Pressure To Abandon Politically Incorrect Sports Mascots

University bureaucrats and politicians must have too much time on their hands during this summer season. For some reason they have chosen to turn up the heat on the issue of politically correct sports mascots / nicknames – not a topic that I feel has been engendering much ill will lately with the general public. You would think the long tradition of teams like the Washington Redskins would have rendered this a moot issue by now. Yes, we changed the name of the Bullets to the Wizards (was that really a positive change given the spiritual implications??), but do we need to closely examine every team nickname?

Much has been written over the past week about the NCAA Executive Committee’s decision not to conduct championships on the campuses of member institutions where the use of nicknames and mascots representing American Indians is considered hostile and abusive.

Fed up with what it considers “hostile” and “abusive” American Indian nicknames, the NCAA announced Friday it would shut those words and images out of postseason tournaments, a move that left some school officials angry and threatening legal action.

Starting in February, any school with a nickname or logo considered racially or ethnically “hostile” or “abusive” by the NCAA would be prohibited from using them in postseason events. Mascots will not be allowed to perform at tournament games, and band members and cheerleaders will also be barred from using American Indians on their uniforms beginning in 2008……

Obviously this would be a huge blow to institutions like Florida State which have focused their branding around the Seminole Indian mascot. For this reason Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has reacted strongly against such new regulations – saying essentially: “Them’s fightin words!” Speaking of “fighting words” what about the nomicker of “The Fighting Irish?” Are we trying to stir up religious and political feuding along ethnic lines? Have the Irish lodged any serious complaints against this egregious violation of their good name? I doubt whether Notre Dame would be inclined to back away from their financial cow. That’s the problem with this line of thinking. Where do you draw the line once you start closely scrutinizing these nicknames?

Now we apparently have animal rights groups jumping on the bandwagon (I guess in football terms we call this “piling on.”) This is not surprising – especially in light of the evolutionary bias. In fact, where have the defenders of the Lions, and Tigers (careful … treading on hallowed ground here for us Princeton alumni) and Bears been hiding? Certainly these animals have feelings as well. We need to do everything in our power to protect their fragile self esteem. PETA’s website features an Action Alert directing the wacky faithful to contact the university presidents of South Carolina and Jacksonville State to lobby against the use of the Gamecocks.

The Gamecocks are named after birds used in cockfighting. These birds are pumped full of stimulants, hormones, and blood-clotting drugs. They have sharp blades attached to their legs to make the fights more exciting, i.e., bloodier. The birds routinely suffer hideous injuries, such as broken legs and wings, punctured lungs, and split eyes and are left to die outside the ring. Cockfighting is illegal in all but three states, and is a felony in South Carolina. Please drop a line to the schools’ presidents and ask that they score points for compassion by benching the “Gamecocks” name. A new name can energize a team and is not a threat-it’s a move forward.

Are these birds actively looking for our “compassion?” Is Coach Spurrier going to find his new team “energized” by being forced to relinquish their traditional identity? I doubt whether these PC activists even enjoy sitting through football games or rooting passionately for a local team. They might be in touch with birds and their sensitive feelings but they are out of touch with sports and tradition. Let’s get a life and move on. I would hope that university officials have larger issues on their radar.