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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, June 15, 2000

Taking the (nick)name
game too far

NO one wants to be figuratively caught with their pants down in this age of political or gender correctness.

Especially in the world of sports.

That's why so many colleges have changed their teams' nicknames, despite years of long-standing tradition and protests from the alumni.

It's no longer the Stanford Indians or the Dartmouth Indians. Bad form. How insulting to Native Americans.

That's why even St. John's had to switch rather than fight. The school's team used to be called the Redmen, although it originally had to do with the color of the uniforms, not the color of the players' skin.

So the team's now known as the Red Storm. At least it's not as blah as Dartmouth's new makeover monicker - the Big Green.

Stanford's now the Cardinal, as in color, though Cal students still think their Bay Area rival is for the birds anyway.

Some schools have circled the wagons and resisted change: Bradley Braves, Florida State Seminoles with their mascot and tomahawk chop, Central Michigan Chippewas and Illinois' Fighting Illini.

Nearly a dozen colleges still retain Indians as their nicknames, including two recent University of Hawaii football opponents - Arkansas State and Northeast Louisiana, now known as Louisiana-Monroe.

That's not counting a number of schools nicknamed Red Raiders - Colgate and Texas Tech among them.

INTERESTINGLY, for political correctness, Iolani School has dropped the "Red" from Red Raiders, calling its athletic teams simply Raiders.

Kauai and Kahuku High School, however, have stuck with Red Raiders.

Somehow, professional teams can get away with it. We still have the Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Braves despite all the protests they've received.

Still, you have to wonder why the Cajun population isn't upset with Louisiana-Lafayette's nickname, the Ragin' Cajuns. Or the Irish upset at Notre Dame for calling its team, the Fighting Irish.

Which, by the way, would be insulting to Notre Dame's coeds to be called that, wouldn't you think?

It's as inappropriate a nickname as the one that the University of San Francisco pinned on its women teams - the Lady Dons. Isn't a don a guy?

Maybe that's why Vassar doesn't even have a nickname.

ANYWAY, you might be wondering, what's the big deal about school nicknames and political or gender correctness?

Shouldn't I be commenting about John Rocker's recall or the struggling L.A. Lakers or something?

Well, it's because of an item I ran across in one of my new favored-status Web sites --

Colleges have had to change their nicknames to be politically correct. But, now, for the first time, in my recollection, a college has to change its NAME, not nickname, for the sake of being socially correct.

Beaver College in Philadelphia is changing its name because computer software designed to filter our sexually explicit sites is stopping people, especially potential applicants, from reaching its Web site.

Officials at the Pennsylvania college are also tired of jokes about the name which has a vulgar sexual connotation to the female anatomy. And the college has been the butt of television's David Letterman.

A committee will now work to find a new name for the college. The school's nickname -- Scarlet Knights -- wasn't the problem, for a change.

All I know is Oregon State fans should start worrying.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

E-mail to Sports Editor

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