Monday, December 04, 2006

End "The Civil War"

There’s a hot debate going on in the media these days about whether to call the fighting in Iraq a “civil war.”

Hey, what’s the big deal?

In this state when well-padded collegiate youth chase each other around the football field, Oregon and Oregon State fans, parroting the press, mindlessly proclaim the annual game “The Civil War.”

And each year I try to find some way to get my fellow Oregonians to come up with a name worthy of the rivalry and the state in general.

Incidentally, calling the Oregon/Oregon State game “civil” (get the oh-so-clever play on words there?) doesn’t help. Let’s face it, the name is just a sick, and tired, old joke. And each year I get a little more sick and tired of it.

The name hardly shows Oregon’s two premier universities to be places of historical awareness or sensitivity. The American Civil War was a tragedy that took the lives of nearly a half million soldiers. Giving a collegiate rivalry the same name is no less dishonorable than offensively naming teams after ethic groups. Two decades ago, several universities honored objections by some of those groups and dropped those names. Among the universities was Stanford, which abandoned being the “Indians” and became “The Cardinal.”

Indeed, The Oregonian newspaper took the lead in refusing to use such offensive names in its coverage of collegiate and professional sport. But each year, the paper and other media around the state persist in thoughtlessly trumpeting “The Civil War.”

In this time of intractable international strife and real civil wars, imagine the respect, to say nothing of much-needed good publicity, OSU and UO students, faculty, administration and alumni would get if they came up with a name for the rivalry that was truly clever, worthy of the state…and, yes, civil.


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