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Life out here by Bret Kofford: If not Arabs, how about …?

January 30, 2002

Arabs are rubbing some of us the wrong way.

So, according to an informed source, some students, faculty and other employees at Imperial Valley College want to change the nickname of the college's sports teams from Arabs to something more palatable in these times. They think such a change is paramount as this country and other right-thinking nations from around the world battle certain elements from the Arab world, including those who have attacked us or would if they had the chance.

One can see the point of those concerned about IVC teams being called the Arabs in 2002. No one can doubt the vitality of this issue. Sure, many Arabs are our allies in these trying times and the IVC teams are not named the Arab Terrorists or the Arab Suicide Bombers, but the whole image of Arabs, despite decades of IVC teams carrying the nickname, is no longer politically correct.


We could guess the name of the IVC teams had its derivation in the fact that the college is in the desert and desert-based Arabs for centuries maintained the image of brave, dedicated, tireless fighters for the causes in which they believed. And the idea, one would guess, was that our desert warriors would fight like proud Arab warriors in their athletic battles.

And for much of our nation's history there was no particularly bad connotation of being an Arab in America, other than those associated with Jamie Farr.

Times change.

So IVC may need a new nickname for its teams, one that reflects this area and its heritage. There are many areas where we could go for a new team name.

There are the monikers that could be taken from our local flora and fauna, a typical repository for school team names. We could be the IVC Sand Gnats, the Burrowing Owls, the Tilapia, the Kangaroo Rats (suggested by colleague Richard Montenegro), the Bighorn Sheep, the Flat-Tailed Horned Lizards, the Skunks, the Whiteflies, the Coyotes, the Pierson's Milkvetches (another Montenegro idea), the Creosotes, the Migrating Monarch Butterflies, the Barrel Cacti, the Red Gum Lerp Psyllids, the Clapper Rails, and my own favorite from this group, the Desert Pupfish.

We could go to the local ways of life, as so many colleges do for their nicknames. We could be the IVC Farmers, the Drug Runners, the Water Marketers, the Field Burners, the Lettuce Cutters, the Carne Asada Barbecuers, the Feedlot Cowboys, the Geothermal Drillers, the Border Crossers, the Dunes Drinkers, the Off-Roaders, the Mexican Restaurant Owners and Employees, the Chinese Restaurant Owners and Employees, the Packing Shed Workers, the Correctional Officers, the Coyotes (the human kind), the pest control advisers, the fallowers, and the Guys Who Sit Around Brunner's And Think People Actually Care About Their Opinions.

We could call on our Hispanic/border heritage and use something with a Spanish flair that is appropriate for the area. We could be the IVC Gatos, Patos, Borregos, Del Fuegos, Muchachos, Gabachos. Since many of us wear sandals nearly year-round, IVC could be the Chancludos. In honor of our men in green, the teams could be the IVC La Migra.

We could name our IVC team something that only local people could understand, as some schools do. We could have the IVC Zanjeros. (What is a Torre, by the way, La Jolla Country Day School?)

Firefighters have never been more admired and beloved in this country, and rightfully so. How about calling our IVC teams the Firefighters, but doing so with one of the coolest words in Spanish, the Bomberos?

IVC could simply cite its own heritage as the longtime hub of higher learning in the Valley. The team could be the IVC Scholars, the Academicians, the Sexual Harassers.

But the best thing to do would be to go with a name that reflects strength, honor, heritage and resolve, even in troubled times, even when the going really gets tough.

Hey, how about Arabs?

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