October 14, 2006

Don't go to hostile U. of Illinois

Mascot Flap Leads Illinois Professors to Urge Sports Recruits to Stay AwayDon’t come to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That is the message 14 Illinois faculty members are sending to some of the university’s athletics recruits because of a controversy over Chief Illiniwek, the Illinois mascot that some people feel is hostile to American Indians.

Led by Stephen J. Kaufman, an emeritus professor of cell and developmental biology and a longtime critic of the university’s use of an American Indian mascot, the faculty members wrote letters to prospects advising them to “think twice about whether the university is a good environment for you to further your education and athletic career” because of the chief, according to today’s Chicago Tribune.


Not a Sioux said...

This is a little bit related. I was wondering if the NFL Kansas City Chiefs remain encumbered by stereotype issues? I checked their mascot, and it is a generic guy in a giant animal suit that looked like a refugee from Chuck-e-Cheez. I found reference to their "Sacred Ground End Zone", but could not find too much information on it which implies to me that this has faded as well. What's the story? Are the Chiefs now that much different from the Washington R******s?

Rob said...

From what I've seen, activists are most concerned about the worst cases: the Redskins name, the Chief Wahoo and Illiniwek mascots, the Braves' tomahawk chop. Which only makes sense.

Since the Chiefs don't use a stereotypical Indian figure, they're not a high priority. The Chiefs name and arrowhead logo are somewhat stereotypical, but they're but they're not especially offensive.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Is this post mis-titled? The Profs were saying to athletic recruits, 'stay away', but not saying that to Native students. At least, that's the way it reads to me.
Years before, I visited the town of Champaign, IL, but I don't remember ever going on campus. I certainly don't recall seeing any billboards or other representations of their mascot.
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

I think you're right about the title. I'll change it.

Not a Sioux said...

If all it is is a name (and not a particularly bad one) and an arrowhead, I don't see a problem with the KC Chiefs either. When I see them, I think more of cooks than Natives anyway, due to an amusing TV commercial a while ago in which someone mis-painted their name in the end zone as "CHEFS".

I certainly see no problem what so ever with a team using the name "WARRIORS" as well (as long as there are not nasty mascot problems). The term "Warrior" to me brings to mind many different things, including the Zulus fighting the British, the ancient Spartans, and Klingons.

Rob said...

As I said, "Chiefs" is still somewhat stereotypical. See The Big Chief for my explanation of why.

"Warriors" shouldn't be a problem if there's no Indian image associated with it. If people complain about "Warriors" in the abstract, they're being a bit oversensitive.

Not a Sioux said...

I still think that the name "Chiefs", shorn of the image of the "Big Chief" well described on your page (as well as having other stereotype trappings removed) should come in very low on the problem sports name/mascot problem list. I think I agree now, though, that the arrowhead should go.

I have no idea what the Golden State Warriors had in the past as a mascot, but now they have a generic lightning-themed superhero.

I'm all for using as team names (and mascots) such creations as Klingons, Aiel, Jedi, Borg, and Sleestak... once the proper licensing fees were paid of course.

Unknown said...

I'm white and I would not have a problem if there was a team called the Washington Whity's, or the St. Louis Spooks. I get so sick of hearing other ethnic groups bawling and crying, saying we are slinging their race in the mud. I'm a big K.C. Chief fan. So are my "Indian"....oh, I'm sorry..."Native American" friends. Where I live, the percentage of Indians are high. There are 2 schools within 30 miles of each other and their mascot is the Indian. The Indians in this area are PROUD of their team, and no, the majority of the team are NOT Indians. The team is just damn good. I guess here in southwest Missouri, we have better things to do than sitting around pouting over something so stupid and frivolous. If this keeps up, I as a white-man, DEMAND to be called Mutt-American or Hines 57-American. Heck....even Caucasion-American. I want one of those fancy ethnic names too since every other ethnic group is getting one.

Rob said...

That's funny, Roger...I get sick of hearing white people like you whining and crying over minorities sticking up for their rights. I guess you have nothing better to do than sit around pouting over your stupid and frivolous--not to mention stereotypical and racist--mascots.

See Rob the Presumptuous White Man? for a further response to your arguments.