clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Another Nickname That Has To Go

The NCAA's decision about Native American mascots has not gone over well with
everyone. Wally Hall of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette finds
it pretty ridiculous
in light of more pressing issues facing the NCAA.

Florida State, where the teams are called the Seminoles, with the approval of
the Seminole nation, is pledging to fight the decision in court if
necessary. And Utah uses the nickname Utes with the approval of the Ute
nation as well. They've also been put on notice. Presumably the Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Savages have as well, if they are a D-2 or D-3 team.

However, the Aztecs of San Diego have not been warned about their
mascot or nickname. And while the Fighting Illini have been, the
Fighting Irish have not
. That nickname certainly conjures up negative
stereotypes of the Irish which rotate around drinking and violence.

This despite the NCAA's pronouncement that "...we believe that mascots, nicknames or images deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin should not be visible at the championship events that we control."

And why, then, is it okay to be the Pioneers?

And a more key local question: where does that leave us in terms of Civil
War-based mascots? It's okay for Mississippi to be the Rebels?
(By the way, we'd leave UNLV out of this, first of all because they weren't in
the confederacy, and secondly because they've just generally applied their
rebelliousness to the NCAA).

A cursory scan of college nicknames turned up only two definite civil-war
related nicknames, and one (Virginia Wahoos) which might be, although we don't
know the origin of the name, and they clearly prefer Cavaliers anyway.

But the other nickname is of course the Tar Heels. If the standard is
that it be "hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin,"
it's hard to see how Tar Heels wouldn't qualify. The traditional story is that
after a Civil War battle, the North Carolina troops were said by a general to
have fought as if "they had tar on their heels."

Valiant and brave, of course, but they were valiant and brave in defense of slavery.
There's no particular reason why in the 21st century a college team should
celebrate their state's "heroic" defense of slavery, is there?

We urge everyone to contact the NCAA
to fight the continued use of the ugly term Tar Heels. The South lost the war. Now it's time to lose the nicknames.