Posted on December 26, 2000
What's In A Team Name?
Revolution, if you're a college liberal
Now that the presidential election has given us "closure," our thoughts can turn away from politics, and toward the more relaxing pastimes in life. Unless, of course, you are a college liberal, and you relish the opportunity to turn even the most innocuous event into an excuse to begin a hunger strike. For you, this time of year is a gold mine for such opportunities, because this is college football's bowl season, as well as the time of year the NCAA basketball season begins in earnest. This puts one of college liberals' favorite issues directly in their crosshairs. That issue, as if you didn't already know, is offensive team nicknames.
Protests of college team nicknames have been going on regularly since the 1970's, when Stanford, light years ahead of its peers in the field of sensitivity, changed its nickname from the Indians to the Cardinal (the color, not the bird). Their logo, for some reason or other, is now a tree (a green tree, not a cardinal one).
I didn't fully comprehend the intensity, the absurdity, and the fun of college team nickname controversies until one struck a school I attended. The Indiana University of Pennsylvania, located, as luck would have it, in a town called Indiana, Pennsylvania, also has the team nickname of Indians, which, if you'll forgive the pun, is the chief offender of them all.
Last year, I received a copy of IUP Magazine in the mail. In it were some photos from the Indians' Division II football playoff drive. One of the pictures featured the new team mascot, which was … how can I put this … A BEAR! It was the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Indians Bear. At least it was inoffensive, unless you take offense to sheer idiocy. Some years earlier, the team had removed the offensive war-painted Indian logo from all its merchandise, and replaced it with the highly marketable logo, "IUP."
The school has resisted changing the team nickname, because it fears that the next step would be to rename the university. Then, in order to justify their association with the town, they would have to ask Indiana, Pennsylvania to change its name as well. I have no doubts that there are some factions which have this effort underway already, and that such new town names have been proposed as Awarenessland, Diversityville, and Hillary.
The campaign against IUP, however, is only an exhibition game. There are many bigger, more offensive schools for liberals to fight. Since these battles are usually just as long as they are ear-piercingly whiny and squeaky, I have decided that, rather than putting everyone through the torture of listening to them all, I will encourage these schools to adopt inoffensive, politically correct names before it is demanded of them. Consider it a political version of Fail Safe.
In this vein, here are some suggestions for team nickname changes for schools with Division I football and basketball programs, so that they might conform to current liberal aesthetic tastes:
Alabama-Birmingham Blazers -- Named after a favorite garment of the greedy super-rich privileged few. A name like the Boxer Shorts or the Stretch Pants would be more "working class."
Cal State-Northridge Matadors -- Torturers of animals for sport. They would actually be less offensive if they were called the Hunters, although that, of course, wouldn't do either. They should adopt a nickname which would encourage alternatives to animal slaughter, like the Faux Leather Merchants, or the Tofu Gourmets.
Delaware Fighting Blue Hens -- This school deserves credit for gender-equity, but its method is flawed. The word "hen" is clearly sexist, and that error is compounded by the glorification of violence. The correct version would be the Assertive Female Poultry Of Color.
Duquesne Dukes -- have already adhered to the Western Pennsylvania tradition of replacing its offensive mascot with The Duquesne Dukes Bear. The original Duke mascot, with top hat, cape and cane, was grossly "classist." To make reparation for this past offense, the Dukes should change their name to the Proletariat. Or if they want to be really proletarian about it, they could simply call themselves The Workers.
East Carolina Pirates -- It isn't fair to pigeonhole somebody as a "pirate" merely because he's pilfered a few things at sea. Besides, their eye-patches and peg-legs in clear view, they were obviously driven to their crimes by societal bigotry toward the differently-abled. These people deserve to be given a name which provides a more self-affirmative description of themselves, such as the Nautical Trade Liberators.
Fairfield Stags -- Promotes the sexual objectification of the doe population. They could call themselves the Sensitive Non-Threatening Male Deer Who Aren't Afraid To Cry. (Sure it's too long, but who cares about practicality when pursuing Social Justice?) But then, it may be unacceptable to name them after male deer in the first place. Perhaps the Androgynous Or Even Transgendered Deer Looking For A Good Mate Or Two would be preferable.
Florida State Seminoles -- Extremely insensitive, but easily rectified. Simply replace the Seminole nickname with its homonym, the Seminals. The ever-offensive spear logo on their helmets could be replaced by an aerodynamic sperm.
Idaho Vandals -- Please! These people are Street Artists. Do you mind?
Jacksonville Dolphins -- "A" for effort, but they should really be called the Porpoises. "Dolphin" is actually a misnomer, and would presumably be offensive to a porpoise in much the same way that "Indian" offends Native Americans.
LaSalle Explorers -- Glorifies the destruction of a once pristine continent by grubby Europeans. For balance, the school should consider the opposing point-of-view, by calling its teams the Indigenous Victims Of The Invading Earth Rapists.
Ole Miss Rebels -- Not only racist, but rebelling against their own government? How dare they? For a renewed sense of civic-mindedness, they should now volunteer to call themselves Americorps.
South Carolina Gamecocks -- It's bad enough for animals to live in captivity, without being forced to inflict injury on each other for the amusement of Confederate yahoos. If they want to be entertained by our feathered friends, let them observe them in their natural state, by changing their handle to the Birdwatchers.
Syracuse Orangemen -- Dripping with religious and racial bigotry, as well, of course, as sexism. To be more inclusive, they should heretofore be known as the Rainbow People.
Temple Owls -- Actually, the Owl nickname is fine, but something needs to be done about a state-funded school being named Temple. They should be forced to name their school after a more secular edifice. Housing Project University would be most fitting.
Texas-El Paso Miners -- Their proletarian zeal is commendable, but tempered by their environmental destructiveness. They could maintain their commitment to "the workers" in a way more friendly to the planet, by renaming themselves the National Education Association.
Toledo Rockets -- Too phallocentric. They could just as easily be a more gender-neutral incendiary device like the Sparklers.
Valparaiso Crusaders -- Intolerant, Eurocentric judgmental Christian zealots wielding swords. It's tempting to demand that this school fold its teams altogether. But if they are to survive, they should do their penance by changing their name to the Reproductive Women's Health Choice Body Thingey Rights Providers.
Virginia Tech Gobblers -- Typically American, greedy food-hoarders, consuming far more than their fair share of the world's resources. Their new name, obviously, must be the Sharers.
Western Illinois Leathernecks -- The encouragement of the use of animal byproducts is a minor offense, compared to the presentation of a nationalistically romantic view of warfare. In order to reach out and join hands with the other diverse peoples of the planet, they must from this point on be known as the Blue Berets.
Xavier Musketeers -- Bringing firearms to a school? Are they mad? If they don't act on their own immediately, the liberals will close down the entire university, as part of their Zero Tolerance policy. As a plea for mercy, this school needs to demonstrate a complete reversal, by changing its moniker to the Grief Counselors.
There. If the schools mentioned above accept this advice, and others with similar problems follow their lead, there will be no need ever again to wage a protest against a college team nickname.
Then, of course, the liberals' energy can be diverted toward other matters, like the demographic makeup of college football rosters, which are evident of gender and age discrimination … or basketball's systemic discrimination against the differently-abled and vertically challenged … or the isolationist policies by which field and court measurements are taken in yards and feet, instead of meters.
So many offenses, so little time. No wonder a college liberal's work is never done.
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