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Notre Dame Fighting Irish leprechaun latest mascot to get labeled 'offensive'; school defends against woke crowd
Photo by Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Notre Dame Fighting Irish leprechaun latest mascot to get labeled 'offensive'; school defends against woke crowd

Being outraged over outrageously outrageous sports mascots has been the thing the last few years.

Americans have witnessed woke activists demanding that teams jettison allegedly offensive but beloved team symbols — and not just those with Native American origins — and in many instances, they've seen people with power cede naming rights to the screaming scolds. Here's a taste of some of the mascot fights:

  • Everyone knows about Washington's NFL team formerly known as the Redskins, which is now known as the Washington Football Team after owner Danny Snyder caved to the mob — despite the fact that even a Washington Post poll showed a vast majority of Native Americans didn't have a problem with the old mascot.
  • A high school in Portland, Oregon, voted to change its mascot from the Trojans to the Evergreens — but there was suddenly a problem: Evergreen trees could connote lynching. So name change was put on hold.
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers received criticism in the pages of the Washington Post for "romanticizing ruthless cutthroats."
  • The Cleveland Indians announced they would change their name over concerns that it was "racist."
  • The Kansas City Chiefs have been hit over their supposedly "dehumanizing" mascot.
  • Maine and Washington both issued statewide bans on Native American mascots at public schools and colleges.
  • LIU Brooklyn ditched its Blackbirds mascot because it was "an offensive racist mascot."
  • Left-wing University of Miami students were happy to sign a petition — which was fake — to change the school's Hurricanes mascot since it is "offensive" to people hurt by hurricanes.
  • George Washington University students voted to replace their mascot, George the Colonial, which some found to be "a little white supremacisty."

And now we can add the Notre Dame Fighting Irish leprechaun to the list of offensive mascots. But the school isn't backing down in the face of criticism.

What happened?

A new survey from Quality Logo Products found that the leprechaun was the fourth most offensive college football mascot in the U.S., the Indianapolis Star reported this week.

The dukes-up Irish mythical character ranked just behind Florida State University's Osceola and Renegade, San Diego State's Aztec Warrior, and University of Hawaii at Manoa's Vili the Warrior — all of which are considered insensitive to Native American communities.

But the school has no intention of changing the name that has had a long history with the institution's sports programs.

In an email to the Star, the Notre Dame officials said, "It is worth noting ... that there is no comparison between Notre Dame's nickname and mascot and the Indian and warrior names (and) mascots used by other institutions such as the NFL team formerly known as the Redskins."

"None of these institutions were founded or named by Native Americans who sought to highlight their heritage by using names and symbols associated with their people," the school continued.

"Our symbols stand as celebratory representations of a genuine Irish heritage at Notre Dame, a heritage that we regard with respect, loyalty and affection," Notre Dame told the paper.

The school also offered the Star a history lesson behind the Fighting Irish mascot. From the Star:

Notre Dame said its nickname, Fighting Irish, began as a term used by other schools to mock its athletic teams.

At the time, anti-Catholicism and anti-immigrant sentiments were strong. Because Notre Dame was largely populated by ethnic Catholics – mostly Irish, but also Germans, Italians and Poles – the university was a natural target for ethnic slurs, it said.

At one football game in 1899, Northwestern students chanted “Kill the fighting Irish," Notre Dame said.

As the school's football team gained national prominence in the early 1900s, journalists began to use the “fighting Irish" phrase in their stories.

"Soon, Notre Dame supporters took it up, turning what once was an epithet into an 'in-your-face' expression of triumph," the university said.

The Fighting Irish nickname was made official in 1927 when university president Father Matthew Walsh, of Irish descent, adopted the name.

The leprechaun, the school said, is "symbolic of the Fighting Irish and intentionally a caricature," noting that the character began as English dig at the Irish people, which Irish-Americans chose to use as a way to "recognize the determination of the Irish people and, symbolically, the university's athletes."

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