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Leprechaun Hunt

Is the Notre Dame 'Fighting Irish' mascot offensive? This US sports broadcaster thinks so

“Pernicious, negative stereotypes of marginalised people that offend even some among them should be changed.”

Alexander Griswold / YouTube

ESPN PRESENTER MAX Kellerman has called on Notre Dame University to change its Fighting Irish leprechaun mascot.

Speaking on First Take last night about the Cleveland Indians’ decision to drop their controversial Chief Wahoo logo, Kellerman said that university’s mascot comes up often.

“My friend Brian Kenny was tweeting about this and someone asked him about the Fighting Irish. His father, the late, great Charlie Kenny, bog farmer from Ireland, walked the beat as a cop in Queens when he got here, was asked about the Fighting Irish and the leprechaun logo.

“And many Irish-Americans are not offended, but many are and should that also change?

The answer is yes. Unequivocally, yes.
Pernicious, negative stereotypes of marginalised people that offend even some among them should be changed. It’s not that hard.

Kenny had tweeted:

“Leprechaun cartoons are subhuman and offensive, and are used to keep us “in our place”. So, yes, bag them too. It paints us as a bunch of foolish, drinking, fighting, singing, dancing, & lying gnomes.

“For all saying ‘they’ve never met a single Irishman offended’: The Notre Dame mascot is an embarrassment.”

90272593_90272593 Members of the University of Notre dame band of the fighting Irish parade through the streets of Temple Bar in 2012. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

The university’s website says that the name possibly comes from an incident in 1899:

One story suggests the moniker was born in 1899 with Notre Dame leading Northwestern 5-0 at halftime of a game in Evanston, Ill. The Wildcat fans supposedly began to chant, “Kill the Fighting Irish, kill the Fighting Irish,” as the second half opened. Another tale has the nickname originating at halftime of the Notre Dame-Michigan game in 1909. With his team trailing, one Notre Dame player yelled to his teammates – who happened to have names like Dolan, Kelly, Glynn, Duffy and Ryan – “What’s the matter with you guys? You’re all Irish and you’re not fighting worth a lick.

“Notre Dame came back to win the game and press, after overhearing the remark, reported the game as a victory for the “Fighting Irish”.

“The most generally accepted explanation is that the press coined the nickname as a characterisation of Notre Dame athletic teams, their never-say-die fighting spirit and the Irish qualities of grit, determination and tenacity. The term likely began as an abusive expression tauntingly directed toward the athletes from the small, private, Catholic institution.”

The university’s teams had competed under the nicknames of Catholics and Ramblers until 1927 when the name was officially adopted.

The Notre Dame football team has played in Ireland twice, beating Navy comfortably in both 1996 and 2012. They use a leprechaun as a mascot, as do the Boston Celtics.

The row comes at a time when many teams in the US are changing nicknames, particularly those whose names centre on Native Americans.

Read: Obama wades into controversy over Washington Redskins nickname

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