Fightin' Whities swamped with T-shirt requests
By Coleman Cornelius
Denver Post Northern Colorado Bureau
Wednesday, March 13, 2002 - The Fightin' Whities, an intramural basketball team of American Indians at the University of Northern Colorado, has been flooded with requests for T-shirts since news broke of the team's satirical mascot protest.
On Tuesday, the student basketball team set up an e-mail account to start taking orders - even though players have not yet figured out exactly how to mass-produce their shirts.
Would-be buyers may send T-shirt requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. The team will send back acknowledgments and more information. The system is meant to gauge demand while the team irons out copyright issues and checks university guidelines, said Jeff Van Iwarden, 21, one of the team's few Anglo players.
The Fightin' Whities expect to charge about $20 for their shirts and will donate all profits to a Native American cause that has yet to be determined, Van Iwarden said.
In the course of just two days, as news of the team has exploded nationwide, the players have gained countless fans across the country.
Many are clamoring for T-shirts bearing the team mascot - a 1950s-style caricature of a middle-aged white guy - and the phrase "Every thang's gonna be all white!"
The intramural basketball team's official name is "Native Pride." But the team calls itself the "Fightin' Whites" - and is widely known by the more in-your-face "Fightin' Whities" - as a jab at nearby Eaton High School.
School officials in Eaton, a farm town north of Greeley, have refused to discuss the school's mascot - the Fightin' Reds - despite complaints from area Native Americans who see it as a degrading stereotype.
Eaton High School's mascot is a caricature of an Indian with a misshapen nose, wearing a loincloth and eagle feather.
The UNC team was frustrated that pleas for tolerance were misunderstood or discounted, they said. So the players decided to use some provocative humor to stir up the debate.
"Walk in someone else's shoes, and then you can make a judgment," said Ryan White, 22, a team player and member of the Mohawk Nation.