pointed out this morning by a letter-to-the-editor in the Washington Post [you remember that: it’s like having a blog, except it’s way slower, and the folks doing your webhosting have extreme attitude], there are many additional groups who might take offense at other insensitive names. She writes:
- Should People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals bring suit against the use of Coyotes, Panthers, Mighty Ducks, Grizzlies, Hornets, Ravens, Eagles, Rams, Colts, Broncos, Bruins, Huskies, Marlins, Bull-dogs, Orioles and Red Wings?
- Are Cardinals, Padres and Angels an affront to Catholics?
- Should adherents of Wicca claim religious prejudice and persecution by the Wizards?
- Are police entitled to arrest the Rangers for impersonating law enforcement officers?
- Should short people demand respect when the Titans and Giants kick off?
But even the Post’s correspondent omits the offensive slight to those Libertarian, free-trade, Social Darwinists by the Buccaneers, Pirates and Raiders.
There is a solution, pioneered by the most clever of the clever: Harvard and Stanford are the Crimson
and the Cardinal
. Colors! Now who could be offended by COLORS?
But then, two of my sons are red/green color blind.
I think I smell a class action suit.