Back to the Future

So I read in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Marquette University might return to the Warriors as its mascot:

A $2 million gift isn’t tempting enough to get Marquette University to change its nickname back to Warriors, but the fact that an important alumnus asked for the change during a public event is forcing the university to think about it.

Wayne Sanders, the vice chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, said at the end of the commencement address to Marquette graduates Sunday that he and another, unnamed trustee each would give $1 million to Marquette for the switch from Golden Eagles to Warriors.

School officials declined the money Monday, but they said that in coming weeks, the board will consider formally revisiting the decade-long debate.

Jeez, I feel old. A decade-long debate. Here’s what I wrote in the Marquette Tribune in 1993(?) in my column “Through These Eyes”:

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.

(Pssst. Want a bit of irony? The Marquette Tribune had four rotating columnist of varying political viewpoints–Right, Right to Center, Center to Left, and Left. I was Center to Left–less a tribute to the “right wing” nature of the Marquette campus (as a Jesuit university) and more to the preconceived notion of what long hair meant. A mullet. You got something to say about it?)