Over the past few decades there has been a slowly-expanding move to change the mascots of many college and professional teams. This group, led mainly by Native Americans or Indians, depending on how you refer to them, has had some success as witnessed by a number of colleges bowing to legal threats. The two major schools that I am aware of that have changed their mascots are Stanford, which went from Indians to Cardinals, and Marquette, which went from Warriors to Golden Eagles.
Another to fold under the pressure is the University of West Georgia which is my Alma Mater. When I played at West Georgia, we were the Braves, but due to threats of legal action, which UWG officials said they were unable to afford to defend, they are now know as the Wolves. I have made it clear to anyone who will listen at UWG that I was, am, and will continue to be a West Georgia Brave. Many others agree with me. West Georgia doesn’t care what I think!
I have been to a few Braves’ games when there was a small group peacefully protesting outside of the stadium. The Braves have recognized these protests, but have made no move towards changing their name.
The main pressure of this movement seems to now have settled directly on the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. Those who are trying to instigate the change say that the word “redskins” is a racial slur, is degrading, and creates a stereotype which could affect their children’s upbringing. Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder has publicly stated that he would “never” change the name. Even though the pressure has been revved up, he has maintained his stand. Even Congress has entered the fray by sending Snyder a letter signed by 50 Congressmen stating that they think Snyder should change the name, and your friend and mine, Barack Obama, has stated that he thinks that the name should be changed. I think that these folks should have about as much influence as I do with the UWG situation.
The government continues to apply subtle pressure as last week the United States Patent & Trademark Office denied six trademarks of the Washington team. The general comment supporting their decision is that these trademarks are slurs and offensive to a small group of people. A small group!
The latest poll that I have seen concerning this issue says that 79 percent of Americans are against a name change, 11 percent are for a name change, and 8 percent are unsure. I am one of the 79 percent. I see no reason for a change!
If you are going to change the Redskins name, then shouldn’t there be a move to change other teams’ and schools’ mascots? Let’s take a look.
How about the Houston Texans. Is this a slur to all who live in the Lone Star State? Or the New York Yankees? Those living above the Mason-Dixon Line should really be upset about this. And all meat workers should be upset about the Green Bay Packers. The San Diego Padres are surely degrading all preachers and the Minnesota Twins can’t be a popular name for all who have a look-alike sibling. And I for one am pretty upset about the San Diego Chargers! My credit card shows that charging is my way of securing some of the things that I enjoy daily.
And look at some of our major colleges and universities. How about the Wake Forest Demon Deacons or the Notre Dame Fighting Irish or the Texas-El Paso Miners or the West Virginia Mountaineers or the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns or the Austin Peay Governors? They’re upsetting a legion of folks with these names!
And finally should the name of the state of Oklahoma be changed? Oklahoma comes from the Choctaw words “okla” and “humma” meaning red people. Pretty close to red skins huh? Or maybe Indiana, which means land of Indians?
Much can be said about this topic and none of it will probably change anyone’s mind. I just get so sick of this “political correctness” that we deal with every day of our lives. It calls for a change in many of our traditions and heritage simply because a few people get their feelings hurt. I just hope that I get to watch the Washington Redskins play for many more years. And yes, against the Packers, Cowboys, Texans, Chargers, etc!