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Fools gold

Marquette ready for new nickname, again

Posted: Thursday May 12, 2005 6:07PM; Updated: Thursday May 12, 2005 6:07PM
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Welcome to Marquette Watch on CSTV. Let's go the New York Mascot Exchange for a check on precious metals. And we see that gold is down...

Father Robert Wild
Marquette University President Father Robert Wild speaks to students and media at a rally protesting "Gold" as the new school nickname.

Earlier this week Marquette University decided to renege on its decision to change the school's mascot name to "Gold." The verdict came after public and private rebuke (an alumnus friend of mine noted "I bought a nickel-bag of that on spring break once"). Although, as a sportswriter, I must admit that I was disappointed: I was looking forward to dubbing Marquette the "Au."

A brief history of Marquette nicknames: For the longest time, the Milwaukee-based Jesuit university was known as the Warriors. That moniker sat well with MU students, alums and fans of the '80s band Scandal. Then, in 1994, at the zenith (nadir?) of the P.C. movement, the Marquette administration decided "Warriors" was offensive to Native Americans. Never mind 27 other colleges also use Warriors as their team name.

Marquette dropped Warriors, leaving fans of the eponymous 1979 film such as myself distraught. No longer would I dress up as a Baseball Fury or a Gramercy Riff when a Marquette team invaded my alma mater's turf. No longer would I taunt them with shouts of, "Warriors, come out and play-ay."

Marquette renamed itself the Golden Eagles, a bird that, according to one environmental web site I checked, "is now virtually extirpated ... east of the Mississippi River." Not unlike the Jesuits.

Then, earlier this month the 30 members of the school's Board of Trustees voted to change -- or perhaps simply truncate -- the mascot name from Golden Eagles to Gold. That resolution prompted Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl to wonder if other schools from America's Dairyland would abbreviate their nicknames: The University of Wisconsin Bad? The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Pants?

"We're done," said John Bergstrom, the school's chairman of the Board of Trustees, in an opinion echoed by MU president Father Robert A. Wild, on May 5. "This is not an optional program. This is going to be a brand that we're going to build."

Six days later, Gold was buried. "We have spent the past week listening," said Bergstrom. "We heard you."

Gold discovered, then as soon lost. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is playing out along the banks of Lake Michigan. Or you can think of the Board of Trustees giving the school a new nickname, and then taking it back. Which would make them ...

With the Fools Gold era at Marquette having come to an end, here are a few observations:

1. Marquette, your alumni are not happy. Why not just lose the dude in the headdress while welcoming back the Warrior nickname.

2. If Warriors is so offensive, how come Nyack (N.Y.) College, a Christian liberal arts college, has no reservations (I hope that word does not offend anyone) about switching its nickname this year to the Warriors? Nyack previously referred to itself as The Purple Pride.

3. Isn't "Wild" a rather inappropriate name for the president of a Catholic university? Can that be changed, too?

4. Marquette proudly proclaims itself to be a "Jesuit" university. The actual name of the Jesuit order is "Society of Jesus." "Jesuit" is in fact a slang term, one that originated as a slur. According to the Etymology Dictionary (and my high school teachers at Brophy College Prep, which is also Jesuit), "Their enemies (in both Catholic and Protestant lands) accused them of belief that ends justify means, hence the sense "a dissembling person" (1640), and Jesuitical, "deceitful" (1613).

In fact, looking up "Jesuit" in my dictionary, I find the definition, "one given to subtle casuistry." And, because, just like you, I had no idea what casuistry means, I looked that up, too: "subtle but specious reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead."

So it is alright for Marquette to embrace the term "Jesuit," which was once unquestionably derisive, but it is offensive for the school to align its sports teams with the term "Warrior," which means "one who is engaged in or experienced in battle?" Isn't that a fairly accurate analogy for an athletic competitor?

5. If not "Warrior," then how about "Crusader"?