I SAID of the Jacksonville Jaguars, "I never heard of a sports team named after a car." A colleague challenged me with:
Speaking of football, the University of Wisconsin is going to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 31 years, thanks in large part to one of the most liberal members of the Clinton cabinet, someone lTC you would not normally associate with college rah-rah. I mean Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala.
The story of how she appeased the Politically Correct Left with a nutty, leftist speech code when she was chancellor of the U of W at Madison is well known. Less well known is how she appeased the Athletically Correct Right. When she arrived there in 1989, the school was a pathetic loser in Big Ten football. She replaced the coach and the athletic director, and Barry Alvarez, the new head coach (formerly of Notre Dame), later said, "I had never seen the kind of support Donna gave our football program. We would bring in 70 high school recruits a year, with their parents. She would meet with every single one of them. That just doesn't happen."
Wisconsin won the Big Ten championship last week by beating Michigan State -- in Tokyo, before 50,000 fans who had paid up to $93 a ticket. This is a reminder that American popular culture is the most popular in the world.
I have a friend who believes soccer is the wave of the future in the United States. I doubt it. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if football turned out to be the wave of the future in Asia and Europe, and maybe in Latin America and Africa, too. National Football League exhibition games have been played in Barcelona, Berlin, London and Tokyo in recent years. The Washington Redskins played the San Francisco Forty-Niners before 61,722 fans in London last year.
If the Redskins can draw like that in London, think what they'd draw in Laurel, if Gov. William Donald Schaefer were to let them build a stadium there, which he might do, if the stadium was big enough, and if the team had a politically correct name. Jack Kent Cooke is talking about only 78,600 seats. The Redskins sell out now. There are some 40,000 would-be season ticket holders on the Redskins' waiting list. Tens of thousands of Baltimore area fans would like to be added, if Laurel becomes our team.
I'd like to see at least a 90,000-seat stadium there. Memorial Coliseum in L.A. seats over 90,000. Several college stadiums seat that many, including nearby Penn State.
Cooke says he'd name the team the Washington-Baltimore Redskins. That's politically incorrect.
I would prefer the Laurel Wreaths or the Washington-Baltimore Roans (get it? red horse, preserving the Redskins' and Colts' traditions), but under the circumstances the only politically correct name would be the Maryland Dons.