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September 30, 2004

Schools Change Mascots For Reasons Of Sensitivity And Marketability

FROM THE ONGOING STRUGGLE TO OFFEND THE LOWEST NUMBER OF PEOPLE come the latest reports of college team name and mascot changes designed to mitigate the animosity of ethnic, racial, gender and religious groups, as well as sexual preference, animal rights, ecology and vegan factions.

In weeks past we’ve heard about Chief Illiniwek, the stomping, hooting Indian chief who has attracted the wrath of Native American groups. We’ve heard about the consolidation of the Syracuse nickname to “The Orange,” partially because “Orangewomen” was a mouthful. We’ve heard about Bradley University’s difficulty with its “Braves” nickname, ostensibly because it is derogatory to Native Americans (even though the word "Braves" is about as generic and ethno-neuter as they come).

Now we hear that the University of Missouri at St. Louis (UMSL) is seeking a new name to replace the supposedly cumbersome Rivermen / Riverwomen.

Apparently some of the UMSL female athletes have “grown uncomfortable” with Riverwomen, a name handed them by the sports press.

Among the new names being considered: Red Wave, River Dragons, River Eagles and River Pilots.

We know you’re on the edge of your seats; we’ll keep you posted.


Other team names / mascots in flux:

Alcorn State U: Cultural sensitivity has accumulated adequately to cause the school’s icon--“old bravehead” (based on the old Indian-head nickel)—to be given the heave-ho. Tyrone Broxton, the school’s SID, conjectures that the new team name will likely be a “creature of some kind." Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

Southeast Missouri State U: Like many a school before them, they abandoned an Indian name in favor of a feathered predator, the Redhawks. A new costumed bird mascot will take over and the old Indian logo is being retired.

City College of New York: An industrious and intelligent rodent--more than 70 years old--Benny the Beaver was judged to be ineffective and outdated. So, the beaver is being replaced with a spiky-haired redesign, a “fierce” beaver.

University of Texas: The current mascot, Bevo XIII, a real live longhorn, was growing long in the horn, er, tooth. The 20-year-old steer is ready to start collecting his retirement hay. Says one of his handlers, "He's less feisty. He lies down a lot of the time." Enter the heir apparent, Bevo XIV, a 2-year-old previously known as Sunrise Studly. This is no girly bull, Ahnold.


More later.

(this 384 word excerpt—with accompanying commentary and lame tidbits of humor—was distilled from a 717 word article from the Chronicle of Higher Education of 10-1-04 and a 362 word article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of 9-21-04)