Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mascots, Team Names and other Ridiculousness

I want to add a quick disclaimer here: I am not an expert in sports by any means, I'm a casual viewer of football and that's about it. Although I looked up information on this subject, I'm not saying everything is entirely factual, and a lot is based on opinion. So if I get something wrong, well, don't say I didn't warn you. That being said, let's move forward.

I didn't go to the University of North Dakota, but last year and the year before, they were in the news quite a bit because of the school's sport's team name, The Fighting Sioux.  After a lot of protesting by both sides, the ND house of representatives forced them to retire the logo and the name. You should know that the Sioux name was first used by UND in 1930.

The logo was created by a guy named Bennett Brien, who happened to be of Ojibwa decent. Apparently, he didn't have a problem with the name. Now I am not Native American, but I really don't see how this is an insult. I feel that they are honoring them for being such strong people. Do you know how much it costs to remove logos from a stadium? LOTS. Not to mention all those wasted T-shirts, foam fingers and other paraphernalia. Reasons for selecting this name were given in a student newspaper as (1)"Sioux are a good exterminating agent for Bison" (the mascot of the nearby North Dakota State University team), (2)"They are warlike, of fine physique and bearing", and (3)"The word Sioux is easily rhymed for yells and songs" Now I can see if the mascot of UND was some dude who came out dressed in a loin cloth, with a headdress waving a hatchet or something. (Not that anyone would want to with our brutal winters.) But there is no mascot.

So, what about the other sports teams who have Native American references? There's the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves, and the Washington Redskins (I don't think they mean potatoes) that I know of. And by the way, the Cleveland Indian's mascot is this guy:
How is this relevant?

Here's my next question, what about the likes of say, the Fighting Irish? Now I don't know the history of Ireland or if they were war-faring people, but I can tell you when I hear "fighting Irish" I seriously think of whiskey and bar brawls. Their logo doesn't do much to deter me from this visual.
This is how you decide a dispute in darts at the bar.

Guess what? They DO have a mascot, a leprechaun! I guess I have never felt like a leprechaun was much of a threatening force...but I could be wrong. It certainly seems like they don't have to do much to invest in their mascot's wardrobe. I've seen people downtown who dress like this on a regular basis.

At least the Vikings were know for pillaging remote villages and were feared, but I don't see a whole lot of pissed off Norwegians...and trust me, you can't throw a stick around here without hitting one. And we have this weirdo representing Minnesota at that football games:
Introducing...Ragnar! No seriously. The BO could be scary.

I'm so proud. I guess we could even go as far as saying the NY "Yankees" is offensive, right? I mean, wasn't it an insult in some situations to be called a "Yank?" I could be wrong. I'm not even going to start with the "Brewers" 'cause I'm thinking beer. (Reminder to re-read the disclaimer at this point.)

Of course this got me to thinking about some of these team names that don't make any sense. I mean, can you see UND changing it's name from "The Flickertails" to "The Fighting Sioux?" They did. But looking at this little guy,
Flickertail...also know as a Ground Squirrel

I can't really picture any other team running with their tails between their legs at the sight of him. Unless maybe he was rabid and had a litter or more of siblings to attack. Or unless you're Chevy Chase.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

My High School's team was called...."The Governors." No, I'm not kidding. Of course I grew up in Pierre, SD, which also happens to be the capital and yes, the Governor lives there. Try coming up with a mascot for that one, some overweight politician in a suit and tie who goes around shaking hands and kissing babies (maybe he throw in one of those half-cartwheel things where you put your hands on the ground and kind of jump your feet sideways)? I think not. I don't know where this came from (and maybe it's not even still around) but our mascot was....ready?.....

Gumby. The green blocky clay-mation thing with a horse. Must've been a slow horse, because his name was Pokey. Remember him? Yep, our mascot. Doesn't this instill team loyalty and sports enthusiasm? I try to figure this one out. All I can come up with is that our colors were green and white, and he IS green. We also had a school newspaper called, "The Gumbo," but I'm not sure which came first. Who names their newspaper after a stew anyway? I can't remember who had the glorious job of running around in a green jumpsuit. That would suck. (As an aside, it was just Gumby, not Pokey.) Yeah, I'm thinking he's not around any more for the team.

Anyone else have weird High School / College team names? Now I'm curious. Rah rah!


  1. Medicine Lake HONKERS! (canadian geese) :)

  2. I so agree with you on the Indian mascot, team names. I think it is honoring Native Americans not discriminating..... I'm not offened by the fighting Irish. I also live in the city with that purple mascot thing - I think because it's also very controversial to be called The Indians and have a chief Wahoo, so they went with that THING. Whatever. My high school - Chardon, known for the C always being removed so it as Hardon High. We were the Hilltoppers. Yep. Leiderhose and all. We didn't have a mascot. Wonder Why??? I once tried out for the Topperette's though.....