Over the past few months, the sports industry has prided itself on being more progressive than ever before. With name, logo and mascot changes, professional organizations and collegiate departments are slowly making their way to political correctness. When will it be enough?
After 87 years of being weighed down by the name, the Washington Football Team decided to remove the nickname “Redskins.” It perplexes me how that name survived for so long. The former logo depicted a maroon Native American with feathers in his braid, with the word “Redskins” below. The Redskin name never honored a tribe, rather it was first used by British colonists, and it was later used by James Madison, using the word interchangeably with “red people,” a disgusting term.
Washington is only the latest team to switch names and mascots. In 2017, The University of Mississippi changed their mascot from a dapperly-dressed black bear to a frightening landshark. Before the bear, Ole Miss sidelined a man with uncanny resemblance to Colonel Sanders, depicting a rebellious, southern plantation owner. This disgusting mascot was removed, but the name hasn’t been touched.
The University has declined to remove the nickname “Rebels.” This, of course, refers to the Mississippiians who rebelled against the United States in 1861. Without a doubt this is the absolute worst name in college sports. It is time to forget the “tradition” of the name. Hundreds of African Americans bring in millions of dollars for Ole Miss, while sporting the name of those that fought to keep freedom from an entire race.
As the Redskins became the Football Team, more questions arose for the Cleveland Indians. Cleveland changed their primary logo Chief Wahoo, an animated attempt of a stereotypical Indian with a red face, large teeth, and a large nose, to a simple block “C.” While this move was necessary, it still is not enough. There are better options than calling a team the “Indians.” This past summer brought protests outside of Progressive Field, the Indians stadium. Many fans are ready to move along with the name change, and the organization has expressed interest, but has not finalized any changes yet.
If the Indians do indeed decide to change mascots, does that mean teams like the Atlanta Braves will? The Braves had a run in with cultural appropriation last season before the final game of the playoff series against the St. Louis Cardinals, when a Native American opposing pitcher came out against the Brave’s tomahawk chop. Nonetheless, Atlanta got rid of it, which led to an embarrassing 13 – 1 loss. Understandably, Atlanta aimed to be on the right side of history, but the organization went too far. A name change is unnecessary, for there has not been an outcry for a different nickname like there was for the Redskins and is for the Indians. Chop on, Braves.
So, when will it be enough? When will every team in sports have a sensitive nickname? When will it end? Simply, it won’t. Pointing out that the Redskins was a racist name is a no brainer, but what about the Minnesota Vikings? Historically, there were Vikings known to rape and kill women and children. The Pittsburgh Pirates are similar in the fact that pirates were not the kindest of people. I am in no way lobbying for these teams to throw away their name, for I don’t believe these teams need tweaking. The difference is, there is not a large number of Pirate and Viking groups that find the mascots insensitive.
In 2013, the Washington Football Team’s owner said the organization will “never” remove the Redskins name. On June 30, 2020 the team’s head coach said changing the name “is a discussion for another time.” July 3 was when the organization announced it was removing “redskins” from the team.