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Virg Foss commentary: Nickname stomp-out easier done than said

UND's leaders are finding that it is one thing to dictate the retirement of the Fighting Sioux name and logo effective with the start of 2012. Making that happen on a universal scale is much more difficult, if not downright impossible. All of UND...

UND's leaders are finding that it is one thing to dictate the retirement of the Fighting Sioux name and logo effective with the start of 2012.

Making that happen on a universal scale is much more difficult, if not downright impossible.

All of UND's athletic teams have ditched the logo on their uniforms except for the men's hockey team. Their new uniforms, minus the logo, have been, ahem, back ordered and may not be in until the regular season ends.

I'd say that's a good thing and I have no problem with that. The UND team that has worn that logo in the most visible fashion and with great pride deserves the right to be the last one standing, the last team forced to give it up.

It was, after all, voted the No. 1 jersey in all of hockey, amateur or pro, by readers in a Hockey News magazine contest not long ago.

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It's interesting that while UND no longer uses the nickname and logo, it's not that easy dictating that others follow suit.

In last weekend's game between UND and Clarkson on Canadian soil in Winnipeg, I was curious to see how the Canadian press handled it.

The Winnipeg Free Press newspaper ran with a headline that said "Fighting UND crowns (Clarkson) Golden Knights."

So that's a merger of a bit of the old, a bit of the new. Not bad. I am thinking of calling them the Fighting NoDaks.

The other major newspaper, the Winnipeg Sun, called them the UND Fighting Sioux in a cutline accompanying a photo from the game, but otherwise stuck with UND.

A prominent Winnipeg blog site, with an entry on the game posted by Darrin Bourning, didn't even try to bury the longtime name, referring to UND as "nationally-ranked North Dakota Fighting Sioux."

I've said before that North Dakota is a proud name by itself. And I've said that the worst direction UND leaders could take would be to try and force a new nickname upon us.

Still, I'll admit it seems strange and even incomplete to write a sports article on UND and not use the name. That's what they've been ever since I started covering UND sports in 1969 and long before that, too.

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At least in writing, one has time to think a bit and edit any nickname reference out of the article before it goes to print. It will be interesting to listen to how often Pat Sweeney on TV or Tim Hennessy on radio lapse into that reference.

Look around Engelstad Arena this weekend and you'll see how impossible it will be to totally erase the name and logo from UND history and especially athletics.

You'll see hundreds, thousands of UND fans wearing jerseys with the logo. You'll hear the name resonating from the stands from thousands of voices. That won't change for a long, long time, maybe not in my lifetime.

As long as Ralph Engelstad Arena stands, the name and images will be with us. It will be displayed on championship banners hanging over the ice and embedded in the marble floors.

At least in the rink that Ralph built, not even the NCAA can run roughshod over the feelings of the people of North Dakota and disregard the voice of the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe.

Foss is a Hall of Fame journalist who reported on sports for 36 years for the Herald until his retirement. He writes a weekly column from October through April. Contact him at virgfoss@yahoo.com or at (701) 772-9272.

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