Thousands Buy 'Fightin' Whites' T-Shirts

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

( - A University of Northern Colorado intramural basketball team decided to call itself the Fightin' Whites to make a point about the use of American Indian names for sports teams. In the process, they're also making some money.

The team last week set up an e-mail account to start taking orders for t-shirts featuring the Fightin' Whites team logo and since then, orders for the shirts have skyrocketed, according to the Internet company handling the orders.

"We have had 2,754 orders since last Thursday," Cafe Press spokesperson Amrafel Acosta said Tuesday morning. "That's very good."

Standard t-shirts are selling for $20 a piece and other articles of clothing are available, with plans to donate sales profits to an as-yet undetermined American Indian organization, according to the website selling the items.

The front of the shirts bear an image of the team's mascot, a 1950s-style caricature of a middle-aged white man wearing a sport coat and a diagonally-striped necktie, along with the phrase "Every thang's gonna be all white!"

The backside of the clothing reads "Go Fightin' Whites! Fighting the use of Native American stereotypes."

The Fightin' Whites team was organized in February by a group of university students who wanted to play intramural basketball and make a point, according to the team's mission statement on its website.

"We came up with the 'Fighting Whites' logo and slogan to have a little satirical fun and to deliver a simple, sincere, message about ethnic stereotyping," the team statement said.

"Our objective as students was to make a straightforward statement using humor; to promote cultural awareness through satire. Now that national attention has come to us, we hope that our message will reach a wider audience," according to the statement.

Many members of the Fightin' Whites were unavailable because of a vacation break at the university, but Jeff Van Iwarden, who plays forward for the team, said he wasn't sure how the nickname would play on campus, or elsewhere.

"We're on spring break right now. I've talked to several of my friends here on campus and a lot of guys hadn't even heard what was going on," said Van Iwarden. "Leave it up to us college kids to not watch the news or anything."

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