I want that leprechaun put to sleep.
Do you hear me, NCAA? I don't want to see that darn leprechaun at Notre
Dame's games anymore. No more of that goofy green suit. No more of that
hokey hat. Most of all, no more of that offensive, insensitive, insulting,
As a proud Irish-American, I demand that you make the Fighting Irish of
Notre Dame get rid of that stupefying, stereotypical mascot of theirs. And
that little jig of his. And I mean pronto, if you'll excuse my use of Indian
Ladies and gentlemen of the NCAA, I implore you. Do that thing you do. Do
what you did Friday, when your executive committee announced that it no
longer would tolerate any "hostile and abusive racial/ethnic/national origin
mascots, nicknames or imagery."
A leprechaun is all that.
He is mischievous by nature. He is up to no good. He clearly is abusive.
Have you ever seen him treat Notre Dame's enemies with any kindness?
And what of that big, crooked stick in his hand? He doesn't carry that
cudgel because he is lame. It isn't a cane. A leprechaun doesn't limp. Look
at that little fool do his dance. He moves fine. No, a shillelagh looks like
a weapon to me. You wouldn't let a Seminole or an Illini walk around a
football stadium with a bow and arrow, would you?
I can guess what you are thinking. You're thinking an Irish-American is not
an oppressed minority. Or hasn't been one.
Well, you couldn't be more wrong. Irish immigrants were given a very bad
time in America when they first came here. They were treated as suspicious
foreigners. Their ancestry and accents were mocked. They were maligned as "Micks"
and stigmatized as brawling drunks.
Therefore, I would like you righteous brothers and sisters at the NCAA to
put an end to the degradation of this "Fighting Irish" slur once and for
all. A lot of us don't fight. I don't fight. Well, I did toss a guy out of a
bar in Greece last summer, but he was drunker than I was.
The NCAA has made a good start. The actions it took Friday gave notice to
the Bradley Braves and Central Michigan Chippewas and Utah Utes that they
had better take all of their Native American garb, arrowheads, weapons and
war paint and dump the whole pile into a Dumpster.
If these people want to host a postseason competition ever again, they will
have to abide by the NCAA's rules and lose the Indian theme.
You, noble warlords of the NCAA, are taking no prisoners. University of
North Dakota Fighting Sioux? What do you care if there are Sioux who don't
care? So what if there are remaining members of the Sioux tribe who are
honored by this legacy? Your edict has come down. You have spoken. The next
time North Dakota plays for a national championship, its mascot had better
be Buffalo Bill.
OK, so a lot of us happen to believe that tribal names are not unto
themselves offensive. Illini, Seminole, Chippewa, Choctaw … these don't seem
so bad to us. They have history and dignity. We have entire states named for
Indian tribes, for heaven's sake. What do you think the word "Illinois" is,
anyway … French? Its origin is Algonquin.
What some of us do resent is the way Caucasians paint their faces red and
wear buckskin and feathers and go hey-yo-yo-yo and woo-woo-woo. It doesn't
matter if there are some Indians who take no umbrage at this, not
until you have taken a vote from every last one of them in this land that
their ancestors founded.
Jimmy Carter was as humane and decent a president as this nation has had in
this last half-century. So it was appalling to see him at Atlanta Braves
baseball games, chanting and chopping a make-believe tomahawk. There are
ways to support a favorite team without making a mockery of an entire
culture and race.
Somebody should take those Cleveland Indians caps with the grinning
red-faced Indian and fling them into Ohio's largest incinerator. Somebody
should go up to an African-American athlete on the Washington Redskins and
ask him how he would like it if his team were known as the Washington … uh,
I don't mind a team being called the Irish, I really don't. I take pride in
my heritage. I wish we could live in a world in which a university's teams
could be called the Fighting Italians, the Fighting Mexicans, the Fighting
Japanese or the Fighting Germans.
Yet if we get rid of some, mustn't we get rid of all? Can a school really
get away with calling itself the Fighting Irish in the wake of this NCAA
posse's vigilant PC crackdown? Doesn't this scurrilous nickname need to go?
Isn't it time for the leprechaun to sleep with the fishes?
We have come to a seminal moment in the history of America's collegiate
athletics, and I do not mean the team names at Florida State.