In our present age of absurdity, this was likely inevitable: Quality Logo Products, a company that sells sports gear, has conducted a survey that has led it to denounce Notre Dame’s beloved Fighting Irish leprechaun as the fourth most offensive college football mascot in the entire country. The top three were all Indian mascots: Florida State’s Osceola and Renegade, San Diego State’s Aztec Warrior, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Vili the Warrior. So as silly and contrary to fact as it is, the idea that sports teams take nicknames in order to demean and belittle is still taken for granted among the Leftist intelligentsia.
Despite being as woke a university as any other today, Notre Dame didn’t immediately back down and deep-six its pugnacious Irishman. “It is worth noting,” the university said in a statement, “that there is no comparison between Notre Dame’s nickname and mascot and the Indian and warrior names (and) mascots used by other institutions such as the NFL team formerly known as the Redskins. None of these institutions were founded or named by Native Americans who sought to highlight their heritage by using names and symbols associated with their people.”
In contrast, according to the Indianapolis Star, the Notre Dame mascot was adopted by an Irishman: “The Fighting Irish nickname was made official in 1927 when university president Father Matthew Walsh, of Irish descent, adopted the name.” The university stated: “Our symbols stand as celebratory representations of a genuine Irish heritage at Notre Dame, a heritage that we regard with respect, loyalty and affection.”
However, the Indianapolis Star reports that the nickname actually began as an insult: “Because Notre Dame was largely populated by ethnic Catholics – mostly Irish, but also Germans, Italians and Poles – the university was a natural target for ethnic slurs, it said. At one football game in 1899, Northwestern students chanted ‘Kill the fighting Irish,’ Notre Dame said.” Instead of calling for speech restrictions and woke sensitivity training, Notre Dame turned the nickname around. The university noted: “Soon, Notre Dame supporters took it up, turning what once was an epithet into an ‘in-your-face’ expression of triumph.”
That sort of resilience will never do in our age of whining, and so in 2018, ESPN’s Max Kellerman became the first to float the trial balloon that the Notre Dame leprechaun was demeaning and had to go the way of the late lamented Cleveland Indians’ late lamented Chief Wahoo: “How hard is it for you, or anyone, to empathize, simply empathize, with a group who is offended — even if it is a minority of the group that is offended… Many Irish-Americans are not offended, but many are. And should that also change? The answer is yes, unequivocally yes. Pernicious, negative stereotypes of marginalized people that offend even some among them should be changed. It’s not that hard.”
Now, three years later, Kellerman is no longer a lone voice. The movement to kill off the leprechaun is gathering steam. Might Quality Logo Products be thinking of all those Notre Dame fans who already have as much Fighting Irish gear as they’re ever going to have, but would have to shell out for a whole new panoply of t-shirts, pennants, bumper stickers, and the like if the school had to bow to the woke mob and change its mascot? Surely Original Logo Products couldn’t possibly have any motives as base as that, could they?
In any case, Kellerman’s claim that many Irish-Americans find the Fighting Irish leprechaun offensive is dubious in the extreme. I’m neither Irish nor a Notre Dame fan, but I’ve met plenty of Irish-Americans over the years and all of them, to a man (yes, and to a woman), were as proud of the leprechaun as he or she was of green beer and shamrocks. There likely are some Irish-Americans doing meth and spray-painting ACAB on walls in Portland and hating the leprechaun along with everything else American (and yes, it’s an American thing, as Irish as it is), but they probably aren’t big college football fans, and they wouldn’t become Notre Dame football fans even if Notre Dame adopted George Floyd as its mascot.
Horror of horrors, Notre Dame would never dream of adopting such a mascot, because everyone knows now that sports teams are named after things they hate and wish to demean, and everyone loves and reveres George Floyd. Notre Dame’s response to the Original Logo Products survey took for granted that teams were named after Native Americans in order to mock and ridicule them, but insisted that in their case, their leprechaun was adopted by Irishmen who were motivated only by respect and affection. This was a shame. Notre Dame shouldn’t have granted the absurd notion that any sports teams were ever named after any group except as a sign of respect and admiration. Once they departed from that idea, they signed their leprechaun’s death warrant. It may take a while, but the Fighting Irishman won’t be fighting much longer.