The Debate Regarding the Use of Native American Mascots Essay

1353 Words 6 Pages
Teams in every sport, at every level of competition, have a mascot. It is the mascot that represents the competitive spirit and team identity, motivating players and fans alike. Does the symbol chosen as a mascot have any impact on whether a team wins or loses? Unlikely. But the choice of a Native American mascot continues to ignite debate and controversy among athletes, fans and alumni, as well as those people who might otherwise be disinterested in sports. Why all the controversy?

The dispute over whether Native American mascots should be used as a team symbol dates back to the 1970’s (Price 2). There are those who are passionately against Native American mascots. These advocators insist that Native American mascots are degrading to
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Thus, it seems odd to suggest that naming a team after an Indian tribe is a calculated insult. A team or school embraces a mascot that represents the favorable traits and characteristics of its members. Such is the case with the Florida State Seminoles, who are named after a tribe with its origin in that southern state. The Seminole tribe optimistically favored the use of the Indian mascot and even facilitated the design of authentic dress that is proudly worn at sporting and community events. Similar to the Seminoles, the University of Illinois preserved their mascot, Chief Illiniwek, for almost 80 years. Named after the indigenous Illiniwek tribe, the Chief was a customary sideline figure at football and basketball games until 2007 when the NCAA forced the University of Illinois to remove this historic mascot. Unfortunately, the collegiate governing body failed to realize what this symbol meant to the collegiate Illinois community. Illini students were polled regarding the action and a majority disapproved of the decision. Sixty-nine percent of the students voted to keep Chief Illiniwek as their mascot. (Haugh). These students believed that removing Chief Illiniwek as the University of Illinois’ mascot would diminish the passion associated with their university. After the forceful removal of the Native American mascot by the NCAA, the students felt
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