Saturday, November 14, 2009

Land of Lincoln Trophy Debut

It's a bronze stove-top hat. You know, like the one often pictured on Abe Lincoln's head. And today it will be presented for the first time. Instead of the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk.

Personally, I've found the best way to handle the ridiculousness of such "PC" moves in sports is to not dwell on them...just let it go. But first, a moment to rant. The new, intentionally manufactured trophy for an in-state rivalry game is a perfect example of hijacking the "organic" process of developing traditions and true rivalries.

Traditions are part of what make college sports so much fun. But traditions are best when rooted in years reality and mythical memories. Did the alums of Texas A&M vote to call themselves the 12th man? Of course not! Rivalries add loads of emotion to college football. But did somebody decide one day that Ohio and Michigan should become bitter rivals? Nope. That's a rivalry that grew over years into one of the most intense in college football.

Trophies are more interesting when they are random and slightly illogical. Like the Illi-Buck. Why a turtle? I don't remember the story at the moment, but the concept of a turtle as a trophy is amusing.

Now, I have nothing against Abe Lincoln, and I'm a proud citizen of the Land of Lincoln. My issue is with the contrived nature of the new trophy. Voting by the fans to come up with a trophy that's more PC? Please. The "Land of Lincoln" has a named derived from the language of the Native Americans who first built the longhouses and learned to master the rivers and forests and plains of our state. Is it discriminating to ignore their contribution to what the state is today? Lincoln wasn't even born in Illinois. And he lost lots more elections than he won. Yes, he was a great president in a very difficult period of our country's history. The Lincoln museum in Springfield is fantastic. But are we ignoring other parts of our history by irradicating any mention of earlier lifestyles and cultures?

But whatever. I'll now just let it go.

Who will bring home the bronze hat thing that was designed by a Hawkeye alum? (Does the fact that it was created by a Hawkeye bug anyone else?) Who knows. Tough to predict. Northwestern is coming off a huge win at Iowa. The Wildcats have Kirk's number. Will they build off of that, or have a natural letdown? And will the Illini play like they have the last 2 weeks, or will the team that played the first half of the season return?

So many questions. Let's see them answered on the field.

Go Illini!

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