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Student group wants OU to stop using “Sooners” as a nickname…

2:50 PM EDT on October 1, 2015


Like most kids, I learned during my elementary school's 89er Day festivities that the Sooners snuck into Indian Territory before the Land Run, while honorable, law-abiding Boomers waited at the starting gates until the pistol was fired. As a result, I was always confused by OU's use of "Sooners" as a nickname. Why'd the school name itself after a bunch of cheaters and thieves? Was it their way of honoring Barry Switzer and the football program?

I bring this up because the student group Indigenize OU is pressing the University to change its nickname. They're mad that it references the 1889 Land Run, which the PC Police has determined is now a bad thing that can't be remembered, honored or an inspiration to University nicknames.

From The OU Daily:

President David Boren said in a statement Monday that the only way OU would change the words "boomer" and "sooner" is if its almost 245,000 alumni agreed to it.

Recently, members of Indigenize OU have called to inspire the eradication of the word “sooner” from the university’s identity due to its historical context of the Oklahoma land run.

The Indigenize OU members said the words offend Native students and make them feel unwelcome on campus. However, Boren said that the process to change the words would be arduous.

Yep, they want to get rid of Sooners because it references the Land Run. With all respect, that seems a little overboard to me. Will OSU have to get rid of Cowboys, too?

David Boren channeled his inner politician and released the following statement to the group:

"I think the words "boomer" and "sooner" in their modern context are no longer tied to the history of the Oklahoma land settlement. They have taken on a meaning of their own, which stands mainly for strong support for our state and university. The university was not even in existence when the western lands of Oklahoma were open to settlement by homesteaders. The term today stands for a spirit which is very inclusive, sets high standards of excellence, and represents a strong sense of a common family. The only way I can see it being changed is for our almost 245,000 alumni to ask for it. Given the new definition which all of us in the OU community have established, and the pride that we have in the heritage of the university, I believe the vast majority would be opposed. The history of the term is not nearly as important as what it stands for today."

Come on, David Boren. Spare us from your philosophical buillshit. That's the same damn excuse Daniel Snyder uses to justify the Redskins as an NFL team mascot. If the "modern context" of Sooners has in fact changed, it now represents college football, covered wagons and racist frat boys singing on a bus... not high standards of excellence.

Boren should have been more direct:

"You want us to change Sooners because it's associated with the Land Run? Seriously? Is that a bad thing now? Do all team names and mascots that represent the growth, expansion and exploration of this nation have to change to something else, too? Do we also have to stop playing Oklahoma! at football games? Please advise."

Listen, I understand all the awful things that happened to Native Americans and their culture during the formation and development of our country. I think team names like Redskins, Savages or even Indians should be changed, but this takes things too far. The Land Run is part of Oklahoma's culture and heritage. If it didn't happen, I'm pretty sure none of us would exist or be here. I know I sure wouldn't. My great-grandfather Bill Blevins participated in the Land Run of 1889 and staked a...

Wait a second. I'm starting to sound like one of those "But the confederate flag is part of our culture" people. Granted, I don't think you can fairly compare a universal symbol of hate and racism to a public land distribution that was authorized by Congress – they're entirely different conversations – but I do kind of see Indigenize OU's point. Maybe Sooners is an offensive name and needs to be to be changed. If so, I'd suggest that OU become the "Switzers." Just like the Sooners, he's a cheater and he wasn't born here. Plus, he's on the board of The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, so both OU grads and Native Americans like him. It sounds like a fair compromise.

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