Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Now, just a minute 

The University of Massachusetts may lose its mascot, the Minuteman. "Not since the arrow was removed from the pilgrim's hat on the Turnpike signs has such a debate raged over how the Colonial period is being portrayed in modern Massachusetts." I loved that arrow on the Pilgrim's hat when I was a kid! And the signs used to be green, not blue.

Anyway, the Minuteman may be shelved for marketing, but one gets the feeling that guns might have something to do with it.

"We've verified with focus groups that people don't buy items with Minutemen on them," McCaw said.

The Minuteman is the depiction of the colonial soldiers who faced the British at Lexington and Concord in the opening battle of the Revolution.

There are also, McCaw said, "gender, firearms and ethnicity issues." And Phoenix Design, the firm hired by the university to spruce up its logos, found "it's difficult to illustrate a Minuteman."

Real Minutemen carried guns, although the student who dresses up in a homespun uniform and a tri-corner hat at home games was disarmed years ago.

And that explanation has Michael Lopez fuming.
The UMASS Amherst mascot used to be the Redman... as in feather-in-the-head-me-takum-scalp kind of Redman. That was just thirty years ago... so there's no overarching sense of tradition that the crusty old professors are going to gripe about. It's not like they've been the Minutemen since the Revolution... it's just a mascot that was picked at a time when it was no longer tenable to mascotize the American Indian. (Mascotize? What's happening to my writing?) That was for political reasons, and that set a precedent: you can get rid of a mascot for political reasons.
And thus, the connection to SCSU. Michael is right that the mascot issue has been politicized for years, and that in fact it comes down to a profit problem.
the University has become a massive cash cow with millions of dollars in sports revenues and "brand recognition" and all the accompanying lack of dignity that such commercialization implies. It just hides it behind the politically correct veneer of what passes for "scholarship" in certain departments. The real focus, though, is on the money, on the marketing.
Yeah, but when the school is offered a $100 million new hockey arena if only it will continue to apply the picture of the Sioux on every nook and cranny of the place, what do you do then? Why yes, you have other university presidents rain down on you for taking the cash.