When the Nittany Lions take the field to play the Fighting Illini on Saturday night, they may be doing so the final time.
No, the series is not ending. Neither team is leaving the Big Ten.
I’ll tell you why. It’s because the political correctness extortion squad at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) headquarters has decried that the University of Illinois is one of 18 universities that must change the name of their mascot due to its perceived offensiveness to the people inhabiting the North American continent when Christopher Columbus arrived and called them “Indians” over 500 years ago.
Extortion? Yes, that’s what it is. The NCAA will not allow the “offending” universities to engage in post-season play unless they change their nicknames. Of course, this will hit these schools where it hurts the most—right in the wallet.
Modern day political correctness strictures, widely adopted by the PC mainstream media, dictate that we now employ the non-Columbian term “Native American” instead of “Indian.” Hey, didn’t these injuns migrate to the Americas from Siberia via the ancient land bridge across what is now called the Bering Straits? So, then, why aren’t we supposed to call them Native Siberians?.
Moreover, we are exhorted to avoid all references to the warlike nature that marked the past of some of these Native Siberian tribes. However, even if we can avoid lionizing their bellicosity, the overly sensitive NCAA political correctness police apparently consider a mere reference to the name of a tribe as an affront.
The Florida State Seminoles successfully appealed the NCAA’s ruling about their nickname. So did the Utah Utes and the Central Michigan Chippewas. The NCAA’s rationale for making exceptions in their cases was that the tribes involved considered the use of their names to be an honor for their proud people, rather than a slur.
Illinois is appealing, too. Their chances of succeeding might be lessened by their use of not only a tribal reference, but also a trigger word that alludes to the days of tomahawks, scalps, and castrations. They’re not just the Illini. They’re the Fighting Illini. But what the hell are Illini, anyway?
The Illini were original inhabitants of modern-day Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa, but they were nearly wiped out in a catastrophic war in the 1700′s, and the survivors were forced to move to Kansas and then to Oklahoma. The modern Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma is made up of original Illinois Indians.
The name Illini, then, honors a bygone tribe. The “fighting” notion, in this Turkey’s opinion, honors the spirit that enabled the remnants of the tribe to survive the great 18th Century war.
What is really offensive to me is that this bunch of supercilious blow-hards at NCAA headquarters issued its blanket extortion edicts without considering individual cases or consulting the tribes involved. (Of course, in the case of the Illini, they could not have done so, because there is no longer an Illini tribe.) They sit in their leather chairs, pronounce the universities with long-standing nicknames guilty of political correctness atrocities, and then let the pieces fall as they may. Meanwhile, the universities are guilty until proven innocent. I have to wonder how many Native Siberians sit on the NCAA’s political correctness police squad and how many would approve of justice by edict?
The NCAA can blackmail the University of Illinois if it wants, but it is going way too far. I hope that the university administration fights this edict tooth and nail. The name of the state, which similarly honors the exiled tribe that once inhabited it, is sure as hell not going to change and I can only hope that the great tradition of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini will not change, either. After all, why is it OK for Notre Dame to be the Fighting Irish while it is not OK for Illinois to be the Fighting Illini?
I guess it must be because Notre Dame is in the state of Indiana.