Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why I hate Eastern Michigan University

Rounding out my triad of sports-related posts, I'd like to announce that I have sworn eternal vengeance against Eastern Michigan University.

Founded in 1849 as Eastern Michigan Normal School, the Ypsilanti-based school bills itself as "an extraordinarily practical, supportive, accessible, affordable and quality learning and living environment," where a "distinct mix of comprehensive academic resources, strong community initiatives, focus on education first, and nationally recognized undergraduate student research achievements set it apart." I have no reason to doubt any of this. No, my undying hatred lies in their 1991 decision to adopt "The Eagles" as their nickname. Does the world really need another generic school mascot? Within the Mid-American Conference alone, you'll find such creatively-named teams as the Akron "Zips" and the Kent State "Golden Flashes." It seems that Eastern isn't even trying.

Now, there are a number of good reasons why EMU's previous nicknames are no longer tenable:
  • I can see why Normalites no longer works, give that the institution is no longer known as a "normal school" (that's old-timey talk for a teachers' college)
  • Likewise, in these enlightened times, Men from Ypsi would exclude women's sports, though I can't see why "Women from Ypsi" wouldn't work.
  • From 1929 to 1991, EMU athletes were known as Hurons - a name with local significance - but this name was dropped following a request by the State of Michigan that all schools in the state cease to use Native American names for mascots. Curiously, EMU's conference rivals, the Central Michigan University "Chippewas," ignored this request.
  • For a short time following the above decision, EMU athletes were jokingly called the No-Names. Wonder why that didn't stick.
Hopefully, students, administrators, and alumni will finally realize that the answer has been under their noses for years. EMU's mascot should be the Emu! This large flightless bird, Dromaius novaehollandiae, is everything an athlete should strive to be: fleet-footed, with high endurance, and prone to occasional violence toward humans.

Take heed, Eastern Michigan University - become the EMU Emus or taste my least until I find something else to be angry about.

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