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A Symbol of the South Used by Teams in the North

As I’m sure you’re all aware, the nation is currently in the midst of a robust discussion about the Confederate battle flag. That discussion has spilled over into the sports world, as NASCAR chairman Brian France has said that he wants the flag eliminated at races. I wrote about the intersection of the flag and uniforms myself in 2011, when I wrote an ESPN piece about a Yankees minor league affiliate that wore the flag as a sleeve patch.

I realize that many high schools and colleges in the South have worn the Confederate flag in various capacities over the years. Maybe some of them still do — I’m not sure. But over the past few days I’ve learned of a new wrinkle: A surprising number of northern high schools — schools located in states that fought for the Union during the Civil War — have worn the flag. Here are three examples:

1. Great Neck South High School on Long Island, whose teams are called the Rebels, used the Confederate flag as its logo until 1981. (That’s one of their players shown at the top of this entry.) According to that article, the mother of a black student even sewed Confederate flag patches onto the football team’s uniforms.

2. From a reader who prefers to remain anonymous: “Walpole High in Massachusetts had the flag until the mid-1990s. A guy who graduated from the school in the 1960s and now lives next to the football field still flies it, even though town asked him to take it down.”

3. Twitter user @holycalamity pointed me to this story about Willoughby South High School in Ohio, whose teams are called the Rebels. Key passage: “In the mid-’90s, the school board voted to ban the flag, removing the symbol some find offensive from school grounds and from all athletic apparel. However, fast forward more than 20 years, and you will still find some students with the controversial flag embroidered on their letterman jackets, despite the fact they’re not able to wear them while at school.”

Now, I’m aware that the Confederate battle flag is flown by people all over the country, not just in the South. I’ve traveled in 49 states and have probably seen the flag in about 35 of them, almost always in rural areas, where it serves as an all-purpose “Don’t fuck with me, I’m living life by my own rules” symbol. (I’m also aware that “Rebels” is an appealing team name for some folks, although, as we’ve discussed before, that appeal is mostly predicated on bullshit.)

Still, there’s a big difference between a person choosing to display a symbol and a school (which, as a civic institution and an agent of the state, is supposed to represent everyone) adopting that symbol as a logo, especially in a state whose citizens died while fighting against that symbol. Whether you think the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of Southern heritage or a symbol of racial oppression, it’s pretty remarkable that it was adopted as a symbol for northern high schools. While all three of the above-listed schools have stopped using it, it’s amazing to me that they ever used it at all. How about you?

Update: Some commenters are using this topic as an excuse to debate whether the Confederate battle flag is “offensive,” whether it should be removed from the South Carolina statehouse grounds, and other tangential issues that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. I ask that you all respect these ground rules: We are not going to relitigate whether the flag is a symbol of Southern heritage or of racial oppression, nor are we going to debate the appropriateness of its place in South Carolina (or on license plates, etc.). The topic up for discussion is the surprising sight of a Southern symbol being used by schools and teams in the north. Please stick to that. Thanks.

•  •  •  •  •

Baseball News: “I had lunch in Columbia, Maryland on Sunday,” says Andrew Hoenig. “In the hall outside the restrooms, they had this hooked rug. That’s Ty Cobb, and the uni is correct, but I have no idea who the other guy is, or what team he plays for.” ”¦ Brewers OF Carlos Gomez has such a violent swing that his helmet pops off,” says Mike. “It happened yesterday against the Twins, so C Martin Maldonado hooked Gomez up with a makeshift ‘chinstrap’ for his helmet.” ”¦ Also from Mike: “Robinson Cano was hit in the face by an errant warm-up throw while sitting in the dugout the other day. While in the dugout on Sunday, he put on a catcher’s mask to prevent further injury.” ”¦ I’ve mentioned many times that Tigers P David Price usually doesn’t have a squatchee, going back to his days with the Rays. Apparently this was discussed on the air during yesterday Tigers game, with the announcers saying Price doesn’t like the feel of the squatchee, which he refers to as “the ouch button.” How great is that?! (From @drmain5.) ”¦ Lots of striped socks in Pittsburgh yesterday, although Andrew McCutchen went with two-in-ones). ”¦ Mariners P Felix Hernandez, usually a dedicated pajamist, went high-cuffed yesterday. That’s nice to see, but what’s with the solid navy socks? Didn’t the M’s officially switch to striped hose this year? Reliever Mike Lowe also sported the navy socks. Further depressing confirmation that hosiery in today’s MLB is just another player-customizable accessory, not a uniform element. Sigh. ”¦ Speaking of socks, check out what the Salt Lake Bees wore yesterday. Yowza! (From Jason Stapley.) ”¦ Last September Todd Radom created some updated versions of the Mets’ logo. One of them replaced the bridge in the foreground with the High Line. That logo somehow made it onto a local TV news broadcast here in NYC yesterday (good catch by Matthew P. Hanes IV). … Here’s a look at the history of the All-Star Game MVP trophy (from Brian Lorello).

Hockey News: Looks like the Coyotes’ new uniforms (which Phil covered in depth on Saturday) will have captaincy letters on the right side of the jersey. ”¦”Here’s an observation from the NHL draft,” says M.Q. Grimes. “All drafted players had the draft year — 15 — on their jerseys, except for Connor McDavid — the Oilers presented him with a No. 97 jersey, which is his number.” ”¦ Some beer league hockey team wears Astros tequila sunrise jerseys! (From Alvin Burk.)

Soccer News: New kit for Kawasaki Frontale (from @holycalamity). ”¦ “I visited and toured Tottenham’s White Hart Lane last week,” says Morris Levin. “On the bulletin board in the home locker room (which did not actually have lockers) was this sheet of UEFA uni rules.” ”¦ Last week was MLS’s Rivalry Week, and the league commissioned Futbol Artists Group to create cinematic posters for the five rivalry games (from Yusuke Toyoda). ”¦ The Red Bulls and NYCFC went blue vs. blue. ”¦ Someone gave rapper Pharrell Williams a Monaco jersey with a double-decker FNOB.

Grab Bag: New marching band uniforms for UT-Arlington. ”¦ Many members of the Auburn Giants — that’s a women’s Australian rules football team — are Muslim, so they play while wearing a headscarf, long sleeves, and long pants (from Graham Clayton). ”¦ Good story about how UNC started using argyle on its teams’ uniforms (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Here’s a good look at how the Star Wars stormtrooper uniform has evolved (from Bob Kile). ”¦ Some idiot in Arkansas went on a rant about his local NBC TV affiliate changing its logo to “gay colors,” apparently not realizing that NBC’s logo has had rainbow-ish peacock colors for years. ”¦ In a related item, Yahoo really did change its logo to rainbow colors (as did many other sites on the web) after Friday’s Supreme Court ruling affirmed a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage. When a Yahoo user objected and said he wanted to delete his Yahoo account, the company’s tech support group sent him a link to help him delete the account as quickly as possible. … Convicted murderer and prison escapee David Sweat, who was shot and captured yesterday after several weeks on the run, was wearing some pretty nice striped socks when he was apprehended.

99 comments to A Symbol of the South Used by Teams in the North

  • DenverGregg | June 29, 2015 at 8:26 am |

    Denver South High School still uses Rebels as mascot, but dropped the CSA flag around 1980. It had apparently been in use since the 1940s. About a decade ago they used the Superman logo, but that got nixed by DC comics. Now they use a griffin, which does echo an architectural element of the building. Their colors are purple and white.

    Columbine High School in the outer southern suburbs of metro Denver also uses Rebels as the mascot. I’m not aware of them ever using the CSA flag (they opened in the early 1970s), but they do use the colors Blue and Grey.

    • Keith S. | June 30, 2015 at 12:02 am |

      Columbine has never used the CSA flag. (I didn’t attend Columbine, but I’ve been in the area since the school started). I don’t know if there was discussion at the time (of inception) about whether or not to use the flag, but if there was, the flag was never adopted.

      For a while (and they may still have it, I’m not sure), they had a very New England Patriot-esque logo on their helmet, but that’s about as close to a “Rebel” as I’ve seen over the years.

      On an interesting side note, I was at Denver South about 5 or so years ago, talking to students, and I noticed the CSA flag on a plaque. I didn’t stop to read it, and I suspect it was from many years ago, but it caught my eye.

  • DenverGregg | June 29, 2015 at 8:26 am |

    Fourth link in the soccer section is wonky.

    • Paul Lukas | June 29, 2015 at 8:56 am |

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • The Jeff | June 29, 2015 at 8:41 am |

    Why is it that history’s bad guys always have the cooler looking flags?

    • Adam R. W. | June 29, 2015 at 8:53 am |

      Same reason they tend to have the more charismatic leaders… It takes a lot to get massive numbers of people to buy into terrible ideas.

    • walter | June 29, 2015 at 9:26 am |

      The forbidden fruit phenomenon: Nothing looks cooler than a taboo symbol! When I was little, I used to idly sketch swastikas only to have my parents order me to cross them out. Only later did I learn of the pain they cause. But, yeah, the rebel pride of using a forbidden symbol has its intoxicating qualities.

    • marc | June 29, 2015 at 10:29 am |

      The good guys have their fair share. I’ve always thought the U.S., Canada and UK (despite – or perhaps because of – the mismatched St. Andrew’s and St. Patrick’s red diagonal stripes) have great flags.

      That said, the Jolly Roger – and many of it’s variations – are about as bad-ass as a flag gets.

      • diggerjohn99 | June 29, 2015 at 3:05 pm |

        The Union Jack is lined up like that intentionally, it looks even when flying in the breeze.

    • KC | June 29, 2015 at 2:48 pm |

      The Army of Northern Virginia Battle Flag really is a nice piece of design, and God knows the Nazis had a way with graphic design.

  • kooklaFran&Ollie | June 29, 2015 at 8:44 am |

    Just saw highlights of Portland beating Seattle in soccer yesterday

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/fanendo-adi-leads-timbers-past-sounders-4-1-025226809–mls.html

    The Portland team wears jerseys with “Alaska Airlines” on the front of them so it looks like they are an Alaskan team.

    God I hate corporate uniforms

    • Brett Alan | June 29, 2015 at 12:24 pm |

      Hey, that’s nothing compared to the European teams whose shirts advertise Malaysia and Qatar!

    • KT | June 29, 2015 at 3:33 pm |

      Do the New York Cosmos look like a UAE team, then?

      Alaska Air is, oddly enough, based in Seattle.

    • Greg Brown | June 29, 2015 at 6:30 pm |

      Actually, they look like baggage handlers at SeaTac.

      • rick | June 29, 2015 at 8:46 pm |

        Last year was in the Portland Airport and sitting in one of the Alaska Airlines gates was the Portland Timbers team. At least they were representing their sponsors.

  • Chris S. | June 29, 2015 at 8:51 am |

    Besides Sweat’s socks, did anyone else notice the guy working on him was wearing a Syracuse “Sweat” shirt?.

    • marc | June 29, 2015 at 10:20 am |

      Sweat’s? Socks? Sweat’s socks? Sweatsocks? See what I did there?

      On second thought, pretend you never saw this.

  • ThresherK | June 29, 2015 at 8:51 am |

    Some idiot in Arkansas went on a rant about his local NBC TV affiliate changing its logo to “gay colors,” apparently not realizing that NBC’s logo has had rainbow-ish peacock colors for years.

    He has no older relatives to tell him how color TV became a thing, about fifty ago?

    Heck, NBC’s peacock deserves to be in someone’s hall of fame. It’s a stroke of brilliance which immediately imprinted NBC and Color TV together. (And I’m old enough to remember when color TV wasn’t everywhere.)

  • Coleman | June 29, 2015 at 8:56 am |

    Ritchie County High School here in WV (a rival of my alma mater) is called the Rebels. They have used a soldier with a saber as their mascot for years, but I don’t believe they ever officially used the Confederate flag. That’s not to say it wasn’t EVERYWHERE, just that it was student driven.

    Kind of odd for a school in WV of all states to choose that name/mascot…

  • loserem | June 29, 2015 at 8:58 am |

    Ahnold had a good retort to someone questioning his use of the rainbow:

    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/06/27/22/2A0A1FE200000578-0-image-a-6_1435440184007.jpg

    • The Jeff | June 29, 2015 at 9:03 am |

      In that guy’s defense, I’m not sure if superimposing a rainbow on top of a picture of a violent killing machine is really sending the right message…

  • Thomas Kaine | June 29, 2015 at 9:05 am |

    Wait, I’ve been told for the last week that anyone who uses the confederate flag is a racist/traitor/Klan-member. Yet, in these stories, there are mentions of people that a) don’t care b) don’t see the negative association c) take the flag as a symbol for being a “rebel” and nothing more. How can this be? I thought anyone within 50 feet of a rebel flag was a whip-crackin’, white hooded maniac.

    • scott | June 29, 2015 at 9:29 am |

      Were people offended by the Confederate flag-painted on the General Lee on the Dukes of Hazzard? If they were, I sure don’t remember that being the case.

      • Paul Lukas | June 29, 2015 at 9:31 am |

        Actually, yes, some people were.

        But that’s not what we’re discussing here today. We are not going to relitigate whether this flag is “offensive.” No matter which side of that debate you fall on, it’s nonetheless interesting and surprising to see northern high schools using the flag as a logo. THAT topic is up for discussion.

  • Tom | June 29, 2015 at 9:07 am |

    The link in the grab bag about the dumbfvck hill jack from Arkansas was priceless. He epitomizes that state: dumb as rocks and a massive bigot. He can go fvck himself, as can that entire state.

    • Paul Lukas | June 29, 2015 at 9:27 am |

      Let’s not paint with that type of broad brush. The guy was/is an idiot — that’s enough.

    • Uni Troll | June 29, 2015 at 1:45 pm |

      Wow.

      The intentional misspellings in that comment were jvst trve kvlt.

      • Tom | June 29, 2015 at 2:13 pm |

        Your mother is a whore

        • Uni Troll | June 29, 2015 at 2:23 pm |

          /highfive

        • KC | June 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm |

          Trebeck

  • DJ | June 29, 2015 at 9:17 am |

    Thornton Fractional South High School in south suburban Chicago names its athletic teams “Rebels.” This photo of the 1970 color guard indicates they had the Stars and Bars as part of it:

    http://spiralblue.net/tfs/70_054.htm

    • Ronnie Poore | June 29, 2015 at 9:36 am |

      The flag in that photo is not the “Stars and Bars” (see here: http://www.aboutflags.com/categories/confederate—1st-national-stars-and-bars )

      The flag with that color guard appears to be rectangular, which would make it the 2nd Confederate Naval Jack, flown by CSA watercraft from 1863-65. The “Battle Flag” version is square in shape.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flags_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America

      and yes, i do support the efforts to remove Confederate flags.

      • DJ | June 29, 2015 at 9:45 am |

        Thanks for correcting my terminology.

    • Chuck Eldridge | June 29, 2015 at 12:28 pm |

      Ha. I just posted a TF South note too. My mother and uncle attended the school in the early ’60s. My Aunt went to TF North – which surprisingly was not the “Yankees” to keep with the mascot theme, but rather they were the Meteors.

  • Joseph Gerard | June 29, 2015 at 9:34 am |

    You know, having ancestors from both sides of the Civil War (my grandmother’s great uncle fought for the Union–I’m not going to discuss who fought for the Confederacy since he’s a little well-known), I’ve never been comfortable with the Confederate flag, even in a historical context since it never was the official flag of the CSA.

    With that said, removing the flag isn’t going to stop hate crimes. And the funny thing is, nine people lost their lives when they didn’t need to, yet we’re talking about this instead. Instead of mourning who died, we’re talking about what the shooter had up on a website. Like seriously, where is our priorities in this country? It is good to see same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. But we have soliders fighting overseas and other hate crimes continue to happen at home while we are discussing a flag.

    • Paul Lukas | June 29, 2015 at 9:50 am |

      Discussing uniforms isn’t going to stop hate crimes either, but here we are.

      One more time: We are not going to relitigate the Confederate flag’s meaning today. The topic up for discussion is how a symbol of the South was adopted (and then dropped) by schools and teams in the North. That is an interesting topic — feel free to discuss it.

      • Joseph Gerard | June 29, 2015 at 10:37 am |

        I do think it’s ironic that schools in the North would adopt it. Hell, I think it’s ironic that anyone living west of Texas & Oklahoma and north of Missouri, Kentucky, and Virginia even use it, probably not more so than in West Virginia–a state that BROKE OFF from Virginia during the Civil War because of slavery (among other issues)–that is very contradictory to its history. And yes, as a lifelong PA resident I see it a lot here, about 98% being in rural areas, or as we call it here “Pennsyltucky”.

        But as I discussed a few years ago, if it wasn’t for Hitler I’m sure we would see the swastika being used on a lot of team’s uniforms that have Native American nicknames. Obviously, teams aren’t going to use swastikas post-WWII, but they have no problem using the Confederate flag.

  • walter | June 29, 2015 at 9:41 am |

    The late ’70s was a tipping point in the acceptance of the Confederate flag: One year the General Lee was charging across the TV, the following year the hockey team at my high school got blowback for the flags they put on the sleeve of their sweaters. They all liked Southern rock and bonded over Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crash, but this gesture met with resistance.

    As for naming your team the Rebels, I don’t have a problem if the mascot is well-chosen. The American colonists were called rebels by the British. In fact, had the New England Patriots been the New England Rebels all this time, not one bit of their iconography would have needed to be altered.

    • terriblehuman | June 29, 2015 at 10:44 am |

      It’s interesting how the flag (at least in mainstream culture) is a relatively recent and short-lived phenomenon.

      My understanding was that the use of the rebel flag was all but nonexistent outside white supremacist groups until 1948, when it was adopted by the Dixiecrats (though I guess you could describe them as a white supremacist group too, but with a little more legitimacy).

      Georgia didn’t incorporate the design into its flag until 1956 and South Carolina didn’t fly the flag at its capitol until 1962.

    • walter | June 29, 2015 at 10:45 am |

      Oh, I neglected to mention this was New Rochelle High School. New Rochelle is south of Scarsdale, if it makes a difference.

    • Bruce Richards | June 29, 2015 at 2:34 pm |

      The pro football team name in the 2007 Dwayne Johnson/Disney movie “The Game Plan” actually was the Boston Rebels, using this same thought process.

  • walter | June 29, 2015 at 9:44 am |

    Paul, one of your advertisers is using bad code. Your site has crashed my Safari without exception all morning.

    • Dumb Guy | June 29, 2015 at 9:57 am |

      Something is making my Chrome display a sad face occasionally today too.

  • Mainspark | June 29, 2015 at 9:59 am |

    Never understood flying the Stars and Bars north of the Mason-Dixon line.

    Here’s an interesting flag that doesn’t quite fit the current narrative: It the First Cherokee Mounted Rifles flag which was the battle flag of the Cherokees and other native tribes in armed support of the Confederacy in Missouri and Kansas in 1861-1863.

    http://www.civilwarvirtualmuseum.org/1861-1862/native-americans-in-the-war/cherokee-braves-flag.php

    • TIm | June 29, 2015 at 11:30 am |

      The Confederate Battle Flag (the one in question) is not the “Stars and Bars” FYI. That description is for the original Confederate flag, which is a totally different design (very similar to the US flag, incidentally). People often misuse the term “Stars and Bars” to ID the battle flag.

      • Mainspark | June 29, 2015 at 4:24 pm |

        Of course you are right. I know that the battle flag is not the “Stars an Bars.” Typing without thinking. Thanks for the accurate correction.

  • Will S | June 29, 2015 at 10:02 am |

    Re: the Astros tequila sunrise hockey jerseys.

    Many years ago (2007?) the Las Vegas Wranglers used Astros rainbow style as one of their many specialty jerseys.
    http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i307/TeebzPR/lvwranglers0607astroslookalike.jpg

    I did a DIY Astros goalie jersey with a blank (sublimated rainbow striping and shoulder ads only) one of the Wranglers that I got off Ebay.
    http://i1353.photobucket.com/albums/q672/reignoferror00/DIY%20hockey%20jerseys/astros_front_zps67424691.jpg
    http://i1353.photobucket.com/albums/q672/reignoferror00/DIY%20hockey%20jerseys/astros_back_zpsd8a36e5b.jpg

    • walter | June 29, 2015 at 12:57 pm |

      I have a vague memory of Bob Murphy telling Ralph Kiner, “Those Houston uniforms look more like hockey jerseys than baseball jerseys.”

  • Connie DC | June 29, 2015 at 10:06 am |

    “… I’ve traveled in 49 states and have probably seen the flag in about 35 of them, almost always in rural areas, where it serves as an all-purpose ‘Don’t fuck with me, I’m living life by my own rules’ symbol…”

    Yeah, that seems right. I also observe the same value statement in many urban neighborhoods, but without the subtext of whiteness. Or better yet, whiteness besieged. As fat as I’m concerned, one the biggest of the big crises of contemporary US society is the decline in the opportunities and status available to young males who don’t go to college. For white guys, that fact – the sense of something having been taken away — often gets manifested in the Confederate flag.

    • terriblehuman | June 29, 2015 at 10:33 am |

      Yeah, while the Confederate flag’s rebirth was in response to the Civil Rights Movement, the resentment towards the social changes of the 60s certainly wasn’t isolated to the South.

      Plus, Southern “culture” extends north of the Mason-Dixon. Outside its biggest cities, Indiana has more in common politically with Kentucky than with its Midwestern neighbors, and there’s an Appalachian culture that’s distinct from the rest of the eastern US. And then you have places like Detroit where Southerners (both black and white) migrated to in search of jobs.

      • arrScott | June 29, 2015 at 12:18 pm |

        Also, resistance to the Civil Rights movement was quite strong in a number of Northern cities. Not as generalized across society, but just as strong in the pockets where it was a big deal. I would not be surprised to see Confederate/rebel iconography adopted in, for example, Philly or Boston or Cincy or Indianapolis or St. Paul, all hotbeds of Northern white backlash against the Civil Rights movement. If a school in the North starts using the Confederate flag after 1940, you can bet dollars to donuts it was chosen deliberately as an anti-black symbol. And remember, the Civil Rights movement had its earliest successes in education and athletics in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and also had its last burst of activity and backlash in education in the 1970s. So it makes sense to me that schools, particularly school sports, would attract some degree of statement-making use of the Confederate flag in the post-WWII North.

      • Uni Troll | June 29, 2015 at 3:22 pm |

        It’s possible that the gradual northward spread of Southern culture and imagery has been a result of the similar encroachment of Southern dialects into Northern regions.

        Speculative, to be sure, but I found this article to be mildly intriguing:

        http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0920/p20s01-ussc.html

  • Perry | June 29, 2015 at 10:07 am |

    Error in the soccer section: It’s White Hart Lane where Tottenham plays, not Heart.

    • Paul Lukas | June 29, 2015 at 10:10 am |

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • Derek | June 29, 2015 at 10:21 am |

    I think the South/North distinction can be a relative thing as well. In my hometown (in a northern state) the county was split into three high schools: North, Central, and South. I went the South HS and we often took on the persona of being southern rebels, because in relationship to our two biggest rivals we were the southerners. We latched on to things that we associated with southerners because we lived in the south part of our county even though we were in the north part of the country.

    • Paul Lukas | June 29, 2015 at 10:35 am |

      That’s fascinating, and something I hadn’t thought of. Two of the three schools listed in today’s entry have “South” in their names, so that may help explain the phenomenon. Thanks for sharing this!

      • Chris Cruz | June 29, 2015 at 2:01 pm |

        This occurred at my high school as well – South High in Torrance, CA – through the 1990 football season when the Confederate battle flag was removed as a merit decal. My recollection is that this occurred at the request of two African-American players, and I don’t recall any resistance from anyone to removing the flag. The decals were later changed to feature Spartan heads as that was our nickname.

      • JF | June 29, 2015 at 3:07 pm |

        For South High in Willoughby, OH, the other high school in the school district is named North High School, in Eastlake, OH (my son is a North grad). So you have the whole North – South thing, hence the name Rebels.

        Funny thing is the original high school those two schools originated from, was named Willoughby Union High School (in honor of the Union soldiers from the Civil War). When they built the two new schools back in the late 50’s, North took Union’s nickname Rangers, and South had to come up with a new name, and chose Rebels to play along the North – South theme.

        • Jim Vilk | June 29, 2015 at 3:13 pm |

          You beat me to it, JF.

      • Jim Vilk | June 29, 2015 at 3:12 pm |

        Willoughby South are big rivals with Eastlake North, who are in the same school district. I’m pretty sure the nickname and imagery were simply a byproduct of that rivalry, and not a broader statement on the politics/ideaologies behind them.

        I know some South grads, and they and their classmates were way more Yankee-like than Rebel-like.

        • Ed | June 29, 2015 at 3:53 pm |

          I agree with JF and Jim – I played for a different high school in the same athletic conference in the 80s. At the time, I simply thought it was a way for the school district to play up the rivalry between the two high schools.

          I admit to have been naive about the racial issues involved at the time.

          ed

    • terriblehuman | June 29, 2015 at 10:48 am |

      Or you have UNLV, which adopted the “Rebels” nickname and Confederate motif as a contrast to U of N Reno’s flagship status and what it saw as dominance of northern Nevada.

  • Mike Engle | June 29, 2015 at 10:24 am |

    I’m a Great Neck South alumnus. In your article, you forgot to include South. “Great Neck High School” would refer to what we now call North, except at a time before Great Neck got its second high school. (It’s Great Neck High School on North’s façade still, but nowhere else. For the record, they are called the Blazers. And they also wear navy and orange, which makes GNN v. GNS games look like intramurals.)

    • Paul Lukas | June 29, 2015 at 10:34 am |

      Thanks, Mike — now fixed.

  • Dan | June 29, 2015 at 10:27 am |

    I know we are talking about the North but I went to high school in the South and our mascot was/is the Rebels. By the time I attended in the early 90’s the Confederate flag had been removed from the school and our uniforms (kind of). While playing 9th grade basketball, I remember getting our uniforms which were hand-me-downs from former varsity teams. I assume that by then our 9th grade jerseys were handed down from a varsity team of the late 70’s/early 80’s. The jerseys did not display the Confederate flag but the warm up jackets had previously had the flag stitched onto it from shoulder to shoulder across the entire back. By time the jackets got to us, administration had removed the flags but much of the stitching and holes were definitely still visible and definitely showed an outline of a large Confederate flag. Instead of wearing the warm ups with our backs to the crowed, my fellow scrubs and I spent a lot of cold hours on the bench that year.

  • Jeff Ash | June 29, 2015 at 11:16 am |

    I can relate to “the ouch button.” When I was a kid in the ’60s and ’70s, I’d noodle around with my caps. Push down on the squatchee against your head, and, yeah, that could hurt a little.

    • TIm | June 29, 2015 at 11:34 am |

      When I was little we used to mess with one another by tapping the top of each others caps, thus smacking the squatchee against their scalp, you know, because it hurt (yes, I know, very intelligent). Somewhat like the old “cup check” game.

  • TIm | June 29, 2015 at 11:22 am |

    Hi Paul. Typo alert: “Still, there’s a big different between a person choosing to display a symbol and a school…” I think you meant “difference” not “different”, yes?

    • Paul Lukas | June 29, 2015 at 11:47 am |

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • Mike | June 29, 2015 at 11:31 am |

    Although I didn’t go to the high school, I lived in Walpole, MA for all of my adolescent life. I never understood why a school in New England would use a symbol of the South as its primary logo.

    The dude who flies the flag in his yard, that’s just a freedom of speech thing. I don’t agree with it, and wouldn’t do it myself, but it’s hard to deny the guy his right.

    It’s amazing how many people around town still see it as an icon representing pride in school spirit. This is a community full of new money yuppies that is famous for nothing but a maximum-security prison. Clueless.

  • Paul Lukas | June 29, 2015 at 11:51 am |

    Pro Football Weekly becomes the latest media outlet to boycott the ’Skins name:
    https://twitter.com/_JakeRussell/status/615524296417542144

  • Chuck Eldridge | June 29, 2015 at 12:24 pm |

    My mother, aunt and uncle grew up in Lansing, IL which is a small town just south of Chicago. They attended both Thornton Fractional North and Thornton Fractional South high schools. Per the topic of this thread, TF South was the Rebels complete with “Richie Rebel” solider mascot and Confederate Flag imagery.

    Surprisingly, TF North was not the Yankees – which would have added a themed symmetry to the rival mascots. Rather they are the purple and gold Meteors.

    Two summers ago I had the opportunity to visit my mom’s home town and see TF South. A janitor gave me a quick tour. He said that many strides have been taken to remove the Confederate Flag imagery from the school.

    I was able to Google a page from the 1971 TF South yearbook that shows the flag in use: http://spiralblue.net/tfs/70_153.htm

  • James G | June 29, 2015 at 12:25 pm |

    I think Rebels is a moniker used by teams in the north just to be unique. Certainly not something unexpected there.

    Also as was pointed out, the Indian Nations in Oklahoma sided with the south in the Civil War but for their own reasons. I believe they thought it would help them get back some of their land and rights.

    Finally, just for accuracy, the battle flag is not an official confederate flag. It was the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia to distinguish their flag from the U.S. Flag in the fog of battle. The battle flag is also not the stars and bars. That was the first confederate flag. The battle flag is the “southern cross”.

    • arrScott | June 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm |

      The last point isn’t quite true: If a state has an army, and that army adopts a flag, then the flag is, by definition, an official flag of the state. The Confederate States of America fielded several armies and a navy, and two of the armies and the navy of that state adopted the Confederate battle flag, with slight variations of shape and color, as their official banners. That makes it an official flag of the Confederacy. As does the fact that the civil government of the Confederate States put the battle flag onto the national flag as its defining feature in 1865, weeks before the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered to the federal army.

      That is, the battle flag very much was an official confederate flag. It just wasn’t the official national flag of the Confederacy, except for that brief period when it effectively was, but then the good guys won and it became a moot point.

  • JenInChicago | June 29, 2015 at 12:32 pm |

    I went to Ridgewood High School in Norridge, IL (Chicago) and our mascot/nickname was/is the Rebels. I don’t recall any uniform patches with the Confederate flag, but there may have been a rendering on some older football uniforms – I believe there was a soldier marching with a flag on the sleeves. There was a large placard of the flag posted on the gym wall and I’m fairly sure that they’ve taken that down as they’ve done a bit of remodeling to the school since I’ve been there. An interesting note that just occurred to me as I’m typing, back in the late 80’s we had a guy whose name started with the letter K. Whenever he’d hit a 3 pointer, fans would hold up the letter K (like baseball fans do when a pitcher gets a strikeout). We were playing a team with a number of African Americans and the school/players and fans objected to the “Ks” being held up. We were told (as students) that the opposing team found it disrespectful and made a correlation to the KKK. Honestly, it had nothing to do with that at all, but I remember discussing the issues with some teachers at the time (casual conversations). I don’t believe the opposing team mentioned anything about the Confederate flag, though. Maybe they saw both and, really, who could blame them in that instance?

    Lastly, ever since I started High School, I’ve had my house keys on the same key ring. It’s metal and yes, it’s a confederate flag. The colors have worn from it, but I haven’t ever thought about how my house keys may be a problem to some.

    • JenInChicago | June 29, 2015 at 12:33 pm |

      *we had a guy who played basketball whose name started with the letter K….

  • shimsham | June 29, 2015 at 1:32 pm |

    Glad to see my alma mater – UT-Arlington – in Uni Watch!

    It’s also fitting because UTA was embroiled in controversy in the late 60s over its use of the Rebels mascot and Confederate imagery (including a mural of an old south plantation in the student center.)

    UTA changed its mascot to the Mavericks in 1971.

  • Raymie | June 29, 2015 at 1:44 pm |

    South Mountain High School in Phoenix, AZ – whose name is prone to being shortened to South – opened as the Rebels in 1954 and became the only Arizona high school with Confederate imagery. Their yearbook was the “Southerner” and everything. The 1981 edition, the last known to feature the Rebel on its cover, had him holding the Battle Flag.

    We did have a Civil War battle in Arizona, the rather inconsequential Battle of Picacho Peak, in 1862. But that was kinda far south, and there wasn’t much Civil War activity in Arizona on the whole.

    However, the mascot’s shelf life began to change because South is in the only heavily African-American area of Phoenix. In 1985, the school dropped the Rebel and picked up its current jaguar mascot. It was the first school in the state to carry that mascot.

  • John Przebieglec | June 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm |

    The M’s striped hose are for the Sunday home alternates.

    • Paul Lukas | June 29, 2015 at 3:12 pm |

      That is not accurate.

      They have royal/gold striped hose for the Sunday alts, but they also have navy/teal striped hose to be worn with the home whites and road greys:
      https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8616/16163281349_a2d12007e7.jpg

      Although that photo shows stirrups, the team’s stated intention was that stirrups and socks would all be striped this season.

  • Bruce Richards | June 29, 2015 at 2:52 pm |

    Local twist on the use of the name “rebels” and confederacy symbols:

    1) In the early 60s, at the height of suburban white flight, all-Catholic all-boys Archbishop Rummel High School opened in suburban Metairie, LA, with the nickname “raiders”. Rather than a pirate or viking, they used a seemingly Confederate “cavalry” image for a Raider.

    http://www.rummelraiders.com/n/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/rufus_mascot.gif

    I wonder how much of this was inspired by Civil War centennial fervor in the early sixties, and quite possibly the whole integration/desegregation thing. The mascot/logo Rufus Raider looks very much like a Confederate colonel or general (the light blue looks a lot like rebel gray)and may have been inspired by a someone like Nathan Bedford Forrest… If that’s the case, it’s sort of ironic, because the school’s namesake (Archbishop Rummel) was a force for desegregation. It’s still in use.

    2) In 1980, the public high schools in Jefferson Parish, LA went from being single sex to co-ed. Riverdale, a formerly all-girls high school, allowed the incoming boys to choose their team name from a list of names. “Rebels” was the overwhelming favorite and selected. However, Confederate imagery was never used, as the school already had a Scottish motif (the girls teams had been the Lassies) which was maintained– logos, mascots were more William Wallace rebel rather than Stonewall Jackson.

  • Matthew | June 29, 2015 at 3:12 pm |

    Coyotes mascot Howler has the new jersey on and his captaincy letter M is on the left side.

    https://twitter.com/HowlerCoyote/status/614644130791055360

  • James G | June 29, 2015 at 3:56 pm |

    arrScott: the battle flag was designed for the purpose I stated. It was adopted by the confederacy later. The way wars were being fought at that time the flag was critical to know where your lines were. At First Bull Run the stars and bars wasn’t very distinguishable from the U.S. Flag (also a rebel flag if you think about it). The southern cross was a unit flag of the Army of Northern Virginia at the time.

  • J Clayton Davis | June 29, 2015 at 4:04 pm |

    Interesting note about a non-southern sports use the stars and bars – the “ultra” supporters at Crystal Palace in the English Premier League were flying it during the 2013-14 season (incorporated into a larger flag) but then seemingly had removed it by May of that year. The larger flag was still there with the confederate portion removed.

    Some out and out hooligan groups in Spain, Italy, and eastern Europe will display the flag as well as fascist/nazi imagery at matches. I think Palace’s supporters had used it due to it more or less matching the club colours and as well because they like to adopt some of the stylings of continental ultras. In fairness to Palace, there is little to suggest much actual racism on a large scale amongst their supporters (who largely come from a very multicultural part of south London.)

  • Christopher | June 29, 2015 at 4:20 pm |

    Also interesting is the case of Dixie State College/University in St. George, Utah. The school was originally founded in the early 20th century by Mormons. Utah, of course, wasn’t a state at the time of the war. While slavery was legal in the territory, Mormon settlers–who first made their way to Utah just before the war broke out–typically sided with the Union (though a number of migrants from the South sympathized with the Confederacy). Anyway, the school’s mascot was the Rebels, and Confederate flags were a prominent part of their identity, until 2012, when it became a state university. The school’s athletic teams are now called the Red Storm.

    http://www.sltrib.com/news/2053278-155/dixie-state-university-returning-controversial-rebels

    • Keith S. | June 30, 2015 at 12:19 am |

      I’ve recently learned all about this situation. I have a good friend that teaches at Utah, and his son is just about to start at Dixie State. My friend was referencing Dixie State’s change (since becoming a state U). I found the whole thing very interesting.

  • Dan T | June 29, 2015 at 4:41 pm |

    I am pretty sure that Dixie State College / Dixie University in Utah used Confederate parphanalia for sports and other stuff and even had a statue of a Confederate soldier that got removed from campus.

    heres an article http://www.sltrib.com/news/2053278-155/dixie-state-university-returning-controversial-rebels

  • Lee | June 29, 2015 at 4:41 pm |

    I went to Williamsville South HS and we used the flag until around 1983 (not sure when they started). My school was about as far removed from the South as possible, so I really don’t think it was viewed as much more than “cool” symbol to distinguish the school from the other two schools in the town: Williamsville North and Williamsville East.

    Before every game, one of the team captains would run to the 50 yard line and plant the flag in the center of the field.

  • Dick Holbrook | June 29, 2015 at 4:46 pm |

    Not sports related, but an interesting article on the removal of the confederate flag from a firefighters union logo in Albany, NY. The change occurred early this year, before the current debate.

    http://blog.timesunion.com/localpolitics/16841/heres-why-albany-firefighters-removed-the-confederate-flag-from-their-union-logo/

  • Dan | June 29, 2015 at 4:47 pm |

    Do you think these northern schools used Confederate and Rebel imagery for their mascots for the same reason that other teams use Native American imagery? In other words, our country defeated this group of people in battle/war, we are not a part of them but now let’s go ahead and use their image as cartoons for our sports teams.

    • Dan | June 29, 2015 at 4:50 pm |

      I’m not saying I understand why the people who choose mascots do this, I’m just wondering if there is in some way a correlation?

    • Mike Engle | June 29, 2015 at 6:05 pm |

      No I don’t see that at all. There’s a difference between a now-majority’s ancestors invading a native land and taking over (and then using their iconography) and a similarly-situated ethnic group trying to **break away** and foster its differing view on politics, government, and the economy.
      And if it’s a matter of using a vanquished loser’s graphics, then Ole Miss is really weird for identifying with the loser. For Mississippi, “we wanted our own country but it didn’t work, we’re a part of them, let’s keep the images alive.”
      I think a previous commenter got straight to the point. “Rebels are in the South. We’re ‘the South’ in an extremely narrow meaning in context. We’re Rebels too.” I think that’s it. Not much more to it.

  • Lindsay Resnick | June 29, 2015 at 6:22 pm |

    UNLV, (yes, I know, it’s not in the “North,” but it’s not in the “South” either) when it was founded, was named The University of Nevada – Southern Division, and then later Nevada Southern University.

    As we know, they are known as the Rebels. But it used to be tied much more to Confederate iconography due to its name including “Southern.” Their school newspaper, “The Rebel Yell,” had a masthead that originally looked like this: http://i.imgur.com/vpE0UbV.png

  • Greg Brown | June 29, 2015 at 6:49 pm |

    Don’t forget Oregon –

    South Albany High School (located in the Willamette Valley about 40 miles north of Eugene, and 70 miles south of Portland) uses Rebels as its mascot. The school opened in 1970. Since it was in the south part of Albany, and was split from the original Albany High (now West Albany HS) the locals it adopted Rebels as the mascot. The school colors are red and gray.

    In the late 70s, the marching band dressed as Confederate soldiers. They wore grey uniforms topped with Civil War style kepi hats, and vests that were the stars and bars. Today the athletic department uses a logo that can best be described as Colonel Reb assaulting the Union lines in full dress uniform.

  • Steve | June 29, 2015 at 10:43 pm |

    Paul, why are you trying to control the natural progression of a conversation? It might not be the conversation you envisioned, but it is a conversation more more contextually important than a simple conversation about uniforms. Your initial conversation served as a jumping point for something way more culturally relevant. You should be proud that a blog posting on uniforms could inspire such conversation, instead of stifling it.

    • Paul Lukas | June 29, 2015 at 11:05 pm |

      Because after nearly a decade of running this site, I know that certain topics do not lead to productive dialogue but instead lead to nastiness, name-calling, and other things that I don’t want on my site. The meaning of the Confederate flag is one such topic.

      If you’re determined to debate the meaning of the Confederate flag, there are many websites that should be able to meet your needs. But not here. If you feel this impedes “the natural progression of a conversation,” that’s certainly your prerogative, but sometimes I curate the conversation here. That’s the way it goes.