Sunday, January 1, 2012
Utah: No longer the Utes?
By ESPN.com staff
Utah's impressive comeback over Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl wasn't the only news that fired up the mailbag on New Year's Eve.
It appears that Utah may not only drop its drum and feather logo, it also may drop its mascot -- "Utes" -- entirely.
A couple from the mailbag.
Colby from Salt Lake City writes: I write to you today to ask you to, given your position as author of the Pac 12 Blog, bring light to the discussion going on around the administrative offices of the University of Utah to drop the drum and feather logo and the nickname "Utes" for fear of political correctness.You may or may not know that a lawsuit was filed by the Ute tribe some years ago and that the University was subsequently given the right and blessing to use the term "Utes" as our nickname. I cannot begin to describe what a disappointment, stab in the back and breaking of tens of thousands of fans hearts changing our logo and name would be, but I don't feel that I have to. I feel it is something just understood by sports fans. Please bring this to attention, and hopefully help us in showing the University that we are proud of our logo, our name and the fact that we represent the native tribe of the Salt Lake valley well, with dignity and respect for what that name means to so many outside of the university's walls.
Dylan from Salt Lake City writes: Utah seems to be dropping the drum and feather logo at the decision of the athletic department. With this and the talks of dropping the Crazy Lady, is it reasonable to think that Utah's move to the Pac-12 is a factor in the reasoning behind these decisions?
To me, this is more of an issue for Utah fans and less for those who try to cover the team objectively. Moreover, I am new to covering Utah, so I'm not steeped in Utah's traditions. I don't know the depth of attachment to the drum logo.
This is about an institution and its supporters. If fans go nuts about potential changes, they are less likely to happen.
But if you want my gut reaction: The logo is one thing. The mascot is another entirely.
If Utah is no longer going to be the Utes -- a name that has the stamp of approval from the actual Utes -- then will you rename the state next? Utah becomes Wasatch? Or Utactooy? My suggestion: South Park.
And, by the way, I am PC. I can't believe a team in the 21st century is called the "Washington Redskins." Is it the social issue that most keeps me up at night? No. But my opinion, if anybody was curious, is the NFL team in Washington, D.C. should have a different mascot.
But I think the respectful relationship Florida State has with the Seminole Tribe of Florida -- which got the stamp of approval from the NCAA -- feels similar to what Utah has with the Ute Tribal Council. Much of the offense that is conjured up comes from people who spend a lot of time being offended without actually having a real-life grounds for taking offense.
And, yes, while I have no direct knowledge of Pac-12 pressure here, I would bet that there are plenty of people in other conference schools -- particularly on the academic side of things -- who have issues with Utah being the Utes.
But this will come down to Utah fans. If you bombard the athletic department with demands that Utah remains the Utes -- and important boosters threaten to stop giving money -- then probably nothing will change.