Nickname expert: UND picked 'kind of a timid choice'
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- James I. Bowie wasn't surprised when the University of North Dakota announced its new nickname would be the Fighting Hawks. In fact, he predicted it. Bowie, one of just a handful of academics who study university logos, said s...
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- James I. Bowie wasn't surprised when the University of North Dakota announced its new nickname would be the Fighting Hawks.
In fact, he predicted it.
Bowie, one of just a handful of academics who study university logos, said schools retiring Native American nicknames adopt colors and birds at much higher rates than other Division I schools, in an interview in March.
"If it would've been Green Hawks, then I really would've been on the ball, but yeah, you could kind of see this one coming," he said Wednesday with a laugh. "Kind of a timid choice, really."
Native American nicknames become bird mascots 39 percent of the time and assume colors 50 percent of the time, Bowie has found. By comparison, only 15 percent of other Division I schools have bird mascots and just 7 percent involve color.
"They kind of go for a bland or noncontroversial solution, and the bird is just sort of, you know, not going to offend anybody," said Bowie, a sociologist at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. "And so that's what (UND) ended up with."
UND also followed the national trend toward aggressive nicknames, by holding onto "fighting" from its Fighting Sioux name, retired in late 2012.
"I call them mean mascots," and they're rampant at small schools, Bowie said. "They don't have the confidence to have a happier logo. They feel like, 'Oh, we've got to intimidate people.'"
But Bowie is holding out hope that the UND logo won't be just another "angry bird."
"I think they still have a chance to have a logo that maybe expresses fun or excitement as opposed to just being pissed off," he said.
Some UND fans are less easy to please, but Bowie expects they'll come around.
"I'd give it five years," he said.