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Death To The NCAA

George Washington Settles On Revolutionaries For Nickname

Triptych of Tajama Abraham, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Yinka Dare while playing with George Washington Colonials. Abraham is grabbing a rebound, Mensah-Bonsu is celebrating, Dare is dunking.
Getty Images

George Washington’s farewell address was 7,641 words long. Alexander Hamilton wrote it; James Madison did a first draft before Washington decided to run for a second term. It was widely printed in newspapers; the essay is long enough that anyone trying to make a point can pretty much pull whatever they want out of it to do so.

And now I shall continue in that storied tradition. In the free content he provided for newspapers around the country, Washington said: “The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.” The United States of America has not always acted as such, to say the very least. But I believe the new nickname of George Washington University can bring most of the country together once again, in amusement and disgust. George Washington University’s sports teams are now known as the Revolutionaries. Yecch.

A recap: About a year ago GW said it would cease calling its sports teams the Colonials, after a two-year review of the nickname in response to student protests. In student government elections in March 2019, about 54 percent of voters passed a resolution calling for an end to the nickname.

In January the school said the team name would not be Hippos, a popular suggestion. (GW has a hippo statue because the school’s former president drunkenly bought it at a flea market, his wife told him to get it the hell out of the house, and I guess GW could not do the same.) Though to me this would’ve been an incredible name with a great backstory, apparently most GW athletes were too embarrassed to play for the Hippos. (Only one U.S. school in Kyle Massey’s database uses the nickname hippos: Hutto High in Texas. As early as 1923 the high school used the nickname after a local legend about a hippo escaping from a circus train in town.)

In February GW announced 10 possible choices, which I ranked from best to worst: Blue Fog, Sentinels, Catalysts, Fireworks, Monumentals, Ambassadors, Independents, Revolutionaries, Squad, Truth. Looking back after the selection of Revolutionaries, I might place it last. Every other nickname has some sort of twist I can come up with about it. Revolutionaries reeks of a nickname by committee, the only option enough people could agree on. (OK, not Hippos.) GW could’ve done Presidents, Cherry Trees, Birthdays, or Winter Encampments. The school could’ve used one of its old nicknames, like Buff and Blue, Crummen (after football coach Henry Watson Crum) or Hatchetites (after the school paper). The school used to use Axmen and Tongmen as nicknames! These are all so interesting. Now they are simply the George Washington Revolutionaries, a name fittingly announced by Chuck Todd in a fake Meet the Press bit. Colonials was dropped due to the objections of young people, but Revolutionaries seems to have been chosen by oldheads. Per a press release:

The Revolutionaries moniker represents GW community members because they “are not afraid to break boundaries and change the game. The GW Revolutionaries go beyond what’s conventional or expected to focus on shifting mindsets and creating a new future for ourselves and our world.”

That is what I always think about when I think about the American Revolution: The Founding Fathers were out to change the game. I think they wore novelty t-shirts with that motto, actually.

I do not want to get too angry about this. I have no connection to GW, for one thing. The people involved with the process should get to pick the nickname, and if they went with Revolutionaries then so be it. But as I mentioned, a lot of people are making fun of or complaining about this nickname. I think they're right to do it, but also doing so that puts you alongside some of the most odious, tedious, perpetually outraged assholes. Abigail Marone, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley’s press secretary, tweeted: “You guys are so dumb. There’s nothing offensive about ‘colonials.’” What a Marone! She does have 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 in her Twitter bio, which gave me more great nickname ideas for GW: Clay Jars (NIV), Earthen Vessels (KJV).

I am more interested in what people I like have to say, and so I asked for some farewell addresses to the Colonials from my two favorite Atlantic 10 sickos, as they’ll be seeing GW play their teams—at least until the next conference realignment. “You can say we are very disappointed,” The Gola Standard (La Salle Explorers) said. “We wish it were The George Washington Basketball Team.” West Pine Bills (St. Louis Billikens) summed it up this way: “It feels kind of uninspired—not too different from Colonials. Felt like they should have taken a bigger swing and gone for something more unique.”

GW sponsors 11 men’s and 13 women’s sports. Obviously their biggest sport is basketball, because that is the one I watch (obviously). The Atlantic 10 currently has deals with both CBS and ESPN through next season, but most games are just on streaming. Huh. It turns out the Revolutionaries will not be televised.

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