Fighting Hawks – the safe, unimaginative, generic, dark horse nickname that finds itself a front runner

UND’s nickname committee has submitted five finalists, from thousands of initial submissions, to President Kelley for consideration for UND’s new nickname.

The final five are:

  • Fighting Hawks
  • Nodaks
  • North Stars
  • Roughriders
  • Sundogs

North Stars, Roughriders, and Sundogs have been fiercely debated around water coolers, in the forums, and across social media. Each stirs up strong passions, both for and against, and each were favorites to make the finals. Nodaks is in a class of its own–no one seems to love it, but it was often assumed to be likely to advance thanks to its strong regionality in playing on the state name (which was, itself, a contender until last night). Until last night’s cut, however, Fighting Hawks was a dark horse that was generally just discussed under the umbrella of “one of those hawk names”; no one seemed to have much to say for or against it, and there was certainly little passion around it.

It’s not hard to see how Fighting Hawks made the cut, with its nod to history with “Fighting” and a fierce and strong animal in Hawks. With the three controversial contenders (North Stars, Roughriders, and Sundogs) having been bruised in months of debate, Fighting Hawks and its lack of baggage suddenly seems to be the safe choice.

However, Fighting Hawks is also remarkably unoriginal.

A post on the SiouxSports Forum observed that 9 other schools have moved from Indian nicknames to some variation of Hawks, most in the last 15 years. Those are:

  • Chowam Hawks – formerly Braves (2006)
  • Dickinson State Blue Hawks – formerly Savages (1972)
  • IUP Crimson Hawks – formerly Indians (2006)
  • Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks – formerly Indians (2006)
  • Miami RedHawks – formerly Redskins (1997)
  • Ripon Red Hawks – formerly Redmen (1985)
  • Southeast Missouri State Redhawks – formerly Indians and Otahkians (2005)
  • Seattle Redhawks – formerly Chieftains (2000)
  • Stonehill Skyhawks – formerly Chieftains (2005)

The post also noted that some variation on Hawks is used by 28 other 4-year schools, making it the 8th most popular sports team nickname.

Fighting Hawks might well ride its lack of controversy to being the chosen name (for many of the same reasons 9 other schools chose it when migrating from Indian nicknames). It would probably be palatable by about as many constituents as any of the other names, but without the vitriolic opposition the more controversial contenders have.

But, it would shift UND from having had an original, regional, and proud nickname that itself stirs emotions to a pretty generic nickname, chosen because it’s acceptable and teams need to have nicknames. It’s not particularly unique, and doesn’t particularly identify with the school or region. While it doesn’t stir up passionate opposition, it also lacks passionate support. Fans would throw their passionate support for UND behind the Fighting Hawks, but the nickname itself would raise little additional passion for UND.

10 thoughts on “Fighting Hawks – the safe, unimaginative, generic, dark horse nickname that finds itself a front runner”

  1. Given the stacks of “hawks” in previous rounds, it was pretty clear that one of them would survive.

    As sort of hit on in my post above, consultants and administrators love ______ Hawks. Hawks are fierce, but non-controversial. _____ can be chosen to fit the school.

  2. Fighting Hawks may at first glance seem unoriginal & generic, but it’s definitely a nod to the Fighting Sioux, and it’s also a nod to the Blackhawks, as in the old logo on the hockey sweaters. But more than that, it’s a great foil for the Minnesota Gophers, aka the “rodents.” What’s a hawk’s favorite food? RODENTS! And as one who has observed numerous times here on the prairie, a hawk swooping down from high in the sky, to rip a mouse or gopher to shreds, & have it for lunch, I relish the prospect of such a logo at UND-MN hockey games. Yes, we’ll mostly all miss the Sioux name, but it’s time to move on.

  3. Fighting Hawks? Come on! As a retired falconer who has handled both Red-tailed and Harris’ hawks I can assure you that hawks are very selective fighters. They prefer to turn tail and scoot rather than get into a real fight especially one that they might lose, except when it comes to their prey of course. Actually they are quite easy to intimidate. They are very selective when it comes to what they attack – generally it has to be smaller and slower…well, most of the time. I had a small male Harris’ hawk that took on drake Mallards that were twice his size – he was a mean piece of work. They are great hunters though, and this is where the enjoyment came for me. There is nothing, IMO, more beautiful and exciting than to see a well trained Harris’ hawk leave it’s T-pole, slowly at 15′ of altitude do a half circle over a field, go into a sudden wing-over and drop like a bullet on its prey. They are great “attack” birds. I suppose that one could lump “attack” in with “fighting”…anyway you look at it, I miss “Fighting Sioux”. 🙁

  4. There is life after the Fighting Sioux nickname. @GridironLabs has worked all summer on new North Dakota sports brand designs that address two of the five final nicknames. . .and they rock.

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