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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sorry About That, Chief

Chief Illiniwek, the University of Illinois' live mascot, performed in public for the final time during last night's Illinois-Michigan basketball game. After years of discussion, and pressure from the NCAA and Native American groups, the university finally relented this week and said the Chief would no longer be a part of the university, ending an 81 year tradition. Despite the fact that the halftime dance was often performed by some fair-haired kid from some place like Winnetka, most Illini fans felt the performance was respectful.

With the university's action, it will now get the NCAA's blessing to host NCAA-sanctioned events. This was not possible before as the NCAA deemed the depiction "hostile and abusive." It also means that the Illini are stuck with those horribly lame helmets they've been using and will never go to a much cooler design such as this:
While I agree that it's inappropriate for a distinguished university like Illinois to continue to have the Chief perform, I have to wonder how it is that this goes on at Florida State.

Wait, maybe it's because Illinois is a distinguished university and Florida State is....Florida State.


WhetstoneBuck said...

If you cave into the thought police you're not a distinguished university. Sorry about that, chief.

paul said...

Can someone please articulate what is so offensive about a damn mascot? You know, being of Irish descent, I could sit around and bellyache about the decscrimination my ancestors faced when they came to the US 150 years ago. The women whored themselves and the men would brawl for cash, hence the nickname "Fightin' Irish."

I'm not offended. 95% of us aren't. Just like 95% of Seminoles or Illini native Americans are not. Actually it's not that I'm not offended, it's that I don't give a shit. It's a mascot. It's not a blatant attempt to denigrate anyone's ancestry or glorify hegemony and genocide. It's a mascot.

Please tell me what is "hostile and abusive" about Fightin Illini. Is it "Fightin"? Is it the traditional gear that the cheif wears? How about the NOtre Dame mascot that depicts Irish as pugilistic leprechauns? Relax. It's a mascot!! Pretty soon nobody will be able to say or represent anything about anyone because of politically correct reactionaries like you.

BARman said...

Paul--it's simple: Political Correctness has nothing to do with logic. It has to do with "minority rights" over majority opinion. I've never bought into it. We've become a society that would rather go out of our way to be offended by EVERYTHING, than retain some balance and humor. I could go on but won't...

Anonymous said...

How about changing the Illinois mascot to the "Fightin' Whities"? Oh wait no, that would offend me so much that I would lose sleep, leading to my getting fired from my job, leading to my homelessness, leading to my stealing from others to survive, and in time, leading to my total ruin. Oh these mascots are a slippery slope.

Out of Conference said...

I could be wrong, BiB seems to be an authority on football topics like this, maybe he knows more, but I think FSU has the Seminole Tribe's (nation's?) written agreement/approval to use them as their mascot. With the way the Noles have been playing football lately, that may end.

I think it's bullshit that the NCAA dictates what is appropriate for a school to use as a mascot. It should be a local issue settled locally. The NCAA should be there as moderator and host to college athletics in an environment agreed upon by member institutions. It should not take on a life of it's own. Wasn't it UGA that pulled out of the NCAA many years ago and basically helped start the college football association, or something like that, bringing other schools with it and forcing the NCAA to rethink its policy that UGA didn;t like? I think the issue muight have been TV rights.

Next thing you know, the NCAA impose championship boycotts if state's decide to honor their state's history... oh wait, too late.

Anonymous said...

And if we're really keeping score on what university mascot is the most degrading, FSU's Seminole chief hasn't got anything on Jenn Sterger.

[warcraft geek]

surrounded in columbus said...

now that we've buried chief illiniwick, can we dig a grave for Amamker's tenure, too?

Anonymous said...

the reason that fsu is allowed to use their mascot is because it historically accurate, as the seminoles where a very aggressive/violent tribe. the illini, on the other hand, were a peaceful tribe. shouldn't you michigan grads know this

dgarr22 said...

It's all about the boobies. FSU has the cowgirls and nobody else does. Now I am no FSU fan but...heck I started thinking about Jenn Sterger and forgot what I was going to say.

Jim said...

I can see some white kid dancing around, pretending to be NA as offensive. I can see gross caricatures like Chief Wahoo as offensive. I can certainly see team names like the Redmen, Redskins, Savages (and, to a lesser extent, Indians and Braves) as offensive. Forget political correctness, how about a little sensitivity? I'm sorry, but the "Fightin' Irish" and the "Whities" are specious analogies, at best. How about the Slovenly Drunken Irish? Would that bother you?

There is a line, however. What I *don't* get are objections to team names born of genuine admiration and/or regional pride. I don't understand why Eastern and Central abandoned the Hurons and the Chippewa, and I don't think Illinois should have to drop the Illini (though perhaps they could change it to the Solemn and Respectful Illini, just to make everyone happy). So ditch the mascot, keep the nickname, and all is right in the world.

NoleDude said...

Guys, love your blog. But boy did you fail to do your research on this one.

Jim said...

Well to be technically accurate, the Seminoles were a conglomeration of several tribes (even including some freed slaves). And I'm going to guess they felt fairly justified in their "aggressive/violent" nature. "Damn savages! Why won't they just lie down and let us oppress them!"

I'm sure those nasty colonists seemed pretty violent and aggressive to the British, too.

Shouldn't you...anonymous grads know that?

Out of Conference said...

Noledude - You were referring to the mascot issue, not the "distinguished university" bit with your comment, correct?

Yost said...

This is an issue where my first reaction is it's the PC Police in action.

However, not being Native American, I can't say I can put myself in the shoes of somebody who is. However, if indeed the Seminole tribe gave their blessing, then to criticize FSU for their mascot is unfair.

VictoryCabal said...

A few years ago, when VT and Miami joined the ACC conference, there was a commercial that had all of the ACC mascots dancing around, and then the Hokie Bird and the Miami Ibis came down, and joined in the dance number.

Sure it was silly, but in a fun way. However, while Chief Oceola (FSU's guy) was in commercial, he wasn't dancing around like the rest of the mascots. It was a more... shall we say dignified... portrayal.

And I think that's part of FSU's deal with the Seminole tribe. The school can use the mascot and the Seminole name, but it has to be in a dignified and historically accurate way.

From what I understand (and I admit that I'm not expert on the matter) Illinois' Chief Illiniwick is a different matter. It's neither dignified, nor historically accurate. Just some dude in feathers jumping around. As one commentator described it: It's like watching a minstrel show.

FSU has a substantial relationship with the Florida Seminole tribe, does lots of different programs with them, and works to use the Seminole imagery in a respectful way. That's the difference.

/doesn't like FSU anyway
//Go Hokies.

ThisIsWhatYouLearnInSociology said...

I think most people were offended because Illiniwek's costume and dance were completely made up. The American Indians had no influence on the building of the University or the use of their image. That was more like the sight of their genocide. At least Notre Dame has Irish connections.* You have to be careful here, look at the old minstrel shows that nobody had a problem with.

*"Notre Dame's nickname is inherited from Irish immigrant soldiers who fought in the Civil War with New York City's Irish Brigade"... "Notre Dame's claim to the nickname is justified since its third president was a famous Irish Brigade chaplain whose ministrations at Gettysburg are commemorated in the "Absolution Under Fire," part of Notre Dame's permanent art collection." (Wikipedia)

Anonymous said...

Check out the documentary "In Whose Honor?" by Jay Rosenstein for the other side of the debate. Much of the anti-Indian mascot protesting began at UofI.


Jim said...

I just skimmed the list on the "In Whose Honor" site of the schools that changed their mascots/nicknames. Why is it that so many change to some variation of "Storm"? I counted at least five. I blame soccer.

Out of Conference said...

Re: why so many changed their name to something that included "Storm" in the name.
I guess becaue Red Commie Pinko Bitches just doesn't have the same roll off the tongue, as say, "Red Storm"

Anonymous said...

Yea who cares what the Seminole Tribe think when a bunch of white people don't like it


TitleIX said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I wonder how long it will be before some Illini students have the balls to show up at the B-ball games dressed up as slot machines.