Since all the other news is so horrifying lately, and since stories about military action give the Idler anxiety-inducing flashbacks to the time he was almost drafted, I decided to try and figure out what to do about the Washington Redskins mascot. Most of the people the Idler knows who are descendants of Native Americans don’t get upset about the Redskins unless they blow up a three team teaser. Besides, there’s a pretty good argument that the names are complimentary. The idea is that the fans want their teams to fight fiercely as Native American warriors are perceived to have fought although not with tomahawks unless it’s 4th and goal..
Also, they’re not the only ethnic group to have become a team mascot. There are the Fighting Irish (Notre Dame), the Fighting Scots (Edinboro), the Fighting Swedes (Bethany College, Kansas), and the Fighting Dutchmen (Elgin HS, North Dakota). None of them seem to be getting any complaints, in spite of the multitudes nowadays who are only a mouseclick away from being outraged about something. And what about the left-out nationalities? Where are the Fighting Corsicans, the Fighting Laplanders or the Fighting Frenchmen? (I know, right?) How about the Fighting Slovaks, and I don’t just mean the ones that refuse to show up at family reunions. Isn’t the fighting prowess of other nationalities to be celebrated? Maybe we shouldn’t encourage them.
A good way to avoid all the controversy is to give the team an occupational name. Steelers and Packers are types of occupational names. Maybe even Forty-niners. Among high schools you got your Tillamook Oregon Cheesemakers, your Hoopeston Area (Illinois) Cornjerkers. There are the Watersmeet (Michigan) Nimrods, the Laurel Hill (Florida) Hoboes and the Cobden (Illinois) Appleknockers. Don’t forget the Orofino (Idaho) Maniacs and the Yuma (AZ) Criminals, much as you might like to. I’m taking the Cornjerkers giving 3 over the Cheesemakers, and the Maniacs to beat the Nimrods straight up.
Religious mascots seem to be okay if the religious body itself approves. This business of approval has caused a lot of backtracking, though. Take Earlham College of Richmond Indiana. They were known as the “Fighting Quakers” for decades. Seriously. In the 1980’s the administration decided it wasn’t very funny anymore so they became the “Hustlin’ Quakers.” Now they’re just the Quakers. Wake Forest teams were originally known as the “Baptists”; Northwestern’s teams started off as the “Methodists.” The Davidson (NC) WIldcats were originally the “Presbyterians”. Maybe a more diverse student body called for a more secular mascot. There are a lot of Catholic colleges, but they never seemed to go for “Catholics” as a mascot. There’s even a “Catholic University” but they’re known as the “Cardinals.” Wait a minute, if they’re coed, then there would have to be “Lady Cardinals.” Unless they’re named for the bird. But then there’s Pius XI Catholic High School, in Milwaukee, whose teams are known, inevitably, as the “Popes.” But wouldn’t you know, they’re coed too. So their girls teams are known as, wait for it, yes, the “Lady Popes.” Have they heard about this over at the Vatican?
Although steadfastly loyal to our local squads, the Idler has developed an affinity for the Cleveland Indians. They too may be forced to opt out of the “Indians” name and the “Chief Wahoo” mascot. But all they have to do is revert to the name they had in years past. They used to be the “Naps.” I’d even try out for the mascot job if it didn’t involve driving to Cleveland.
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