Friday, October 12, 2007

A corner-sitter

Living in Champaign, I know that many (like our own Pete) are upset that the University of Illinois got rid of its mascot, Chief Illiniwek. Not having the memories of watching the Chief as I walked around good ol' State U when I was a feckless youth, I mostly found the Chief's halftime dance an absurd mockery, and was glad when it was discontinued. Whichever side of the issue you're on, however, I hope you can see the sadness in the following letter in the News-Gazette:

Chief's gone, so what is point of returning?

I was disappointed to learn that Chief Illiniwek is no more. How sad. I grew up in Champaign, graduated in 1964 from Champaign High School and went to the University of Illinois for two years before the U.S. Army came calling.

I remember going to many games at Memorial Stadium as I grew up. We'd park on the grass on the west side of the stadium and walk through the falling leaves to the stadium; I loved those cool, crisp, sunny days.

Even though we lived in Kansas and now reside in Colorado, I'd bring my family back to Champaign occasionally and go the UI's homecoming games specifically to watch the halftime show. The football games often weren't very good. But I still got chills when the band would march across the field, and Chief Illiniwek would crouch down, sneak out through the marching band and then appear to cheers from the crowd.

I used to point him amid the band members to my son. He'd try to find him before I did.

Now I wonder what will happen to the Chief Illiniwek logo that was so common. As for the name Fighting Illini, how long before it will be in danger? Will we call the UI's team "the Fighting Midwesterners" or the "Fighting Central Illinoisans"?

The local Chamber of Commerce should know that I won't be coming back to Champaign and spending several hundred dollars while there. If Chief Illiniwek is gone, so is my desire to return to Champaign. Goodby.

So, Mr. Bergethon spent his formative years in Champaign, up through part of college, and the only thing of value he can find to return to is the frickin' halftime show? That's truly pathetic. We still have the "cool, crisp, sunny days" and the falling leaves and the marching band, and the football team is actually good. But because a white kid no longer dresses up in a headdress for 5 minutes a week, it's all for naught.

Well, I'm glad you won't be here. I'll enjoy it more without you.


I'm Not Ned said...

"Absurd mockery" is right. I've seen the show and it's just that, a show. And a pretty bizarre show for an institution of higher learning.

Now dress a student up in a green suit and pretend he's a leprechaun and you have a real half time!

Just kidding for sure. I find many of the college ties to mascots very sad. Sure there's the history, but at some point even that is fabricated. What does the colour maroon have to do with one of our greatest universities?

Sure a husky visited the Washington campus but for what? Probably the trees. The Trojans never made it to Southern Cal, and the GT Yellow Jackets? Where's the spray? The Miami Ibis? What? Or even more confusing, what's a Gunston? Does George Mason even know?

U. Illinois alum need to grow up and act like the adults they are supposed to be. There should be a bit more to college than prancing around acting like an indian. Hmm, perhaps that's asking a bit much of a Big10 school?

Anonymous said...

And to put a serious note on this, Vernon Bellecourt has died at age 75.

I'm Not Ned said...

Oops, hit return before I could take credit for the post on Bellecourt's passing.