Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz is defending the “Fighting Irishman” logo after ESPN's Max Kellerman called for the university to consider changing its nickname to a less offensive term.
“First of all understand how the Fighting Irish came about. It is not about Irish, it’s about a spirit, it’s about a feeling,” Holtz told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on Thursday.
Kellerman made the comments on ESPN's morning debate show "First Take," which he co-hosts with Stephen A. Smith.
"Many Irish Americans are not offended (by the logo), but many are," Kellerman said. "Should that also change? The answer is unequivocally yes. Pernicious, negative stereotypes of marginalized people that offend, even some among them, should be changed. It's not that hard."
The logo divide has been a heated debate throughout the sports world in recent years, as some consider certain insignias offensive and outdated while many team fans treasure them.
On Monday, Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians announced they will no longer use the “Chief Wahoo” logo by the start of the 2019 season after years of public criticism related to the mascot, which many have suggested to be racist.
“Over the past year, we encouraged dialogue with the Indians organization about the club’s use of the Chief Wahoo logo. During our constructive conversations, [Cleveland co-owner] Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a longstanding attachment to the logo and its place in the history of the team,” said MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred.
Holtz said the Fighting Irish term originated after hundreds of Notre Dame students gathered at the train station in South Bend, Indiana, on May 17, 1924, to combat the Klux Klux Klan who congregated to spew a message of hate against blacks, Catholics and Jews.
“Learn and understand what it means and you don’t have to be from Ireland to be Irish,” he said.
According to Notre Dame's official website, "Fighting Irish" was adopted as the school's official nickname in 1927. Holtz coached Notre Dame for 10 years and led the Fighting Irish to the 1988 national championship.