Opinion Corner: Nickname worth the fightWell friends, the Fighting Sioux nickname lives on. Many thanks to the folks that did the hard work getting petitions signed, and to my fellow North Dakotans who did the signing. This is more than just a fight over a simple nickname and logo. This is about telling an outsider, a bully named the NCAA, that we will not fold like so many others have before us. And believe me, politically correct stormtroopers like the NCAA are not accustomed to getting resistance when they come knocking on your door with their demands.
By: Mark Schuttenhelm , The Jamestown Sun
Well friends, the Fighting Sioux nickname lives on.
Many thanks to the folks that did the hard work getting petitions signed, and to my fellow North Dakotans who did the signing. This is more than just a fight over a simple nickname and logo. This is about telling an outsider, a bully named the NCAA, that we will not fold like so many others have before us. And believe me, politically correct stormtroopers like the NCAA are not accustomed to getting resistance when they come knocking on your door with their demands.
A brief history lesson is in order.
Before North Dakota became a state, it was part of the Dakota Territory. Before that, part of the Sioux Nation. The Fighting Sioux name and logo is meant to honor the Native Americans who were here before us. The current logo was designed by Bennett Brien, a noted American Indian artist and sculptor. None of this can be disputed.
The NCAA is all about money. The big moneymakers in college sports are men’s basketball and football. Maybe that’s why the NCAA looks the other way when Florida State dresses up a student as an Indian warrior, has him ride into the stadium on horseback and plant a flaming spear at midfield before home football games. Throw in the tomahawk chop and the chants, and you really do have something that’s abusive to American Indians.
I know, I know, FSU got the OK from the Seminole Tribe in Florida. But UND has twice gotten the blessing of the Standing Rock to use the ‘Fighting Sioux’ name in perpetuity. Couple that with a 67 percent affirmative vote from the Spirit Lake in 2009 and UND clearly has the permission and blessing of both Sioux Tribes to use the nickname.
Why won’t the NCAA recognize this? Other questions also need answers. Why has the NCAA ignored the Spirit Lake Sioux to the point where a lawsuit had to be filed to get their attention? Would the NCAA treat UND differently if it had a big-time basketball or football program? Has this now become a battle of wills between the NCAA and the good people of North Dakota? If so, how much harm is the NCAA willing to inflict on our student athletes to prove it won’t back down? How much pressure is the NCAA putting on other schools not to schedule UND? It seems odd that schools who’ve played us for decades are now suddenly all worked up about a nickname.
Doesn’t the NCAA have bigger problems? Millionaire coaches and university supporters who bend and break rules regularly. So called ‘student’ athletes who spend little time in the classroom. Pitiful graduation rates at some of these big basketball and football ‘mills.’ Nope. Sanctioning the University of North Dakota seems to be their highest priority right now.
Friends, take a look around. Our State Highway Patrol cars are adorned with the profile of Red Tomahawk, a Standing Rock Sioux Indian. Ditto our State Highway signs. These symbols are a tribute not only to Red Tomahawk, but to all the Native Americans’ who have played such a vital role in the history of our great state.
How could a similar symbol, when sewn onto a hockey sweater, be considered a hostile act against the very people it is meant to honor? It’s absurd. Finally, the only way to deal with a bully is to push back. It’s time for our state to take whatever legal measures are available to end this harassment by the NCAA. Are you listening, Mr. Attorney General?
Now let’s take a look at last weekend’s action.
On Friday night, a nationwide TV audience got an eyeful of some Sioux Hockey in a 3-1 UND win over Minnesota-Duluth. What exactly is Sioux Hockey? Outhit and outwork the opponent, solid defensive zone play, create scoring opportunities with the forecheck, and timely goaltending.
On Saturday, UND dug themselves a 5-2 hole with early penalties and wound up losing 5-4 despite a frantic 3rd period rally. Still, getting a road split at Duluth has to be considered a positive. UND is now 16th in the extremely volatile PairWise rankings.
I still think the Sioux need to win their 4 remaining home games and split the road series at Denver to get positioned for the NCAA tournament.
Elsewhere in the WCHA, Minnesota lost a pair of high intensity games at Denver. The Gophers now have to be concerned about their own position in the Pairwise after the losses. Colorado College was swept by the suddenly hot Bemidji State Beavers.
In the CCHA, Michigan and Michigan State played a pair of playoff style games. State won at home 3-2 on Friday, while Michigan won Saturday’s overtime game 3-2 in front of a full house at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Minnesota is rightfully called ‘The Hockey State,’ but Michigan has got to be a close second when it comes to supporting high school and college hockey. Ferris State, maybe the hottest team in the nation, took two from slumping Notre Dame. Northern Michigan swept Bowling Green while Ohio State finally broke their 11-game winless streak by gaining a split with Western Michigan.
In the ECAC, Cornell and Colgate, trying to get into the tournament picture, both won a pair. Union won a single game at Dartmouth. In Hockey East, Friday’s play included Mass-Lowell beating Merrimack and Providence edging Maine. On Saturday, Maine came back and cooled off Mass-Lowell while Merrimack tied New Hampshire. Boston Univ. lost to UMass while Boston College beat Vermont. At the Beanpot Final, Boston College beat Boston U in a 3-2 overtime thriller.
Taking a look at the new national poll, congrats are in order for Ferris State of Big Rapids, Michigan, as they reach No. 1 for the first time in history. Other upside movers included Union and Denver. North Dakota moved up 2 notches to No. 14. Heading in the wrong direction are Minnesota, Notre Dame, and Colorado College.
In the WCHA this weekend, Michigan Tech comes to Grand Forks to face UND. The CCHA features Notre Dame at Miami and Northern Michigan at Michigan. Hockey East has two huge matchups with Boston College/Merrimack and Mass-Lowell/Boston U playing home and home series.
Schuttenhelm’s column runs each Wednesday through the college hockey season