This is a blog post about a sports nickname-slash-mascot that some say is offensive and others are calling a tradition.

No, not that one. For those stories, please visit the other blog.

This debate happened in Freeburg, Ill., where the Little People of America, an advocacy group that supports people with dwarfism, had asked that the southern Illinois high school ditch its nickname — the Midgets.

“We recognize that it’s not intended to have a negative impact,” Little People of America President Gary Arnold said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “But with all the history and baggage that comes with the word, it still does.”

The group dropped off a petition last week requesting that the name be changed, but on Thursday, hundreds gathered in support of it.

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When a school district official on Thursday told supporters that the name would stay, the Belleville News-Democrat reported, “the cheer that erupted from the crowd crammed into the cafeteria could have rivaled one from any game in the gym.”

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“It’s tradition,” Mary McGraw, a resident who wore a T-shirt that read “Don’t Mess with the Midget.”
“We’re not here to make fun of small people,” McGraw said. “I would have never realized how important (the mascot) was to so many people until just now when you see all these people. When someone messes with something like tradition, you decide something’s worth fighting for instead of letting it go.”
Another supporter, a man who told the board he was a Freeburg High graduate, drew loud applause when he said it didn’t matter what the board decided. “Once a Midget, always a Midget,” he said.

As the story goes, a journalist gave the school its nickname because basketball players from the town — located 25 miles from St. Louis — were small, but could compete with taller teams, according to the Tribune report and the News-Democrat.

“Once a Midget, always a Midget,” Board Secretary Kim Towers told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the meeting. “Our community is happy to be Midgets, and that’s where it’s at.”

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