Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Chief Illiniwek Shall Dance No More

Take a good look at this man, for it's the last time you'll see him like this (at Illinois games at least. What he does on his free time is another story)

Tonight is the last home game for the University of Illinois Fighting Illini, which also means it will be the last dance for Chief Illiniwek, aka Dan Maloney. The University is retiring the mascot after relenting to sanctions (the university has not been allowed to host postseason play since 2005) for the use of what has been deemed offensive imagery. For some reason, many people outside of the University have found the outside portrayal of an American Indian chief to be disrespectful. A white guy slapping on paint of another race and dancing around...what could be so offensive about that?

Many people associated with the university are predictably upset that politics is destroying an 80 year old tradition on campus. I've never seen the dance in person, but watching video of it, I have mixed feelings:

How often in this day and age do you see a group of people putting their arms around each other and joining together in song? It's quaint, heartwarming, and gives a sense of nostalgia for what it might have been like going to a game in the 40's or 50's. Well, at least what it would have been like for a white person to go to a game in that era. I imagine the experience for minorities would have been slightly different.



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