OPINION — Goodbye, Red Storm; hello, who-knows-what.
Dixie State University is going to change the nickname for its sports teams again and dump the Big D mascot — that big, ugly, red bull that never made any sense to me anyway.
It’s all supposed to, as school officials are saying, “match the identity of the future strategic plan” of the school, whatever that may mean.
I wasn’t a fan of the Rebels moniker.
It wasn’t about the name Rebels. I have, as a matter of fact, a lot of respect for those with a rebellious streak. But, it had to do with the historical context attached to it. A Confederate soldier running up and down the sidelines as the team mascot is just poor form because of its racist connotations.
Of course, I’m in the minority here, just as I am with the school retaining “Dixie” as part of its name.
But, that’s all old ground that has been covered many times. I’m not going to change your mind about it, and you’re not going to change mine. So let’s respectfully agree to disagree.
Besides, the school name is not at issue here. It’s the nickname for the sports teams that’s back on the table, and how that connects with the “future strategic plan” of the school baffles me.
It’s not like DSU has a powerhouse athletic department that is going to help fund some medical school or research center.
We’re not talking Ohio State or Michigan State or Florida or any of the other big guns, we’re talking about a small college in a faraway corner of Utah.
The games here are played in the spirit of youthful competition, not national recognition. You aren’t going to find a lot of DSU grads playing in the NFL and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean DSU should hang it up and not compete, it just means that some of the folks at the school are getting a little carried away with all of this.
Especially when they bring in a consultant to come up with a name that will also probably stink up the joint and be unpopular with students, administrators and fans.
I still believe DSU should go with something that reflects the history of the community.
For quite some time I thought the school should opt for Pioneers as the nickname for its sports teams. It is fitting, appropriate and does not insult anybody’s sensibilities because, well, we all know about the pioneers who moved westward and the travails they endured.
It is respectful, and it is a positive part of the Southern Utah legacy.
But administrators are getting a little carried away with all of this, saying the new name is also supposed to support themes of active learning and an active lifestyle that administrators say they are aiming for on the campus.
Sounds like they are overworking the problem.
I mean, if you are an Ohio State Buckeye, UCLA Bruin, a Gator or Hurricane, how does that relate to your campus, quality of education and college lifestyle?
If that’s the DSU plan, allow me to suggest the Einstein Rock Climbers or Tesla Hikers. Yeah, doesn’t make sense to me, either.
Sports teams rarely have anything to do with the productive or educational aspects of college. Very few athletic programs actually bring money into their institutions.
Even at the highest levels, winning programs rarely offer the institution, students and fans more than bragging rights.
So, in the grand scheme of things, this is really just a trivial matter that will do nothing more than cost money, anger a significant chunk of the community and confuse most of the others.
Call the DSU teams the Pioneers.
Call them the Bees.
Call them the Raiders, for all I care.
But, let’s not call them an integral part of the school’s “future strategic plan” because that just isn’t so.
If DSU truly is working toward rebranding itself, perhaps it should work on academics first — the real reason why people go to school.
Beef up the programs. Offer a wider selection of majors. Find an area of expertise and build upon it. Find the proper niche.
But, don’t waste valuable time and money — particularly at the present-day cost of consultants — on something as insignificant as a mascot and nickname for the sports teams.
I mean, if this was USC and people were lining up to spend millions upon millions of dollars a year on T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and other gear related to the football team, that would be one thing. But this is DSU and its merchandising revenue pales in comparison.
What will happen here, though, is we will endure yet another controversy as the diehards look upon this as an opportunity to reinstate the Rebel imagery, even though school officials promise they will not resurrect old nicknames, and the fight will be on again, mark my words.
Yes, DSU needs to change its mascot and team nickname.
No, they don’t need to hire a bunch of consultants who live a couple hundred miles away to come in and decide what would work best in Southern Utah.
Maybe they will come up with something we can all agree with this time.
Probably, however, all we’ll get is more griping and complaining.
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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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