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Chief Illiniwek Turns 80; To Celebrate, Students Get Drunk

By Shannon in News on Nov 11, 2006 6:25PM

Chicagoist works in an office full of men. Manly men. The kind who drink beer and eat meat and watch football ... lots and lots of football. Through this circumstance, we have come to know way more about college football than we would otherwise know. For example, that the Illini are having a pretty crappy season. 2-8? Good luck. They're going up against Purdue (6-4) in Champaign even as we type this.

But thankfully, that's really not why we're here. We're here to talk about the fact that it's the 80th anniversary of the embattled mascot Chief Illiniwek, and to coincide with the last home game this season for U of I, as many as 18 former chiefs will be on hand. One of them is currently 92 years of age and played the Chief in 1931 and '32. And he plans to don the costume again? Criminy. Sports drive people to do crazy things.

chiefSome would call it crazy just to have the Chiefs there at all. Despite a declaration that this year would be the mascot's last appearance at home games, and the NCAA's barring of any school with "hostile and abusive imagery" from hosting championship games, the university's Board of Trustees has still not officially come out and said that the Chief will be retired. Stephen Kaufman, a professor emeritus of U of I, is mad and hell and he's not going to take it anymore: he and sundry other teachers have been mailing letters to prospective sporting students decrying the mascot. In rebuttal, a current student set up a petition on Facebook calling for those teachers' resignation; so far, it has 775 members. A far cry from the 30,000+ undergrads at Urbana, and some of those members might not even be from U of I, but there's a considerable amount of people who want to keep the Chief. Our question is: If a bunch of people support it ... does that make it any less wrong?

Image via james496.