Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friday Special: Logomania

Anyone can see why a Native American would be disgusted by the mascot, logo, whatever you want to call it that represents the Cleveland Indians baseball team. It’s a horrible caricature and should have been retired decades ago. And the Washington “Redskins?” Good Lord.

At the risk of offending those who take the First Amendment as an absolute with no grey areas, might I suggest the formation of a Committee Of Good Taste which would be tasked with pointing out mascots or logos or nicknames which should never have come to be in the first place. I think they could complete their task in a day or two, and then disband.

In their typically weasely way, our politicians took a crack at the issue this week, and decided to let the State Superintendent of Public Instruction be the arbiter of taste and offensiveness in these matters.


My high school mascot was the Polar Bear. Don’t ask me why the folks in Hortonville decided on that unusual, though not quite unique mascot. Mascots at the colleges I’ve attended (or been employed by) include the Badger, Titan, Green Wave, Matador, and Gold Rush. Not a controversial one in the lot.

No one can tell us how we should feel about things. That’s a decision we make for ourselves, but we can change our feelings about things, sometimes, when we assimilate new information. Nothing I’ve heard or read has changed my feeling that there’s not a single Indian-themed mascot in the nation that was created to offend Native Americans.

And I’m really not sure what all the fuss is about. I’m of Irish and Austrian extraction, and I take no umbrage whatsoever concerning the Boston Celtics or the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. I know the outdated term “Paddy Wagon” came from the drunken Irishmen the New York City cops transported to jail. Some say it came from the fact that so many Irish were cops in NYC. They couldn’t get any other jobs…”no Irish need apply”. If somebody calls me a “mick”, I’m not offended. I have a pal of Prussian extraction who refers to me as “the drunken mick”. No problem.

But that’s just me. And maybe it’s why I don’t understand all the noise being made because Waunakee chose to name its teams the Warriors or Berlin calls its teams the Indians. Oshkosh West High, my parents’ Alma Mater, used to be the Indians, but now they’re the Wildcats. Apparently Oshkosh is more politically correct than Berlin.

I’m actually still not sure what the official nickname of Marquette University is. I had to google it to be reminded that it’s now “Golden Eagles”, but I don’t think anybody calls them that. Several years ago when they were flip-flopping back and forth with their nickname, I called them the “Warriors” on a sports report I did for a local country radio station. The program director passed me in the hallway a few minutes later and said “please refer to Marquette by its correct nickname.” On the next sportscast, I referred to them as “the Marquette Bloodthirsty Savages”.

No wonder I’ve been fired from every radio job I’ve ever had.

When I think of “Native Americans”, I think of nothing but positive attributes, and how horribly we as a nation treat them. So if enough of them want us to stop using their names as sports mascots, I guess it’s OK. But…as the saying goes…I don’t think any offense was intended.


  1. I've never quite understood why "Warrior" gets lumped into the Native American logo/mascot/nickname fray. There are, after all, other warriors. And, unless the logo depicts a Native American, a warrior could be Greek, Roman, Polish or Laotian...or not ethnically defined at all.

    My High School was the Eastridge Raiders. Nice alliteration. We used the image of a Native, spear in hand, riding a horse at what appeared to be full-out. Sleek. Cool. Shoulda struck fear in the hearts of the Westview Kayhawks, who had some fat, dumpy bird as their logo...and the Catholic school, with their Notre Dame Irish re-tread logo.

    I always kinda thought that, if I was Native American, I woulda kinda dug it...cause it wasn't the characture of the Indians, Braves or Redskins. It was much cooler.

    Of course, I'm I'll never know. The school no longer exists, so it's not an issue. But, like Warriors, are Raiders off limits too?

  2. The Warriors / Raiders names are very ball-sport macho, so why not keep them and have the art class come up with a generic Conan-the-Barbarian Xena-Warrior-Princess image of some sort.

    You could forget about having a goofy mascot bouncing around on the sidelines, but Attila the Hun didn't have one either, and he enjoyed a measure or two of success anyway.

  3. Speaking of Attila the Hun, and I rarely do, I woke up very early yesterday morning and once again succumbed to the temptation to go buy s pack of cigarettes. The young girl behind the register at the Citgo called me Hun three times before I could escape with my contraband. I felt like I had eaten breakfast there and had had my coffee refilled twice. Two things I just cannot stand being called are: Hun and Sir. Both of them I do not deserve being called.

    I just want to go into a local breakfast/lunch place some morning, and hear the waitress say, "Coffee, Warrior?" Let's get real, Warrior is a compliment. It can mean so many things, even noble peaceful people can be warriors in this world.

    Oh, Al, when they changed the name to Golden Eagles it was like they were trying to say you never existed. Like you didn't turn down that NCAA bid, and win it a few years later with a much lesser team. You inspired me. You inspired more people than you knew. Sadly, Marquette University, a great Wisconsin college, institution, landmark, promoter of young people just failed you, me, us. Golden Eagles, I love 'em, of course, as birds that is, but as a basketball team, not so much. You were so charming with your Irish-Catholic old-fashioned style, but I learned early on as you did, to stay modern and in the times or better yet, ahead of the times. Enough already, I have faith, I believe that Marquette University will announce within the next three years that they are renaming their sports teams. "The Marquette McGuires." It's appropriate, it's cutting edge, and it is time for Marquette to win another NCAA championship. The Golden Eagles, sorry guys, you better get that name changed fast.