Trivial Sports Histories: Fightin' Whities

Trivial Sports Histories: Fightin' Whities
Whitey killed it in online t-shirt sales

We've all heard of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish, and the NFL team known as the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, also the former team name of Miami University, was changed to "the Redhawks" in the mid 1990s amidst minor controversy.

Those of us more versed in colleges are familiar with the Ragin' Cajuns of University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Or, that an all-female college in Philadelphia felt the need to change its name from Beaver College to Arcadia U.

Sometimes names of colleges and their sports teams are just damn awkward.

Believe it or not, Gettysburg College, which sits a half-mile from the famous, bloody Civil War ground chose to name its teams the Bullets. Not kidding. Even the NBA's Washington Bullets, who are located in the often-times murder capital of the US, went ahead and changed their name almost two decades ago.

But, in the cold winter months of early 2002, an intramural team caused a national controversy for perhaps the first time in the history of sports.

A couple of students at the University of Northern Colorado decided it would be funny and somewhat brilliant to take a page from the long held naming traditions in sports.

Naming their intramural basketball team the "Fightin' Whities" the college boys hoped to take a tongue-in-cheek approach to their team's moniker and also make a statement about the dumbness of giving sports teams names after ethnicities. A few of the players were reportedly of Native American descent and considered it a bold stance to take about an issue they took to heart.

In particular, the Fightin' Whities had in mind the "Fightin' Reds" of the local Eaton High School, nearby the university. That school's "Reds" mascot had been depicted as "a caricatured Indian with a misshapen nose," wearing a loincloth and eagle feather.

After some steaming by various news orgs and conservative talking heads nationwide, the Fightin' Whities began hawking their game shirt online. They eventually sold enough t-shirts online to endow a scholarship fund for Native American students at UNC.

In 2003, the team donated $100,000 to the University of Northern Colorado's UNC Foundation, which included $79,000 designated for the "Fightin' Whites Minority Scholarship".

Despite their fame, very little information and virtually no stats are available for the Fightin' Whities' 2002 or 2003 indoor basketball season.


Andy Frye writes about sports and life here, and covers local football for ESPNChicago.com

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  • I love it! The opposing team's cheerleaders can yell "Get those whities!"

    But what's the mascot? A swastika? I vote for something tamer, like a belt-mounted cell phone holder or a $6 latte.

  • I think the mascot is a pushy guy in a suit peddling whole life insurance policies.

  • HAHA!! Whiteys. They are so silly.

  • Well, I take offense, dammit! The white guy on the shirt looks like my Dad.

    (Andy, by the way, this is the closest I can get to Jenna's blog right now because I'm temporarily banned from High Gloss and Sauce. Not sure if I'm good now or if I'm still suppose to sit in the corner, but can you give a good word for me, thanks).

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