- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2001

The Williamsport Wildcats face the same fate as the Poolesville Indians.
A school official in Washington County, Md., said yesterday he already has received complaints about his district's use of animal-inspired mascots since a state-sponsored advocacy group has complained about Indian-inspired nicknames.
"It's been brought to my attention numerous times," said Eugene "Yogi" Martin, Washington County schools athletic director. "A number of people have come up and said, '… is it really right or correct that the animalistic names are used?'"
The Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs claimed victory in its efforts to strip sports teams of Indian-inspired names Tuesday, when the Montgomery County school board ordered Poolesville High School to change its teams' name from the "Indians" within a year. The name change is expected to cost $80,000.
Montgomery County school board member Steve Abrams said if "reasonable" people take offense to other team names, the board will examine whether the name is consistent with its human rights policy that mandates "a welcoming climate for all" — as it did with the commission's complaints about "Indians."
"The standard will apply," Mr. Abrams said.
But Montgomery County Council member Nancy Dacek questioned whether Churchill High School's "Bulldogs" or Seneca Valley High School's "Screaming Eagles" may be the next team names to draw the ire of activists.
"I don't want to see the day when our sports teams are reduced to being called the 'Daisies' and the 'Snowpersons,'" Mrs. Dacek, a Republican, said in a statement.
That day is here, said Mr. Martin, whose Western Maryland school district is one of 13 targeted by the Indian-affairs commission.
Three Washington County high schools use animal names — the Wildcats, the Hancock Panthers and the Smithsburg Leopards, and Mr. Martin said he has received several complaints about the mascot nicknames.
"Some of these people are very strong in their beliefs," he said.
Mr. Martin said his school system is nowhere near abandoning its animal-inspired team names — but 15 years ago when he heard the first complaints about Indian names, he didn't think that debate would go anywhere, either.
"I just never know the thoughts of folks anymore," he said.
Not all activists find offense in animal names, though.
A spokeswoman for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals yesterday said her group is vehemently opposed to the use of live animals as mascots, but isn't likely to play the name game.
"Just calling a team the Bears or the Lions, we don't find that offensive," said Amy Rhodes, a cruelty caseworker for the animal-rights group based in Norfolk.
Ten of Montgomery County's 23 high schools are named for animals, including its two newest schools, the Blake Bengals and the Northwest Jaguars.
Mr. Martin said it wouldn't surprise him if it is just a matter of time before even these animals are extinct.
"I think the door is open. And once the door is open, look out," he said.
The Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs has fought since February to strip sports teams of Indian-inspired team names, taking their case to the state Board of Education and several local school boards, as well as a Little League group in Montgomery County.
Two weeks ago, Gov. Parris N. Glendening said the commission exceeded its authority when it called for a boycott against sponsors of the Germantown Athletic Club for using the team names "Braves" and "Indians."


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