Following years of calls for Washington’s NFL team to change its mascot, the franchise has agreed to replace its Redskins name and logo. And of course, this has spurred two very different reactions.
Those who are cheering the move for removing the name and logo say that is insensitive and racist to the country’s indigenous people.
On the other side of the coin are those who are criticizing the franchise for caving in to politically correct and cancel culture. Those who — despite burning their Nike shoes and boycotting the league following players kneeling during the national anthem — are now really “done” with the NFL.
This decision by a privately owned organization facing potential losses in revenue because of pressure from advertisers and sponsors has become a politically charged issue, as all things seem to be nowadays.
But no matter where you stand on the issue, it is undoubtedly a win for the country’s indigenous people who did not want their culture to be used as a mascot. And there are undoubtedly some Native Americans who may have not been upset by the Redskins name.
It all begs the question, when a team name doesn’t cause offense, does it really matter?
I was an avid Atlanta Thrashers fan (I recently had a depressing realization that I have had the Thrashers’ logo tattooed on my leg longer than the actual franchise existed).
Yet, you could have changed the Thrashers’ name to the Atlanta Only-Made-The-Playoffs-Once-And-Were-Swept’s for all I cared if it kept the team here. Although I do suppose that name would be awfully hard to cheer during games.
Another local team, one that still exists, is having its own discussions on its team name — the Atlanta Braves. Frankly, if the Braves were to change their team name, there would certainly be an adjustment period. My Nick Markakis jersey (did you know he went to Woodstock High, my alma mater?) would be outdated immediately for starters.
But I would not stop cheering for the Atlanta Whatever-You’d-Call-‘Ems, and I question the loyalty of those fans who would simply stop caring and cheering for a team because of a name change.
There can be significance to team names/mascots. Names can pay homage to the regional aspects of a team like the Washington Capitals or Detroit Pistons.
They can have historical significance like the Tennessee Volunteers, Penn Quakers or San Francisco 49ers.
Team names can also describe the area’s people. Take the Vancouver Canucks, New York Yankees or Houston Texans.
Or, they could just be picked at random or through a survey.
That is the method many minor league baseball teams have taken in naming their franchises, and to me, they are among the best names in sports. These mascots also show that, when it comes to athletics, what is in a name is, well, not a lot in the grand scheme of things.
Just here in Georgia, we have the Savannah Bananas and the Macon Bacon. Beyond our state’s borders are the Akron RubberDucks, Asheville Tourists, Montgomery Biscuits, Norwich Sea Unicorns and Rocket City Trash Pandas. Let’s not forget the Amarillo Sod Poodles, Richmond Flying Squirrels, New Orleans Baby Cakes, Rocky Mountain Vibes and Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.
The names are lighthearted, and I am fairly sure that they cause no offense to an entire race of people.
So maybe Washington could take a cue from minor league baseball clubs and just have some fun with their new mascot. What about the Washington Swampmen? The Beltline Blowhards?