Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

If you are a Brave then move to North Carolina otherwise you are going to have to go shirtless

The NCAA reminds me of a vacuum.
It sucks the life out of college athletics.
I first came to that conclusion when I was still a young lad and Cleveland State got banned from postseason play for Manute Bol, who never even set foot on campus. While Kentucky, pre-Pitino at the time, running a well-known dirty program got a slap on the wrist.
And c'mon lets look at the shenanigans taking place the last few years in Columbus for “The” Ohio State University. If the same took place at say Ohio University, I think much harsher sanctions would take place.
My real problem with the organization is that it outs the sanctity of the student athlete while selling its soul for cold hard cash at any opportunity.
If Bowl games didn't rake in the cash, do you think for a second that their argument that playoffs would cause too many missed classes play would just dry up?
The NCAA won't let Colorado football player Jeremy Bloom keep his endorsement money from his Olympic skiing but allows players who sign large Major League baseball contracts to play college football.
And, while it sounds good to say there is a plan in place to punish schools whose players don't graduate, the plan makes no sense. The Ohio State hockey team's entire roster was on path to graduate, many with honors, then those who were drafted quit school to join the NHL minors. So if a team has its kids go to class and they leave to pursue a career. They are punished more harshly then those who don't even pretend to care if their linebacker is attending basket weaving 101.
And now the NCAA has banned hostile mascots from its tournaments. The NCAA's executive committee decided that while the organization did not have the authority to bar Indian mascots at individual schools, they could ban the iamges for their postseason tournaments.
Nicknames or mascots deemed "hostile or abusive" will not be allowed on team uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1, said Walter Harrison, the University of Hartford's president and the committee's chairman.
"What each institution decides to do is really its own business outside NCAA championship events,” Harrison has been quoted as saying. "What we are trying to say is that we find these mascots to be unacceptable for NCAA championship competition."
Well not for football, since there is no tournament for that. I mean really having the name Seminole appear in the College World Series is just wrong, but the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is an appropriate environment for the nickname.
And while I still don't understand what is so hostile about an Illni, a Ute or a Chippewa, this is the true hypocrisy.
North Carolina-Pembroke can still be the Braves because as NCAA president Myles Brand explained the school's student body has historically admitted a high percentage of American Indians and more than 20 percent of the students are American Indians.
So Braves is good to go at Pembroke but a terrible menacing problem at Alcorn State and Bradley.
So you are forced to be PC unless you are a fifth of what you are offending?
Do you think 20 percent of Notre Dame is Irish or does the name have to go to?
Florida State is already threatening to sue because they want to keep the nickname Seminole. The school's president T.K. Wetherell blasted the NCAA and threatened legal action on Friday, the Tampa Tribune reported.
"Florida State University is stunned at the complete lack of appreciation for cultural diversity shown by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's executive committee. ... That the NCAA would now label our close bond with the Seminole Tribe of Florida as culturally 'hostile and abusive' is both outrageous and insulting," Wetherell said Friday in a statement.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida passed a resolution in June supporting the school's use of the nickname and tribal images. Seminole tribes in other states have disagreed with the Florida group.
I am not saying this is an easy topic. It is a very American thing to criticize Australia for their treatment of aborigines and South America for destroying rain forests when 150 years ago we were completing Manifest Destiny.
As a country, we have a difficult past. A past that has allowed for a country now that has more freedom than any other country in any other time of the world. So I am not lightly brushing over whether Indian mascot names are offensive or not. Maybe it is wrong. We conquered many nations to make this land our country. Are we honoring them with our baseball and football nicknames or devaluing their culture?
Here in Cleveland, we are very tolerant of offending others with our mascot. Am I comfortable with an offensive caricature? No. Of course not. And that is why Slider is hugging the kids rather than Chief Wahoo. But I use the word Tribe freely? Is that offensive?
Many schools have dropped an Indian related name over the years. From my time living in Michigan, I know that many at Eastern Michigan are still upset about losing the Huron nickname.
Many schools that haven't say it is because they are honoring Native Americans.
Arkansas State University, whose teams are known as the Indians, believes that their use of the mascot is done with respect and the school's sports teams will continue to use it.
"It is our objective to represent Native Americans in a dignified and stately manner," ASU athletic director Dean Lee said. "We believe that our use of the nickname 'Indians' and 'The Indian Family' as our mascot affords the Native American customs and history the fullest respect and integrity."
You can't really say that about our baseball team nickname and mascot now can you.
But really what does it say when our nation's capitol's beloved football team is called the Redskins. I wonder how that sits at the United Nations every time we want sanctions against nations where one cultural group is oppressing another.
I am not here to settle the debate. I am not going to quit rooting for my team because I don't like the name. But when I wear a Cleveland cap I choose one without Chief Wahoo.
The real problem is the NCAA pretending to be the morality police. Do I think maybe that Southeastern Oklahoma should drop the Savages nickname. Yes but for the NCAA to legislate it for their tournaments, for me, is just another example of their hypocrisy.
If you believe something is wrong then ban it. Don't make up silly rules that you can enforce when you feel like it and not when you don't.