Thursday, January 05, 2006


Arrogance & Synthetic Outrage

George Will writes about the artificial dilemma the University of Illinois faces:
The University of Illinois must soon decide whether, and if so how, to fight an exceedingly silly edict from the NCAA. That organization's primary function is to require college athletics to be no more crassly exploitative and commercial than is absolutely necessary. But now the NCAA is going to police cultural sensitivity, as it understands that. Hence the decision to declare Chief Illiniwek "hostile and abusive" to Native Americans.

Censorship — e.g., campus speech codes — often are academic liberalism's preferred instrument of social improvement, and now the NCAA's censors say: The Chief must go, as must the university's logo of a Native American in feathered headdress. Otherwise the NCAA will not allow the university to host any postseason tournaments or events.
The question I have is why the NCAA feels it must take it upon itself to protect the sensibilities of people it designates worthy of such protection. Why is it up to them to make these judgements? Just who do they think they are?

One can't but wonder what are they really trying to accomplish. After citing a recent poll, Will asks a good question:
In 2002, Sports Illustrated published a poll of 352 Native Americans, 217 living on reservations, 134 living off. Eighty-one percent said high school and college teams should not stop using Indian nicknames.

But in any case, why should anyone's disapproval of a nickname doom it? When, in the multiplication of entitlements, did we produce an entitlement for everyone to go through life without being annoyed by anything, even a team's nickname? If some Irish or Scots were to take offense at Notre Dame's Fighting Irish or the Fighting Scots of Monmouth College, what rule of morality would require the rest of us to care? Civilization depends on, and civility often requires, the willingness to say, "What you are doing is none of my business" and "What I am doing is none of your business."
The NCAA should butt out and focus on its core business, the commercial exploitation of young athletes. A university's choice of nickname and mascot is none of its business.

Diego adds: How can the NCAA ban Native American symbols?! This is racism! I think racial sensitivity classes should be made mandatory for all NCAA officials.

As far as the exploitation of young athletes goes, if anyone needs a union it is NCAA basketball and football players. NFL and NBA players should assist them in the start up.


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