Fighting Sioux Take a Stand to Fight PCism


By: Warner Todd Huston

The University of North Dakota basketball team is being told by the NCAA that they aren’t allowed to use their name, the Fighting Sioux, anymore. (UND.edu.) The University president is not taking this sitting down, much to his credit.

In an absurd paean to the Gods of Political Correctness, the NCAA has lost its collective mind and announced a policy of disallowing any school playing in their leagues and tournaments to have a team name the NCAA deems “racist” or creates a “Hostile environment” for students or sports fans. They have given the U of D an ultimatum; get rid of the name or get thrown out of the NCAA.

Worse, this determination made by the NCAA is made without any investigation or criteria other than a vague feeling that someone, somewhere might take offense to a team name. It is entirely free of any logic, sense, or procedure other than pure dictation from the head of the NCAA.

But in a public — and quite lengthy — reply, President Charles E. Kupchella, Ph.D. of the U of ND is threatening legal action on behalf of the University to keep their decades old team name. It is a very full treatment of this foolishness of the NCAA’s actions and I urge you to go read it. I won’t be able to do it justice here, but there are a few sections that deserve to be highlighted.

The most salient section of the President’s letter deals with the specific reasons why the U of ND is on solid moral grounds to continue using the nickname.

“Although we thought it strange – perverse actually – to assume guilt until innocence was proven, or at least objectively indicated, we offered the facts that (1) our nearest Sioux Tribe gave us written permission (which still stands despite repeated attempts by the NCAA staff itself and other nickname opponents to ask the Tribal Council to rescind its resolution) to use the name; (2) we have over four hundred American Indian students going to school here, many of whom are just fine with the nickname and none of whom would be here if the environment were really hostile and abusive; (3) it was reported to you, directly by the Chair of the Tribal Council Judicial Committee that, at the only other Sioux Reservation based in North Dakota, a district-by-district referendum resulted in nearly unanimous support for UND’s use of the Sioux nickname; and, (4) the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education spent a week here investigating earlier ‘hostile environment’ charges made by our local nickname opposition group – and made no such finding – as clear indications that our handling of the nickname is in no way hostile and abusive.”

And each of these points have been entirely ignored by the NCAA, apparently.

Not only were the above points ignored by the NCAA, but the NCAA has even decided, in its supreme ability to know better than everyone else in the world, that the residents of the state of North Dakota — those very people who pay their taxes to support the U of ND — shouldn’t be listened to about their feelings of the team’s name.

“You should be aware, because we cited it in our appeal, that in a poll of American Indians in North Dakota, more than half said their support for UND would not change if the University chose another nickname but one in four said that they would support the University less – yes, less – if we were to change our nickname? This, too, cannot possibly be reconciled with ‘hostile and abusive.’”

The President has crafted the most devastating case against the arbitrary stupidity of the NCAA and it is an important blow against mordant PCism. Even if you aren’t a college basketball fan, or a sports fan at all, this letter is a must read.

But, I cannot close without observing the U of ND President’s rapier wit. To further illustrate the foolishness of the NCAA’s position, President Kupchella pointed out an interesting bit of hypocrisy evident in the NCAA’s operations.

“By the way, it was widely and cynically noted here that ‘Pontiac’ is a corporate sponsor of the NCAA. But perhaps this is unfair; both the NCAA and General Motors may well have gotten the permission of the descendants of Chief Pontiac or the Ottawa Tribe.”

Ha! Take that NCAA!

Fighting Sioux, fight on.

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