Columbus, Indigenous People, And Sports Nicknames

Mike Moffett by Mike Moffett
Weirs Times Columnist

Happy October 12th.
Columbus Day!
Or at least it used to be, before it was changed to an October Monday to make a long holiday weekend. And now in many places it’s being changed to “Indigenous People’s Day,” ostensibly to honor those who lived in America before they were decimated by European colonialists in the wake of Columbus’ voyages.
I like the idea of an “Indigenous People’s Day.” But does it have to replace a day that’s special to so many millions of Italian-Americans? While not Italian, I recently visited beautiful Italy. And while Native Americans were certainly brutalized after 1492, do activists really need to stick their thumbs in the eyes of Italians?
Columbus was a brave sailor and a visionary explorer—even if he died not realizing he’d never made it to Asia. He certainly influenced history, for better or worse.

Osceola and Renegade are the official mascots of the Florida State University Seminoles. Osceola, representing the historical Seminole leader Osceola, and his Appaloosa horse Renegade introduce home football games by riding to midfield with a burning spear and planting it in the turf.

While the conquistadors and other explorers were brutal, they had no monopoly on violence. Many indigenous tribes were constantly at war with each other. Erasing memories of Columbus hurts not only Italian-Americans, but also anyone who cares about comprehensive history—including Native Americans.
The activists seeking to denigrate Columbus are largely the same ones seeking to ban Indian sports nicknames. These activists—mostly non-Indian—seek to define nicknames on their terms (“demeaning”) while emotionalizing the issue and implying bigotry on the part of those who disagree.
But most Native Americans embrace the nicknames and understand that they’re intended to honor, not demean. For example, the Seminole Indians savor their connection with Florida State, and work with the University to promote their relationship—even as non-Indians try to take away FSU’s nickname.
Anyway, while I AM a Fighting Irish and Celtics fan, to honor Columbus and Italian-Americans my new favorite European soccer team is now Juventus, also known as Vecchia Signora—Italian for “Old Lady.”
Evviva Vecchia Signora!

The first annual Legislative Softball Classic will be played on Saturday, Oct. 14 at noon in Merrimack at the Anheuser-Busch athletic complex. Sponsored by the N.H. House of Representatives’ Veterans Interest Caucus, this game pits Democrat legislators against their Republican counterparts. Proceeds go to support Manchester’s Liberty House, which assists homeless and transitioning veterans. Over $8000 has already been raised for the cause, through legislator donations and sponsor program ads, with much more to come on Oct. 14—General Dwight Eisenhower’s birthday.
Many find it inspiring to see legislators—red and blue—working together for a common cause. And while we don’t know who’ll win, we do know that there will be a fun post-game celebration at the brewery’s Biergarten, in the best tradition of bipartisanship—and Oktoberfest.
So in the best tradition of the Granite State’s adult softball leagues, there WILL be beer—and maybe some Clydesdales!
All are welcome.

Sports Quiz
What major pro sports team plays in Columbus, Ohio? (Answer follows)

Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on October 12 include former Red Sox player, manager, and Hall-of-Fame executive Joe Cronin (1906) and Italian-American boxing trainer and manager Goody Petronelli (1923).

“Riches don’t make a man rich, they only make him busier.”
— Christopher Columbus

Sportsquiz Answer
The Blue Jackets are Columbus’ pro hockey team. Founded in 2000, they’re members of the Metropolitan Division of the NHL’s Eastern Conference.


State Representative Michael Moffett was a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord and currently teaches on-line for New England College. He co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through His e-mail address is