Unionville mascot discussion a worthy topic

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

Let me be the first to say, good for the students of Unionville High School.

Let me also say, some of the adults need to cool it, too.

The students created and led an Identity Council to start to have discussions about the school’s Indian name and mascot. As I’ve noted to school officials over the years, it is inevitable that at some point, the name and iconography would become increasingly troubling.

A public meeting had been called to discuss the options and merits — but heated social media posts and other issues led to the meeting being called off, for what Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Superintendent John Sanville called a “pause button” or cooling off period.

Obviously, one can argue whether changing the mascot name and iconography is troubling or just being overly politically correct. I would argue the former — and this is a discussion being had with high schools, colleges and professional teams nationally.

And it would seem that the Unionville community has twice as many reasons to at least have this discussion.

Although the initial motivation seemed to be driven by a desire to honor the local Lenni-Lenape tribe (as the names Pocopson and Lenape Road do in the area, to name a tiny few) an increased understanding of history leads us to consider whether “Indians” is the best tribute — a term coined mistakenly by Christopher Columbus, who thought he was much closer to Asia than he really was. Columbus’ legacy has also been under reevaluation, too, and he is now less seen as a brave explorer than at best, an opportunist and worst, someone guilty of genocide.

In this community, the term Indians is double-weighted: with a large and growing South Asian population, the use of the nickname becomes somewhat more problematic.

So, as it is their school, I give the kids a lot of credit for stepping up and asking the question, “is this how we want to represent ourselves?”

Maybe, at the end of the day, the answer is yes. Maybe not.

Without question, though, it is a conversation worth having and if some dyed in the wool grown ups can’t cope with the idea of change, so be it. As someone much wiser than me once said, “change is the only constant in the universe.”

So, it is time to talk about it — even if nothing changes, the conservation is good to have.

My own two cents:

It is time to start thinking about a change — it seems kind of uniformed to use any ethnic moniker for sports teams. If Unionville aspires to be the best, it needs to show leadership in areas across the board, and this can be one.

More importantly, when one thinks of Unionville, one tends to think of horses, anyway. From New Bolton, to Willowdale, this is a horse community. Why not honor that instead? Stallions, Mustangs, Colts, Steeplechasers — the options are almost limitless — and a redesign of the Unionville “U” into a horseshoe pretty much designs itself.

In the meantime, everyone should take a step back, take a deep breath and do something unusual in these times: listen to one another. Maybe it is time for a change, maybe it isn’t — but if we can’t have a constructive, healthy conversation about it, what does that say about us as a community?

Whatever the outcome, Unionville needs to show it is better than petty bickering and name calling on social media. Let’s act like grown ups and hash this out in a fair and reasoned manner.

Unionville is better than this. Let’s show it.

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