Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Imperfect Storm

In the 1990s, certain Native American groups pressured numerous professional and collegiate organizations to change their nickname from what these groups perceived as stereotypes offensive to their culture—among these "offenders," the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins, and St. John’s Redmen. According to the St. John’s University Web site, “Redmen” derived not from the traditional derogatory slang for a Native American, but from the fact that “the men of St. John’s wore red.” Even so, St. John’s caved to pressure and renamed itself the “Red Storm” in 1994.

Personally, I never understood the rationale for “Red Storm.” The only sensible connection that it possesses is to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a gargantuan red-tinged storm that’s been whirling for centuries through the Jovian atmosphere.

That’s not very practical for an Earth-based team. Whose sponsorship is the university’s board of governors trying to lure? Sure, Jupiter, king of the planets, is a thousand times more voluminous than Earth and potentially harbors a colossal fan base. But even assuming life does exist in its frozen, toxic clouds, it's most likely the microbial variety. And if those microbes could make the 700-million-mile journey to Earth, so many would fit in a single seat of Carnesecca Arena as to render corresponding ticket sales totally unprofitable for the university.

Poor marketing move.

Much wiser would have been to rechristen the university’s nickname the St. John’s Wort. Pharmaceutical companies toss advertising dollars as freely as UConn guards toss alley-oops over St. John’s heads, and with the 7-12 Red Storm currently dead last in the Big East, makers of this herbal treatment for depression could find a goldmine among tortured St. John’s students and alumni. Frankly, how can St. John’s University hope to compete against Georgetown, Syracuse, and the other beasts of the Big East without becoming the St. John’s Wort and cashing in on America’s insatiable need for medication? Yes, St. John’s wort may cause sensitivity to sunlight, but when you’re going to school in Queens...the less time spent outside, the better.

DISCLAIMER: Less than sixty seconds before I posted this, ESPN SportsCenter’s upcoming topics displayed on the right side of the screen included the headline “St. John’s Warts.” For the record, ESPN’s pun in no way inspired or gave rise to this post. In truth, I conceived the idea for this post six weeks ago—a fact verifiable by Mount Drinkmore’s Dave, who worked the graphic genius that you see above via e-mail on December 20, 2007—although the text had not been fully fleshed out. This morning’s headline on ESPN merely served as the catalyst to finish this post immediately, lest some Cheeto-fingered ESPN junkie falsely accuse me of lifting ideas.

I would also like to express my deep admiration for ESPN anchorwoman Linda Cohn’s thighs, so seldomly yet tantalizingly displayed during full-body shots.

(Graphic enhancement courtesy of Mount Drinkmore's Dave; St. John's Red Storm logo copyright St. John's University; photo of Jupiter courtesy of NASA.)

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