There was a column in the Minneapolis paper last Sunday that was a prime example of how far off the track we've gotten when it comes to political correctness.
The column told the story of the high school in Northfield where the nickname of their teams has been Raiders for many years. In 1956 there was a mascot design contest and now the design has been dropped and replaced by a block N with the words "Northfield" and "Raiders" above and below the N. The winning entry in 1956 was, the column said, "a leering, cutlass-flailing caricature with slanted eyes and a droopy mustache."
"It just didn't age well," said Northfield Superintendent Matt Hillmann in the column. The column writer wrote that "Northfield didn't see a problem with its mascot 65 years ago. They know better now." And the superintendent said, "When we know better, we do better."
The nickname of Raiders is what the teams at Hastings, Roseville and Cretin-Derham Hall, all Minnesota high schools, all have. I wonder what their mascots look like and if they feel the need to change? Roseville has a silver fox as its mascot (I immediately thought of singer Charlie Rich), Hastings has a raider and Cretin also has a raider. I wonder, are those mascots depicting a raider that is evil or nice?
As I thought about some of the high school nicknames I am familiar with in Minnesota, the political-correctness possibilities are endless. In Brooklyn Center, for example, the nickname is Centaurs. Know what the meaning of a centaur is? It's "a creature from Greek mythology with the upper body of a man and the lower body and legs of a human." Centaurs had a reputation in Greek mythology of being violent towards women.
In Thief River Falls the nickname is Prowlers. The dictionary I looked at has a definition of a prowler as "a person who moves through an area or place in a quiet and stealthy way in order to commit a crime."
There's a Catholic high school in Mankato called Loyola, where the nickname is Crusaders. The definition I found for a crusader is "a fighter for military expeditions by Christian powers." Now why would a nice school like Loyola (I mean that - I scrimmaged against their basketball team 60-plus years ago and also became friends with the school's football coach, even though I was a Lutheran boy at a Lutheran high school) have a nickname like that?
Last Sunday's column mentioned the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton school district and their nickname of Rebels. The school board had a discussion about it last spring after a petition from something called Change.org asked the district to replace the mascot there so it wouldn't dishonor those who fought in the Civil War. Champlin Park also has that nickname. I wonder if they're in trouble, perhaps next in line to be counseled.
I remember back in the 1990s when schools around the state were forced to change names that many thought, rightly so, reflected poorly on Native Americans. The Minnesota Board of Education had ruled in 1988 that the use of Indian names was "unacceptable." Monticello went from Redmen, perhaps one of the most egregious ones, to Magic. Milaca went from Indians to Wolves (There was soon a gray wolf encased in glass in the lobby of the high school's gym, no worry, I surmise, about perhaps taking the life of an animal that sends some politically-correct people into a frenzy.) Sauk Rapids went from Indians to Storm. Grand Rapids went from Indians to Thunderhawks. Brainerd got to keep its nickname of Warriors because it didn't refer directly to Native Americans.
In 2014 a do-gooder group based in Minneapolis threatened the Warroad school district with a lawsuit if it didn't take the head of an Native American off the district's logo. Henry Boucha, an Ojibwe from Warroad who played on the U.S. hockey team in the 1972 Olympics and with the Minnesota North Stars and five other professional hockey teams, jumped into the fray and led a drive to help the district retain the logo, which it did, the frivolous lawsuit quickly being dropped. The high school still has the Warrior nickname.
Braham has the nickname of Bombers, a name associated with military might and war, right? We have the Lions in Ogilvie, the Tornadoes in Anoka, the Bears in White Bear Lake and the Warriors at Two Rivers High School in Mendota Heights, a school called Henry Sibley High School since the 1950s in honor of the first governor of Minnesota. But a name change within the last year came because it was determined that Sibley was in on helping secure dishonest treaties with the Dakota tribe in the 1860s.The Warrior nickname remains.
I know what people in Princeton, Minn., were thinking when the high school here opened in1896 and the nickname of Tigers was chosen, along with the orange and black colors. Princetonians, some of whom hailed from the East Coast, copied the Princeton University (located in Princeton, N. J..) colors and nickname, a nickname adopted at that university in 1879, 17 years before a high school was opened here in Princeton. But I wonder what the people in Marshall, Hutchinson, Farmington, Delano and at St. Cloud Tech were thinking when they chose the nickname of Tigers? After all, it's estimated that between 1800 and 2009, tigers killed 373,000 people in the world, about 1,800 a year. And the people in Blaine went with Bengals, not knowing, possibly, that in the early 1900s in Nepal there was a Bengal tiger said to have slain 436 humans. And in nearby Pine City the nickname is Dragons, typically a fire-breathing giant reptile that "tends to symbolize chaos and evil," one source reports.
As you can tell by now, the list goes on and on. And you might also think it's ridiculous to think those high schools, and many others, should change their nicknames and/or mascots. I sure do.
But, in this world of being politically correct about almost everything, to the point of sometimes going well beyond reason, it appears that's where we're headed if some people have their way. For example, in some places a manhole has become a "personnel access unit."
The next thing you know some schools, like one in Seattle, will be calling Easter eggs "spring spheres."
PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES
Oct. 18, 1951 — An estimated 1,200 people attended the Homecoming game, a 7-7 tie with Osseo. Jon Duckstad ran 54 yards for the score and Homecoming king Johnny Reiman kicked the extra point.
Oct. 18, 1956 — Jerry Bockoven won four races at Princeton Speedway in Sunday racing and set a track record of 21.4 seconds for a lap . . . Some of those on a pro wrestling card at the high school were University of Minnesota legend Bronko Nagurski and the Kalmikoff Brothers tag team.
Oct. 19, 1961 — Princeton beat Brooklyn Center 38-19 in the Homecoming game. Dean Hansen scored two touchdowns and Steve Lindell, who scored on a fumble return, threw a touchdown pass to Dale Thiel.
Oct. 13, 1966 — Princeton beat Mora 34-13 as Dennis Sternquist and Tim Enger each scored twice. Sternquist had an 84-yard kickoff return for a TD and Enger carried the ball 6 times for 120 yards. Don McAlpine ran 8 times for 61 yards and Ross Johnson had 4 carries for 53 yards.
Oct. 20, 1971 — Kevin Gerth placed fifth in the District 16 cross-country meet and advanced to the Region Four meet . . . Missed extra points were costly in a 20-18 loss to Mora as Chuck Young passed for 105 yards and Don Cordes ran for 143.
Oct. 21, 1976 — Princeton won the boys cross-country conference title in the last year of the six-team Rum River Conference as PHS runners finished 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th to earn all-conference. Those runners were Jim Bowden, Steve Sanborn, Eric Wilbrecht and Jamie Swanson.
Oct. 15, 1981 — Lisa Herman won the individual title in record time at the Rum River Conference cross-country meet in Milaca . . . Joel Pike had 5 solo tackles and Pete Schmidt had a punt return of 84 yards for a touchdown in a 26-8 win over Braham.
Oct. 16, 1986 — Terry Seifert, placing 14th in the conference cross-country meet, earned all-conference honors as the team placed fifth . . . Bryan Hoff scored the only touchdown in a 27-6 PHS Homecoming loss to the Sauk Rapids Indians. It was the third year in a row the teams won each other's Homecoming game.
Oct. 17, 1991 — Princeton upset Grand Rapids 4-3 to make it to the semifinals of Section 7AA in girls tennis, a first for PHS . . . The volleyball team upped its record to 16-6 by winning a tournament at Benilde-St. Margaret's in which it didn't lose one set in four matches as Corrine Lundell had 33 kills, Tanya Dorr 9 ace serves and Becky Cook 48 set assists. The team also beat perennial power Sauk Rapids for the first time in nine years in a long match, rallying from a 14-4 deficit in the fifth set.
Oct. 17, 1996 — Sara Strand finished 10th in the conference cross-country meet, repeating as an all-conference runner . . . Foreign exchange student Peter Nielsen made seven straight field goal tries for the PHS football team and had field goals of 45 and 46 yards in one game.
Oct. 11, 2001 — In a first for PHS, 2000 grad Ian McVey was granted a basketball scholarship by Division I Utah State of the Big West Conference as he was to begin his second year at Fergus Falls Community College . . . In Princeton's 14-0 Homecoming win over Milaca, punter Luke Bakken had some key punts and kicked two extra points, and quarterback Tyler Gronli ran 43 and 45 yards for touchdowns. He had 12 carries for 102 yards. Kyle Jorgenson had two interceptions and Adam Miron one.
Oct. 12, 2006 — Al Fischer, Dean Hansen, Tom Peterson and Barb Blomberg were set to be the newest inductees into the PHS Activities Hall of Fame . . . The boys cross-country team placed second at the five-team Foley Invitational as the Tigers' Dylan King placed first, and the girls, although there were only two teams with complete scores, won as the Tigers' Traci Arnold won the race.
Oct. 13, 2011 — The girls soccer team beat Granite Ridge Conference foe Zimmerman 4-0 for their 10th straight win after a 1-5 start. Naomi Kohloff scored three goals . . . MaryClaire Mayerchak had a 20-1 record as the No. 1 singles player for the girls tennis team as section playoffs began.
Oct. 13, 2016 — The girls soccer team (13-2-1, 6-2-1 in the M8) began defense of its section championship as the No. 1 seed . . .The girls tennis team (17-4) began defense of two straight section championships with a 7-0 win over Duluth Denfeld. In the individual portion of section competition Reilee Schepper and Kelsey Dorr had the No. 1 seed in doubles and teammates Gabby and Anna Dahlen were seeded No. 2.
(Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has written about sports in the area for the past 54 years.)