A Kinder, Gentler NCAA

Political Correctness strikes again. The New NCAA policy has now forbidden the use of Native American mascots.

I believe important and necessary to respect all ethnicities and people groups in every arena, whether it be the office, the stage or the playing field. However, the NCAA is presuming a few things in its broad sweeping policy.

1. Pride. There is a great amount of pride surrounding these Native American/Warrior mascots. Those wearing the symbols and making the gestures are not making a statement about the people of the tribe; they are cheering on their teams...with pride. That's a good thing.

2. Local identity. There are schools, like the University of Utah, who have received permission from the tribe to use its name for the school. In this case, the NCAA overrules the Utes in the name of respecting the Utes!

3. Hypocrisy. If the policy is designed to respect all people groups, then let's take another look at the list of mascots. What about Notre Dame? Does the NCAA not care about the Irish reputation? Or, do the Irish simply not have enough special interest groups working on their behalf? If they aim to be consistent, we'll not have any safe names. I suppose even a name like "Patriots" could be problematic.

What are the kinder, gentler mascots for a game which involves a couple dozen men chasing a piece of leather and tackling each other, shedding blood and breaking bones, in order to get their hands on it?


At 8/17/2005 07:44:00 PM, Blogger Jaymeister said...

You are correct, ma'am. The inconsistency is the problem, as long as Fighting Irish and Celtics are still around. But it reminds me of when they made it legal here in Toronto for women to go topless. I thought that to promote equality, it would have been much more aesthetically advisable to prohibit men form doing so. That said, the NCAA may be overreaching here.

I think a bigger problem is with the Washington Redskins, because it refers to a race of people rather than to a specific, proud tribe. Sorry if I sound PC here, but I find it offensive, as do many Native Americans. Edmonton Eskimos isn't much better. I guess I'll have to be the liberal to introduce some grey area and nuance into the argument. :)

At 8/17/2005 11:27:00 PM, Anonymous Clayton Bell said...

Ok, you know I'm coming in on this one.

Go down the hall in my house, and look under the dresser and you'll see my FSU diploma proudly stacked on the ground. (Not because I despise my FSU education, but because I just moved and we're not sure where everything goes yet.) From 1997-2001 I loved attending the great university nestled here in Tallahassee, Florida. Since the moment I graduated I've worked on or in relation to FSU. I love the school, and I love the Seminoles.

And just to clear a few things up, Chief Osceola and Renegade (the horse) are not "mascots" of FSU, they are the "spirit" of FSU. It was explained to me that it was done that way as to not degrade the two to "mascot" status. The student who becomes Chief every Saturday must meet the highest standards for a students at FSU (one of my fraternity brothers was the Chief for one year, so I'm not going on hearsay), has to do an apprenticeship for one year beforehand, is painted and dressed by members of the Seminole Tribe, and is not allowed to say anything while on the field so that he won’t misrepresent Chief Osceola and the Seminole Tribe.

At homecoming, when the Chief and Princess are crowned (our version of king and queen), they are crowned by representatives of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who participate in the ceremony every year. The Seminole Tribe of Florida passed a resolution in support of the use of the name Seminoles. The Oklahoma Seminole tribe, which had never previously voted, passed a similar resolution recently after this ruckus was started.

I can understand “Redskins” since is would be like having the Washington Negros (or worse, I just didn’t want to type that word). But having just the name of a tribe? Good grief. We’ve entered into the age when someone will be offended for you. I’ve never heard one student make a derogatory comment about Indians (can’t say the same about other races). FSU has done what it can to promote pride and understanding of the Seminole Tribe. There isn’t some bloodthirsty madman ranting and raving on Saturdays. We love who we are, and take a tremendous amount of pride in it. Just one white man’s perspective.

At 8/17/2005 11:28:00 PM, Anonymous Clayton Bell said...

Oh, and for comedy, check out www.cafepress.com/fightinwhite

At 8/18/2005 02:06:00 AM, Anonymous AJ said...

The NCAA is going to be reconsidering their latest PC decree. The story here:

NCAA will rethink Seminole ban

A man who has protested Florida State in the past led the NCAA to believe his tribe condemned the school's mascot. It wasn't true.

St. Petersburg Times on-line - By DAVID KARP, BRIAN LANDMAN and STEVE BOUSQUET - Published August 12, 2005

A controversial NCAA decision restricting Florida State University's use of an American Indian mascot was based on incomplete information and will be reconsidered, a top NCAA official said Thursday.

Walter Harrison, who chairs the committee that approved a policy directed at 18 schools with "hostile and abusive" American Indian mascots, said FSU has "good grounds" to appeal.

Among the reasons, he said, are that the NCAA Executive Committee thought the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma opposed FSU's use of the Seminole image as a mascot.

That was based partly on letters the committee received from David Narcomey, a member of the General Council of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.

But Narcomey was not authorized to speak on behalf of the tribal nation and "misrepresented" its view, the tribe's attorney general said Thursday.

In fact, Narcomey pushed for a tribal resolution condemning the use of American Indian mascots and imagery, specifically at FSU. It was defeated last month by an 18-2 vote.

Harrison, flooded with hundreds of e-mails from FSU fans, also said Thursday he wants to better understand FSU's history with the Seminoles.

FSU has vowed to fight the NCAA decision.

Trustees voted Thursday to appeal the rule that, starting February, would bar the use of American Indian symbols at championship events. University president T.K. Wetherell has lined up powerful opposition, including Gov. Jeb Bush, and hired powerhouse lawyer Barry Richard.

"If there are appeals or attempts to change legislation, I can listen to different things," said Harrison, who is also president of the University of Hartford.

Harrison said he decided the NCAA should listen to FSU's arguments even before he discovered Thursday's news about the Oklahoma Seminoles.

But the new information won't necessarily change the outcome, he said. The Executive Committee's decision, he added, did not hinge on whether the Oklahoma group opposed FSU's use of American Indian mascots.

"I don't know how we would vote on it," Harrison said. "But it would seem to be good grounds for a waiver request."

FSU and the other 17 schools, including Illinois and Utah, can appeal to the Executive Committee or seek an amendment to the new rules. That would need the Executive Committee's blessing.

Two other members of the 19-person Executive Committee said the matter needs further review in light of the stance of the Oklahoma Seminoles.

"I think this is material new information," said committee member Arthur Kirk Jr., president of Saint Leo University in Pasco County. "It is not only new, but it is counter information from what we had earlier."

Could it have pushed FSU off the NCAA's list of 18 schools?

"I think that is a very valid question," Kirk said.

Executive Committee member Sidney McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State University, said he also would consider the new information. He also has been swamped with e-mails from FSU boosters.

The NCAA has been studying the issue for years and, in November 2004, asked 33 schools to submit a self-evaluation about their use of American Indian mascots. A special committee developed recommendations that were considered by the Executive Committee last week.

That's when Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA's vice president for diversity and inclusion, told the Executive Committee that the Oklahoma Seminoles opposed the practice at FSU. She was relying on letters from Narcomey, including one dated June 1 in which he said he was crafting a resolution condemning FSU's use of the Seminole name and imagery.

"We are part of the Five Civilized Tribes Council and have joined the other four nations, the Chickasaw, the Cherokee, the Choctaw and the Creek nations, in condemning the use of American Indian sports team mascots," he wrote, according to the NCAA's Westerhaus.

Narcomey's letter did not mention that the Intertribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes passed that resolution in 2001 and that it spoke generally about derogatory images that perpetuate stereotypes. It did not name specific schools or mascots.

Nor did he mention that he sits on boards of organizations with a political agenda, including the Tulsa Indian Coalition Against Racism, and that he has protested at FSU in the past.

Narcomey soon became the one speaking for the 14,000 Seminoles in Oklahoma.

But he was "unauthorized" to speak on behalf of the nation and "misrepresented" its view on the issue, said Jennifer McBee, the attorney general for the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.

McBee said the tribe has numerous students at FSU.

Narcomey, who last month was elected to another term on the General Council, didn't return a call from the Times.

Oklahoma Seminole members had contacted several newspapers saying Narcomey did not speak for the Seminole Nation, said Lee Hinkle, FSU's vice president for university relations.

NCAA's Westerhaus defended the committee's handling of the matter. "We didn't get a letter nor did we see anything in newspapers," she said.

The NCAA did not follow up with Narcomey on whether his resolution passed.

But key members of the Seminole tribes in Florida and Oklahoma apparently were not communicating either.

"We did not concoct this," Westerhaus said. "We acted in good faith and we'll continue to do so."

The NCAA provided the 18 schools with a letter Tuesday detailing how they could appeal their inclusion on the list.

Aside from being unable to host championship events, such as baseball regionals, student-athletes will be prevented from displaying "hostile and abusive" imagery on their uniforms in post-season games as of Feb. 1, 2006. Cheerleaders, dancers and band members must remove such images from their uniforms by Aug. 1, 2008.

The new policy will not affect FSU football, the school's signature sport. The NCAA doesn't control the Division I-A postseason, the bowls or league championship games watched by millions on TV.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds and staff writers Curtis Krueger and Tom Zucco contributed to this report.


At 8/18/2005 03:20:00 AM, Blogger Mark said...

When i made my post about this subject, it was rather lighthearted. Maybe I just don't see why the NCAA is so worried about such a trivial issue but I was asking for suggestions in what tt change the name of the mascots to at http://leftfieldperspectives.blogspot.com/2005/08/pc-mascots-and-other-silly-stuff.html

At 8/18/2005 08:48:00 PM, Blogger shelbymiddleton said...

I, like Clayton, am a proud and livid FSU alumni. This issue has been a constant thorn in the flesh to FSU as long as I can remember. But it wasn't always a problem, contrary to popular opinion. From the beginning, FSU took the time to request the Seminole tribe the use of the "spirit" as Clayton rightly deemed it. FSU has always been blessed in its use and always honored the tribe in its every display. This isn't to say that there aren't egocentric and uneducated people wandering around FSU or rooting for the team that may have wrongly used the name, but what the school represents(and that IS what the issue it)honors the tradition and the fact that we represent the tribe.
This is yet another example of the minority getting the opportunity to speak for the majority. And why we assume that we are somehow more justified, educated, and righteous than those who paved the way before us is beyond me. Obviously, this moves into other arenas of opinion. I am floored by how many things we come up with to be offended by, or be offended for someone else.
Forget it, no matter what the NCAA says or doesn't say, I'm not burning my diploma or my Seminole t-shirts.

At 8/19/2005 02:13:00 AM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

jaymeister: for all our differences, i appreciate your intellectual honesty.

clayton and shelby: good to hear from alum. clearly, there's a great sense of respect for the Seminoles. too bad the NCAA is so out-of-touch with real life on the college campus.

aj: thanks for the story. i hope they do come to their senses.

mark: yes, i remember reading that post. it and the comments were a refreshing look at this issue.

At 8/21/2005 07:47:00 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

Talk about a slippery slope...
We'll be unable to have animal names used as mascots because it will offend PETA and the like.
We'll be reduced to using only benign objects as mascots, like "The Mighty Shoes" or "The Scissors". Nope, that last one would be promoting bloody violence in some way...
I've got it!! No more mascots.

At 8/22/2005 05:27:00 AM, Anonymous Doc Otis said...

Many years ago a cartoon strip (Lil' Abner I believe, had a smarmy bunch called SWINE. Students Wildly Indignant About Nearly Everything. Funny how life imitates art. Don't think, don't talk. SOMEBODY will be offended. Why doesn't the ACLU sue GM ? (Pontiac)They have lots of money. I'm going to call my team "The White Guys" How many will that offend ?


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