Friday, November 11, 2005

FIGHTING ILLINI

The NCAA today ruled that the University of Illinois could keep the names "Illini" and "Fighting Illini," since these names are derived from the name of the state. However, the NCAA also ruled that Chief Illiniwek, as well as the Indian head logo were "abusive and hostile" to Indians. This means that all Illini teams would be barred from post-season competition as of February 2006. As a point of order, they said "Native Americans," but I find this term to be ridiculous and refuse to use it. The NCAA is quoted as saying:

"The NCAA staff review committee found no new information relative to the mascot known as Chief Illiniwek or the logo mark used by some athletics teams that depicts a Native American in feathered headdress, to remove the university from the list," said Bernard Franklin, the NCAA's senior vice president for governance and membership.

I have two degrees from Illinois. L has two degrees from Illinois. We are pretty active with alumni associations, etc. I went to the Final Four game against Louisville. I have a winter hat with the Indian head logo on it. I generally think the U of I has never gotten a very good deal from the half-assed NCAA. All that being said, this is probably not a terrible outcome. Chief Illiniwek was not that big a deal when I was an undergraduate, until the protests started. He is a dork in a costume. Let him go.

The Indian head logo is a little more problematic. It is not a caricature. A caricature is:

car·i·ca·ture
n.

A representation, especially pictorial or literary, in which the subject's distinctive features or peculiarities are deliberately exaggerated to produce a comic or grotesque effect.
The art of creating such representations.
A grotesque imitation or misrepresentation: The trial was a caricature of justice.

tr.v. car·i·ca·tured, car·i·ca·tur·ing, car·i·ca·tures
To represent or imitate in an exaggerated, distorted manner.

Chief Wahoo is a caricature. It is hard for me to believe that the logo reflects any stereotype. That being said, this issue has been around too damned long and the logo can be replaced. In fact, the orange Block I has already largely replaced it, and they will never stamp out all of the unlicensed merchandise with the logo.

I think the Trustees should call it a day, get rid of the Chief, get rid of the logo, participate in NCAA post-season events, and blame the NCAA for the whole thing. Let us never speak of this again.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Pat said...

I will say that I thought Chief Illiniwek was a pretty old-school stereotype on my first impression, but apparently he's sanctioned by the Illini tribe and does traditional dance or something ... you could probably speak to that better than me.

Besides, my NU Apostrophe Cats are going to crush you guys next weekend, just as it should be.

1:41 PM  
Blogger David said...

The Illini were all killed before the French were established in the area. I believe that the Iriquous got them. In any case, the kid dancing around has caused more trouble than its worth.

Unlike so-called Northwestern, we were in the NCAA Final FOur last year and this stupid issue came up. We have a Nobel winner (or two, I can't remember) last year or the year before and this came up. Enough.

Go Illini, and Pat, don't talk too much smack unless you can get Evan Eschemayer to come back for a game...

4:12 PM  

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