Friday, August 05, 2005

News of Back Home

I used to joke that the four seasons I experienced growing up in North Florida were summer, summer, summer, and football. And because I was there long before the Jaguars joined the NFL, football meant college football. One's loyalty generally went to one of two places, either the Gators of the University of Florida, or the Seminoles of Florida State University. I went with the latter, and years later ended up attending Florida State Law.

Ah yes, the Seminoles. Complete with the Tomahawk Chop (long before the Atlanta Braves imported it as their own), and an undergrad decked out in traditional Seminole Indian garb riding a horse and throwing a burning spear onto the midfield logo just before the start of each home football game. Some folks are offended by the name as being racist, but the school has the support of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which has maintained a good relationship with the university (though there were rumors of their endorsement coming in exchange for financial considerations).

Today, those offended by the name were able to carry the day, as the NCAA has made it exceedingly difficult for colleges sports teams to keep using Indian names or mascots:
Nicknames or mascots deemed "hostile or abusive" would not be allowed on team uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1.

. . .

The NCAA plans to ban schools using Indian nicknames from hosting postseason events.
I was not at all surprised to learn that Florida State plans to challenge this decision, so I guess this one should be filed under "to be continued."

Having been a fan since childhood, I guess I'm a bit biased, but I don't see why it's offensive. The name used is tribal in origin, rather than something that has an historically negative connotation such as Redskins. Plus, a significant segment of the Seminole people has worked with the university in an effort to respectfully represent the Seminole culture (after I wrote this, a google search showed me this article by a Native American that supports my distinction more eloquently than I do).

One question I have is why NCAA doesn't deem the nickname Fighting Irish, complete with a leprachaun for a mascot, similarly offensive. On its face the disparate treatment seems hypocritical, but perhaps there's a logical reason to differentiate.

7 comments:

josh g said...

Finally, you wrote about something that can get me fired up. FSU should change their names to the Dirty, Thievin' Injuns, just to spite the NCAA. What a load of BS. I do have a couple of PC names of sports teams that I would like to share with you. The Scottsdale Community College is known as the Artichokes, and my personal favorite is the Hickman High School (Columbia, MO) Kewpies. That's right--as in kewpie dolls. You thought you had it rough in HS--try playing football and losing to the Kewpies and living that one down. Later, bro.

Mary P. said...

This is what happens when people who are racist but don't know it hop onto the political correctness bandwagon. Because they see "Indians" as a faceless group of disempowered victims, a mere concept and not real people, any reference to them by Big Bad Whites must therefore be exploitative. It never occurs to them that the group in question are quite capable of making up their own minds on this.

Anonymous said...

they don't have permission of the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma. It seems FSU only wants to be associated with the Seminole Tribe of Florida because they are the ones who were "unconquered". Oklahoma Seminoles have said they do not like FSU's use of the mascot. Maybe FSU doesn't care about what the Oklahoma tribe says because those Seminoles were led to OK in chains....kinda ruins the myth.

John Hart said...

Well, the are, after all, the *Florida*State* Seminoles ...

LoryKC said...

Must...resist...commenting...yet
--siblings are FSU grads
(Any Seminole, FL or OK can still take a Gator, right?)
--husband is attending Notre Dame
(apparently this IS God's school...they can do no wrong. Catholics have enough guilt without starting a fight with ND!!)
--live a mile from KSU (Wildcats)--(so far the animals are keeping quiet on the issue)
(sorry--is the sleep deprivation showing?)

aaron said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. Someone recently made an observation worth sharing:
NCAA headquarters are in INDIANapolis, INDIANa. So are they going to move unless the city and state change their names?

Sugar said...

Well, I dunno about all that. However, my grandmother taught at FSU, I'm a graduate of the Sandalwood HS home of the Saints, and one of these days I hope I retire back to Florida. :)