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Saturday, August 06, 2005

NCAA Bans Intelligence in Sports

By now, you must have heard that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the sanctioning body for inter-collegiate sports, has decided to ban certain team names, descriptions and logos from its events. The ban is aimed at schools whose traditional team names have been derived from American Indians (Native Americans). Which means that generations of students and alumni are now falling victim to the senseless epidemic of mindless political correctness that is sweeping America.

Mind you, I'm no sports fan. I could care less what a school calls its teams, much less how they brand them. I also have no issue with people who object to being portrayed in a demeaning fashion. In fact, I always wondered why it's taken so long for Native Americans to voice their dissatisfaction with the team name "redskins." As Al Franken noted decades ago, you never hear about the St. Louis Niggers or the Washington Kikes.

This issue is a tad different, though. Actually, a lot different. And it shows just how dumbed-down America has become, even at the college level.

To really understand the mindset behind this idiocy, you have to go to the source, particularly one Cindy La Marr, "former president of the National Indian Education Association and executive director of Capitol Area Indian Resources in Sacramento," according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times reports that Ms. La Marr is also on the steering committee of the "California-based Alliance Against Racial Mascots." Ms. La Marr is quite pleased with the NCAA's latest ruling, "A sports team creates a division because one team wins and one team loses."

Duh. Now there's a mystery solved. Who'd a thunk that the notion of sports, nay, the entire Darwinian concept of life as we know it is about competition? You know, where one wins and another loses?

Ms. La Marr's ill-conceived thought process wouldn't disturb me so much if it weren't nested in so many inconsistencies. For example, did you happen to notice about two paragraphs up, that BOTH of her organizations refer to the indigenous peoples as "Indians"? What happened to the "Native American" thing? Or does this political correctness only apply selectively?

Lest you think that La Marr is alone in her quest, California Assemblywoman (note that politically correct office title) Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles), echoes these sentiments, claiming "I'd prefer nicknames were not for living people. I prefer colors, flowers, animals, that's my own personal preference." Great. Then what happens when the Grizzly Bear Alliance sues the NCAA for promoting them incorrectly as a mean, aggressive species? Who will protect us from the Dandelion Anti-Defamation League?

Stupidity isn't the lone province of politicians any more. And before you get too worked up about it, let me just say that I have no beef with anyone expressing his (or her, to be politically correct) opinion. The problem I have is the rationale behind those opinions.

In the NCAA's case, its stupidity is revealed with their acceptance and approval of the team name "Aztecs", simply because Aztecs were native to Mexico, well outside of the NCAA's jurisdiction. Florida Seminoles, on the other hand, don't have it so easy. They're out. And to make things really weird, dig this: even with the Utes' tribal blessing, their name can't be used, either.

So what you've got is another White Man knowing what's best for everyone involved. Sort of a Manifest Destiny over the Sports page, where ivory tower simpletons make decisions based on bad information.

Finally, if anyone at the NCAA had been thinking, they would have studied their history to find out how the concept of team names originated. Just as the Green Bay Packers were named for the meat packing employees of whom they were composed, most -- if not all -- team names are given out of honor, not humiliation. When a college adopts the spirit and imagery of a noble American warrior, they typically are paying homage to Indians for several reasons:

1. Face it: There are no great, inspirational, tribal warriors who are white.
2. They are paying tribute the nobility and pride of their regions' local ancestry
3. There is, to be certain, a fair amount of regret and honor involved

When schools and colleges adopt tribal names, they're adopting all the good they hope to emulate from those tribes. Sadly, this is a country that decimated its native population. Yet what would the NCAA have its latter generations do? Erect a few obscure statues, hidden away in corners of the country? Why not keep the presence and spirit alive on national TV? Why not remember WHY these tribal names were admired and adopted, especially when its done with respect and the tribes' blessings?

Like life, this is a brand thing. It's the school. Its culture. Its heritage. And its choice. As America inevitably spirals downward into a gray morass of indistinguishability, the feeble-minded, politically correct will have their day. When that day comes, I sure know what I'm going to do:

I'm going to Notre Dame University, find a Fighting Irishman and buy him a drink.