Saturday, September 1, 2012

RickOHIO Revisited: Tradition Transitions

This is a web column written before blogs were blogs at  This 1997 one was reflecting on the change Miami University made to change its name from Redskins to RedHawks.  Now, the name has been changed for 16 seasons.  Those of us who were Redskins, though, remain Redskins.  Miami's 2012 football season opens today.  Go 'Skins!

Tradition Transitions
by RickOHIO

September 1997

Miami University in Oxford, Ohio reeks of tradition.

Nearly every page in the Miami University web site mentions tradition. Freshman at Miami quickly learn how revered the traditional rituals are to campus life at "Mother Miami."

Sports are a big part of that tradition. Miami University has given the football world the likes of Paul Brown, Weeb Ewbank, Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, John McVay, and Bo Schembechler. With names like these, it's easy to see why Miami has earned the nickname "Cradle of Coaches." Great coaches are born here.

The cradle, however, has been rocked. A controversial decree from the Oklahoma-based Miami indian tribe sought the elimination of the Miami sports team's nickname--Redskins. The Miami board of trustees voted last fall to listen to the tribe and discontinue use of the team name.

After a notice to alumni and a distinquished task force review, RedHawks was chosen as the new name for Miami sports teams.

Miami has played three football games (including two home games) under the new name. It's safe to say the tradition is in transition. One could say the tradition is dead.

At the September 13 game with the University of Akron Zips, the transition was a shaky one. On more than one occasion, the public address announcer had to catch himself to stop from saying "Redskins." Several fans let their undieing support for the old name known, including a group at midfield of the student section where a large bedsheet with "Redskins" was unfurled at the start of the game. The most popular t-shirt stated, "I am, was, and always will be a REDSKIN."

Yager Stadium on Miami's campus is absent of all traditions that would be well-known to any alumni. Chief Miami, a tribe-sanctioned mascot who paraded the field on a white horse, is gone. Tom-O-Hawk, a red bird who wears an Indian headress, is gone. There is no mascot at all. None. There is no logo or symbol for RedHawks appearing anywhere. Only the program tells you what the name is for this team the fans are watching on the field.

The chant "Let's Go Skins" has been replaced by "Go Big Red." No more tomohawk chops. No more war chants. The marching band cut Indian-derived music from their repertoire but have yet to replace it with anything that catches crowd support.

Miami football has been stripped of all tradition with nothing, yet, to replace past rituals. Unlike other traditions at Miami, the freshman class hasn't been passed the proverbial baton of rituals from the upperclassmen.

New traditions haven't been born at the cradle. Sadly, tradition transitions slowly.

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