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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, December 6

Gapers Block

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Steve / June 15, 2004 11:11 AM

The Chief is bass ackwards, but that's the U of I for you. Even though 75 percent of the students there AREN'T part of the Greek system, the "save the chief" mentality permeated the place when I went there, and this meme has worked its way deeply into the alumni network. But this alum definitely says he should go.

As should Lefty, the new White Sox mascot who was just unveiled this past weekend. {Shiver}

Andrew / June 15, 2004 11:19 AM

I think he's called "Southpaw," Steve. I completely agree -- bring back Ribbie and Roobarb!

Illiniwek should go. If only so that the state can save the money that will no doubt be spent arguing about this issue for years to come.

Southpaw / June 15, 2004 11:30 AM

Someday soon, the whole world will now my name.

miss ellen / June 15, 2004 12:09 PM

Yes, boo on the Chief. I'm an alumni who doesn't give money, and will continue until something changes.....

I hope it does change for the better SOON!

Kim / June 15, 2004 12:20 PM

I'm Native American. I'm also an alumni. The Chief needs to go. The whole "Fighting Illini" thing doesn't bother me, though.

Josh / June 15, 2004 12:21 PM

"Now my name?" What the heck does that mean? Southpaw ain't so bad, no worse then the Chicken, the Philly Phanatic, or The Green Monster. It's his attitude that will make or break him. If he falls down a lot, that will help -- there's nothing funnier then a mascot falling down. Remember and the sausage race? That was hilarious! The Brewers' Sausages are easily the best mascots in the region.

As for the Chief? Come on. He's not even worth discussing. He should have been gone 25 years ago.

Benjy / June 15, 2004 12:42 PM

I say keep the nickname, maybe make more of an effort to portray Chief Illiniwek in a way that promotes positive attributes rather than negative stereotypes.

And where are the protests about the Michigan St. Spartans, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, USC Trojans, etc.?

Steve / June 15, 2004 12:56 PM

Come forth and arm yourselves, oh peoples of Sparta, and reclaim your good name from them what hail from East Lansing! Free whiskey to all good Irishmen who will march with me on South Bend! Free winky wrappers to all Trojans who will come protest in the streets of Los Angeles!

Andrew / June 15, 2004 2:03 PM

The Fighting Irish, I believe, did come under scrutiny at one time for their name, but I can't imagine there are a whole lot of Greeks who'd be offended by depictions of ancient warrior groups whose exploits are probably as much legend as fact.

Maureen / June 15, 2004 2:10 PM

As an Irish lass, I feel confident in stating that the difference between the Fighting Irish (though being associated with leprechauns is annoying) and Chief Illiniwek is that the Irish weren't ethnically cleansed from this or any other country, unlike the indigenous people of this land who gave the name to our fair city. I hardly think that a bunch of drunk football fans are going to gain any enlightenment of Native American culture and history by Chief Illiniwek. So I think it's a valid debate over the mascot.

My suburban high school's mascot is the "York Duke." That's just plain stupid.

anne / June 15, 2004 2:19 PM

Love how the "Southpaw" is holding out his _right hand_ in his promo picture.

Heather S. / June 15, 2004 2:44 PM

"Southpaw" looks like a mutant hair booger.

Am I missing something? What is he supposed to be?

Benjy / June 15, 2004 2:48 PM

Love how the "Southpaw" is holding out his _right hand_ in his promo picture.

He's holding it out like it's his glove hand, though.

Joe / June 15, 2004 2:54 PM

More important question:

If the U of I gets rid of the Chief, what inane thing will we be bitching about next?

I like to stay *ahead* of the whining curve.

Someone must develop all the new cutting edge whining topics.

Steve / June 15, 2004 3:15 PM

What other mascots are there in town? Should any of them stay? Here's my assessment....
-- Sox: We've mentioned Southpaw, or his evil twin Lefty already. After less than a week, his act has already grown thin (especially if the groping allegations are true). Does this mean Waldo the White Sox Wolf is officially retired? Did anyone notice?
-- Cubs: Does Ronnie Woo count? Or Chip Caray's eyebrow? ("The Cubbie Caterpillar").
-- Blackhawks: Maybe to get a few folks to care about the 'hawks, Dollar Bill Wirtz can add a mascot. Chief Wahoo may be available, unless he's left Cleveland for that great reservation in the sky. During the buildup to the war in Iraq, Colin Powell would've made a great black hawk mascot.
-- Bears: Do they have one? Nah, the McCaskeys are too cheap. Which is a shame, because that bear from the Hamms commercials has been out of work for years.
-- Bulls: I can't tell Benny the Bull from the one known simply as "the Bull." Didn't one of them get busted in a drug deal last winter? The Bulls also have those Blues Brothers guys and some fat male cheerleaders too. All need to go, to be replaced by a real Bull who can run with the fans at halftime.
-- The Wolves: Skates the Wolf is cool, 'cuz he looks deranged as all get out and shoots tee shirts into the upper deck with his gigantic sling shot. For your entertainment dollar, you can't beat the Chicago Wolves. Indoor fireworks, even.

Eamon / June 15, 2004 4:06 PM

FYI, the Bears do have a mascot: Staley Da Bear.

paul / June 15, 2004 5:56 PM

I love Skates the Wolf.

Maureen, you might want to read up on the Famine to learn just how many of your ancestors were cleansed.

Lisa / June 15, 2004 6:12 PM

A few years ago at the high school where I teach, we didn't have an official mascot. Like every other high school in the city, we're called the Eagles, so at one pep rally, a student took it upon himself to become the mascot.

This student wore some tight baseball pants with a stack of paper plates shoved down the front of them in the crotch, a short sleeved white t-shirt over a long sleeved blue one, an old school football helmet that he had found in the back of a storage locker and a makeshift white cape made from gym t-shirts tied together. He started running through the stands and around the gym proclaiming himself "Eagle Man" loudly. I know I'm not doing this outfit justice, but it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I was crying.

By the end of the year we had a real Eagle costume. The people in power never have any concept of what is really good.

Maureen / June 15, 2004 8:38 PM

Paul, I was being somewhat facetious. My family of farmers came over during that period, so I'm aware of it. Maybe I should have proposed that the name of Notre Dame's team to be the fighting potato farmers to make my point clearer.

Ramsin / June 16, 2004 2:39 AM

If Native Americans don't like Chief Illiniwek, he should go. If Irish folks don't like the idea of a Leprechaun being the mascot of Notre Dame, then the Leprechaun should go. However, I think the names "Fighting Illini" and "Fighting Irish," are fine. The word "fighting" here doesn't imply savage warriors or drunken brawlers, but spirited competitiveness.

I've always wondered why the "Indian Head Sweater" of the Blackhawks doesn't catch more slack. Just being called "Blackhawks" I guess isn't insulting, and the face does look pretty dignified, so I guess it's alright. Then again, what do I know? In these kinds of cases, I say its best to let the concerned groups be the final judge. It isn't my place to guess what is insulting to Native Americans, Irish people, or a long-extinct group of Ancient Greeks.

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