NYS Senator Harckham Shouldn’t Mix Politics with Sports, Education
By Ray Gallagher
Examiner Sports Editor@Directrays
Here we go again with the mixing of sports and politics. These guys, many of whom have never tossed a pigskin, just can’t stick to their own lane.
State Sen. Peter Harckham (D-Lewisboro) can take his Senate Bill S8708 and shove it. No thanks, sir, we don’t need your political correctness interfering with our sports lives.
Harckham, who represents the 40th Senate District (which includes portions of Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties), submitted his bill to the Senate last week calling to amend state education law to exclude schools with race-based mascots from receiving state funding.
This phony, ginned-up bill, which is wholly unnecessary, seeks to add section 3602-g, which includes language that excludes schools with race-based mascots from state appropriation. This act would take effect three years after it becomes law, giving schools that time to abolish their current mascots and budget for everything from new gym floor murals to sports apparel (from modified to varsity), which are just a couple of the extra expenses that districts will incur.
This bill defines a race-based mascot as “any person, animal or object used to represent a school district, which is derived from a specific race or ethnicity or is based on certain characteristics of a specific race or ethnicity.”
And, according to Rob Astorino, who is opposing Harckham for state Senate later this year, these are some of the mascots Harckham, in his infinite wisdom, is coming for: Not the just the Indians, but Harckham is set to extinguish the likes of the “Fighting Irish,” “Warriors,” “Spartans,” “Scotties” or “Flying Dutchman,” perhaps even the Gypsy Moths. Even the Valhalla Vikings, Mahopac Indians and Horace Greeley Quakers are at risk of being forced to change their mascots or lose state funding.
Pretty soon places like Yorktown, which go by the Cornhuskers, will have offended farmers. We’ll be left with toads, weather systems and certain fungi as mascots. Maybe the Yorktown Yeast Bombs would work.
New York is in shambles right now; folks leaving the state in record numbers because they can’t afford it any longer and fear the political paradigm. There’s a massive, nonsensical increase in antipolice sentiment in our cities, and the notion to defund the NYPD – despite recent reported increases of violent crime – is not only on the table, it’s happening to the tune of $1 billion. The state is eyeballing a $13 billion deficit, and hundreds of thousands are still out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small business owners have seen their life savings go up in flames but Harckham is concerned about the Spartans having a negative effect on a few squeaky wheels in townships across the state. This is what’s on his plate during a global pandemic? Dude’s gotta go! It’s time the district woke up, voted this guy out and reached across the aisle where a warm, welcoming reception awaits Astorino.
The state and country have been decimated by the lockdowns. Parents have no childcare plan in place to watch their children should teachers, students, aides and administrators be denied entrance to school buildings this fall for a safe reopening. We still don’t know if our kids are going back to school, and we’re a month-and-a-half away from the start of the 2020-21 academic year.
And here’s Harckham, focused on school mascots. He has some set of stones to throw this kind of tomfoolery in our faces; to mandate such buffoonery on the state level when matters of such concern could and should be handled internally by school districts and local communities. Shame on you, Harckham!
“We don’t need a grandstanding politician in Albany threatening to cut even more state funding if they don’t bend to his will and whims,” Astorino said in a recent post upon Harckham’s declaration. “Local school districts are already facing devastating cuts to school aid and have received little to no guidance on how they should safely reopen in the fall. Our state senator should be focused on that – not mascots.”
Harckham is the first Democrat to represent the state Senate from northern Westchester and Putnam County since 1914, and politicians that come out firing against longstanding school mascots, cancel culture and political correctness – instead of jobs, education, police and public safety – need to be shown the door. And that goes for anyone in Albany that supports this bill.
Don’t let the door hit you in the rear,
Pistol Pete! Wake up District 40!
Ray has 33 years experience covering and photographing local sports in Westchester and Putnam counties, including everything from Little League/Travel Baseball to varsity high school prep sports and collegiate coverage. He has been a sports editor at Examiner Media since its inception in 2007.
Visit Ray’s author bio page for more details. Also read Ray’s archived work here and his Direct Rays column here.