Posted by mike in News,Sports at 4:46 pm on February 17, 2007

The U of I announced yesterday that they will be retiring Chief Illiniwek, the Urbana-Champaign campus’s mascot since 1926, at the conclusion of this year’s seemingly-doomed basketball season. I’ve reproduced (and archived) the ominous headline and article from the Daily Illini’s print version from Friday here:

Board might retire Chief today
Full-size front page
Full-size page 2

Full details and the official version of the chain of events leading to this decision are available from the University’s web site.

While I have always been a vehement supporter of retaining the Chief as Illinois’s mascot, I can’t say that I really have a lot to complain about. The way our current culture works made this inevitable: a group (I heard the term “causeheads” for the first time yesterday, which I thought was bitingly appropriate) decides that they are going to fight against something. Once this group reaches a large enough critical mass, they will not ever go away, and eventually (no matter how long it takes) those in power give in to their wishes. This is what has been my biggest disappointment with the entire process all along, the fact that there was no resolution aside from absolution of the Chief that would effectively end the debate. The Board had previously passed a resolution to retain him, and of course that didn’t stop any of the protests, or the whining, or the well-intentioned-but-horribly-misplaced cries of racism. There was no reason to believe that any scenario other than the one we are now faced with would bring any different result. At least they have retained the nickname Fighting Illini for the school’s sports teams, after correctly assessing it as not being inappropriate in any way (the term “Illini” was used in reference to the school’s students and alumni long before the Chief had been conceived).

I have a somewhat bad habit of thinking up ideas for websites, purchasing the domain name and/or hosting for that site, and then sitting on it and never getting around to actually putting anything up. One such instance is the domain name, which I registered in response to the NCAA’s April 2005 announcement that effectively made the Chief’s ultimate retirement a foregone conclusion. The idea was to set up a website that would explore the issues associated with the NCAA’s choice of wording and what the implications of the resolution would be. Its main purpose, though, was to be a place for people to complain about all college mascots, and to send letters to the administrations of universities across the country complaining about how offensive (perhaps even “hostile and abusive”) their mascots are. Coincidentally enough, I was pointed to the blog of an old friend from high school several months ago, and he had a similar idea (his link is broken, but you can view his list of offensive mascots at his old site).

Since the decision to retire the Chief makes any activist-style ambitions I had somewhat obsolete, and the idea of contriving a manner in which every single college mascot is offensive has already been done, I’ve decided to use the domain as a pointer to my new store, to feature apparel and designs to commemorate the phenomenon of “hostile and abusive” college mascots. I’ll be adding some more items in the near future, so check it out and let me know what you think.

Chief Illiniwek

Comments (3)

3 Responses to “End of an Era”:

  • Maybe now we can get the “causeheads” to take on the parking problem. I’d even join them. At least it’d be something that would benefit future Illini. No doubt there would be other causeheads whining about the loss of open space or, god forbid, tearing down some uglier-than-sin building.

    I had no great stake in the Chief. I’m not an alum and I’m not a fan. But what got me was the NCAA appointing themselves to be our collective conscience. Thanks, but I can determine what’s hostile and abusive pretty well on my own. The only hostility I saw was *towards* The Chief and the only abuse I saw was the NCAA overstepping their authority.

  • Comment by Tree at 9:06 pm on February 18, 2007

    When I heard about this on the news, I was distracted and didn’t think twice. But when I read this, I got very sad. I hate it when the stupid crybaby god damn losers who have nothing else better to do than to protest shit they have nothing to do with, it just makes me want to beat the living shit out of them. Assholes. I noticed the Chief was absent on the X-box NCCA Basketball game, too. Seriously, times are getting worse. More stupid laws get put into place, more traditions are lost, more freedoms are taken away, all for “the good sake of Progress”. I say we sic some evil Indian spirts on these “causeheads” to haunt these assholes forever while they’re smoking their dope and listening to their Phish and Grateful Dead records.

  • Thank god for click trackers to aid with stalking. Hope all is well.