A hot topic in the media over the past few years has been the appropriateness of Native American mascots in professional sports. I am, of course, talking about Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians, the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks and, most infamously, the National Football League’s Washington Redskins. The debate over the potentially offensive mascots has gone on for quite some time now. I personally believe this issue has become more sensitive than it needs to be.
Now, I don’t mean we shouldn’t be sensitive when discussing an issue like race (especially with all of the racial outrage going on in today’s society). What I mean is, we shouldn’t go putting words in the mouths of Native American populations. If the population of Native Americans in the United States was truly offended by the names of professional sports teams, I think we would’ve seen a stand taken against them by now.
It seems as though every time this story comes up in the news, it is typically a white reporter or a social rights activist that has no actual affiliation to the group being discussed. I have yet to hear anything about any large group of Native Americans speaking out against these sports teams.
Of course, it is possible that some Native Americans are offended by names of these teams, but I personally think the name of a sports team is the last thing anyone should be offended by. The names have historical significance to each team and were never meant to be offensive in any way. The intent of them was never to belittle the name of Native Americans or to be insensitive to issues surrounding their culture. Native Americans have seen extremely hard times here in the United States and to think that a sports team’s name could be so offensive is just silly to me.
I think the Indians, Blackhawks and Redskins all have historical significance in their respective cities and sports and it would be a shame to have to change them due to a heightened level of sensitivity in this generation. I don’t think the names are meant to be racist or offensive. If they were, I don’t think they would have lasted as long as they have.
Jake Coughlin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org