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VIRG FOSS: Just North Dakota -- no new nickname needed

One can argue forever whether the state of North Dakota or UND did all it could to retain the Fighting Sioux name and logo. It really doesn't matter now. Unless the Spirit Lake Sioux Nation wins its lawsuit against the NCAA (now that's a four-let...

Virg Foss
Virg Foss portrait

One can argue forever whether the state of North Dakota or UND did all it could to retain the Fighting Sioux name and logo.

It really doesn't matter now. Unless the Spirit Lake Sioux Nation wins its lawsuit against the NCAA (now that's a four-letter word) and a miracle happens, soon we are Fighting Sioux no more.

The name will go away, the logo, too, into the dust bins of the history books and deep recesses in the hearts of Fighting Sioux fans.

Several years ago, when the controversy over the Fighting Sioux name was heating up, I asked readers for suggestions for a new nickname.

Lots of them came in, some creative, some funny, some that could indeed work.

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Yet among all the evil words tossed around by both sides in this raging debate since then, sound minds prevailed.

Attached to the bill signed into law removing the mandate that UND must keep the Fighting Sioux name was an interesting rider.

It said that UND cannot take on another nickname, another logo, until at least Jan. 1, 2015.

I've said for a long time that if the name goes away, the worst thing UND could do is force feed a new one down our throats. I would hope leaders at the school understand that.

It will take a long, long time to heal the wounds Sioux fans feel over losing the name and logo they've come to love and respect.

We will never have a better name, one that invokes such passion, one the fans love so much.

I do like what UND athletics director Brian Faison said this week. "We are North Dakota," he said. "That's who we will be."

That's fine by me. It would be fine by me forever.

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There's plenty of Lions, Tigers and Bears, oh my, and Mavericks, Badgers and Beavers running around the playing fields of college sports.

We don't need to join the crowd -- or get lost in it.

We can just be North Dakota. A school without a nickname. It would make us stand out, be distinctive, be one of a kind.

By marching on without a nickname might be the ultimate show of respect to the Sioux name as we say goodbye to it.

I suspect that for as long as I live, fans will wear their Fighting Sioux jerseys to UND games. Sioux cheers will erupt from the crowds.

Taking away the name won't change that. Neither will forcing a new nickname upon us.

A few years ago, I watched the movie "We Are Marshall" and felt chills go through me listening to the fans chant the school name in a slow cadence.

I watched Penn State students turn out to protest the firing of football legend Joe Paterno earlier this week and heard the chants of "We Are . . . Penn State" rise from their throats.

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When the next school year begins at UND, we'll no longer see the logos or Sioux name on UND uniforms.

UND will press on and in time bitter feelings and wounded hearts will begin to heal.

There's no need to rush to a new nickname, if one is ever needed.

We have a name of which we can be proud. A name that stands alone. A name without controversy.

We Are . . . North Dakota.

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.<?i>

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