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A New Mascot (to the Daily Illini)


April 22, 2004

The University of Illinois has problems with its mascot, Chief Illiniwek. Many people say that using a native American as a sports mascot promotes negative and harmful stereotypes. This is especially true in the case of this University (as opposed to Florida State University) since the Illini tribe is a historical fiction. Also unlike FSU, the mascot is not portrayed by a real native American who grew up as a member of the protrayed community.



On the other hand, many people, understandably, have a strong connection to the University mascot. I know I would be quite distressed if someone were to try and abolish the Florida Gator on the grounds that it was offensive to real lizards. Thus, I can understand the reasons why people would want to keep the mascot, regardless of the (minor, in their eyes) damage it causes to race relations.



It seems to me then, that the best solution to this problem is to find a new mascot with which people can immediately find a connection. One which, because of its inherent, awe-inspiring power inspires cameraderie and fighting spirit. I know of only one such concept which meets these requirements: the Ninja. In preparing this post, I did substantial research into many archetypal warrior cultures and animals. Thanks to the wealth of information about ninja found at the Real Ultimate Power website, I have found ninja to be the perfect mascot for the following reasons:



1) Ninjas are mammals. It is important for a mascot to share the same taxonomic class as the people it is meant to inspire.



2) Ninja fight all the time. By following the ninja's example to never back down from a tough situation, we can gain the courage to ask hard intellectual questions.



3) The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people. By following the example of the ninja, we too can flip out for both sports and academic pursuits. Indeed, we will be dead to our old selves and become one with the wider university community.



Many people might argue that a ninja mascot would have the same problems as our
current one. However, I would like to point out that no one is born a ninja,
rather they choose that calling in life because of their desire to be "totally
awesome" and kill anyone they want. Ninja is simply one of many possible
professions, such as Spartan, Boilermaker, or Wolverine. (I would also like to
point out that Wolverine, of the X-Men, is a samurai, the sworn enemy of all
ninja).

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