Reports: Illinois has banned playing of ‘war chant’

The University of Illinois “war chant” — one of the last remaining links to the school’s former mascot, Chief Illiniwek — will officially be retired this season, according to media reports.

Jeremy Werner of Scout.com’s Illini Inquirer reported Friday that the chant no longer will be part of Illinois sporting events. He tweeted confirmation from Illinois sports information director Kent Brown.

The war chant has long been a mainstay at Illinois games, even after the school retired Chief Illiniwek as its mascot in 2007. Werner wrote that the phasing-out of the chant has been discussed by several administrations at the university.

A couple of reasons the chant is being retired, according to Werner: It didn’t bringing enough excitement to game-day functions, and the school wanted to focus on being as “inclusive as possible.”

The retiring of the war chant, also reported Friday by The News-Gazette, is a possible continuation of the fallout from the NCAA’s 2005 ruling about the use of Native American mascots.

“As a national association, we believe that mascots, nicknames or images deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin should not be visible at the championship events that we control,” the NCAA said in its ruling concerning mascots.

After that ruling, Illinois, along with 17 other schools, was barred from postseason events unless it changed its mascot, which Illinois did in February 2007.

“The Chief Illiniwek tradition inspired and thrilled members of the University of Illinois community for 80 years,” then-Board of Trustees Chairman Lawrence Eppley said in a statement. “It was created, carried on and enjoyed by people with great respect for tradition, and we appreciate their dedication and commitment. It will be important now to ensure the accurate recounting and safekeeping of the tradition as an integral part of the history of the university.”

However, some saw Chief Illiniwek and other parts of Illinois’ game-day traditions as racist toward Native Americans.

“What [Illinois] did in 2007 was say, ‘The NCAA is making us do this, so we’re going to get rid of it,’ without addressing the real issue, which is that it’s offensive and degrading and wrong,” University of Illinois professor Jay Rosenstein told the Chicago Tribune in 2016. “The school has yet to educate the community and the students that that is racist. If you don’t tell these kids that what they’re doing is wrong, they don’t know.”

While there’s no record of how long the war chant has been active, the school has been singing the same fight song, Oskee-Wow-Wow, since two students wrote the piece in 1911. That replaced the original Illinois fight song written five years earlier.

The Illinois marching band or basketball band would perform the war chant during football and basketball games, usually coming out of a timeout.

As it stands, the chant’s swan song came in the Illini’s last home basketball game: a 71-56 win over Boise State in the NIT.

The post Reports: Illinois has banned playing of ‘war chant’ appeared first on Land of 10.

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