Notre Dame leprechaun considered offensive, according to survey

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The leprechaun is the latest sports mascot to draw public ire over claims of cultural appropriation.

A new survey by Quality Logo Products, a sports apparel company, listed Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish leprechaun as the fourth-most offensive college football team mascot in the nation, according to results published in the Indianapolis Star.

After the results were published, a representative from Notre Dame emailed IndyStar with a written statement to defend its use of the leprechaun.

A Notre Dame fan holds a leprechaun paper drawing over her head.
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“It is worth noting … that there is no comparison between Notre Dame’s nickname and mascot and the Indian and warrior names (and) mascots used by other institutions such as the NFL team formerly known as the Redskins,” the statement said.

“None of these institutions were founded or named by Native Americans who sought to highlight their heritage by using names and symbols associated with their people.

“Our symbols stand as celebratory representations of a genuine Irish heritage at Notre Dame, a heritage that we regard with respect, loyalty and affection.”

A Notre Dame Fighting Irish flag with the Leprechaun.
A Notre Dame Fighting Irish flag with the Leprechaun.
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The top three most offensive mascots were Osceola and Renegade of Florida State, the Aztec Warrior of San Diego State and Vili the Warrior of the University of Hawaii – all considered culturally insensitive to Native Americans.

According to the university, the Fighting Irish nickname began as a derogatory term used by opposing schools at the turn of the century, as most of their students were Irish Catholic. It was then adapted to be the team’s official nickname in 1927 by university president Father Matthew Walsh, who was of Irish descent.

The university also mentioned that the leprechaun originated in England as a disparaging symbol for Irish people.

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