Monday, July 6, 2009

A Black Sparty?

An interesting suggestion occurred during the October 2nd, 2008 meeting of the Athletic Council, an oversight committee made up of MSU faculty, staff and students.

From the meeting minutes, "Joe Francese mentioned the idea that MSU would be wise to
consider adding two additional Sparty models: African American and Hispanic."

The idea gave us pause as many thoughts came to mind. What race is Sparty? White? Perhaps Spartan? Sparta was in Ancient Greece, is he Greek? Does it matter what race he is?

Then the brainstorming on the logistics of this began. Would it be two totally new suits? Or would we just dress the current Sparty up every once in a while so he looks African American or Hispanic? Is there really any tasteful way to do that? Sparty has toed the line of cultural stereotypes in the past. Pictured here is Sparty dressed as a Spanish matador during a football game.

Does this honor and celebrate the racial and ethnic diversity of Michigan State? Is it just odd? Or at worst, is it offensive? And how much might all this cost anyway?

Now before anyone gets too concerned about this, it seems it was simply a case of thinking out loud that made it into the meeting record. Mr. Francese, a faculty representative on the council, is a Professor in the Department of French, Classics and Italian. When contacted, Professor Francese referred all comment to Athletic Council Chairman Mike Kasavana.

When asked about the comment in the minutes, Chairman Kasavana said, "This was an impromptu idea, without actual intent for serious consideration. Nothing further happened or is happening with regard to this suggestion."

So, what do you think? Should Sparty be more diverse?

Note: We'll be reacting to other items from the 2008-2009 Athletic Council minutes in upcoming days. Stay tuned!

Photos complements of Sparty's account.


  1. It's an interesting thought, but then again, how can you implement a change such as this? It would be tough to be appropriate and tasteful. It would also be easier to just forget that the issue was ever mentioned, but is it the correct move? Who is to say that it is a school mascot's job to make a statement about diversity? Interesting questions...

  2. I never gave Sparty's race a second thought. I guess I always just assumed that he was a plain ol' Spartan. I think it would be in poor taste to dress Sparty up for special events. The facial hair and sombrero above is almost too much to handle...on an already very cartoonish character, anything like this just looks farcical. Would they bring out all three Spartys at the same time? And where would they draw the racial line? Black, white, and Hispanic are not the only races represented at MSU.

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