August 5, 2005
NCAA President Myles Brand said this morning that Purdue University will no longer be allowed to use the nickname “Boilermaker” in NCAA Championship Competition. Started years ago as a derogatory remark regarding the gridiron powerhouse that Purdue was in those days, it nevertheless became a cherished moniker to the students, faculty, and athletes alike:
But despite the fit of pique suffered by the reporter, he doesn’t call the Purdue team “boilermakers.” For proof, we consult no less an expert than Robert Lackey, Class of 1891 and a player on the first football teams Purdue put on the field.
Writing in the November 1922 Alumnus, Lackey attempts to trace the origin of “Boilermakers.”
For his story, he went to the trouble of typing in the entire Review account of the Nov. 23, 1889, Wabash-Purdue game.
Although nowhere in the story are the Purdue players called “boilermakers,” he concludes: “While the word ‘Boilermakers’ does not appear in this remarkable document, it started everybody using the terms ‘corn huskers,’ ‘railsplitters,’ ‘haymakers,’ ‘log haulers,’ ‘blacksmiths,’ etc., until these simmered down to the nickname ‘Boilermakers,’ possibly as a logical composite of all those expressive terms. In any event, we are proud of the name and extend our thanks to the writers of the above for the inspiration.”
Well, that is to be no more. NCAA President Brand, and the rest of the executive commitee, have decided that the “Boilermaker” term is an insult to working-class members of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers union. In addition, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Tennessee Volunteers, Arizona State Sun Devils, and USC Trojans will be restricted from displaying their nicknames during championship competition.
(One moment while I wait for JimmyJ’s heart to start beating again)
Okay, none of that is true. But what is? The NCAA has determined that the schools using offensive names related to the American Indian tribes must repent:
The NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments, but will not prohibit them otherwise.
The NCAA’s executive committee decided this week the organization did not have the authority to bar Indian mascots by individual schools, committee chairman Walter Harrison said Friday.
Nicknames or mascots deemed “hostile or abusive” would not be allowed on team uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1, said Harrison, the University of Hartford’s president.
“What each institution decides to do is really its own business” outside NCAA championship events, Harrison said.
“What we are trying to say is that we find these mascots to be unacceptable for NCAA championship competition,” he added.
At least 18 schools have mascots the NCAA deem “hostile or abusive,” including the Fighting Illini of Illinois and Florida State’s Seminole. The full list of schools was not immediately released.
Thanks a lot, NCAA, for destroying a whole hell of a lot of tradition. Unlike the old adage, I will not remain silent when they come for the Illini, not being an Illini. For when they come after the Boilermakers, who will be left to speak for me?
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