Environmentalists Sue “the Fighting Pines”
Who knew that pine trees had attorneys? Certainly not Chrislip College, home of the Fighting Pines. In a suit filed in district court, the Earth Defense Fund alleges that it is demeaning for pine trees to be associated with such a weak athletic program.
Normally schools choose their mascot based upon some characteristic that is supposed to strike fear into the hearts of their athletic opponents. “Lions” or “Tigers” are common examples. Chrislip College, however, has taken a different path, choosing its mascot based upon legal liability, and yet it has been sued every time.
Founded in a less politically-sensitive time, Chrislip College was originally known as the Spooks. The name made reference not to African Americans but to the specter of town founder Otto von Chrislip, whose spirit is said to haunt women’s restrooms across the campus. Since schools in the Northern Michigan Athletic Association have very few minority students, the NAACP alleged in a lawsuit that the school was attempting to capitalize on the apprehension that white people have for militant African American groups such as the Black Panthers. “We’ve earned that fear,” alleged Panthers founders Huey Percy Newton and Bobby Seale in a friend-of-the-court brief. “We can’t have these pathetic sports teams diminishing our brand.”
Eventually the two sides settled upon the relatively benign nickname the “Fighting Perch”. For a largely winless decade, “Fighting Perch” became synonymous with “automatic victory” for Chrislip College’s foes.
Then, in the 1970s, researchers in the Chrislip College science department discovered a new species of perch. On a lark, the pinheads named the new fish “the Fighting Perch”. However, the Fighting Perch was so rare that it was declared endangered. The EPA ruled it unseemly to name a sports team after an endangered species and pressured the school to again change their nickname. This time, for largely legal reasons, the school chose to name themselves after the most common of trees, the pine. Chrislip College has been known as the Fighting Pines for the past quarter century.
No one complained, least of all Chrislip’s largely-victorious opponents, until the suit landed on Dean Marner’s desk last week. But this time the school is fighting back. “We’re running out of names and patience,” complained Mr. Marner. “I’m beginning to think that if we didn’t have a nickname, we’d be sued by nihilists.”