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Why your mascot sucks: Central Michigan University

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Not having a mascot at football games is the biggest mistake they have made since letting JJ Watt leave.

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Well, for starters, you don’t have a school mascot.

The Chippewas are represented by an italicized ‘C,’ with what appears to be racing stripes known as the “Action C.” The “Action C” is featured on the football team’s helmets and on various other uniforms.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 27 Central Michigan at Akron Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Origins

In the university’s beginnings, it had a hard time finding its identity.

Originally, in 1926, Central Michigan’s nickname was the Dragons, and then, a year later, a group of students suggested that they be named the Wildcats. They said the mascot “should be a brave-fighting mascot that once roamed the woods of Michigan.”

However, it was decided that a Wildcat was too similar to a Wolverine, which was already the mascot for Michigan. Clearly, Central Michigan is a place of higher learning. Do you mean to tell me that no one in their Biology department was like, “no, they’re very different?”

So… the school decided to become the Bearcats.

Bearcats to Chippewas?

In 1942, Central Michigan assistant football coach Lawrence “Doc” Sweeney suggested that the school once again change their name to the Chippewas. His main beef with the Bearcat nickname is that not only did they have nothing to do with the school or the area, but was also a nearly extinct creature and none of the students had ever seen or heard of.

C’mon CMU Biology department.

MIT Prof. Eric Lerner biology class
A biologist from a school that is not Central Michigan
Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

A Bearcat, more commonly referred to as a Binturong, is an animal native to the Southern parts of Asia. It is omnivorous, with a diet consisting of small mammals, birds, fish, worms, insects and fruits.

And most importantly, they smell like popcorn. POPCORN!

I guarantee you, had someone cracked a textbook and educated the student body and coaching staff on how awesome this creature is that they would have never changed.

And this article would have quite the different tone…

Side note - I applaud the University of Cincinnati. They saw the potential in such an awesome animal, to be used as their nickname and mascot. They’re the real MVP

They even have had a live Bearcat mascot.

Anyways, sorry for the #BinturongTangent.

Cultural Appropriation

Lawrence’s further reasoning to changing to the Chippewas was that the “American Indian image would provide unlimited opportunities for pageantry and showmanship for the band as well as athletic teams.”

He wanted Native American ceremonies to be used on many occasions…

Someone clearly wasn’t very woke… I am cringing, are you cringing?

Clearly most people were, because the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, after some pressure from Native American rights groups, stepped in.

In 1989 an advisory committee to the school’s president recommended keeping the name with some enhanced provisions.

Meaning everything pertaining to Native Americans must be removed.

No Native American-inspired garb. No tee-pees. No drums. No images pertaining to Native Americans.

However, the trouble didn’t stop there, even after the removal of all references.

In 2005 the school was placed on an NCAA list of schools with “hostile or abusive nicknames.” CMU, along with 17 other schools were placed on the list; notably the North Dakota Fighting Sioux (which as we all know, is a girl’s name), Illinois Fighting Illini, Florida State Seminoles and the Utah Utes.

Inclusion on this list would spell trouble, as the NCAA does not allow for schools on the list to host postseason events and images of any logos representing Native Americans cannot be shows on television during non-football postseason events, such as the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

CMU appealed the decision with support of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. A month following their inclusion on the list, CMU announced that their appeal of the decision had been upheld and that they were granted an exception.

CMU still has options!

While having a tribal mascot is a no-go, CMU could have used some creativity to develop a different mascot, while keeping the Chippewa nickname. Some notable teams with names associated with Native Americans that have acceptable mascots are...

The Cleveland Indians (the whole Chief Wahoo thing aside) have Slider who is a large fluffy purple creature with a large yellow nose.

The Atlanta Braves have had a couple of acceptable mascots in recent years including Homer, a man with a large baseball for a head, and their current mascot, Blooper.

Blooper is… actually, I don’t know what he is…

And lastly Swoop, the Utah Utes mascot, who was introduced in 1996, with consent of the tribal council of the Ute Tribe.

As you can see, really anything can be a mascot, even whatever Blooper is.

Why not have an Eagle roaming the sidelines of football games, or a Deer, which is the state animal of Michigan. Or, just go back in time 77 years and keep the Bearcat, or even the Wildcat. Something, anything!

Although I do have to give CMU some credit, as they do have a mascot for their basketball teams.

Rowdie, who was named after the “Rose Rowdies,” the school’s student section was introduced in 2003 after CMU made the NCAA Tournament. Rowdie is a bulbous basketball-headed person like creature, with a permanent smile.

Basically, he looks like the love child of CMU alumna Chris Kaman and a basketball.

Nevertheless, having a mascot for only the basketball team doesn’t really cut it, as there is nothing roaming the sidelines on Saturdays, interacting with fans, being silly, or running on the field to celebrate a touchdown and getting penalized for it.

15 yards? Well worth it.

Get it together CMU, the people want a mascot at football games. Give them what they want.

Oh, and thanks for J.J. Watt.