"There are only two ways of telling the complete truth—anonymously and posthumously."Thomas Sowell

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The NCAA Nickname Ban

The P.C. police are at it again. Fed up with what it considers “hostile” and “abusive” American Indian nicknames, the NCAA announced it would ban those words and images from post-season tournaments.

Starting in 2006 any school with a nickname or logo considered racially or ethnically “hostile” by the NCAA (National College Athletic Association) would be prohibited from using them in post-season events. Mascots will not be allowed to perform at tournament games and cheerleaders will be barred from using American Indian images on their uniforms.

Major college football teams are not subject to the ban since there isn’t an official NCAA tournament associated with college football.

Needless to say, not everyone greeted this decision favorably. Some schools affected by the ban were quick to complain. Florida State University – home of the Seminoles – threatened legal action. “That the NCAA would now label our close bond with the Seminole people as culturally ‘hostile and abusive’ is both outrageous and insulting,” Florida State president T.K. Wetherall said.

The NCAA committee also recommended that colleges follow the example of Wiscosin and Iowa by refusing to schedule contests against schools that use American Indian nicknames.

While NCAA officials cannot force colleges to change their nicknames or logos, it is hoped that this decision will have a chastening influence on intended targets - eighteen mascots, including Florida States’ Seminole and Illinois’ Fighting Illini, were on the list of NCAA offenders.

These colleges will not be permitted to host future NCAA tournament games, and if events have already been awarded to these sites, the colleges must cover any logos or nicknames that appear.

Left unsaid, of course, is what constitutes “hostile and abusive”? The president of the NCAA, Myles Brand, noted that some institutions using the “Warrior” nickname will not face sanctions because it is not specifically an Indian symbol. One college, North Carolina – Pembroke – which uses the nickname Braves – will also be exempt from censure because the school has historically had a high percentage of American Indian students.

For the Politically Correct police officers at the NCAA the issue is cut and dry. “We believe hostile or abusive nicknames are troubling to us and it can’t continue,” noted NCAA committee chairman, Walter Harrison.

However, the examples, used for censure suggest “hostile and abusive” may be in the eye of the NCAA beholder. What precisely is hostile about Seminole and Illini? One might make the claim these names have something to do with the unquenchable spirit of these tribes.

Moreover, while taste may be an issue, so too is free speech. Is the lesson conveyed to colleges and universities that only certain names can be employed? Is the NCAA arrogating to itself the role of censor?

In fact, I cannot conceive of a college with an Indian nickname that has the intent of hostile usage. Most colleges that use these nicknames and logos do so as a form of admiration for the spirit of indigenes.

What appears to be at play is the left wing orthodoxy on campus that is in search of some offense against a designated victim group or subculture. Brand and his band of P.C. acolytes have found the holy grail with this campaign against Indian symbols.

One might think with all the abuses in college football and basketball, these avatars of P.C. might consider ways to control corruption, degradation of academic standards, and steroid use. Instead they have found an issue that satisfies campus orthodoxy.

Several years ago the St. Johns’ basketball team changed its nickname from the Redmen to the Red Storm. Although it is hard to make a connection, when that decision was made the fortunes of the St. Johns’ basketball program went into decline. As I see it, the gods are watching. Those colleges engaged in the silly enterprise of changing their nicknames in order to appease the P.C. police will pay a price in diminished performance. The ban is simply an action that makes some feel superior, while reducing the freedom that makes Americans unique.


Hunter Baker said...

I think that Myles Brand just needed a new mountain to climb. Nobody thought he'd be able to fire Bobby Knight. He pulled that off and it was time for something equally audacious. I don't think he's going to win this one.

Kathy Hutchins said...

Myles Brand was a horrible, horrible college president. Bloomington reviled him before the Bob Knight incident. This NCAA crap is just a continuation of his career-long infatuation with multiculturalism and diversity enforced on the unwilling, at the expense of any solid academic objectives. He screwed up Oregon before Indiana, and now he'll do his best to screw up college sports. Everyone's focused on basketball, but NCAA runs the hockey tournament too, and the areas of the country where hockey is big are also areas brimming with Indian names for everything, not just sports teams.

Tlaloc said...

While I couldn't care less about sports of any variety I do have some insight into PC and frankly it's a mess. The underlying ideology is fundamentally self destructive.

That having been said what's the big deal here? These athletes chose (unless I'm very much mistaken) to be part of teams associated with the NCAA. The NCAA is a private organization and not a government body.

Therefore the esteemed conservatives of this board may be hard pressed to explain why they can't run their business as they see fit.