Marquette’s Mascot Symbolizes Its Ideal
|My wife hates this mug. I’ve had it for over ten years, and it’s been the workplace mug. You know the one, the one that gets rinsed out some days, but some days that step’s overlooked. As a result, the inside bears the stain of thousands of cups of coffee. The outside’s fading, too, and some of the images are flaking off. But I won’t replace it this year.
I graduated from Marquette in 1994, the last year that Marquette used the Warriors as a mascot. The leaders at Marquette felt that Warriors was demeaning to Native Americans; just remember that when you call a Native American a warrior, it’s like calling a black person a, well, one of those names. Or so the leadership of Marquette thought.
So in 1994, Marquette’s mascot changed to the Golden Eagles. Because eagles don’t sue, I guess. The move angered a number of alumni and certainly didn’t impress the students. The controversy had percolated for a number of years, including polls among the students for new names (somehow, suggestions such as Jumpin’ Jesuits and Fighting Octopi didn’t make the student poll, and the most innocuous mascots did).
So I’ve held onto this cup, and a t-shirt that no longer fits, because it had the image and mascot which I associated with Marquette. Now that the university has put on a show of considering a new mascot, including a return to the Warriors, it has come up with something more abstract and more inane than Golden Eagles:
I guess it is important that your mascot symbolize and make concrete your ideals. Once, it was tenaciousness, hardiness, and other admirable traits. Then it was, what, freedom? Flight? Now, it’s just….gold.
I even wrote a column for the Marquette Tribune in 1992 defending the Warrior:
- Through These Eyes #6: The Great Mascot Controversy
In the interest of saving the university some money, I would like to make my contribution to the “Name the Mascot” competition. There’s no need for them to go throwing away money to a private consultant, even though I realize they just stuck us for ten percent more for just such academic emergencies. Let that much-needed cash go to making some dean’s office more competitively decorated like that of other schools.
Okay, the Native Americans got a little bent out of shape that the university used an image of a Native American for a while there. I know what great strain and emotional upset some of them must have gone through attending basketball games and seeing the mascot, even if it was a descendent of the original Native Americans. This great debate is not limited strictly to the campus. All over the country, groups of Native American are protesting the use of their heritage on athletic teams. I mean, I can understand. I abhor the New York Yankees. How dare they?
So now the university needs a new, non-offensive mascot. Something that can be identified with the Warrior. I humbly submit the following.
How about a white man dressed in skins carrying a club? Think about it, a nice barbarian figure for our sporting events. No, wait. That might be deemed too something-ist for our school if we featured a White European Male mascot like that. Besides, it is not a sort of figure easily identifiable with a Warrior. We’d hate to be mistaken for the Marquette Neanderthals.
Okay, idea two. A nice knight figure. In armor. A chivalrous warrior. No, wait. That’s still a European figure. Besides, some Arabic or Islamic groups might get angry because every few years a bunch of these guys would get together and try to take over the Middle East, or select parts thereof.
Okay, check this out. An African tribesman. With a spear and paint. No, can’t do that. The African Americans would have the same objections as the Native Americans.
Well, how about a samurai in his battle robe and armor, helmet adorned with ox horns, quiver, gold-studded sword, his ancestral crest, the whole bit? Maybe a neat little pseudo-seppuku when the sports team is down? Oh, there’s that blasted heritage argument again.
How about that lone American warrior, the cowboy? Why not, Rick Fields classifies that historical figure as a warrior in his book The Code of the Warrior. Since I’m running low on ideas, why not? A six-gun and ten gallon hat, idealizing the American spirit of independence and swift justice. Uh-oh, wait a minute. Cowboys tended to shoot Native Americans, didn’t they? Maybe this version of our mascot wouldn’t placate them so well….
I have to admit, I’m getting a little frustrated here. When I think of a Warrior from history, I tend to think in terms of different heritages like that, and that’s already proven to be taboo. Either the Warrior was the member of a distinct ethnic group that can and will be offended, and/or they killed people of an offendable group.
I mean, that’s the way I see it. Of course, that is ignoring the common denominator among all Warriors, which is some sort of hardiness and bravery, a willingness to risk their very lives in pursuit of what they thought was right, the skills of life and death intertwined into a person who would kill or die for honor and justice. The Native American Warrior did this. Maybe having a brave as our mascot is not so much a way of spitting on a race of man and saying “Nyah nyah, you injun,” as it is a way of showing respect for a gallant breed of our species and the finest their culture produced.
Or, I guess we could have Patty Smythe mousse up her hair and paint her face up and start singing, “Shooting out the walls of heartache, bang-bang…” But that might get a bit expensive.
Sorry, honey, the mug will go on for at least another decade. But I won’t make you wash it.