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October 26, 2001

by Bill Hogan



I read recently that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has put a request in to the University of South Carolina. They want them to change the nickname of their sports teams.

It seems 'Gamecocks' is offensive. To Roosters! The term, according to PETA, "glorifies the cruelty and violence of cockfighting".


Gamecock is defined by Webster as a "rooster trained for fighting". Who is PETA to deny the poor rooster the opportunity to learn how to defend itself? Isn't self-defense the inalienable right of all fowl?

I, for one, would really like to know the name of the Rooster that complained about this to PETA.

PETA tries to make its case by explaining that the school wouldn't use other such offensive nicknames like the "Dogfighters" or "the Looters" or "the Road-Ragers".

PETA should have done its homework.

* There are 31 colleges that call themselves Bulldogs - a fighting dog if I've ever seen one.

* The Marauders (defined as pillagers, plunderers and looters) take to the athletic fields at Central State University. And don't forget about the University of Idaho Vandals.

* When the University of Louisiana at Lafayette football team plays an away game - they are the Road Ragin' Cajuns!

And why is PETA singling out USC? Jacksonville State U. also goes by the nickname Gamecocks. Is cockfighting less 'offensive' to the Florida chapter of PETA?

Why stop with Gamecocks?

If you really look hard enough. If it is really a subject worth pursuing. If you really want to make a (West Virginia University) Mountaineer out of a molehill. Then every college nickname would probably offend somebody, somewhere, sometime.

Take me, for instance. I've written the University of California-Irvine a number of times in regard to the name Anteaters. I feel it unduly glorifies the reckless consumption of ants. What about the ants! Somebody has to stand up for the ants!

Supporters of gun control should be up in arms about the flagrant glorification of weapons that exists at some schools. Like the USC-Spartansburg Running Rifles, the Gettysburg College Bullets and the Pratt Institute Canoneers. (Not to mention the Chaminade University Silverswords and the Ithaca College Bombers).

I'll buy a shot of Kentucky Bourbon and a beer for anyone who can tell me why - when we constantly warn college students to take A.I.M (Alcohol In Moderation) - do we allow Purdue University to call itself the Boilermakers?

Let's not even get into what's wrong with the Vassar College Brewers.

Some meteorologists might warn of the civic danger in glorifying destructive natural disasters in the manner of the Miami Hurricanes, the Iowa State Cyclones the St. John's Red Storm and the Talladega College Tornadoes.

Peace activists must be beside themselves. The gratuitous references to war and fighting are downright overwhelming. You have the Fighting Irish and the Fighting Illini. There are Raiders and Cossacks and Spartans and Trojans. There are twenty-seven schools using the name Warriors, for crying out loud! Where does it end? I am outraged.

Religious leaders should turn their attention to this festering issue, as well. How long can we go on with (Ohio Wesleyan) Battling Bishops, (Wake Forrest) Demon Deacons and (Duke) Blue Devils among our collegiate ranks?

There are social concerns to consider as well:

I have to believe that the oversized head that sits atop the Nebraska Cornhusker mascot "Herbie" must serve as a bitter reminder to the 'cranially challenged'. It's hard enough for them to find a decent hat that fits - they certainly don't need to be subjected to "Herbie" too.

And what about the psychological trauma experienced by the overweight student at Tufts University - who, at every home game, has to stand and proclaim that he, too, is a Jumbo?

Lastly, if we're really going to do this right, it is imperative that we remove that antiquated, offensive, glorification of violence known as The College Fight Song.

From now on, it's Love Songs. Nothing but Love Songs.

PETA suggested to USC that changing their nickname to the "Gym Socks" might make more sense. I say, why stop there? Why not use the college sports teams to promote harmony and good will?

And, by all means, stick to inoffensive, inanimate objects. Notre Dame can call themselves the Raindrops. Michigan State can shed that awful Spartan logo and replace it with a tulip.

In that same spirit, Purdue can show the world it's temperate side. They can call themselves…. I don't know, I can't think of any name other than Raindrops and Tulips that I'm absolutely positive won't offend somebody, somewhere, sometime.

Those (University of Virginia) Wahoos at PETA need to lighten up.


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