OT: Illinois alternate helmet?

Submitted by the Glove on March 5th, 2013 at 8:51 PM
http://imgur.com/P8bq6FO.jpg I'm on my phone so I can't embed. I uploaded the image from a text to imgur. I'm going to be honest, I can't verify the validity of it. One of my employee's brother is on the Illinois team and he just text him this image saying they will be wearing them this year. Illinois is changing their helmets this season (link below), so there is a good possibility. I'm sorry for the lack of evidence. I personally think they look pretty good. Thoughts? http://www.illinoisloyalty.com/Forums/showthread.php?t=19324



March 5th, 2013 at 9:04 PM ^

Remember when someone made all those fake NFL Nike Pro-Combat uni's a couple years ago? This is the same helmet the guy used for the Redskins uni's.


March 5th, 2013 at 9:22 PM ^

 it's because several tribes have in the past disliked being portrayed as warlike or fighting or "savages", etc. 

Illinois has managed to keep the "Fightin'" and "Illini" bits in their nickname alright.

FSU is also apparently got the seal of approval.

But North Dakota's "Fightin' Sioux" head piece logo and nickname is sort of up in the air again: http://www.jamestownsun.com/event/article/id/179882/group/News/

I don't think Illinois wants to risk shelling out money on potential defamation lawsuits with tribes in other states.  I'm not an attorney.

Their traditional "New York Giants"-like "ILLINOIS" slanted logo is safer.

Personally I preferred their circuluar "Illini" helmets from the early 1980s with Illiniwek helmet awards.


Feat of Clay

March 6th, 2013 at 11:00 AM ^

Eagle feathers are sacred objects (and I assume this helmet is supposed to be representing the eagle-feather headdress).  So I regard this as a rather casual treatment of another culture's treasured symbol.

I'm not against a team using a tribe-themed mascot, if it's done respectfully.  But eagle-feather headresses painted on a helmet crosses a line for me.


Moonlight Graham

March 5th, 2013 at 9:20 PM ^

And it's a great way to say "suck it" to political correctness. "Hey, it's just feathers, there's no Indian wearing them ... its just MEEEE!!!" 

As long as tribal leadership is ok with their name being used with pride, I don't see there being a problem on a case by case basis. The one that really gets me is the Redskins in our nation's capitol. Indians is also, um, not right. Braves and Chiefs seem ok I guess ... what's with these pro teams?? 

Sac Fly

March 5th, 2013 at 9:34 PM ^

Unlike a school that has other things to worry about besides sports, the NFL is a business and you can't tell me what I can name my NFL team.

Unless you're ready to take me to court over it you can't do anything but ask nicely. There isn't a man on earth who has big enough balls to take a billionaire like Dan Snyder to court over this.

Section 1

March 5th, 2013 at 9:41 PM ^

The best web-designer concept I ever saw, for any team, was this Charles Sellars one for the Illini:


The colors, the overall look and execution of this design, the way it would look on players, the way that it paid clever tribute to the school logo just below (which still is, or used to be official for Illinois, hence the trademark indication); just the best I've ever seen.

The FannMan

March 5th, 2013 at 9:36 PM ^

I am not normally a "pc" person.  I am not at all bothered by teams named the Fighting Sioux, the Seminoles, or the Chippewas, the Illini, etc.  (I do find the Fighting Irish to be deeply offensive, but that's another rant.)  

However, I found the use of what is clearly a Native American head dress to be a bit over the line.  I am not sure why, but this strikes me as offensive.  Maybe it is the positioning of it on the helmet as if the players are all wearing it.  

I am curious if anyone else feels this way.

Section 1

March 5th, 2013 at 9:51 PM ^

To have a white-kid undergraduate dress up as a kind of ersatz indian chief and do a crazy dance; I think it pushed too many people's buttons.  Personally, I loved it, and so did a couple generations of Illini.  But I am neither a native American nor an Illini.  And so I'll let them have their debate. 

Section 1

March 6th, 2013 at 9:28 AM ^

First, I wasn't putting down the tradition.

Second, I don't know that the person who "plays" the role of Chief Illinewek is required (?!) to have a component of Indian (any tribe?) genetic heritage. The Illini hold/held auditions for the character.

What's the proof/reference for the genetic requirement?

Section 1

March 6th, 2013 at 11:58 AM ^

So, BloomingtonBlue.  I checked my information.  As you asked:

  • Official (FIGHTINGILLINI.COM) link


(No mention of "having some Indian in him.")


  • Wikipedia page


No student portraying Chief Illiniwek was of American Indian heritage during the 82 year span,[14] although Brooks, a journalism major who had grown up on the Osage Reservation in Fairfax, Oklahoma, was described as an "honorary princess of the Osage Indian tribe".photo[15] Brooks weighed 90 pounds and her Chief regalia weighed 50.[1] However, more recently the most current "unofficial" Chief Illiniwek has been cited as to being half-Cherokee.[citation needed] 


  • Current news on Chief Illiniwek


(Student organization is holding a non-binding vote on some revival of the Chief, with the school saying that there's no way he is coming back officially.)

Video of what I gather was Chief Illiniwek's last dance in Assembly Hall:


(People can make their own judgments about my characterization of it being a crazy dance by a white kid.  Again; I never suggested that the Illini be forced to give it up.  All that I suggested was that for those who adhere to any form of political correctness, the dance was likely the last straw.  The jumping and the splits are by all accounts adaptations of modern gymnastics, with no relation to native dancing.)

  • "Eagle Scout requirement"

And about that Eagle Scout requirement.  It appears that back in the 1930's there had been some discussion about the role of Chief having a requirement that it be taken by someone who had been an Eagle Scout.  The first Chief was said to have been played by a young man who had been an Eagle Scout, and the dance ("Fancy Dancing," as it was called) was inspired by Indian-like dancing performed by Boy Scouts in the early part of the 20th century.  The 2002 book "Dancing at Halftime: Sports and the Controversy Over Indian Mascots" by Carol Spindel notes that the guy who was Chief Illiniwek from 1935-38 was in fact an Eagle Scout -- "a requirement in those days, although he doesn't remember anybody asking."


  • Summary

So to summarize:  I don't think that there is, or has been, any serious requirement about the genetic background of the student who plays Chief Illiniwek, and I'd be very surprised if any of the recent Chiefs have been Eagle Scouts.  The old history connecting selected Eagle Scouts with the role of Chief may have spawned the "requirement" rumor.  One former Chief, Mike Gonzalez, said that the only requirement was the actor's ability to do the "Eagle Spread," which is the spread-legged jump that I alluded to above in the description of the Chief Illiniwek dance.  That also may morphed into anincorrect belief that there was an "Eagle Scout requirement."


That reference just above actually turned up in some federal litigation over the Chief Illiniwek mascot, in Crue v. Aiken, 370 F.3d 668, 670 (7th Cir. 2004).  Judge Evans (in the majority) wrote an absolutely hilarious judicial opinion in the case.

Feat of Clay

March 6th, 2013 at 11:04 AM ^

Totally with you; I answered before seeing your reply. 

To me, a picture of an honored chief wearing a headdress is not at all offensive.  So, that drawing of Illiniwek with the feathers all around like a sunburst?  Super cool. 

But a helmet painted to look like every single player is "wearing" a headdress?  Nope.


March 5th, 2013 at 9:44 PM ^

Why doesn't anyone get mad if they put viking horns on a helmet? Or celebrate criminal acts with teams named after pirates?

Chief Illiniwek is cool, and they should use him as a mascot. Ignoring all that happened to the native americans won't make it go away, you know.


March 5th, 2013 at 11:12 PM ^

Because Americans/Colonials didn't push the Vikings off their land, fight brutal wars against them when they tried to resist, force them onto reservations and generally discriminate against them for hundreds of years. The Vikings are a representative of the cultural heritage of the people of Minnesota. Native American symbols are not truly representative of the cultural heritage of these areas. They were appropriated by Americans in an extremely disrespectful fashion and at a time when Amerindians still faced intense discrimination and Americanization attempts.

These images reinforce the worst stereotypes about Amerindians that we have been spouting off for centuries. The only reason why it doesn't seem to matter so much anymore is that because of of the actions of colonial powers and the US governments, Amerindians make up such a small part of our population.

The fact that people constantly compare the situation to that of the Fighting Irish or the Vikings is proof that a huge number of Americans still don't get it. I for one believe that there is a way to keep some of these names as a way of honoring Native Americans, their history and continuing to move beyond our past. FSU is a good example. The Redskins and Chief Wahoo show how far we still have to go.


March 5th, 2013 at 11:30 PM ^

Banning Native American representations in popular culture does just as much damage to the plight of Native Americans by sweeping them under the rug as does actually giving them tribe approved press.

If people falsely compare them to the Viking or Irish issues, it's because there hasn't been enough exposure. This isn't "Red Man Chewing Tobacco" here. This is a state-funded university proudly embracing the strong Native American traditions of their environment. If the tribe (or whatever modern day native americans are functional caretakers of that tirbe's heritage) okays it, and it's represented in a proper light (native americans DID have warriors, and they were generally regarded as brave and skilled), then all it does is make everyone remember what happened and feel compelled to learn more.

You're creating problems by assuming that anyone using these images is misrepresenting them. Is it poissible to misrepresent them? Sure. But banning them isn't the answer.


March 5th, 2013 at 11:41 PM ^

Perhaps I didn't make myself full clear, but dismissing my comment as "bull" without acknowleding that I have any point is ridiculous. I don't disagree that there is a place for Amerindian team names or imagery in sports and I never said I did. But, when most of these names were created, it certainly was not to honor the tribes in any genuine way. It the very best it was a reinforcement of the trope of the noble savage.

I do think it's possible to rescue names like Seminoles, Huron, Chippewas from this fate by doing just as you said: embracing the tradition. However, it's also important to reflect on the ways that these names have reinforced negative stereotypes in the past.

The fact is that people using these images are misrepresenting them, most egregiously the Redskins and Cleveland Indians.


March 5th, 2013 at 10:02 PM ^

Not sure UI wants to go the route of putting de facto headdresses on their players, but if I'm completely disregarding all civil, political, and compliance-related reservations (NPI) about this design... I think these would look pretty damn sweet.


March 5th, 2013 at 10:54 PM ^

A confederation of tribes? It was a group and if there aren't any tribes still in existence that have an issue, then let the school use the headdress.

I personally like the helmets MUCH better than the current helmet logo


March 5th, 2013 at 11:14 PM ^

If Big Ten schools were available for sale at the hardware store, Illinois would be in the white package with black Arial-font lettering that said "SCHOOL."  So it's appropriate really that only Illinois could put a simple block I on the helmet and have it be more interesting than the last one.