Saturday, June 21, 2014

Redskins, Hawkeyes and Awesome Blossoms

I'm so not a sports fan that it was necessary to consult Google yesterday when I wanted to know where the so-called "Redskins" are headquartered --- Washington state or Washington, D.C.? Football or basketball? Who knew?

Anyhow, Joe Walsh --- a former Illinois congressman from Teabagistan who now has his own radio talk show --- caught my attention when he managed to get himself suspended in Chicago this week after he insisted on trying to use the n-word on air despite station policy against it.

He was trying to make the delusional point, prevalent in Teabagistan, that white folks are under attack --- so if it was ok to refer to a white guy as, lets say, "lily-livered," Walsh wanted to know, why was it not OK to refer to a Native American as "redskin" and a black guy as, well you know what?

Interesting, but no points awarded.

Why in the world would an athletic team with a name that's a racial slur want to hold on to it? That I guess will have to remain among the mysteries of organized athletics.


But the interesting thing I stumbled across while researching "Redskin" is that it's possible, with considerable stretching, to look upon "Hawkeye," beloved moniker not only for University of Iowa athletic teams but also for Iowans in general, as somehow tangled up in all of this. Herky the Hawk is our symbol (not to be confused with that scrawny red-tinted bluejay over at Ames).

"Hawkeye" has been around for a long time, and most feel it derives from an alias used by Natty Bumppo, protagonist in James Fenimore Cooper's five-part "Leatherstocking Tales" series.

Of course Natty wasn't really Native American --- white triumphalism you know. He was a white kid who was raised among the Delawares, then of course did Native American bigger and better than the Native Americans did. 

But you've got to admit, it's more satisfying to be known as "Hawkeye" than as a "Bumppo."


Athletic team names can be an interesting field to study. Chariton teams seem always to have been known as "Chargers," a good, safe choice.

When I was growing up and attending Russell Community School, our teams were known as Bluebirds.

During the later 1960s, however, the powers that be decided "Bluebird" wasn't butch enough --- so Russell teams were rechristened Trojans, a name shared with the most widely sold variety of condom. 

It's always struck me as odd that a school district formerly represented by a songbird would suddenly shift its allegiance to a popular prophylactic, but this, too, is among the mysteries of the athletic universe.


My favorite team name in the whole wide world, however, is located up there in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, which has stuck proudly as decades have rolled by to its moniker, the Blossoms.

Redskins may come and Trojans may go, but the Blossoms go on forever. Go Awesome Blossoms!

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