During last Monday’s school board meeting to discuss the issue of the Braves nickname, several people who made public comments, really struck a chord with me. Unfortunately it wasn’t in a good way. Essentially, they kept referring back to Eastern dropping the Hurons name and how donations fell off after that. The implication was that by changing the nickname, people would stop supporting Ypsilanti High School, as if it suddenly ceased to exist. The fact that people are so attached to a nickname that it means more to them than the people behind it is disturbing. Do you support a football team because of the name of that team? or is it because your kids go there and it’s a part of your community.
The reason people who graduated from Ypsilanti High School have been successes in life has nothing whatsoever to do with the Braves name. It’s because of the teachers they had, the relationships they built and the lessons they learned. If someone is so attached to team nickname that they would stop supporting a school when the name changes, then I say good riddance to them, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. As my friend Eric put it best, the way we treat the least among us says much more about us than the way we treat the majority. Just because the native Americans are relatively few in number, that does not excuse our appropriating their identity for a cheer.
The junior student who spoke of coming into Ypsi High with no connection to the name, but then becoming attached to his identity as an Ypsi High student spoke the truth without even realizing it. Students who come in next year will have no connection to a new name. But over the time they spend there, they will build their own identity, based on their own experiences. Only those who refuse to let go of what is already gone will have a problem. We must learn the lessons of the past but live in the present as we move into the future. If I see one more person crying about what a nickname means to them or their parent, I think I’ll scream. Get a life people! Move on.