After several weeks at St. Cloud State University, if you haven't been to a hockey game yet, you aren't getting out enough. Several weeks ago the SCSU Huskies welcomed the Wisconsin Badgers to campus. The following week they took on their arch-enemies, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. They've since played games against the Colorado College Tigers. But if you travel to St. Cloud this weekend for a little bit of hockey, the opponent will be the University of North Dakota.
And that's it.
No nickname. Where "Gophers" read on the scoreboard scant weeks ago, "N. Dakota" will be instead. What kind of school is this, that shuns having a fierce and proud name to be known as? As it turns out, there isn't one. Peering at the ice, you'll see a picture of a proud Indian warrior on the jersey - designed by a Native American - with the name "SIOUX" above in bright bold letters.
Roy Saigo, the president of St. Cloud State, has led the charge in shunning North Dakota because of their chosen team name. Never mind that the school has shown nothing but the ultimate respect to the Sioux Nation. The NCAA has determined that the "Fighting Sioux" moniker is "hostile and abusive."
What is "hostile and abusive" about a nickname? Why exactly was this name chosen in the first place? You don't see teams named the "Fighting Frenchmen" or the "Fighting Italians." Why? It's because those names seem somewhat humorous - they don't evoke any kind of fear in the opponent. The "Fighting Sioux" evokes the warrior spirit of the Sioux people. It represents a favorable aspect of Sioux culture that the University of North Dakota seeks to emulate in their athletic teams. When the US Cavalry came to take their land, the Sioux fought valiantly and bravely, to the last man, even when outnumbered and outgunned. It is that type of brave spirit that North Dakota honors by name its team after the Sioux.
This is "hostile and abusive?" To some degree, it's actually "hostile and abusive" to the Sioux to deny the University the ability to use the nickname. It says that the name itself is inappropriate to be used to represent that fighting spirit. Would they rather be the "Docile Sioux?"
And where does this stop? Let's look around. The Irish might have a problem with Notre Dame's "Fighting Irish." Greeks will surely complain about the USC Trojans. Even in Roy Saigo's backyard can trouble be found - overweight individuals will easily feel slighted by the St. Cloud State Huskies. Next thing you know, animal rights groups will feel that teams like the Tigers and the Badgers are being "hostile and abusive" to animals.
It's already starting elsewhere. Groups are calling for the University of Miami to change their name from the "Hurricanes." There's almost no more appropriate name for Miami - a hurricane is an especially mighty force, as anyone who has ever experienced one can attest to. Given its location, the name fits. But no, the PC police are paying a visit to the Sunshine State just as they continue to harass North Dakota.
School nicknames are chosen for a number of reasons. My alma mater are the "Engineers." Not terribly frightening, but engineering is a prominent major at the school. But is that "hostile and abusive" to non-engineers (like myself)? Of course not!
If we are to ultimately satisfy every possible request from the PC police, we'll have to abolish nicknames completely. Then, to be fair, every team color will have to be the same - say, yellow - and every player should get to play. To improve player self-esteem, every player will be given number 1. And why bother keeping score? Losing is depressing. If no one wins, then no one can lose.
This is the logical route the NCAA is going down by continuing to interfere with non-athletic issues like what a school decides to call its team. Bickering over it is even worse, because it takes away from the athletic competition. In St. Cloud this weekend, while the players are giving their all on the ice, there will undoubtedly be several people outside the arena protesting the NAME. St. Cloud State does not honor the Sioux by deciding to pretend that the nickname does not exist. Indeed, they do a distinct dishonor.