Proving they are made of much sterner stiff than FIFA head Sepp Blatter — who agreed to step down from the international soccer governing authority after being ripped by HBO’s John Oliver — administrators at an Illinois high school have said they will keep their “Midgets” nickname after being mocked by the comedian.
Freeburg Community High School, whose school mascot is the “Midgets,” has previously been under fire from groups representing people with dwarfism who find the name offensive, reports the Chicago Tribune.
On his popular HBO show, host Oliver pointed at the school’s logo asking, “What the f*ck were you thinking with that?”
Freeburg high school was included in a segment on offensive team nicknames, including the embattled Washington Redskins.
However fans of the school’s mascot rallied this week urging school administrators to keep the name.
“People’s perspective on what is a good mascot or a bad mascot, that’s a subjective issue,” Freeburg Superintendent Andrew Lehman said. “The name stuck. The town liked it. It ought to be the decision of the people who run the school.”
Opponents of the name say it is offensive and derogatory.
“We recognize that it’s not intended to have a negative impact,” Little People of America President Gary Arnold said. “But with all the history and baggage that comes with the word, it still does. It sends a signal to youth that the use of the word ‘midget’ to describe a small person is acceptable and humorous.”
Arnold and other group leaders delivered a 4,400-signature petition to the school last week asking administrators to phase out the name within two years and to stop selling “Midget” merchandise.
Scott Lepke, superintendent of the McLaughlin School District in South Dakota — which also contains a school using the Midget moniker — says his district is seriously considering dropping the name.
“It’s kind of embarrassing to have that nickname. It’s not a positive,” he explained.
Watch the video below uploaded to YouTube by Berto Majden: