A number of years ago in an attempt to create a more politically correct world, a campaign was launched to erase offensive mascots and names from sports teams.
In the wake of that campaign the Major League Baseball teams the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves eliminated the stereotypical logos for their teams. The NCAA – National Collegiate Athletic Association – mandated that all college teams that used offensive names or mascots would have to change their names. The lone exception to the ruling was the Florida State Seminoles who not only have permission from the Seminole Nation to use the name; but also, have a pact with the Nation.
In light of recent events and protests, the issue of changing offensive names has returned. Most recently Quaker Oats, PepsiCo and Mars Inc have announced that they will be reworking logos on some of their products.
But one business owner who so far has refused to budge on his stance is NFL owner Dan Snyder who says that he has no plans of changing the name of his team from the Washington Redskins.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the other 31 NFL owners have yet to make comments or force the issue on Snyder despite current attitudes toward the offensiveness of the teams name.
Currently the Washington team has a contract to play at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland until 2027, but is reportedly seeking a new stadium. Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has stated that the current team name is “an obstacle” on the path of the team getting a new stadium. Bowser said, “I think it’s past time for the team to deal with what offends so many people. This is a great franchise with a great history that’s beloved in Washington, and it deserves a name that reflects the affection that we’ve built for the team.”
While less in the spotlight, Kansas City’s team name may also appear offensive to some with the name of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Founder and executive director of IllumiNative Crystal Echo Hawk noted that any discussion involving racism should include Native Americans saying, “it’s really an opportunity to educate players from all backgrounds that in this powerful moment when they are doing the right thing and they are taking a stand for racial justice, they need to also be taking a stand on this particular issue within the NFL. There’s got to be a zero tolerance on racism.”
An issue as big as the Washington name is the “Tomahawk Chop” originated at Florida State and has, thanks to some FSU alums, made its way into professional sports. Echo Hawk noted that “The Chop” and other Native American imagery, “should be out of professional sports.”
Derogatory names and insults have long been a part of the fabric of American society and while some parts of society have been working to make changes, there is a portion of the nation whose old habits die hard and are slow to respond to change whether it be an offensive slang name or an offensive sports logo.
feature photo credit: By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA – Washington Redskins, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75675709