Saturday, August 06, 2005


The Fighting Whites

The NCAA's recent decision concerning sports team nicknames has put new heat into a long-standing issue. Granted, most team nicknames are not intended to offend. But it's rather odd that when it comes to sports, Native Americans are thought of primarily as warriors rather than as corn planters or town builders or fisherfolk. And yes, while sports teams are about the -- hopefully! -- safe channeling of warrior-like energies, not all sports teams have aggressive nicknames: Purdue's Boilermakers. Minnesota's Golden Gophers. CalTech's Beavers. You get the idea. Over at the University of Northern Colorado, back in February of 2002, a group of Native American and white intramural basketball players decided that they were a bit tired of white people (or anyone else) projecting their aggressive fantasies onto Native tribes. So, to make their point, they renamed their basketball team The Fighting Whites. (Their motto: "Every Thang's Gonna Be All White!")

Then there's the University of California-Santa Cruz team, the Banana Slugs.

I think it's time to start naming teams after plants. Anybody who thinks plants just cannot be active and aggressive enough has never tried to keep the neighbor's grapevine from taking over one's yard.

The Atlanta Braves could be the Atlanta Kudzu. The Washington Redskins would have an easy time changing to the Washington Redskin Potatoes. And so on.
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