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Dave Reardon

Evening QB

By Dave Reardon

Monday, July 10, 2000

Better fights to pick
than UH mascot

LET'S see if we've got this totally correct -- politically correct, that is:

The University of Hawaii football team wants to be called Warriors, but under pressure from a few people with some Hawaiian ancestry, it is shelving its mascot of 10 years, who is a representation of -- surprise, surprise, surprise -- a Warrior.

OK, so maybe the fake-muscled mascot is a not-so-talented Mr. Rippley. Up close he looks like he'd fly around the stadium like a deflating balloon if you poked one of his plastic pecs with a pin.

But that's no reason to threaten him with bodily harm, even if his body is bogus.

Last fall, the Warrior was pulled off the field because of an anonymous threat, so the UH athletic department is doing the only logical thing in continuing to hold him out.

The really stupid thing is that someone, or some group, decided to make this an issue in the first place, and then some Hawaiian activists decided to ride it for all it's worth -- and more.

Well, their point is lost on me. I don't feel degraded that a football team's mascot is a caricature representing some of my ancestors' warrior history. And it doesn't bother me that another part of my ancestry is depicted by a team called the Fighting Irish.

What I do find demeaning as a Hawaiian is that someone would assume to speak for all of us in even thinking a school's mascot is important in the overall scheme of things.

One reason many Hawaiians lack respect for the so-called leadership of Haunani Kay Trask and other activists like former ASUH president Piilani Smith is that their passion and energies often seem misguided.

What's next? A ban on blowing conch shells in the stadium?

Maybe Trask and Smith should have directed the attention they put toward the mascot issue on other more important ones, such as why Hawaiians fill up hospital beds and prison cells at a higher percentage than any other ethnicity in the Islands.

THE Warrior mascot, which received approval from Hawaiian groups before its unveiling, has been around for 10 years. Why did it take so long for the uproar? Could it be because the success of last year's football team gave the activists a big stage to exploit?

Too much of the Hawaiian movement is about semantics and symbolism, posturing and politics.

Most people I know, of Hawaiian ancestry or not, don't care if UH has a mascot. They're too busy working and raising their families, living their lives.

If they are sports fans, they're much more interested in who is going to play quarterback and if the football team can make it to a bowl game again. They do, however, resent a small group of disgruntled people dictating something for everyone.

Imagine vegetarians demanding that no hot dogs be sold at the concession stands. Most people would be pretty upset, even if they don't like hot dogs all that much.

I guess we're supposed to be grateful. I was feeling really bad about being Hawaiian, and that horrible mascot made me feel even worse. Thank you, Ms. Trask and Ms. Smith, for erasing the source of my shame.

So what huge victory was accomplished here for Hawaiians?

None that I can think of.

I guess the real winner is the coward who anonymously threatened to harm the mascot. Wow, what a tough guy.

Real warriors know that you only go to battle over much more important things.

Dave Reardon, who covered sports in Hawaii from 1977 to 1998,
moved to the the Gainesville Sun, then returned to
the Star-Bulletin in Jan. 2000.

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