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Names have meaning??You bet/Paul Peterson

August 14, 2012
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

The names of a sports team shouldn't be an issue, but in the ultra-politically correct times we live in today, they certainly are.

Take the mess they have had with the Fighting Sioux logo at the University of North Dakota in recent years.

It's been nothing short of a political football in the state for seven years, with legislators getting involved in something they had no business poking into.

Never mind that at least one branch of the Sioux tribe gave its blessing to use the name. Politicans, apparently with nothing better to do, had the issue put on a referendum and voters went along with the ban.

The North Dakota hockey team, which had long used the Sioux logo, was forced to remove the emblem from their unforms in last year's playoffs.

And UND's Ralph Engelstad Arena - perhaps the Taj Mahal of college hockey stadiums - will be forced to remove many of the numerous logos there.

The same has happened at numerous universities that had used American Indian names for their athletic teams for decades.

The Stanford Indians became the Stanford Cardinal (with a tree as an emblem) a few years ago. That was certainly one of the most ludicrous changes ever adopted at a college.

Marquette University long ago caved in to pressure - dropping the Warriors nickname for Golden Eagles. It didn't matter that Warriors was nowhere close to Indians, Redskins or Braves when it comes to racial profiling.

A number of older Marquette alumni were so incensed by the change that they formed a group called the Marquette Warriors Society that still refers to their teams under the former name.

But if you think that team name controversies are restricted to colleges, you're wrong.

Even in the Copper Country, there have been disagreements about the topic.

Take the case at Lake Linden-Hubbell back in the mid-1970s. The teams there had long been called the Whiz Kids until some members of the local media began referring to the as the Lakes.

When longtime LL-H fans started seeing their team called the Lakes in Daily Mining Gazette newspaper articles, they became angry and demanded the Whiz Kids name be restored.

Believe it or not, there were even subtle threats of a lawsuit being filed to restore the name. Thank goodness I wasn't doing sports in those days, being a news reporter at the time.

As I recall, the dispute eventually simmered down when it was pointed out by paper spokesmen that Lake Linden wasn't the only local school to have its nickname changed.

Dollar Bay, once known as the Blue Bolts, had long been shortened to Bays without much dispute.

Today, the schools sports teams are simply known as the Lakes and Bays.

When Ontonagon and Mass school districts consolidated after the 1967-68 season, there was a minor dispute on whether the school sports team should be known as the Polar Bears (Ontonagon's name) or the Rockets (the Mass name).

After some long discussions, it was finally decided to use the name Gladiators. It was a compromise of sorts.

Or how about the recent name of the Gogebic Miners picked to describe the football team comprised of students from the Bessemer, Wakefield and Marenisco school districts?

Personally, I think they should have gone with the B-M-W Speed Boys, a nickname with all sorts of connotations in the racing world.



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