My Photo
Location: Manchester, New Hampshire, United States

Thursday, February 15, 2007




(CHICAGO)(February 15, 2007) I first wrote about Chief Illiniwek last October 6th. See (, although I am not a sportswriter who has covered Illinois teams, I rise again as a loyal Illini to defend the Chief and to do a little dance of my own in support of the brave students who have filed a lawsuit to save Chief Illiniwek, and thereby confronted and shamed the U. of I.’s cowardly trustees and administrators.

You don’t get to be a trustee of a public university by bucking the system. Trusteeship is usually a payoff to loyal supporters. And so boards of trustees in general tend to be conformist and risk adverse. Likewise, college administrators are usually frustrated academics who are better at politics than academics. They also rise through the campus bureaucracy. Again, they are not saber-rattlers.

And the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”)? Why that’s a billion dollar business that uses slave labor and the promise of future employment for the few to dupe the many into participating and risking life and limb on behalf of alma mater. Good work if you can get it. Or, as my aching and gracefully aging Fighting Illini bones remind me, maybe not such good work.

And so, in our politically-correct-obsessed age the “few,” the radical, noisy, obnoxious few, can intimidate and often dominate the many, merely by “maumauing” trustees and administrators. Like legislation and sausages being made, it isn’t pretty to watch this process.

The Chief Illiniwek controversy has attracted an unusually colorful and mendacious cast of protesters, including an irate heir who claims he should have inherited the Chief’s regalia. By his very act of arrogant cupidity the pretender-in-chief and heir has confirmed the wisdom of the original chief who sold the regalia to the University to protect its future provenance.

Watching the unhappy heir who demanded return of the chief’s regalia reminded me just how greedy and arrogant unsatisfied heirs and descendants can be. Now what I have I not inherited that I should have inherited? Hmmm. The shabbiness and tawdriness of the of the chief’s opponents only ennobles our great Illini tradition.

Nevertheless, despite the overwhelming public and alumni support for maintaining Chief Illiniwek as a revered symbol of our state and university, the noisy few have been outdistancing the silent many in this contorted athletic competition.

Enter the students. The current Chief and Assistant Chief filed suit Thursday to bar the NCAA from retaliating against the University of Illinois for retaining the chief as a symbol of our university. I hope they win. The administrators will be trembling that they might. So will the trustees, cowards all. But the people of this great state will be cheering.

Former News-gazette sports editor Loren Tate appears to have been one of the first to float “academic freedom” as a basis to protect the chief and ensure the tradition endures. Well, fine. But how about just plain freedom? The right of a free people to choose how they will portray their past to present and future generations?

But something will be missing in the courtroom. The University. Indeed, just writing this column is getting my dander up. I might just file to intervene and speak on behalf of the People of Illinois. Our Chief is part of our history. He is worth fighting for and worth preserving. Why is it that in tiny North Dakota the state is fighting to preserve its traditions, and in mighty Illinois the trustees and administrators are camouflaged and in hiding? See: Calling Lisa Madigan.

The president of the University of North Dakota rose to his school’s defense, see Where is our president of the University of Illinois?

None of this would be happening if Governor Rod “Blah Blah” Blago were still alive. Of if he had just once driven south of Cook County to sample life in Springfield. If only the state that produced Lincoln could produce a leader today. But it hasn’t. It produced Topinka and Blagojevich and the result is obvious and painful to behold.

Illinois is a vastly different place than it was 200 years ago. And, by contemporary standards, atrocities and injustices took place. I wasn’t there but I will accept that truth. Today the Chief speaks to our hallowed remembrance and honor for the tribes that lived on the land we now call Illinois. I hope Chief Illiniwek will forever enshrine our sense of history, our sense of remembrance and our sense of loyalty to history that he represents. If the students lose this battle, we will all be diminished. I pray they will win a smashing victory for all of us.

Now about that football team. But then I’m not a sportswriter and I aim to keep it that way. Go Illini.

Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of He is a chronicler of all things Midwestern and the authentic Voice of Middle America. © Copyright Andy Martin 2007. Martin covers national and international politics with forty years of personal experience. Columns also posted at Comments? E-mail: Media contact: (866) 706-2639.


Post a Comment

<< Home