Mascot change: Progress or plain, simple poppycock?
I grew up in Fayetteville. It was a small town back in 1966 when I started first grade at Root Elementary School. I remember my mother telling me that by the time I started high school, we would have two in Fayetteville. Obviously, that never happened. Fayetteville wasn’t and still isn’t ready to divide our city, making half of our teenagers Bulldogs and the other half something else. Instead, what we have is one huge high school as large as some small colleges. Progress?
Last week, I heard a Ramay student had filed a complaint stating that the school’s mascot was offensive to her. Later, I heard that the school board was going to set up a committee to decide whether to change the mascots of our two beloved junior high schools and a 50-year-plus tradition of (innocent) rivalry between the Woodland Cowboys and the Ramay Indians. I wasn’t concerned: I knew the citizens of Fayetteville weren’t willing to have any student attending high school in our city become anything but a Fayetteville Bulldog. The idea that the Fayetteville school board would even consider doing away with our beloved Cowboys and Indians was unfathomable to me. Political Correctness?
As a student of American history, I am not insensitive or unaware of the history of westward expansion or the destruction of native peoples and their cultures in the United States. I also understand that history shapes culture. Ramay and Woodland were given mascots that reflected the the culture of the day. It was a good culture. A culture of Saturdays spent watching Disney movies and westerns at the Ozark Theater, evenings spent with our families watching “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke” and “Andy Griffith” and summer days playing Kick the Can, Cops and Robbers, and Cowboys and Indians with the neighborhood kids. Life was simple then. Somehow, we understood that we were more the same than different. We knew that not everyone makes the team, that teachers were to be respected and our parents were to be obeyed.
I can’t think of anything wrong with continuing a tradition that reflects a purer, simpler time. To me, destroying more than 50 years of Fayetteville’s history and tradition is not progressive or inclusive. It’s poppycock!