A Real Newsman Reaches –30–

I didn’t want to be a reporter, though I do love the work. I came to the newspaper business largely by accident, during college. At the time, I wrote mostly fiction, and although I found creative nonfiction interesting, I never did take a single journalism class. It’s left me with a somewhat unusual writing style (I like a lot of quotes) and a different perspective than most J-school graduates have.

A lot of people drop out of reporting and it’s very common for reporters to hear “I used to be a reporter” or “I wrote for a paper once” from a source. But then you have the “lifers,” the people who seem to be born with ink in their veins. When they bleed, they bleed CMYK.

rayI may or may not be a “lifer,” but Ray Crippen, former editor of the Daily Globe in Worthington, was just such a reporter. His first job was as a paperboy, and to give you a glimpse of how long he was involved with newspapers, that was during World War II. And he had a real reporting education at the University of Minnesota, where he majored in journalism and political science and worked at the Minnesota Daily. During the Korean War he wrote for the Stars and Stripes.

Stateside again, he started working at the Daily Globe in 1954. He worked in multiple departments, which you don’t see too often anymore in newspapers–advertising, circulation, composition and then yes, the newsroom. He eventually became city editor and managing editor. (I paraphrased the last two paragraphs from this fantastic biography written by Globe staffer Beth Rickers, but you should absolutely read it in its entirety.)

He left the Globe in 1989, and started writing books on local history. But like most true-blue newsers he didn’t stay away for long. (Does the ink seep into our hearts?) He started writing a column focusing on local history in the late 1990s and kept going until about two months ago.

While I never worked directly with Ray Crippen during my 6 years working at the Globe, I did meet him from time to time. He was always unfailingly kind, soft-spoken, and so, so much fun to talk to.

He knew me from Reprint, a feature I was responsible for that involved digging up and reprinting stories from the Daily Globe’s archives. Reprint exists mostly as a blog, but sometimes found its way into print as well, and Ray’s interest in history meant that he always had something fascinating to say about its content. Sometimes he’d written it.

Ray Crippen died Dec. 27. Worthington has lost a piece of its history, not just in Ray himself but in his encyclopedic knowledge of the city’s past. He truly was a local legend, as this letter to the editor says.

You can still find his work online. The most recent work, his columns, can be read here. They are conversational, warm and witty, much like the person who wrote them. A bit of his older work can still be found on Reprint, here.

It’s an infinitesimally tiny splinter of the vast forest of his work.

For those of us who live on deadlines, headlines and bylines, I’ll end this piece with an old reporting tradition, in honor of Ray Crippen, whose story drew to a conclusion in December:



Freedom of Speech vs. Hate Speech: Usama Dakdok in Grand Forks

Freedom of speech is a highly-valued tenet of American law and custom, but when hate speech pops up like an ugly weed, parting the thicket of thorny issues can be painful: Free speech, hate speech, censorship, private vs. public, sunshine laws and religious bigotry among others.

Usama Dakdok spoke in front of a crowd of about 125 people on Tuesday night at the National Guard Armory building in Bemidji.

Usama Dakdok spoke in front of a crowd of about 125 people on Tuesday night at the National Guard Armory building in Bemidji.

Anti-Islam speaker Usama Dakdok came to Grand Forks twice. Generally speaking, Dakdok believes that “Islam is a barbaric, savage cult,” that President Obama is a Muslim and that Democrats are dumb. The first time Dakdok spoke in Grand Forks, he was met with picket-signs and protests and the second time with a counter-event taking place elsewhere at the same time.

Unfortunately, Dakdok’s second visit also prompted a city council member to call a meeting to talk about “efforts to clearly express that this is an inclusive and welcoming community” — a meeting that the press was originally explicitly not invited to attend. Fortunately for everyone except the lawyers of the parties involved, the press was allowed in to the meeting after all, so we got to hear the solutions proposed to the hate speech problem.

Many people have expressed their opinions on this issue. My opinions expressed here are mine, not those of the Herald, whose editorial on the subject can be found here, and not those of the city council member calling the (initially) no-press meeting, which can be found here.

Short version: I don’t agree with anybody.0904DakDokWb

0. I don’t agree with Dakdok.

1. The city council member, who writes “This was not about free speech.” The press was specifically uninvited because he wanted people at the meeting to speak freely, and while this is understandable its legality is extremely questionable under North Dakota’s highly stringent sunshine laws. But there is a question, and that means it is about free speech.

2. The Herald’s editorial, which states that “there’s not a darn thing Grand Forks should do about it.” I don’t agree with that at all. I think the best remedy for bad speech, including Usama Dakdok’s, is good speech. I would support another counter-event planned at the same time as Dakdok’s. I would support one comparing his “translations” of the Koran to real ones, or an event comparing the Koran to the Bible, the Torah and the Upanishads, or any relevant texts. I would support local churches pointing out that Dakdok does not reflect their own Christian faith, or that his work is doctrinally unsound.

3. The city council member, who suggested throwing a block party near any future speech of Dakdok’s, in order to make it impossible to park for Dakdok’s speech. To me, that would be inhibiting the speech of others.

4. Letters claiming that Dakdok’s speech isn’t hate speech. It really is. Calling Christianity a “barbaric, savage cult” is hateful; calling Islam one isn’t magically different because the target has changed. That doesn’t mean saying either of those two things is illegal, though. The government can’t prevent him from saying that, and it shouldn’t even try. Of course, he isn’t allowed to go onto private property, such as homes or businesses, and say it there, if the property owner decides otherwise.

5. Letters claiming someone is being censored if Dakdok isn’t hosted by the Empire anymore. The Empire cannot be forced to provide a venue to anyone who asks, and people cannot be forced to attend Dakdok’s presentation, either. Here’s a pretty good webcomic explaining this. Criticism of Dakdok is not censorship of Dakdok; he is allowed to say what he likes, but he is still responsible for what he says and he is not immune from consequences.

6. Letters claiming there were no consequences for Dakdok’s speech because there were no riots, deaths or property destruction afterward. Most likely people, especially white people born in America, did not see any consequences of Dakdok’s speech because none of them were directed at them. It doesn’t follow that there weren’t any. I didn’t see many negative effects from bigotry against Native Americans or Hispanic people either, because I’m white, so negative effects aren’t going to be directed toward me. Were there more people using slurs against Somalians after Dakdok left? Were there more people who will tell others what they heard, who will be violent or destroy property in their own communities? Were there more people who will try to shut the gates to desperate refugees afterward? All these are consequences. Whether they occur, and whether they are bad enough to worry about if they do occur, are valid questions, but claiming there were no consequences seems shortsighted to me.

7. I would not support deliberately holding an event in a nearby location to Dakdok’s in order to make it hard to find parking for Dakdok’s event. That falls under the category of attempting to squelch him, which I do not support. That’s inhibiting speech, not creating more speech to counter bad speech.

8. I would support the city politely asking the Empire not to host him–with the proviso that the city should not attempt to impose any penalties if the Empire hosts him anyway. The city is perfectly within its rights to ask; the Empire is perfectly within its rights to decline if it desires. Asking the Empire to decline hosting him doesn’t impinge on Dakdok’s free speech; he will just find a different venue, and there are many here in Grand Forks to choose from. Places like the Empire are not obliged to provide a venue to anyone who wants one.

Posted in Uncategorized

North Dakota School’s Dress Code Is Rotten for So Many Reasons

A controversial change in the dress code at Dickinson High School, N.D., has sparked heated debate and outrage from students, parents and the public.

Parents of students, along with unrelated adults, wrote hundreds of comments arguing for and against an updated DHS policy concerning the wearing of leggings and yoga pants, both popular articles of clothing for girls and women.

According to the article, the school is claiming the dress code is intended to “help students feel comfortable in school.” But of course, what students have actually heard from adults is that those clothes are “distracting to the guys.”

Let’s take a look at what all this actually means, and why policies against leggings and yoga pants are such a bad idea.

  1. The fact that yoga pants and leggings aren’t allowed is itself a demonstration that the policy is very clearly not about student comfort at all, as leggings are in fact extremely comfortable for the wearer. So if the policy is about comfort, it’s certainly not about the comfort of the girls wearing the pants, but perhaps the comfort of those not wearing them. Right there you’re privileging some students’ “comfort” over that of other students.
  2. The policy is sexist, although probably not on purpose. Technically, the policy is likely gender-neutral, but in actuality, it disproportionately affects girls. Most people who wear yoga pants and leggings are female. Let’s look at another example: What if the school decided to limit bathroom breaks to 5 minutes for all students? This would technically be gender-neutral, but would disproportionately affect girls, who typically have to take a little bit longer for various biological reasons. Yes, some boys would also be hurt by this, and yes, the policy is technically gender neutral–but it would still be incredibly biased against girls. Another example a little closer to the situation might be banning hair ties for all students–sure, it would hit a few long-haired boys, but the vast majority of those affected would be girls, even though it is technically gender-neutral.
  3. It denigrates boys. Yes, you read that right. Boys aren’t rape monsters who will go berserk and start hurting women if they see a girl wearing tight pants. Boys are people. Yes, even hormone-crazed teen boys. Truly. Teen boys do great things all over the country every day! They win competitions, they work hard to excel in school, they hold down jobs, they help out at home. Boys aren’t bad people, and most of them have self-control that is just fine, thank you. Boys aren’t going to start fainting in the aisles at the sight of tight pants, and if they do do something untoward, or if they make inappropriate remarks about it, that’s what we call a teaching moment. That’s when the teacher has to show them why it’s wrong to do that. But seriously, most boys aren’t that fragile. They’ll be fine.
  4. It’s unrealistic. Boys are going to see women in tight pants everywhere else, because leggings and yoga pants are commonly worn in public virtually everywhere by adult women as well as girls. You are not going to stop women from wearing yoga pants in public. Maybe you should be teaching boys that this is okay and normal (because it is) and that they need to learn to deal with this. Although the vast majority of boys won’t need to be taught this because they already know it.
  5. Most people can’t even distinguish between yoga pants and normal pants. Yep, true fact. Yoga pants, like all other pants, come in varying levels of tightness. Many sets of yoga pants cannot be distinguished from ordinary pants by someone who is not wearing them. The policy may not actually specify yoga pants or leggings, to be totally fair–it might just say “tight pants.” In which case this argument isn’t really relevant.
  6. It denigrates girls, by teaching girls that their bodies are inherently sexual. Sometimes a butt is just a butt, folks. It’s not inherently sexual; we need it to sit on and eliminate waste and connect our torsos to our legs.
  7. Past generations have worn leggings and it was somehow not that distracting anyway. In fact, we were fine. That was the 80s and the 90s, when stirrup pants reigned and were later overthrown by leggings. We all wore leggings, guys. It was normal. Boys didn’t have seizures or start frothing in the aisles. They didn’t even notice, because it was normal and everyone wore them. And a few years later, they still didn’t collapse when we showed them our bra straps every day because spaghetti straps were in style. If they noticed or cared, they were polite enough to not mention it.
  8. It doesn’t make any sense paired with other school policies. According to its website, Dickinson High School has gymnastics and swimming, both of which tend to utilize tight or scanty clothing. Do students swim in bathrobes? Do the gymnasts wear loose jeans and blouses with jackets? Before you say “You need scanty clothing for those sports!” let me remind you that no, you actually don’t.

Dump the policy, folks. It’s not a good one.

Anger over Cecil the lion isn’t about Cecil the lion

People have already begun to question the anger over the killing of Cecil, a lion that lived quite happily in a Zimbabwe national park until Walter J. Palmer, a Minnesota dentist originally from North Dakota shot Cecil on a hunting trip.

Walter Palmer, left, a dentist in Bloomington, Minn., is pictured with a dead lion in 2008. (Photo Submitted by Trophy Hunt America)

Walter Palmer, left, a dentist in Bloomington, Minn., is pictured with a dead lion in 2008. (Photo Submitted by Trophy Hunt America)

Why do people care so much about a lion?

The answer is simple: mostly, they don’t. It’s not about lion. It’s never really been about the lion.

Instead, Cecil’s death was the result of a number of converging factors, and I would argue that these are issues that people should care about and discuss.


A number of people were horrified to find out that lions are still hunted at all, given how few of them are left, and have taken a position against all lion hunting. Some have extended this to big game hunting in general. (I personally would have to study this issue a lot more before I would assent to that.)

However, the question is worth asking: What is the place of big game hunting in the modern world, particularly for endangered species?


A number of people are uneasy that an apparently wealthy, white American paid an enormous sum, significantly more than many people’s annual income, to visit a foreign country and shoot an animal beloved there.

Zimbabwe seems to need the income these foreign tourist-hunters provide, but in the long run is that what’s best for Zimbabwe? And merely asking that question is incredibly presumptuous as well, because Americans should not get to decide how Zimbabwe manages its wildlife, its money or its tourists.

Yet it can certainly be argued that this specific type of tourism is preying on a nation suffering endemic poverty.

However, the question is worth asking: What is the place of American tourists and foreign hunting tourism in Zimbabwe and other disadvantaged countries?

Hunting ethics

Quite a few people, including Gov. Dayton of Minnesota, have pointed out that the alleged behavior of the hunting party in question wasn’t very sporting. And indeed there are quite a few details of this particular hunt that seem to have not been in keeping with good hunting practices:

  • Deliberately luring an animal out of a park where it was protected. This is legal in Zimbabwe, but that does not mean it is ethical.
  • Shooting an animal wearing a scientific research collar. We don’t know how visible the collar was.
  • Illegally hunting. There was no quota for a lion on that land, meaning it was an illegal hunt under Zimbabwe law.
  • Wounding an animal and then waiting 40 hours to kill it. Perhaps it took that long to find the lion; I haven’t seen information on that.

However, the question is worth asking: What constitutes ethical hunting behavior, and is it appropriate to bait animals to get them off protected grounds?

Online threats

The dentist who shot Cecil has been violently threatened and his business was flooded with negative reviews after word got out about the hunt. How seriously should we take online threats, and what can be done to protect people under extreme forms of attack?

Laws abroad

Traveling hunters usually rely on local hunters to know rules and regulations, according to a recent Reuters story. It is not yet clear in this case who is responsible for breaking the rules. How can travelers ensure they properly follow local laws and avoid situations like these?

No bleeding heart required

Discussion of all these issues isn’t a waste of time. It’s not based on feeling pity for the poor lion that got suckered into becoming a trophy, or anger at hunting in general.

Instead, Cecil’s death has served as a touchstone of sorts for these issues, an event we can use to discuss and measure the values of various positions we take.

For example, we can weigh the ethical merits of spotlighting deer and baiting bears with reference to the way the hunting party in Cecil’s case used a carcass to draw him straight to the guns. Are these practices right? Whether legal or not, are they ethical? Where do we draw the line?

You don’t have to care about lions, or Cecil, to care about these issues. Good hunters already care. Responsible travelers already care.

It was never about the lion.

Boobs, boobs, boobs: Stop policing breastfeeding moms!

Breasts are for feeding babies.

For some reason, people sometimes need to be reminded of this; for example, a woman in Moorhead was asked to cover up when she began breastfeeding her 11-month-old baby at a public pool. It turned out okay, but it’s still a symptom of a weird cultural problem we have.

Breasts aren’t inherently sexual, and when you look at it, everyone already knows it. That’s why men are socially and legally allowed to be seen in public topless. Yes, those are also breasts, and no, it’s not size-dependent, either, because men with large breasts are allowed to go out topless and women with small ones are not. So it’s entirely dependent on gender, not size.

That’s creepy. Women’s bodies aren’t more sexual than men’s bodies.

And America is fairly odd in its sexualization of breasts. Historically they haven’t always been considered sexual; in many cultures women routinely go topless and topless/nude beaches can be found all over the place in the modern world. It’s a weird social quirk that Americans have that the rest of the world does not necessarily share; I remember being slightly surprised once when a woman changed her shirt in the public part of a Helsinki airport bathroom. No one else noticed or cared.

Breasts are for feeding babies. Nothing wrong with finding them sexy, of course; some people dig eyes, some people dig feet and probably there are people out there who dig noses.

But sexualizing breasts at all times and in all places isn’t good. One, it’s deeply creepy to sexualize women’s breasts, but not men’s, at all times and in all places. Two, it hurts breastfeeding moms. And three, it hurts their infants, too.

Incidents like these are why a breastfeeding mom I know had to cram herself into a restroom at Target with a baby, a baby-carrier and a diaper bag to try to feed the hungry baby amid nasty smells and constant flushing noises.

The science all points to breast milk being the best for babies. Plus, using formula will get you endless amounts of shame for being a bad mom from those Tina Fey called the “teat nazis.” And you can’t just hide in your home for a year or more and wait for your baby to be weaned, because babies need diapers and clothes and powder and lotion and shampoo and ointment and bottles and lots and lots of washcloths and all these things need to be bought and retrieved.

Would anyone seriously advocate putting moms under effective house arrest, anyway? They’re people, not cattle.

As Jurassic World showed, you don’t raise a dinosaur alone in captivity; do we want half-crazed isolated moms rampaging through town ripping down fences, attacking animals and picking fights with T-rexes?

All joking aside, half the population sees breasts any time they look in the mirror anyway. It shouldn’t be a big deal for them or the other half of the population to see a female breast in public occasionally, any more than it is to see a male breast.

And it should especially not be a big deal to see a breast used for its major purpose, which is feeding a baby.

Confederate Flags in Minnesota: WHAT WERE THEY THINKING.

Even if you somehow still believe the Confederate battle flag doesn’t symbolize racism and white supremacy (sorry, but to many, many people it does) and even if you think it should be legal for private individuals to fly on their own property as a form of free speech, there’s still absolutely no way anyone in the state of Minnesota should be flying that flag.

Depicts the First Minnesota. http://www.mnopedia.org/multimedia/battle-gettysburg-oil-painting-rufus-zogbaum

Depicts the First Minnesota. http://www.mnopedia.org/multimedia/battle-gettysburg-oil-painting-rufus-zogbaum

It is unquestionably profoundly cruel to black people and other minorities to fly that flag, but it’s also incredibly, incredibly disrespectful to Minnesota and its veterans.

You don’t have to be keen on Minnesota history to know that Minnesota was the first state to offer troops to President Lincoln to fight with the Union in the Civil War. All you have to do is graduate from sixth grade in Minnesota, since this is a fact taught in the standard Minnesota history class that year, along with information about the voyageurs, the wild rice trade, logging, and Pig’s Eye. (That’s the former name of St. Paul. No, seriously.)

The first group, the appropriately named First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, among many others, fought in the Battle of Gettysburg.

What they don’t tell 12-year-olds is that on the second day of the battle of Gettysburg, the First Minnesota held the line against the Confederates, despite having the highest casualty rate in the entire Union army– 83%. They charged into a situation where they were outnumbered four-to-one.

They went anyway, and most of them died fighting against everything the Confederate battle flag stands for.

First Minnesota is legendary for its heroism at Gettysburg.

Minnesota helped elect Lincoln. Minnesota, barely even a state at the time, sent 11 infantry regiments, 2 companies of sharpshooters, units of artillery and cavalry and sailors too, plus the men who served in the African American units.

More than 2,500 Minnesotans died in that war, fighting against the Confederates. Flying the Confederate flag in this state is disgusting, and not only is it a declaration of hostility to minorities, it’s a slap in the face to the First Volunteer Volunteer Infantry Regiment and to the entire state of Minnesota and all its heritage.

How much is the life of a mentally ill person worth?

A man allowed his brother to freeze to death and only got a one-year sentence for it.

If that’s not enough to make you angry, that one year isn’t a year in prison or even a year in jail; it’s a year of probation.

Bruce Simmons’ frozen body was emaciated, dressed only in a makeshift diaper, and he was covered in rodent bites and frostbite marks, surrounded in garbage. His brother Ronald “cared” for him by passing him one meal a day through the front door.

Yet apparently, Ronald didn’t want to seek residential treatment for Bruce, who suffered from mental illness, either. Now Bruce is dead, and Ronald has to complete a year of probation.

For comparison, here is a case of one man stabbing another man to death. He got 8 years in prison. The cases aren’t strictly comparable — the second case doesn’t involve brothers and doesn’t involve a person made vulnerable by mental illness. It involves a direct cause of death rather than an indirect one.

However, in both cases the victims are equally dead, and in both cases the accused killers have received their sentences: 8 years in prison for one death and 1 year of probation for the other.

People with mental illnesses are far more likely to be the victims of a crime than they are to be perpetrators. And sentences like these do not help move us away from the abhorrent idea that people with mental illnesses are somehow less than healthy people.

Review: Jurassic World hit me right in the nostalgia

howardNothing could have matched the original Jurassic Park, but Jurassic World danced so well along the line between charming nostalgia and modern adventure flick that nobody should really care.

The movie was absolutely successful in capturing the feel of the original Jurassic Park, which all of its other sequels utterly failed to do, and made seeing dinosaurs amazing and awe-inspiring all over again, despite the proliferation of realistic-looking cinematic monsters. And it brought back some of the most beautiful touches from the first film, too – for example, a moment where you’re reminded the dinosaurs are living, breathing animals instead of just terrifying monster things out to eat the protagonists.

The dinosaurs are fantastic, and not just in a “movie monsters” way. The movie takes time to make them real animals, and each is a character. The velociraptors are terrifyingly intelligent pack hunters; the T-rex is a majestic killing machine; the triceratops are gentle.

Sprinkled throughout the film are a series of homages to the original, some subtle and some less so. I won’t spoil them for you, but one was already given away by the trailers and most of the posters – the corporate leader in the park wears white, just as John Hammond did in the original.

Then there are a number of occasions in the movie where the film doesn’t take quite the usual action flick route.

prattThe park’s owner is an incredibly rich guy who actually, shockingly, isn’t a horrible person focused on money. The kids in the movie are less annoying than your usual movie children, although like all movie children the younger one has too much hair.

The adult protagonists, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) aren’t complete cardboard stereotypes either. Sure, Owen’s a tough former Navy guy on a motorcycle, but he cares about animals; sure, Claire is career-oriented, but she is absolutely able to hold her own in a dangerous situation. And unlike some reviews have said, she’s not a damsel in distress in this movie, but an active character who makes decisions and acts on them.

That’s not to say the movie is perfect. There were a few missteps.

  • Someone needs to tell Hollywood movie execs that we heartless career women very often have a pair of tennis shoes or hiking boots under our desks. Throughout the movie, Claire runs around in high heels without a misstep. While there are actually women who can do this, the fact that the actress had to train for it as if she were running a marathon should tell you it’s a little bit unusual. And then to do it in a jungle?
  • Another thing: The kids in the movie were okay, but there was a thoroughly unnecessary “let’s-worry-about-our-parents’-marriage” subplot with them that seems to be present in every action movie lately. It doesn’t really harm the movie, but it wasn’t needed.
  • Then there’s the one-note villain. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it; you’ll know who this is the second he steps on the stage anyway. It’s about as subtle as an angry T-rex.
  • The score shines, but it shines most when it’s using pieces from the Jurassic Park score by John Williams. Next time, steal more; you had the rights anyway. Why not pull in some of the lesser-used themes and bump them up? Petticoat Lane, anyone?

But the missteps weren’t enough to kill the sense of wonder we all felt when John Hammond first said “Welcome… to Jurassic Park.”

And that’s what this movie does: It brings back the wonder and the excitement of Jurassic Park and turns you right back into a 12-year-old. Enjoy it.


15 UND nicknames left! Whimsy, blandness, lots of hawks.

The Final Fifteen UND nicknames have been chosen, and as has been the case in everyUND logo_1_0_10 round of cuts, my personal favorites have been tossed out.

Alas, Abdominal Snowman, Yetis and Wooly Mammoths. We hardly knew ye.

The last 15 names, in alphabetical order:

Blaze: I’ve come around a little bit on this one. It’s not a bad name, and while it’s a little abstract it’s much easier to visualize, draw and personify than, say, “spirit.”

Cavalry: No. Native American names being replaced by names of people famous for killing them is not helpful.

Explorers: While this name sounds neutral, I can’t help feeling it’s associated with white people who came and “explored” ground that native peoples had been living on and had explored pretty thoroughly themselves already. At the same time, as noted before, Sakakawea is just one very famous Native American explorer, so it can definitely not be said to be all about the white people, or the men.

fightinggreenFighting Green: The fighting green what? Green is an adjective, unless it refers to part of a golf course. Why would part of a golf course fight? And “fighting” just seems too much like the old nickname anyway.

Fighting Hawks: Kind of boring. And you’d hope “Hawks” won’t just turn into the Blackhawks’ Indian-head logo, but it sure could.

Force: The Fargo Force might object, and fans here might object to being associated with Fargo, too.

Green Hawks: Definitely one of the better “Hawk” names, it’s unusual but still recognizable. Hopefully this isn’t another backdoor way to get the Blackhawks mascot in the door.

Nodaks: I still don’t know what a Nodak is. Nobody’s explained it yet, either.

North Dakota: Boring, and it doesn’t give sports writers any alternatives, either. How many times can you put “North Dakota” and “UND” in a single paragraph before it gets repetitive? Not many. And you can’t really visualize it, although I suppose you could build a North Dakota costume shaped like the state.

North Stars: It’s still Minnesota’s motto, guys. This is exactly like naming yourselves the200px-Minnesota_North_Stars_Logo_2.svg Gophers and calling it a win.

Pride: People are citing this name as a way to stealthily “keep” the old nickname (as well as the “North Dakota” and “Spirit” alternatives). Totally aside from that, though, pride is one of the seven deadly sins, and not only that, but it is the most serious of them. It’s great to be proud of your school, but “pride” in itself has some extremely negative associations. Besides, how many signs saying “PRIDE GOETH BEFORE DESTRUCTION” do you want to see at your hockey games? (No, it does not goeth before a fall. A haughty spirit goeth before a fall; people just misquote it a lot.)

Roughriders: I suppose we can put up with the double entendres. It might be worth it, because it is a nicely thematic name, after all. I’ve warmed up to it a little bit.

Spirit: I don’t know why you’d want to bring religion, or another name for booze, into a sports contest. And this is another one people cite as “we can still use the old name with this!” which doesn’t seem constructive at this point in the process.

sundogsSundogs: I’ve warmed up to this one, since it’s one of the only charmingly eccentric names left on the list. The Arizona Sundogs were a minor league hockey team at one
point, but the team opted for dormancy last year (admittedly this is according to Wikipedia).

Thunder Hawks: Less distinctive than “Green Hawks,” yes, but it’s kind of okay.

Here’s the TL;DR version of my own personal opinions, which, again, are not those of the Herald or anybody else:


Fighting Hawks
Green Hawks
Thunder Hawks

Fighting Green
North Dakota
North Stars

What do you think?

If we have to pick a new name, which of these would you go with? Please don’t answer with either “none,” or any variant on the old nickname. It’s been said and that’s not the topic of this post.

However, if you’d like to discuss the old nickname I’d encourage you to post on one of the threads on the subject on the Herald’s Facebook page; here’s one. Thanks!

UND Nickname Analysis: All the Rest, and David Hasselhoff

Knight Rider

Knight Rider

Night Riders: What would David Hasselhoff say? Leaving off the K isn’t going to be enough to avoid comparisons, is it?

Riders: Could potentially have some inappropriate connotations, just like “Rough Riders.”

Snow Dogs: A little unusual, but still easy to recognize and fierce/cute as is needed.

Spirit: I may be prejudiced by having seen “The Spirit” movie, which was entirely awful, but I don’t like this name much, as I mentioned before. It’s fine on its own, but almost any visualization of it will be offensive to some religion or another.

Live and Let Die

Live and Let Die

Thunder Hawks: A few other teams use this mascot, but it’s not that distinctive, either.

Warhawks: “War” isn’t really a connotation we need for sports.

Wings: Well, I do like “Live and Let Die” a whole lot.

Wool(l?)y Mammoth: I actually like this one. It’s unusual, but it’s also a fierce beast comfortable in cold climates, and bonus, it is larger and scarier than a bison. The downside would be all the extinction jokes.

Fighting Greens: Greens are lettuce, guys. “Fighting Green” could be a team; “fighting greens” would be a belligerent salad.

Previous analysis of the other UND nickname possibilities can be found here and here.

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments, but stay civil, and please, nothing about the old nickname. This thread’s not about that; if you wish, I can direct you to other threads where you can make those comments freely, though.