FanDuel - WFBC

June 13, 2012

North Dakota voters overwhelmingly decide to do away with UND's 'Fighting Sioux' Nickname: As a part of yesterday's primary election, more than two-thirds of voters cast "yes" for Measure 4, overturning the Legislature-passed code from 2011 which required UND to use the Fighting Sioux nickname. The measure also passed in Reservation County, which encompasses most of the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation.

posted by Ufez Jones to culture at 08:36 PM - 37 comments

From the Washington Post:

With two-thirds of voters in a conservative state voting against the controversial mascot, it may raise the question of whether public opinion is shifting on the issue.

But in North Dakota, the vote may have been more practical than moral. After all, by continuing to use the nickname, the school's sports teams and the university as a whole may have lost out on both achievement and the money that comes with it.

School officials also worried about how the nickname might affect recruiting and their standing in the Big Sky Conference.

Teams like the Redskins don't face such sanctions by continuing to use their nicknames, so they're likely to stick it out longer than the University of North Dakota did.

posted by Ufez Jones at 08:37 PM on June 13

Damn. It would appear that titles get appended if you use quotation marks. I promise, there were other words there.

posted by Ufez Jones at 09:07 PM on June 13

Still a good post. Good for North Dakota for doing this. Now if only the even more offensive Redskins would change their name.

posted by insomnyuk at 09:30 PM on June 13

Bad move.

I guess the masses won't be appeased until every sports team is named after a color (wait .. black, red, yellow, and white have racist ties) or a bird.

The Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Syracuse Orange appear to be the only sports teams not mocking someone's heritage.

posted by cixelsyd at 10:31 PM on June 13

The Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Syracuse Orange appear to be the only sports teams not mocking someone's heritage.

Blue Jays gives short shrift to other corvid species such as the Gray Jay, sometimes known as the Whiskey Jack, and the Steller's Jay, found west of the Rocky Mountains. Since they favor coniferous trees, such as those in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps the Seattle Mariners could end their discrimination against airmen or those involved in ground transportation and change their name to the Steller's Jays. As for the Baltimore Orioles, the team name should be the Baltimore Baltimore Orioles, since the Baltimore Oriole is just one species of Oriole. Others include the Orchard Oriole, and Lichtenstein's Oriole.

What I'm trying to say is that in this day and age it is too damned difficult to keep from getting someone upset, even for the most specious of reasons. I do wonder, though, had the citizens of North Dakota been asked about the nickname some years ago, would they have come to the same conclusion? Was it only the threat of sanctions that brought the people to this decision?

posted by Howard_T at 11:02 PM on June 13

Once Syracuse traded in their own inapropro native mascot brand back in the day, they became the Orangemen, which I had thought was solely intended to annoy the Dutch.

Which is a raison d'etre that some feel may have merit.

What I find most bothersome about Syracuse is that they have a building named The Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.

Always unfortunate when that name gets referred to beyond the back pages of the N.Y. Daily News, especially with the promise of perpetuity.

Hopefully, they don't have a Derrick Coleman Center for the Motivated Athlete.

posted by beaverboard at 11:16 PM on June 13

I guess the masses won't be appeased until every sports team is named after a color

What I'm trying to say is that in this day and age it is too damned difficult to keep from getting someone upset

Ummm..... is it really that difficult to differentiate between team names that are racial slurs ("Redskins") and team names that aren't (see: every other team name)?

posted by DudeDykstra at 11:23 PM on June 13

I do wonder, though, had the citizens of North Dakota been asked about the nickname some years ago, would they have come to the same conclusion?

And if you asked the citizens of Alabama some years ago if it was OK for black students to attend the same schools as white students, how would they answer? Just because earlier generations think something is OK doesn't necessarily make it OK...

posted by MeatSaber at 11:54 PM on June 13

I guess the masses won't be appeased until every sports team is named after a color (wait .. black, red, yellow, and white have racist ties) or a bird.

Number of unique NHL, NBA, MLB, and NFL team names: 117

(Jets, Panthers used in NFL/NHL, Cardinals used in NFL/MLB, Kings used in NBA/NHL, Rangers used in NHL/MLB)

Number of even remotely offensive team names: 6

* indicates potentially offensive logo as well
Chicago Blackhawks *
Boston Celtics *
Cleveland Indians *
Atlanta Braves *
Kansas City Chiefs
Washington Redskins *

That's around 5%.

Number that are birds: 11

Baltimore Ravens
Philadelphia Eagles
Atlanta Falcons
Arizona Cardinals
Seattle Seahawks
Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays
St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburgh Penguins
Anaheim Ducks
Atlanta Hawks

That's around 10%.

posted by grum@work at 01:07 AM on June 14

I never realized how over-represented bird names are in the NFL, the league I would least associate with bird-like characteristics (well, maybe the NHL, but Penguins is obvious). Wonder why that is.

posted by Etrigan at 07:19 AM on June 14

Once Syracuse traded in their own inapropro native mascot brand back in the day, they became the Orangemen, which I had thought was solely intended to annoy the Dutch.

I was always under the impression that the opposite was true. New York's first white settlers were Dutch Orangemen, right?

posted by NoMich at 08:06 AM on June 14

Bad move.

Why?

I guess the masses won't be appeased until every sports team is named after a color (wait .. black, red, yellow, and white have racist ties) or a bird.

The Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Syracuse Orange appear to be the only sports teams not mocking someone's heritage.

Thunder, Bruins, Red Sox, Sun, Storm, Monarchs, Kings, Astros, '76ers, Nationals, Sabers, Patriots, Diamondbacks, Rockies, off the top of my head.

Are you truly unable to see the vast range of options for names that aren't derogatory?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:46 AM on June 14

I guess the masses won't be appeased until every sports team is named after a color (wait .. black, red, yellow, and white have racist ties) or a bird.

This may be the worst argument yet in favor of offensive sports nicknames. There are thousands of teams that managed to avoid a problem like this, and dozens that transitioned to new names. Their fans adjusted.

The NCAA offered a reasonable compromise to UND -- get the two Sioux tribes in their state on board with the nickname and they could continue using it without penalties. That didn't happen. Now that 67 percent of the voters in the state, which is a landslide, have voted to retire the name, it's time to retire the name.

My favorite part of the article is this line: "Nickname supporters have said the moniker has been a source of pride for decades."

The Sioux name has been a source of ethnic identity for five centuries. Some UND fans think their affection for a nickname is more important than that.

posted by rcade at 08:59 AM on June 14

Bad move.

Why is this a bad move? The people voted on this and the majority made a sensible decision.

What I'm trying to say is that in this day and age it is too damned difficult to keep from getting someone upset, even for the most specious of reasons.

This, quite simply, is bullshit. The term 'Redskins' is clearly a derogatory racial slur. The reason people are opposed to it is far, far from specious.

And if the Sioux people don't want their name used as a mascot for a public school's sports team, shouldn't they have a say?

posted by insomnyuk at 09:02 AM on June 14

I was always under the impression that the opposite was true. New York's first white settlers were Dutch Orangemen, right?

Yes, indeed there is lots of historical Dutch (Huguenot and otherwise) presence in various upstate NY areas.

I was poking about in jest, hoping to lure out some of our distinguished members on the other side of the Int. Date Line who have firmly held and well informed opinions about Dutch football and East Indies colonialism.

posted by beaverboard at 09:59 AM on June 14

and well informed opinions about Dutch football

They probably have other things to worry about at the moment.

posted by tron7 at 10:19 AM on June 14

The Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Syracuse Orange appear to be the only sports teams not mocking someone's heritage.

I normally try not to argue against hyperbole, but really?

posted by tahoemoj at 11:09 AM on June 14

I had to do a double-take before understanding it was an override of an override.

Now this same group that got this vote wants to get a constitutional vote in November. How many chances do they get?

posted by jjzucal at 03:05 PM on June 14

Here's a good rule of thumb. If you wouldn't go up to somebody of a specific ethnic background and call them a specific word, perhaps that word is an inappropriate mascot name.

For example, going up to a group of Native Americans and saying "Hey, r******s, how you doing?" or "Hey, look, its a bunch of braves hanging out" would both be stupid and offensive things to do.

The lame "oh, political correctness gone awry" argument boils down to "I think it stupid that people are offended by something that I want to call them just because its derogatory" or sometimes "there is one guy I know who is like 13% Ute and he is cool with it so why aren't all of them?" I know this has been said a million times, but if its not all right for a sports team to use derogatory names for one ethnic group (and its not) then its ipso facto not all right for them to use derogatory names for another ethnic group.

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:57 PM on June 14

* indicates potentially offensive logo as well
Chicago Blackhawks *
Boston Celtics *
Cleveland Indians *
Atlanta Braves *
Kansas City Chiefs
Washington Redskins *

That's around 5%.

Off the top of my head, I'd say you forgot the Los Angeles Dodgers (Trolley Dodgers was a denigrating nickname for Brooklynites) and the New York Yankees (originally a sobriquet for the unsophisticated and sometimes naive upstate New Yorkers--several theories on etymology; all derogatory). I don't know: do you suppose any Catholics, particularly of Hispanic origins, are offended by the San Diego Padres? And how about Notre Dame's Fighting Irish?

Obviously, some names are offensive, like the Redskins, and should be changed. Others, however, seem to me intended to honor certain groups, like the Blackhawks, or laudable qualities associated with those groups.

I am not settled on the issue, but neither am I ready to make blanket condemnations of all these team nicknames. As an Irishman I personally am not offended by either Notre Dame or the Boston Celtics (just the pronunciation--it is "hard"C, like a K); quite the opposite, in fact.

posted by billinnagoya at 06:14 PM on June 14

And how about Notre Dame's Fighting Irish?

To really compare with the offensive implications and simplistic stereotyping of "Fighting Sioux", wouldn't Notre Dame need to be called the "Drunken Irish"? Then how would you feel about it?

posted by tahoemoj at 06:41 PM on June 14

Obviously, some names are offensive, like the Redskins, and should be changed. Others, however, seem to me intended to honor certain groups, like the Blackhawks, or laudable qualities associated with those groups

As a proud alum of a school (FSU) that has a name intended to honor the Seminole Indian tribe, it is still a problem. First, the Seminoles are being lauded for having never been conquered, which is great. However, FSU's fight song includes words like "Scalp 'em" and there are organizations called "Scalphunters." Add in the fake Indian with the war paint that throws a flaming spear at football games, and it doesn't seem like such an honor anymore. That is the case despite the school's good intentions. Second, rival schools want to create offensive shirts that mock the Seminoles. Of course, they only mean to mock the school, but they are also mocking Seminoles (and Indians everywhere). The Seminole Indians don't deserve that kind of treatment.

posted by bperk at 06:46 PM on June 14

To really compare with the offensive implications and simplistic stereotyping of "Fighting Sioux", wouldn't Notre Dame need to be called the "Drunken Irish"? Then how would you feel about it?

You know, I am not convinced that the "Fighting Sioux" is indeed intended to be the sort of stereotypical slur that you are asserting. Of course, I could be wrong--but then again, you might be, as well.

More to my point, though, is that people will find offense where they wish to find it. In the end, therefore, it may be wisest to either abandon team nicknames and mascots altogether or to limit choices to some officially approved list plain vanilla list.

And, bperk, you have a point worth considering.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:11 PM on June 14

Off the top of my head . . .

Straight from the point, eh? Are you being obtuse or are that thick?

As an Irishman I personally am not offended by either Notre Dame or the Boston Celtics . . . quite the opposite, in fact.

BECAUSE IT'S THE OPPOSITE THING. In those cases people of that group got together and named the thing after themselves. Why do we have to have this conversation every time? These threads should come pre-stamped with, "Notre Dame Fighting Irish: NOT RELEVANT".

posted by yerfatma at 07:52 PM on June 14

Are you being obtuse or are that thick?


Take your pick. It must be one or the other.


Why do we have to have this conversation every time?


Have we had it before? Sorry I missed it. I'll try not to burden you again.

posted by billinnagoya at 08:12 PM on June 14

Central Michigan has been allowed to keep their Chippewa name by the neighboring Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation in exchange for not having any violent imagery associated with the name. You know, just as an aside.

posted by NoMich at 08:19 PM on June 14

In the end, therefore, it may be wisest to either abandon team nicknames and mascots altogether or to limit choices to some officially approved list plain vanilla list.

Seriously? Here's a list of more than 800 college team nicknames. Of those, fewer than 18 are deemed "hostile or abusive" by the NCAA (Louisiana-Monroe and Arkansas State have changed away from the Indians, and I can't be arsed to check on the non-Division I schools). That leaves a lot of possibilities. Your position is like saying that some people commit crimes, so we should all be in prison until we prove that we won't.

posted by Etrigan at 09:38 PM on June 14

More to my point, though, is that people will find offense where they wish to find it. In the end, therefore, it may be wisest to either abandon team nicknames and mascots altogether or to limit choices to some officially approved list plain vanilla list.

It was once pointed out to me (by a panelist at a journalism conference presentation on the subject of Native American sports mascots) that you can avoid a lot of problems by simply staying away from human beings as mascots. When you make a group of human beings into a mascot, it's pretty hard to avoid dehumanizing them to some degree (it's a mascot, get it?), with predictably broken results. This same panelist told an anecdote about a new high school had a meeting to discuss their new mascot. "White Knights" was proposed, and one of the female athletes said, "So what are we supposed to be -- the Damsels in Distress?"

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:15 PM on June 14

You know, I am not convinced that the "Fighting Sioux" is indeed intended to be the sort of stereotypical slur that you are asserting

Bingo.

posted by cixelsyd at 12:01 AM on June 15

Bingo.

More like "So what?" In the confines of your own head, your intentions are all that matter. In the big wide world where other people live, you also have to take some responsibility for the effects of your actions.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:54 AM on June 15

Intent isn't everything. One of the Sioux tribes of North Dakota doesn't want to be represented like that. The NCAA doesn't want to give any more postseason tournaments to schools that go against the wishes of local tribes. These are reasonable positions. UND can either change the nickname or live with the consequences.

posted by rcade at 09:20 AM on June 15

Central Michigan has been allowed to keep their Chippewa name by the neighboring Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation in exchange for not having any violent imagery associated with the name.

I came here to post just that. Central keeps a strong relationship with the Saginaw Chippewa tribe and has essentially squashed any offensive imagery/chants that could be associated with the nickname. The freaking logo is a Flying C*.

Which is something Demetri Martin made sure to make fun of us for when he came a couple years ago

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 09:33 AM on June 15

They still can't keep rival teams from using violent imagery to mock them though.

posted by bperk at 11:09 AM on June 15

I could be wrong--but then again, you might be, as well.

Makes no difference to me whether I am right or wrong (in this case). I agree with you 100% that "Fighting Sioux" was not intended to be a slur. We disagree on how it is received.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:11 AM on June 15

So now that the University of North Dakota is without a nickname, what are they to do? Perhaps the nickname lies in the initials of the institution - the UNDies. Each of their athletic teams could adopt a particular piece of apparel for its team nickname. For example, The Boxers, The Briefs, The Garter Belts, and so on. Naturally, the fans will continue to be The Athletic Supporters.

posted by Howard_T at 12:55 PM on June 15

UND: Nicknames are for the weak.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:30 PM on June 15

As one might expect, the historically black colleges appear to have a lower percentage of problematic team names.

Although there are a couple that may border on causing discomfort for the teams themselves, such as the Kentucky State Thorobreds / Thorobrettes.

posted by beaverboard at 03:42 PM on June 15

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