The University of Illinois Fighting Illini will be missing something when they kickoff their football season on Sept. 2 against Ball State. After last football season, the school decided to stop playing the “war chant” music at the school’s games, although the announcement didn’t come until Thursday.
Athletic department spokesman Kent Brown told the Associated Press that the decision was made after the end of the team’s football season last year, but will officially go into effect going forward.
“There are people who felt that was an offensive Native American chant or music,” Brown said. “Another big part of that was that we had used it on third-down situations and our fan reaction to that was not as good as when we used our video board to prompt our fans.”
What seems like a multi-faceted reason for ending the chants, is likely more because of the people that take offense to it than anything else, but a dual reason allows the school to take off some of the heat that comes from some fans.
The AP also states that “NCAA sanctions imposed in 2005 barred Illinois from hosting postseason events. Two years later, in 2007, the university retired the chief. Those who support the Chief Illiniwek tradition have maintained that the mascot was meant to show respect to American Indians.”
There has been plenty of push back from fans regarding Native American mascots, names and affiliations with schools and teams. But removing the “war chants” at games is in the best interest of all parties involved.
A question that will be asked going forward is whether teams like Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves or NCAA’s Florida State University Seminoles will move in the same direction.