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Published May 16 2012

Forum editorial: Forum poll good news for UND

A few conclusions can be gleaned from the results of a Forum Communications poll regarding Measure 4, the question of whether to retire the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux nickname and image. The first is that most North Dakotans have gotten the message that the logo has to go in order for UND athletics to thrive in Division I NCAA competition. The second is that very few of those polled believe the controversial imagery is “hostile and abusive,” as the NCAA says it is.

Poll numbers also showed that a third of those who said they would vote “yes” (to retire the nickname) will do so because they just want it all to end. The weariness factor is making a difference in the way North Dakotans view the measure.

The finding that the “hostile and abusive” description is not shared by most North Dakotans suggests that, if it were possible, they would rather not scrap the logo. But North Dakotans are smart and pragmatic. They understand the NCAA will not bend. Since the NCAA is a private membership organization (not a government agency), UND’s choices are to adhere to the rules of the organization or quit and join another athletic association. But without NCAA membership, UND would drift into a backwater of collegiate athletics at a time when the school’s sports teams are demonstrating they are fit to compete at the NCAA’s D-I level. UND hockey, of course, has been competing at the highest level for years.

But it’s not only about collegiate sports, although anyone who dismisses the sports factor is living in never-never land. UND’s reputation as a first-rate academic, research and sports school has been battered by the nickname circus. Whether a small but noisy cabal of parochial North Dakotans like it or not, UND plays on a national stage. The protracted logo drama has detracted from the university’s hard-earned status as a school of national prominence.

Of special note: The poll found that Cass County, home of the North Dakota State University Bison athletic teams, was second only to Grand Forks County in saying the logo should be retired. That result suggests the people of Bisonville understand that a UND undistracted by the logo debate is the best choice, not only for UND but also for NDSU and a vigorous and respectful rivalry between the schools.

The poll numbers are good news for North Dakota. They suggest a measure of maturity, insight and common sense that sometimes has been hard to detect in the nickname saga.


Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.


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