Notes from Wonderland: No name is safe

Last week the Seattle Mariners banned T-shirts that read "Yankees Suck". A group of fans that have obvious disdain for the Yankees were told that they could not wear the shirts. There was no profanity, nothing objectionable, just the words, "Yankees Suck." Is it me or are people just getting waaaaaaay to sensitive.

Now I'm the first one to say we should be considerate of all people. Different ethnicities, races, religions, beliefs and sexual orientations should be shown respect. You may not like or agree or identify with some things, but respect should be shown. It's not like the shirts read, "Clemens is a @#$%&!!!". They did not slur any player or group, unless you think 25 overpaid, millionaire athletes shouldn't be slammed.

"This is about appropriate behavior," Mariners spokeswoman Rebecca Hale said. "We have a code of conduct, a policy for language on clothing and banners and signs. Our feeling was this was not promoting what we want."

Luckily I don't live in Seattle, but it got me thinking, if I can't wear a "Yankees Suck" T-shirt to Safeco Field, what's next? Can I no longer taunt former major leaguers at Sidewinder games? Will I be able to wear my ASUCKS shirt? Will Wilbur have to turn in his Sparky-on-a-noose gag?

I'm not sure any team names are safe.

For obvious reasons Native Americans object to the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians. I totally understand that. What I'm less clear about is why teams with names that reference Native Americans, but don't use the imagery, are also not liked. Get rid of the tomahawk logo and I don't see the problem with the Atlanta Braves. Why are the Chiefs offensive, but the Kings are okay? Aren't they essentially the same things? Is the term, "chief of police" offensive? The Marquette Warriors became the Golden Eagles because of concerns of offending Native Americans. My question is why? When is a Warrior just in reference to indigenous peoples? I would assume every culture in the history of mankind has had warriors. Just last season wasn't Michael Wright often described as, "a warrior"?

The funniest one to me is the case of San Diego State. Recently the student body was polled and 95% voted to keep the Aztec nickname. Despite that fact, a commitee has been organized to change the name because it may be offensive. Nevermind the Aztecs are no longer around to be offended!

I did a little digging and I realized that no Pac-10 mascot is safe from protests. While none may be as well organized or as justified as those who oppose "Redskins" or the smiling Chief Wahoo logo on the Cleveland caps, they could be even more damaging.

Our own Wildcats are at the center of a controversy. It seems that many mental health groups are upset at the use of "wild" because it denotes "crazy" to some. The same group that protested the XFL's Memphis Maniacs and the Arena League's Charlotte Rage is now sending letters of protest to Peter Likens as well as the presidents of Kentucky, Northwestern, Kansas State, Villanova and Davidson.

The school has considered officially changing the name to just "Cats" but also received pressure. Apparently many decency groups opposed "Cats" because it could be associated with "catting around" or being promiscuous. Anti-drug groups felt that it was too close a reference to "hep cats" and lingo used by 1950's beatniks who were notorious for their drug use. Although no official change has been announced, there is a movement to rename the Wildcats the "University of Arizona Arizonans".

For the obvious sexual innuendoes associated with their nicknames, USC and Oregon State have been picketed by decency groups. The Trojans considered reverting back to their original "Methodists" moniker, but anti-Christian groups protested. As of now, they are calling themselves the USC Athletes Clad In Maroon And Gold. Oregon State teams are expected to abandon the Beaver name in favor of just being the Oregon State Competitors.

ASU has come under fire from several different fronts. Religious groups are obviously against the Devil mascot. Several cancer foundations disprove of the Sun reference and a number of Fox, CBS and NBC investors have protested the use of a Walt Disney character as the mascot. Since the Wildcats beat them to the "Arizonans", ASU is considering the following names: "Zonies", "Tempeites", "Athletes" and "The Team With Helmets the Color of Old Nacho Cheese". Rumors that they'd succumb to pressure and call themselves the "Scummies" was false.

Washington will no longer be the Huskies. Many felt that the name was a slur against over weight people. Others felt that it was slanderous to unattractive people who have been labeled, "dogs", since many UW fans refer to the team as the "Dawgs". From here on out Washington athletic teams will be called the Precipitors.

Oregon came under fire because their mascot has no pants, and Ducks rhymes with a profanity. The teams have renamed themselves the Nikes and Phil Knight will just buy off anyone who dislikes it.

Cal is being harassed by several groups who disapprove of their use of a bear. Anti-Communist groups hate it, as do anti-capitalist who say it is a reference to a bear market. Anti-nudity groups feel that it refers to the word "bare" and have started a massive letter writing campaign. From here on out the Bears will be known as the UC-Berkeley, "Teams That Try Real Hard".

Stanford is in real trouble. Apparently the Catholic Church claimed they had the trademark on "Cardinal". When informed that it was in reference to a color, Crayola sued. Their tree logo has also come under fire from environmentalists who are upset that it is not planted. Stanford, which has already dropped the Indians nickname in the past, has decided to drop athletics so as not to offend anyone.

UCLA is feeling the heat. Three guys in Boston have protested against the use of Bruins, feeling that it belongs to their beloved hockey team. When informed that a Bruin is a bear, the Cal protesters double their efforts, including UCLA in their ire. One guy in rural Alabama felt that their colors were kind of "sissy" and complained. Instead of dealing with the pressure, the school decided to close permanently.

No one actually complained about Washington State. Seventeen people found the Cougars nickname to be boring and not particularly original. However, their school colors have come under fire. Anti-drunk driving groups pointed out that the Cougs' silver helmets were the same color as a Coors Light can and protested. Since the Cougars have both silver and scarlet helmets, they simply decided to go with the darker road bonnets and avoided any more conflict.

Other names under fire (reasons in parenthesis):
Texas Longhorns (not fair to cows with short horns)
Oklahoma Sooners (not fair to procrastinators)
Purdue Boilermakers/Miami Hurricanes (no alcohol references)
Ohio State Buckeyes (protesting the leaf logo, might be confused with drugs)
Oklahoma State/Wyoming Cowboys (gender biased)
Tennessee Volunteers (not fair to those who are court ordered to serve community service)
South Carolina Gamecocks (animial rights groups/decency groups)
Vanderbilt Comodores (peace activists protest military reference)
Arkansas Razorbacks (razor blades can be used as drug paraphenalia)
Syracuse Orangemen (discriminatory to those with too much beta carotene in their diet)
Viginia Cavaliers (unfair to people who are serious)
Duke Blue Devils/DePaul Blue Demons/Wake Forrest Demon Deacons (no satanic refferences)

Of course none of this really happened. But would it surprise you if it did? In this world where children go hungry, human rights are ignored and our country is at war, don't we have more important things to worry about than whether or not the NFL's Kansas City franchise's nickname is offensive? In a country where we are still dealing with racism, aren't their more pressing needs than protesting the "tomahawk chop"?

Maybe I'm just being UNDER sensitive.

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