Nickname doesn’t make UNDOver the past few months I’ve heard plenty of foolish statements out of some politicians’ mouths regarding the never-ending Fighting Sioux nickname debacle, but I came across a comment the other day that hit the nail on the head.
Over the past few months I’ve heard plenty of foolish statements out of some politicians’ mouths regarding the never-ending Fighting Sioux nickname debacle, but I came across a comment the other day that hit the nail on the head.
In reference to the repeal of the most recent attempt to crucify the UND athletic program, Democratic Sen. Mac Schneider of Grand Forks, and former UND offensive lineman, stated, “Being forced to change what you’re called doesn’t mean changing who you are. We are the University of North Dakota, and we’ll always be fighting.”
As a UND graduate I understand the tradition behind the 81-year-old nickname. When I was there, the logo and name were both treated with respect — everything from a dedicatory video prior to sporting events to learning about their history in the classroom. I never once thought negatively of the nickname or logo, but at this juncture, none of that is relevant.
First off, I’m not a Native American, so I’m in no place to say what’s offensive or not in this case, but the fact that the NCAA has made it abundantly clear that UND must change its name to progress as an athletics program is all that needs to be said. The NCAA has put its foot down, and whether you choose to believe it or not, UND needs the NCAA more than the NCAA needs UND.
The university is in a critical time right now. It’s a time that will shape the future of its athletics and eventually the university as a whole. The Big Sky Conference — UND’s next desired home — has been pretty open about its view on the whole ordeal, but for some reason, the legislature continues to push back, which is ultimately jeopardizing UND’s future.
It’s not easy to make a change like this — especially with a name that’s been affiliated with the school since 1930 — but what UND students, faculty, alums and fans have to realize is that a nickname can’t define a school or a team.
It’s the students, faculty and alumni who make up the school, and it’s the athletes that make up the team. Whether it be a logo, a name or an individual, in no case should any single entity define an entire university.
The repeal on Wednesday was the first step, but I’m still trying to understand the whole three-year cool-off period. Why are things going to be better in three years? Haven’t they ever torn off a band-aid?
These last few years have been a black mark both on the university and the state, so I would think the quicker UND turns the page, the better. If anything, it would prevent anyone else from stepping forward trying to prolong this already seemingly-endless issue.
As a UND fan, I’m looking forward to the days when the school is making headlines for its academic or athletic achievements, not as a result of the nickname issue. And Wednesday’s repeal was the first step in the right direction.
Sun sports writer David Griswold can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/dgriswoldjssun