Monday, May 01, 2006

Sioux to Sue?

The University of North Dakota was dealt a blow this week to its nearly year long fight against the NCAA's interpretation that their name/mascot/logo is "hostile and offensive". Because of this determination the NCAA will no longer allow UND to participate in NCAA sanctioned championships while wearing their logo. As you would expect this has spurred a great deal of debate/argument about the subject with many (if not most) on one side railing against the "Politically Correct" crowd that they perceive has perpetrated this horror against UND (and other schools with such nicknames). I'm not going to detail the argument in favor of the NCAA because frankly it's mostly a boorish political squabble.

So let me make a couple of things clear: I don't advocate that UND should have to change their name. For me it simply isn't an important enough issue to advocate or not advocate (just my personal views about symbols in general and their relative worth in society and I'm not here to drone on about that ... ). The reason I'm writing though isn't because of what D-1 fans at USCHO (or any other forum) are saying (from the sublime to the bizarre). I'm writing because of what the UND administration is saying and I really haven't read any discussion which addressed my thoughts regarding those statements.

University President Charles Kupchella has quite correctly characterized the NCAA's decision as "arbitrary and capricious" and is talking lawsuit. There is no doubt in my mind he is correct about the NCAA's decision. They've unequally applied their (silly) ruling about Native American logos/nicknames being "hostile and offensive" by giving big-time football money-maker Florida St. a total pass? Saying they've applied the ruling "unequally"; doesn't quite do it justice though. They've really made an ugly hash of the whole thing and deserve every bit of criticism and vitriol they get. It's been grandly stupefying across the board at every turn. They've reached a new level of incompetence. They're really really bad.

Unfortunately, Kupchella can be right all day on this one and I don't see any possibility that he'll get any relief in a court. The NCAA is comprised of institutions that are voluntary members. As such the members make the rules through internally defined democratic processes (the same sort of indirect democracy as the U.S. Govt). Those internal NCAA processes result in rules that affect every member institution. So if a member doesn't like a decision then the only choices they have are to suck it up, find redress internally or forego membership in the NCAA. This latest ruling by the NCAA is the last step of the appeals process. UND is clearly not sucking it up so are they going to leave the NCAA? Nope. They're saying they'll likely file some sort of action in Federal court. Nobody told Kupchella about this whole NCAA voluntary membership thing? I can't see how that lawsuit isn't anything other than DOA. No court is going to hear it.

One ramification of a court doing otherwise would be a multitude of similar lawsuits; unhappy with your membership in the NRA? Don't stop sending your fees or try to change what you don't like ... take em to court! Perhaps it is somewhat of an extreme example but do we really want the courts filled up with cases like this? Associations (like the NCAA) do fucked up things to their members everyday. It sucks for whoever happens to be getting screwed but um ... uh ... that's life; and when life gives you lemons you're sposed to make lemonade ...right? Whether it's fair or not this new "Politically Correct" version of Manifest Destiny looks to prevail.

The U.S. Federal Courts are not the place to settle internal pissing contests between members of a voluntary association. I'm just sayin ...

No comments:

Post a Comment