Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nicknames: Time to Fix Them Up

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nicknames: Time to Fix Them Up

Article excerpt

St. John's Redmen ... Imagine how offensive that Native American-bashing nickname must have been all those years to the Mohawk tribesmen whose ironworking skills helped build New York's skyscrapers.

The Atlanta Braves keep tomahawk-chopping away. The Florida State Seminoles chant their stupid chant. The Kansas City Chiefs copy both.

It took those gutty Redmen from the borough of Queens to take a stand. The St. John's student body, following Stanford's trendy lead from the '70s, voted for a new nickname, the Red Storm. Rising ever since, the Red Storm actually was able to recruit Felipe Lopez, the nation's No. 1 high school hoopster.

I say, let's keep this up. There are other insidious, sexist, sectarian, xenophobic nicknames the nation's colleges and universities have lived with too long.

We won't heal all of these festering sores on the body politic of your favorite sports team by the end of 1995 or even by the end of the century. But let the word go forth from this time and place that a new generation of Americans will no longer tolerate the denigration of Native Americans, minority groups, endangered species, barnyard animals or forces of nature.

So let us begin:

Penn State Nittany Lions: A triple disgrace that trashes not only Native Americans and women, but the extinct mountain lion, too. As I recall the legend, Nita-Nee was an Indian princess seduced by an evil spirit disguised as a mountain lion. In deep disgrace, she lived out her days selling apple cider to fans trekking over Seven Mountains to the football games. Later, a granddaughter named O-Ko-Cho fell in love with a tailback named Malachi Boyer. Together, they founded the Nittany Lion Inn. Suggested new nickname: Penn State Nearsighted Brooklynites.

Southern California Trojans: This was the place that launched a thousand quips. For reference, rent "Summer of '42" and check out the drugstore scene. Times have changed. Trojans are sexually and politically correct. The nickname remains objectionable, however, connoting victory through treachery. New nickname: Southern California Disasters.

Wisconsin Badgers: Insulting to Mexican Americans from the Laredo border checkpoint to the Taco Bell in downtown Madison. Badgers? I don't have no Badgers. We don't need no stinking Badgers. New nickname: Wisconsin Miller Lites.

Niagara Purple Eagles: I can deal with the Eagle as both mascot and nickname. After all, the noble hunter of the sky is our national bird. But a Purple Eagle? Sounds as if that name was conjured up during a night of boozing in a wings bar after a Bills game. New nickname: Fighting Barrels.

San Diego State Aztecs: The only Native North Americans who had it rougher than American Indians were Mexican Indians. This nickname not only denigrates a proud, intelligent race that had paved roads and sewers when Europe was drowning in its own filth, but gives the genocide practiced by Hernando Cortez and his conquistadors a good name. New nickname: Mission Bells. …

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