Skip to content

What Do You Mean ‘We,’ Paleface?


As the question of using Native American imagery continues to rattle around the corners of the sports world, many people have opinions but few (aside from the NCAA and the North Dakota legislature) bother to act on them. So there’s a lot of bloviating and posturing but not much more than that.

That’s why a new project from Uni Watch reader Brittain Peck is so refreshing. I’ll let him explain it:

This past NFL season I created a fantasy football team called the Whiteskins [click on the helmet image above to see the full details of his logo concept ”” PL]. It was intended as a satirical approach to drawing attention to the offensive nature of stereotypical American Indian sports mascots and the need to change them.

The “team” has since grown into a project in which I have committed to challenging the use of culturally offensive mascots by spreading our message via the sale of Whiteskins merchandise. More importantly, the proceeds from these sales are donated to organizations working for the benefit of Native American communities, with a focus on encouraging sports participation among Native youth.

I don’t want the Whiteskins’ message to just be negative — “You shouldn’t do that” or “Oh, how dare you” — so I have already begun preparing proposed logos, names, and mascot changes for other professional sports teams that currently use Native American imagery names and imagery in their branding and team culture. I’m not ready to show you those yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as I have them ready.

Personally, I love this. Much like No Mas’s brilliant Native American T-shirt (it’s hard to see, but all three mascots are shedding Photoshopped tears, thereby referencing Iron Eyes Cody and sports simultaneously), the Whiteskins project confronts Native American sports imagery on its own terms and wins handily. More importantly, it doesn’t just make a good point — it tries to do something about it instead of just huffing and puffing. Kudos to Brittain for this excellent project.

Phil already offered his own take on the topic of Native American sports imagery in Sunday’s entry. That led to a very robust discussion, which I took part in, in that day’s comments. But not everyone reads the site on the weekends (typical Sunday viewership is about 65% of a weekday post’s), and most readers don’t look at the comments. So for those of you who haven’t seen my position on the matter, it’s fairly straightforward: If you’re going to take a continent from a group of people via a near-genocidal campaign of ethnic cleansing, the least you could do, just as a bare minimum of basic courtesy, is not use their names and imagery, and you should especially not use it to sell stuff. It’s just wrong, because those names and images are not yours to use.

I’ve come to that point of view fairly recently. When I started writing Uni Watch in the spring of 1999, the first editor I worked with — Village Voice sports editor Miles Seligman — immediately suggested that I write about Indian imagery in team logos. I declined, in part because I was just getting started with Uni Watch (I had stirrups to celebrate, a certain loathsome color to lambaste, and so much other turf to stake out) but also, frankly, because Native American imagery in sports was a topic I hadn’t thought much about. And when I tried to think about it, I found it wasn’t something that registered all that strongly with me.

More than seven years later, in the fall of 2006, one of the early readers of this blog, Todd Krevanchi, interviewed me over the phone (the plan was to run the interview transcript here on the site, but for a variety of reasons that never happened). He was asking me all the standard questions I typically get asked — what’s my favorite uniform, what makes for a good logo, etc. — and then he asked if I felt strongly about the use of Indian logos, mascots, and so on. I said, “No.” He asked why, and I think I said something like, “I don’t know. It’s just never seemed that important to me.”

I wasn’t happy with my own answer there, because I can usually give a good explanation for why I do or don’t care about something. Later on, I gave it some more thought and realized I’d never known any American Indians personally (that’s still the case). And while I knew the basics of Indian history in America — from John Smith and Pocahontas to the Trail of Tears — I hadn’t really internalized it or bonded with it the way I’d done with, say, Civil War history (I’m still not sure why). So I decided to re-learn some of that history by reading some books, doing some research, etc. As I did so, the answer to the question of team names and mascots came into much sharper focus for me, and it became apparent that the use of these names and images was unacceptable.

Also, in 2008 I started dating a woman who’d grown up in California and Alaska, where Native issues are much stronger parts of the local culture and discourse than they are in the Northeast, where I grew up. Spending time with her helped to broaden my perspective and open my eyes regarding Native American issues that I hadn’t thought about before. In addition, some credit goes to Phil, who was way ahead of me on this issue, and whose own principled stances helped me arrive at where I am today.

A few weeks ago, the North Dakota situation came up in the comments. Reader R. Scott Rogers had this to say:

You know who should be called the Fighting Sioux? The team representing the four-year university we established for the Lakota peoples when we took their land and herded them into desolate concentration camps. Oh, right, we didn’t establish universities for them. Whoops! ”¦

Anyone else wants to use that name, they need to ask permission. From all Sioux tribal government. And if they don’t all grant permission, then tough. You respect that, and you find yourself another nickname for your teams.

That pretty much matches my own line of thought, although I think non-Native institutions that receive permission to use Native imagery should also have to pay a royalty or licensing fee.

I know some of you disagree with me on this issue; that’s fine. Some of you also seem to view the discussion of this topic as a proxy for raft of larger socio-political accusations (i.e., if you’re against the use of Native names/imagery, then you must also be an Occupy Wall Streeter who drinks soy lattes while burning a flag, and if you have no problem with these team names then you must listen to Rush Limbaugh while polishing your handguns with your Tea Party pals); that’s not so fine. Personally, I’m not interested in engaging in any cultural profiling. I’m just interested in this issue, because it relates to uniforms and logos. All the other stuff is just noise that distracts from the issue at hand.

Based on some of the comments and questions that came up on Sunday, plus some e-mails that were sent to me privately, here’s a FAQ-ish approach to some of the questions that might come up today, and my responses to them (with one exception, everything in bold is either a paraphrase or a direct quote of something that’s been posted in the comments or expressed to me via e-mail, so I’m not inventing staw men here — these are my responses to real issues raised by real readers):

Are you opposed to all team names with Native American references, including the Redskins, Chiefs, Braves, Blackhawks, Warriors, etc.?

What about teams like the Utah Utes and the Florida State Seminoles, which have worked out specific arrangements with their respective local tribes?
That’s different. Permission = good! But as noted above, I’d like to see a licensing fee or royalty involved as well.

If a team name like Indians is bad, what about a team name like Vikings?
That’s apples and oranges. The Vikings were not a victimized class subjected to genocide, theft of their land, etc. The issue here, at least from my perspective, isn’t about ethnic stereotyping; it’s about systematically destroying a culture and then using that culture’s imagery as if it belongs to you, which it doesn’t.

What about the Fighting Irish?
See above.

Okay, but if you go down this road, someone’s always gonna find something offensive about any team name or mascot. Where does it stop?
You mean where does doing the right thing stop? Here’s a better question: Where does it start? The hypothetical “Pandora’s Box” argument is a pretty standard way to obstruct social justice (it was used against women who wanted to vote, blacks who wanted civil rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, etc.), but it sidesteps the issue at hand — i.e., whether it’s right for teams to use Native names/imagery.

I realize that the term “Redskins” is derogatory, but there’s nothing inherently negative about a team name like Indians or Blackhawks.
It’s not a question of whether the team names and mascots are derogatory per se; it’s about whether the teams using those names have any right to use them. I don’t think they do.

Why are you getting so worked up about this when polls show that Native Americans themselves don’t care about this issue?
People who raise this point are usually referring to a poll conducted by Sports Illustrated in 2002. The results were published in this article (which is an excellent, highly nuanced analysis of the issue — strongly recommended), and the key passage is this one:

Asked if they were offended by the name Redskins, 75% of Native American respondents in SI’s poll said they were not, and even on reservations, where Native American culture and influence are perhaps felt most intensely, 62% said they weren’t offended. Overall, 69% of Native American respondents — and 57% of those living on reservations — feel it’s O.K. for the Washington Redskins to continue using the name.

That’s a powerful bit of data — but it’s not quite the same as the blanket statement “Native Americans aren’t offended by these names.” Based on the poll numbers, between a quarter and a third of them are offended (or at least they were 10 years ago; I’d be interested in seeing more current data), which I’d say is a pretty sizable minority. Why would you want to do something that offends a third of Native Americans, when changing the team names would probably offend none of them?

But I also think that’s not the only point. As an American citizen who views the country’s treatment of Native peoples as one of the less savory chapters in our national history, I find these team names offensive, and so do many others, because it the very notion of it demeans all of us (just as slavery demeaned all of us, just as Japanese internment demeaned all of us, etc.). It’s part of the social contract: We’re all in this together.

If you have some sort of white guilt, that’s your problem. Don’t try to make me feel guilty, because I’ve never done anything bad to Indian people. My ancestors didn’t even come to America until 1910!
Let me be clear: I do not feel guilty about the plight of Native Americans. Guilt implies wrongdoing, and I’ve done nothing wrong. I assume you haven’t either (unless you’ve been, like, firebombing Indian reservations or something crazy like that).

I do, however, feel a strong sense of shared civic responsibility, because I benefit every single day from things that were done to Native Americans. I live a very privileged life, and with great privilege comes great responsibility.

Consider this: My ancestors came here around 1910 too, and they were able to do things that Native Americans could not. For example, although my great-grandparents were poor, they could still send their kids to decent public schools; after becoming naturalized, they could vote (many Indians, especially those on reservations, did not have this right at the time); and so on. So while my ancestors didn’t do anything wrong to Native Americans, they benefitted from a system that was rigged against Native Americans. Those benefits, in the form of inherited wealth, inherited property, and so on, have trickled down (or up) to me. That’s what I mean when I say I benefit every day from what was done so long ago, and why I feel those privileges give me a shared responsibility to do the right thing.

Well, that’s fine for you, but you don’t have the right to unilaterally make these teams change their names. Who made you commissioner?
I’m not claiming any power to make these changes by some sort of magical fiat. (If I had that power, I wouldn’t bother writing a blog post — I’d just go out and make it so.) I’m simply engaging in a discussion about a uni-relevant issue.

If you really want to make the world a better place, stop whining about team names and start doing something about the slave labor conditions in the factory where your iPhone is made, or about famine in Africa, or about [insert worthy cause here].
First of all, who says I’m not doing things to help famine-stricken Africans? More importantly, though, this blog is about uniforms and logos. If you’d like to discuss African famine, I’m sure there’s another blog where we can do that later on. Either way, I don’t see how that precludes us from discussing the issue of sports teams using Native imagery. Yes, there are all sorts of ways to make the world a better place; this is one of them. I never claimed it was the only one.

You’re such a hypocrite. You talk about all this stuff, but what are you doing to help Native Americans?
This is one of many, many ways in which people have used this discussion to accuse me of being a hypocrite, often in rather creative ways. (Remember that Notre Dame box thingie that I auctioned off for charity last fall? One guy said I was a hypocrite for not using the money to benefit Native Americans.) I’ve also been called a asshole, a moron, and lots of other things. Look, if it will help us advance the discussion, then fine: For the sake of argument, I’m a hypocrite, I’m a fraud, I’m an asshole. Now that we’ve established that, can we get back to discussing whether it’s appropriate for these teams to have these names and logos? We can talk about what a big fat jerk I am some other time; today we’re discussing the message, not the messenger.

These logos and team names are so entrenched — how can you expect team owners to change them?
Lots of situations once thought to be intractable were eventually changed: slavery, women’s suffrage, “baseball can’t possibly be played indoors,” etc.

Those are extreme examples. Do you really think these team names and logos are on the same level as slavery and women’s suffrage?
No — it’s a much smaller issue, not nearly as entrenched as those other things were. And therefore it shouldn’t be so hard to change. That’s the point of making those comparisons: If we could change those other things, we should easily be able to change this.

Look, I’m not racist. But I don’t have any problem with these team names, and I don’t appreciate being called a racist as a result of that.
Nobody’s calling you a racist (or at least I’m not). I think it’s entirely possible for decent people to have an honest disagreement on this issue. I just happen to feel, strongly, that using Native American culture as the basis of a team brand is wrong.

I can see your point, but I’m a Cleveland native and a lifelong Indians fan. You can’t expect fans like me to just give up these team names and logos — we feel emotionally connected to them!
I totally understand that. Hell, the connection between fan and team brand is the essence of Uni Watch. And yes, I realize it’s easy for me to point the finger at the names of teams that I don’t root for. Nobody’s asking me to give up my emotional connection to the Mets or 49ers.

But if I were an Indians or Redskins fan (or if the word “Mets” turned out to have some offensive connotation), I hope I’d be strong enough to stay true to my principles. Doing the right thing can be hard sometimes — that’s why we tend to respect people when they do it.

Wait a minute, I don’t agree with you on what “the right thing” is. I have no problem with these team names and logos.
That’s fine. We can disagree.

This whole thing is stupid. It’s an invented issue created by a small bunch of loudmouths. Nobody cares.
I believe you are mistaken. If you Google “native american team names controversy,” you get over 2.5 million hits. If you look at Phil’s post from Sunday, there were over 300 comments. People do care.

Okay, but most sports fans still don’t care. It’s just a few people like you making a fuss.
The “silent majority” argument always seems persuasive, doesn’t it? The thing is, many members of the silent majority, on any given issue, just haven’t thought much about that issue (just as I hadn’t thought about this one until relatively recently) — that’s part of why they’re silent. Maybe some of those people will read this, think a little harder, and draw their own conclusions on regarding an issue that hadn’t previously been on their radar.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that this really is an “invented” issue. In fact, let’s say Uni Watch invented it (which is completely untrue, but just work with me here). What would be so wrong about that? We’ve invented lots of things here, from the term “FNOB” to a greater awareness of logo creep. If Uni Watch helped create a discussion about the use of Native American imagery where no discussion had previously existed, I’d be fine with that.

I’m tired of this. I wish this site would get back to talking about uniforms.
But we are talking about uniforms. This is a perfectly legitimate uni-related topic, especially given what’s going on right now with the North Dakota men’s and women’s hockey teams. If you mean that you wish I’d stick to talking about new uniform unveilings or Peyton Manning’s uni number or whatever, those things are perfectly legitimate uni-related topics too, but they’re not the only ones.

Yeah, but when you take up a topic like this, it’s like you’re using the blog as your personal soapbox.
Well, Uni Watch is my personal soapbox. That’s always been the case here, whether I’m saying, “Stirrups are great!” or “Purple sucks!” or “The Mets should ditch the black!” or “Football jerseys should have real sleeves!” (or even “I love eating meat!”). And yes, it’s also the case when I say that I think the use of Native American team names and logos is wrong. Nothing about the soapbox has changed except, apparently, your perception of it.

Yeah, but those other things are just about sports. This topic is about, like, the larger world and stuff.
True enough. Sometimes the uni-verse (and the sports world in general) exists in its own little compartment; sometimes it overlaps with the rest of the world. That’s how life is sometimes.

Why did you have to write about this today when Phil already covered it on Sunday?
If it was just a matter of saying, “I think these team names/logos wrong,” I wouldn’t have addressed that topic today. But Brittain Peck had already told me about his Whiteskins project late last week, well before I knew what Phil was planning for last Sunday’s post. I think Brittain’s project is a good one, so I wanted to showcase it today. (Also, as noted earlier, we get less traffic on the weekends, so many people reading this may not have seen Phil’s post on Sunday.)

Okay, Mr. Holier Than Thou, here’s a chance for you to put your money where your mouth is: Will you stop making membership cards based on teams that use these names and logos?
Actually, nobody asked me that, but it occurred to me while I was working on this entry. So yes, as of right now, we will no longer produce membership cards with designs based on the Redskins, Indians, Braves, Blackhawks, etc. The truth is, Scott (who executes the card designs) was opposed to including these teams in the membership program when we started it in 2007, but I overruled him, because my views on this topic were still evolving. Now, however, it’s time to do the right thing. The new policy is now spelled out on the membership sign-up page.


That’s it. I’ve had my say, so I won’t be participating much, if at all, in today’s comments. The floor is yours.

+ + + + +

Screen shot 2012-03-22 at 3.02.57 PM.png

If you’ve been having trouble with the site’s RSS feed, try using this one instead. That should take care of it.

Live chat reminder: I’ll be doing an live chat today, 3pm Eastern. Details here.

Meanwhile, there’s a new entry on the Permanent Record blog.

+ + + + +

Uni Watch News Ticker: I had already reported that the Cardinals would be wearing gold-logo caps for their home opener on April 13. Now it turns out they’ll also be wearing heavily gold-accented jerseys for that game (be sure to click through to the photos to see the rear view of the jersey), and they’ll wear them again when they receive their World Series rings the following day. … The UK’s uniforms for the Olympics have been unveiled. Further info/videos here, and UK reader Jonathan Bean has blogged about it. … New rule for international cycling: Socks must be shorter than the mid-point between ankle and knee (from Bernie Langer). ”¦ Lewis Hamilton had a kangaroo drawn on his helmet at the Australian GP (from Omar Jalife). ”¦ Good overview of Marquette basketball uni history here (from Brian Fitterman). ”¦ Latest team with gray alts: Virginia baseball. This could really mess with the notion of “road grays” (from Blake Pass). ”¦ Chris Fernandez’s wife made some bat knob decals for their son’s bats. ” It’s been a hit in our league and has gotten a lot of attention,” says Chris. ”¦ Speaking of bat knob decals, the latest MLB team to hop aboard that train is the Nationals. ”¦ Tualatin High School in Oregon wears some very nice logo-emblazoned stirrups (from Travis McGuire). ”¦ Evan Longoria’s batting helmet was missing its logo the other day (screen shots by Joe Delach). ”¦ Fun article about minor league team names (from Matthew Robins). ”¦ Major douchebag move on the part of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which has told Jonathan Bernier of the L.A. Kings to tape over the Hollywood sign on his mask. I suggest that all Kings fans make bootleg “Hollywood” T-shirts — perhaps including the line, “This T-shirt is unauthorized” — and wear it to Kings games. ”¦ After a Canucks player knocked off Blackhawk Patrick Kane’s helmet during the second period of Wednesday night’s game, Kane (88) wore teammate Brendan Morrison’s (17) helmet during his next shift (from Tim E. O’Brien). ”¦ Coupla interesting auction finds by Mike Hersh: an Angels full-length hoodie and a bizarre two-tone Cardinals jacket. ”¦ Just in time for the Final Four, our friends at Retro College Cuts have added a set of Michigan State throwback shorts to their offerings. Details here. … More monkeyshines: It’s a little hard to see, but the top-right illustration on this comic book cover is about a gorilla baseball team. Tommy Allred describes the story: “A scientist discovers how to electrically stimulate dormant parts of a gorilla’s brain so they can think and speak like humans. He develops a device that he puts in the button of a baseball cap that will continually provide this stimulation. He teaches them baseball and takes them on the road. They defeat a MLB team (Yankees, I think), 45-0, by scoring one run in the first, two in the second, and so on. As time goes on, the scientist overhears the gorillas plotting the to take over civilization from the humans, so he introduces some type of gas in their sleeping room to keep them unconscious while he removes the caps (which they have to sleep in, of course) to avert the catastrophe.” World domination via squatchee — I like it! … LIU baseball is wearing some awesome feather-edged stirrups. That shot was provided by Shawn Sweeney, who also sent along an absolutely astonishing 1963 LIU photo. I’ve seen snap-on nameplates on basketball warm-ups, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one on a baseball jersey before. ”¦ Did a revised facemask turn around Alex Smith’s career? Maybe (from Roger Faso). ”¦ Jay Jackson is trying to create an updated, modernized version of Mark Okkonen’s baseball database (and is doing so with Okkonen’s blessing). It’s a lot of work, so trying to fund the project via a Kickstarter campaign. ”¦ Kirsten Hively’s volvelle collection has been featured on the excellent Obsessionistas site. ”¦ New caps for the Grand Junction Rockies (from Tom Manann). … I think we may have seen this before, but just in case: Here’s a cool poster showing NBA championship ring designs broken down by team. … “The first hour of the LCS Hockey Radio Show on Wednesday was an interview with Kris Bazen, the man behind the recently released Buffaslug concepts,” writes Daniel Dykstra. “They talk about how he started in sports design, the development of the Buffalo logo and reactions, and Kris gives his top 11 sports logos.” … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The Altoona curve’s cap design has built-in rally cap functionality. … Yesterday I mentioned how three players involved in Mets/Nats double play were all wearing No. 13. “I’m curious to know if any of these players are Venezuelan,” writes Louis Gaunch. “As you know, many Venezuelan players wear that number as a tribute to Dave Concepcion.” Sure enough, two of the players in question — Andres Blanco and Ronny Cedeño — are Venezuelan. Good call by Louis. ”¦ The Cardinals aren’t the only team that can wear birds on a bat. That’s the Southeastern Community College Blackhawks from Iowa. ”¦ New Era has come out with some ABA throwback caps. “Unfortunately, they didn’t do much homework on the team colors,” says Richard Craig. “Just off some quick observations, the San Diego Conquistadors, Washington Capitals, Carolina Cougars, Kentucky Colonels, and Denver Nuggets caps are all wrong.” ”¦ Remember the odd “H” cap that the Astros apparently during spring training of 1965? Todd Radom appears to have found another provisional Astros cap from that same period. ”¦ Speaking of Todd, he recently started his own blog. ”¦ Hey, those Reebok folks sure are classy. ”¦ “I was watching a replay of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tonight and noticed that #15 on Cuba was wearing a completely different kit from the rest of the team,” says Michael Evangelista. “I didn’t watch the whole match so I have no idea if they discussed what happened.” ”¦ New coaching gear for Notre Dame here and here (from Warren Junium). ”¦ “I was recently at Disney world and spotted this worker outside of Casey’s restaurant where they sell hot dogs,” says Dave Gambill. ”¦ Some guy in Pittsburgh (I’m assuming) wore a Pirates-themed outfit to his prom (from Dan Cichalski).

One recurring trend here on the site is that I’ll point out some annoying example of corporate douchebaggery or advertising encroachment, someone will then post a comment saying, “It’s just business, what’s wrong with that?,” and then I’ll respond with a comment about how I find it upsetting that everything in American life seems to be for sale. Now a new article in The Atlantic spells out the situation a lot better than I ever could (and without the word “douchebaggery,” you’ll be happy to hear). The author’s key point is that there’s a big difference between a market economy, which is what we had for most of the country’s history, and a market society, which is what we seem to have become in recent years. You can see the rest for yourself. Superb reading, and highly recommended.

Comments (467)

    So does No Mas give a “portion of their profits” (which always seems bogus to me, no matter where I hear it) to Native American groups for the sale of the shirts that feature they crying logos? If so, that is good. If not, they are just doing the same thing as the Indians, Redskins and Blackhawks…profiting off of the imagery of the Native Americans.

    Original intent had nothing to do with any race of people, mearly the color of their uniforms:

    “Until 1994, the university’s nickname was the St. John’s Redmen, which referenced the red uniforms worn by its teams in competition. The name was interpreted as a Native American reference in the 1960s, and the University did have a Mascot (adorned in Native American dress), which eventually led to the teams name change to the Red Storm.”

    You can also argue that original intent for the Redskins wait, Paul won’t except that, he’s always right despite historical facts

    Well, Paul M., George Preston Marshall did name the team the Redskins to “honor” William Henry Dietz’s heritage, but he also made Dietz (a player) put on war paint and dance around for games.
    The initial intent may have been a nice thought, but the follow-through is pretty insensitive and would never happen today.

    I think it’s funny and ironic that the term “Native Americans” is used so much–just shows how much PC has taken over society.

    Polls show that “Native Americans” prefer, by a rather wide margin, to be called AMERICAN INDIANS.

    Unless it directly involves Nike, in which case the offense should be dubbed “Swooshbaggery”.

    (I think you mean What’s wrong with that in the last paragraph)

    Also, as someone who is resistant to changing the name Redskins because I am currently dating somebody who is a ‘Skins fan, I have to say you completely disarmed me in arguing against you without coming off as a complete asshole. Probably one of the best arguments I’ve read in years.

    I fully support changing the names of Cleveland, Washington, Atlanta, and Chicago, not because it’s PC, but because it’s the right thing to do. Thanks for opening my eyes to this issue that before last weekend, I didn’t even acknowledge.

    “I fully support changing the names of Cleveland, Washington, Atlanta, and Chicago, not because it’s PC, but because it’s the right thing to do. Thanks for opening my eyes to this issue that before last weekend, I didn’t even acknowledge.”



    I agree with you on pretty much all counts on the Native American team names/imagery issue Paul. Just one tiny nit to pick, do you really think the Golden State Warriors name is offensive and should be changed? I know that originally the name referred to Native Americans (with a quite offensive logo to boot), but they’ve obviously scrubbed their brand of any connection whatsoever to that for decades, and the word “Warrior” can be used in plenty of non-Native American contexts.

    Yeah, the Warriors got rid of all Native American imagery sometime in the mid-70s. I hardly think it’s fair to lump them in with the Redskins, Indians et al. By the same note, you should also refuse any L.A. Clippers membership cards, as they were formerly the Buffalo Braves.

    Refusing Clippers cards would defeat the whole purpose. They made a change, unlike other teams.

    Actually, I’m kind of in agreement with the Warriors. The context I always think of first is link

    “Redskins” and “Indians”, definitely get rid of, but others *might* have a place if the teams make a more than significant contribution to the betterment of the people they wish to honor.

    Hi Paul – nicely written. I’m a lifelong Cleveland fan, and have been troubled about this issue myself. I personally like the idea of going back to the “Spiders”.

    I’ll take my soy latte with a shot of organic almond syrup, please. I’ll be in the tent next to the statue of McPherson.


    PETA might object as it’s offensive to spiders. Of course, PETA objects to everything. I wonder if Uni-Watch gets angry e-mails whenever Paul does a barbeque piece?

    Doesn’t the name “Spiders” carry negative connotations thanks to what happened in 1899?

    20-134. And that’s not a typo.

    not to take away his contributions, but would you call his acting “Redfaced”…

    Hollywood has always considered Jews and Italians interchangeable; that’s not really an example of that. I’d say Nicolas Cage is a better example of an Italian playing every possible ethnicity.

    Indeed, link.

    (For those who don’t want to check out the link, it’s the Wikipedia page for Marc Copani, Italian-American wrestler, whose ring name in the WWE was Muhammad Hassan.)

    Not only was he Scillian, he was born in Louisiana and raised there and in Texas, though he denied his Italian/Scillian heritage when it was made public not long before his death. He lived his life as a Native American, supported their causes, and adopted Native American children.

    Now this may be personal bias, but the Blackhawks don’t seem to fit the bill well on this topic because they’re not named after Indians, they were named after the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division during World War I.

    Now, this Division was nicknamed the “Blackhawk Division”, after a Native American of the Sauk nation, Chief Black Hawk, so maybe I’m splitting hairs, but I do think there is a significant difference.

    Now, is the logo profiting from the use of Native American imagery? Yes. Obviously. And I wont debate the morality of that, but it’s such a beautiful and majestic logo and I doubt anyone can look at that smiling native and view it as offensive.

    Tough call on my ‘Hawks, I think.

    Didn’t the US fight against Black Hawk in the War of 1812 and the link? So why did we “honor” Black Hawk by naming a division after him?

    Unless I’m reading Wikipedia wrong, it’s not making sense to me…

    Have you ever seen the movie “Gangs of New York”, where Bill the Butcher throws a party every year to “honor” the priest he killed in the beginning? Yeah, it’s kinda like that I guess.

    Sarcasm aside, I think this is EXACTLY why the Blackhawks are not an exception here.

    There are teams called the Rebels, who, as I recall, lost the Civil War (don’t mention that down south, though). ;)

    You mean the war that the South retired from? :)

    My old high school mascot (in Texas) was the Rebels. We used a Confederate soldier (and, for a long time, a Southern flag) for years until around 1993 when we changed to a cowboy-looking guy on a motorcycle and the school made a point to honor rebels from all points in history, like Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Joan of Arc, etc.

    About 7 or 8 years ago, they changed the name to Mavericks, in order to fully separate themselves from anything related to the Confederacy. I was initially upset about it (for nostalgia’s sake), but I’ve come around and now think it was probably the right move.

    I also wonder if the name is the issue with the Blackhawks, or if it is solely the logos (including the secondary logo with the crossed tomahawks over a “C”). Interestingly enough, the ticker today even mentioned another “Blackhawks”, the baseball team from Southeastern Community College that has interpreted their nickname with actual hawks and perched them upon a bat.

    So, with the history of the name of the Blackhawks coming from a military battalion and NOT from a Native American, and if they were to update their logo to focus on a heavily pigmented bird of prey rather than a stoic Native American, does Paul think that they’d still need to send royalties to Native American groups?

    Tacking this on to Tim’s point…

    With the idea of stopping production of membership cards based on Native American imagery, Paul, why would you stop producing cards that feature a name and number on the back and NOT the logo on the front? It’s not like you’re asking the team to change its colour scheme. All you’re demanding is the logo to change. This seems like overkill in the most egregious of ways. If someone asked for the logo on the front, you have a point. If there is no logo demanded, why would the team even consider rebranding its colours?

    And I fully support the Blackhawks logo remaining as it is for several reasons:

    1) It does honour a military division much like the Maple Leafs name does. Frederic McLaughlin was in the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division during World War I, named the “Black Hawk Division”, and named his team after his division. The name honours the men who lived and died in the war.

    2) It was his wife, actress Irene Castle, who came up with the logo. She couldn’t necessarily put an image of the 86th Infantry Division on the sweater at that time. My guess is that she chose the next most famous “Black Hawk” that she knew of, and used that logo to represent the “Black Hawk Division”. Heck, the team was even called the “Black Hawks” officially until 1986.

    3) While you’re entirely correct that the Vikings never faced the same plight as the Native Americans, I demand that the Vikings logo lose the horns depicted since it is widely known that Vikings never wore horns on their helmets. This stereotype makes them appear vicious and blood-thirsty – apparently a common trait amongst Scandinavian peoples (sarcasm alert!).


    The banning of back-of-the-jersey cards is rather pointless. If you want an Indians or Braves card, you can just claim Angels throwback or Cardinals – because the back of the jersey is close enough to be almost interchangeable.


    When it takes two paragraphs to explain why the head depicted on the Chicago sweaters really isn’t Indian imagery, you’re fighting a losing battle. (And how does that explain the Portland WinterHawks?) If they want to honor the infantry division, they should come up with an infantry-based logo. And yes, it will be a shame if we lose the current Hawks look.

    As a fellow ‘Hawks fan, this has been on my for a long time, too. It’s been interesting to see the way that Columbus has attacked that problem, as they are also named after a Native chief. Seeing the insect imagery, then the play on the flag, then the 1812 references… these are all roads that the Blackhawks might conceivably go down in the future. I’d still be sad, because I’ve always thought of it as an example of shared history, like Chief Illiniwek. But if it’s wrong, it’s wrong.

    Actually, the Blue Jackets have link that the team was not named after the chief. It was always intended to be a Civil War reference, which they muddled by tossing some insect imagery into the pot.

    Don’t bring Chief Illiniwek’s racist ass into this, a bunch of frat boys dancing around in indian costumes is not related to the Indian Head.

    Seems like the biggest obstacle in including the ‘Hawks in the same category as the Indians and the Redskins is that the uniform is just soooo cool. The colors just blend so perfectly, you hate to mess with a masterpiece even though its the right thing to do.

    I think the Blackhawks name can stay, but you have to admit the logo, while nowhere near as offensive as the Cleveland Indians, is a little cartoon-ish. It hurts me to say that, because I’m a diehard Blackhawks fan and I think they have the best uniforms in all of sports, but I think the logo should probably go.

    That tie is a phenomenal and creative way to bring a great helmet design home, Kudos to the designer on a job well done!

    Good luck with the book, Jay!

    I’ve got a battered copy of Okkonen’s book from when I was little, would be great to see an updated version of it.


    I’ve read the site for several years now, and I have commented sparsely over that time. I have found that I, more often than not, disagree with your opinions – I like flashy uniforms, I don’t care about using Native American imagery (probably because I disagree with the whole PC movement that has, in my opinion, gotten completely out of control), and I have no qualms about spending $100 on a polyester shirt if it means something to me. In all honesty I think I’m more brand-loyal as a reaction to this site than I would have been had I never begun reading. I have to say, though, that I have tremendous respect for you and your writing. You stick to your beliefs, whether they are popular and unpopular. Despite the fact that I will gladly wear a new swoosh-emblazoned Steelers jersey when they come out in April/May, I will lose no respect for the way you conduct your business. Thanks for putting together a great site!

    Tip of the cap to Jon K.

    He echoed my thoughts in about 1,000 less words. Great article Paul and keep up the good work.

    Now if only people could have the same attitude when it comes to politics in this country we’d be in a good place! Differing opinions without needing to draw a right versus wrong or good versus bad line.

    As a lifelong Redskins fan, I say they change their logo to a redskin potato, name saved, offensive imagery removed…unless you’re a potato, who’ve been systematically bred to be eaten.

    Great article Paul, I’ve wrestled with the issue myself, it would be best if they did change their name, because for those like me to whom they are the hometown team, there won’t ever be a day we won’t root for the burgundy and gold, no matter what name it goes by

    I believe puck daddy had an article yesterday saying the hollywood sign dispute with the kings goalie has been resolved.

    Yeah, it’s been resolved, but still–that was utterly ridiculous. What an asshole move to even consider legal action against the player for just having an image on his friggin’ goalie mask. He’s not even a starter, for Pete’s sake!


    You have to understand that Intellectual Property Law states that the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has a right to protect the imagery of the sign because they own the rights to it, and by not putting forth a claim, they could lose those rights by law.

    Their lawyer said that this claim was a mistake on their part, but that they can’t just let anyone use the image of the sign that they pay rights fees for, and that’s why it happened despite this being one of the dumbest claims in history.

    It’s beyond obvious that Lukas doesn’t give a fuck about the Intellectual Property Law and in fact thinks it’s unconstitutional. And while we’re at it, how many of the examples mentioned at the beginning of that Atlantic article do you think are douchey and therefore anyone who pays for them are shitbag doucheburgers with extra limburger cheese and garlic?

    And don’t be your usual pussy self and bleat ‘ALL OF THEM!!!’. Go through each and every one and explain in detail why you are for or against them.

    They went about it the wrong way though. For something minor like that you do a right hand/left hand thing where you send a C&D but include an offer to license the image for a dollar a year with an explanation why it has to be done like that.

    It’s the same kind of lack of forethought that causes the dustups whenever a college or pro team sues a high school instead of simply working out a license agreement.

    Canflam, you were better off silent and letting us assume you were an ass than hitting your keyboard and removing all doubt.

    Agreed, jdreyfuss, which is why they retracted the claim the very next day. They admitted they were wrong publicly in this claim, and they apologized to Bernier, the Kings, and their fans.

    What more can be asked of them?

    Canflam, Paul has some of the best understanding of IP law I’ve ever seen from a layman and has made many arguments why something is a misapplication or overreach of the laws when a property holder attempts to prevent misuse in a stupid way.

    I don’t recall him ever implying that the problem is with intellectual property, just that many property holders go about protecting their properties in the wrong way. If you’re going to use the infamous t-shirts as an example, those are a clear parody of the respective marks and are not protectable, since the Mets and Yankees would never enter the market in which he presents the shirts.

    Teebz — I’m not criticizing the apology. It was well handled and gentlemanly. I am criticizing the fact that the Chamber’s legal department, rather than taking a minute to assess the situation, simply chose to send out a C&D and apologize later when they were wrong.

    jdreyfuss, I’m not sure that this is the same as a college sending out C&D letters to high schools that steal its logo.

    In that case, they are perfectly within their rights to protect the uniqueness of their logo within the context for which it was designed, athletic competition.

    This situation, holding a trademark on what is essentially a large piece of public art, is somewhat different.

    Licensing is licensing the Hollywood sign is no different from any other logo or landmark. Like it or not, you have to pay them to use it.

    Not in cases of appropriation, which is exactly what Bernier’s mask is.

    It’s like Warhol’s Campbell’s soup can – he didn’t pay for it, and he can’t be sued over it.

    Actually, that’s questionable….the mask can be considered a work of art……

    The goalkeeper likely paid an artist to create the mask art, and selling art with licensed imagery would violate appropriation rules, in my opinion. If I made some paintings of NFL logos today and tried to sell them on Etsy, I would certainly expect a C&D. I might not like it, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility, like that guy who painted all the images of the Alabama players and is now in a legal tussle with the university.

    How many people have owned the Warhol soup can painting? Anyone ever get a C&D for selling the painting?

    The reason they do not is because there is no confusion over a soup can and a painting. As stated in The Business of Being an Artist on page 142, “‘”[t]he public was unlikely to see the painting as sponsored by the soup company or representing a competing product. Paintings and soup cans are not in themselves competing products’, according to expert trademark lawyer Jerome Gilson.”

    Same holds true for Bernier’s mask.

    What about self-referencing ethnic nicknames like the Lousiana Rajin’ Cajuns or the Pembroke College Indians (Pembroke College is the only Native American college in America)?

    FWIW, Dartmouth College was also in theory founded to help educate Native Americans, but the reality didn’t work out that well (until the 70s.)


    FYI…. It’s the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the mascot is a Brave.

    Well, it’s the same idea. It’s a Native American college with Native American imagery. In my opinion, that’s somewhat different than the Cleveland Indians or Atlanta Braves. Similarly, “Fighting Irish” would ordinarily be just as offensive as “Fighting Sioux”, IMO, but from Notre Dame, it’s different. Rajin Cajuns is similar. Someone I know from college thinks BYU should change its nickname to “Stormin’ Mormons”. Of course, that would be horribly offensive for any school except BYU (or BYU-Hawaii), but it would be fine for them.

    Great article and argument Paul.

    Makes total sense to me. I remember about 25 years ago reading an article somewhere (I can’t recall) about this exact topic. It even included some mock pennants showing names like “Caucasians” and “Jews” as team names with mascots, to outline how offensive it was.

    And, thinking like douchebag for a moment, imagine how much merch would be sold if all the offending teams got together on one day and announced “Out of respect, we are all announcing that as of (date) we will be retiring our current team names and changing them to less offensive names. No more official merchandise with the offensive names will be produced and a portion of (or all) proceeds will go to (insert charity here) until they’re all sold out. And you can buy the new merch starting Monday! All proceeds to us… guilt-free!”

    Someone in the IU English department used to have that pennant article posted on their office door. Don’t remember whom. It was a long time ago.

    Words come into being by usage. Empirically, white can mean black & black can mean white if popular speech makes it so over time. Integrity & ethics tyically end up in last place, because most people who can talk, don’t really know what they are saying. Which is why, there is, for example, a word such as — ask, which is commonly mis-pronounced by some, for no other reason than sheer ignorance & calculated rebellion. . ..

    First, any of these words which have an English etymology, are what Anglos named or called native Americans. Who, until Europeans got here, were not Indians. Or Americans. Most of us know that. But the word “braves” was only co-opted. It is a Latin word from “bravos,” meaning essentially young dude w/a ‘tude. The MLB Braves chief logo is an issue. The name is associated but not exclusive to Native American tribes. NO way is it offensive.

    I’m offended by ignorance more than words used by ignorami. I’m well aware I don’t know everything. I have been championing this re-naming for many years. And in the same way 25 years ago a local sportwriter pal told me I was stupid for saying MLB schedules should be shorter, he felt there was nothing wrong with Indians or his favorite NFL team, the Redskins.

    BTW there are racial slurs for Caucasians, which I’m reasonably certain were not first used by white people. Crackers, honky & ofay exist. As Casey Stengel often said — “You could look it up.”

    Don’t forget peckerwood, too.

    As far as Braves goes, it’s not like Warriors, where it can be used to reference Native Americans; whatever meaning it may once have had, it has referred more or less exclusively to Native American warriors since before the Braves adopted the name.

    Does your embargo on imagery of teams with offensive names apply only to offensive imagery (Chief Wahoo, Redskins logo, etc.) or all imagery to do with these teams (i.e the Warriors’ ‘The City’ or Trolley car logo) ?

    Fair play to you on your stance, it’s just interesting to see where the line is drawn.

    About ten or fifteen years ago English rugby clubs added nicknames to their official teams names. Some teams, like Saracens, Harlequins and Wasps from London all had such names anyway in order to differentiate themselves from one another.

    Others just added historical nicknames. Leicester were the Tigers, after the nickname of a local army regiment, Northampton were the Saints, because they’d been founded by a priest.

    Apparently Exeter Rugby Club had been called the Chiefs since the 1920s. According to this thread (link), this was a common rugby nickname in the area, and had no Native American connection.

    In recent years this has changed however, they’ve adopted a fairly poor Indian chief logo and the tomahawk chop. Also, judging by the avatars on this forum, their fans seem to love the imagery – (link)

    I guess in Britain far less is known about Native American history, so it just looks like a cool image. Still, I find it utterly bizarre and completely unnecessary.

    I would say that Golden State would probably be okay, since they’ve dropped all native imagery.

    The name doesn’t refer to Native American warriors specifically anymore, and that’s one of the few NA nicknames that could easily be switched.

    My high school grappled with this – we were the Red Raiders. Yep, link. After some grappling, the school settled on a pirate theme, so they could keep the name. Now the school logo is link. Problem solved.

    I meant specifically with regard to this site’s new policy.

    Clearly the trolley car itself isn’t offensive, but does it get included in that category until the team changes its name?

    (This in light of the fact Paul puts the Warriors in with the Redskins, Indians etc. in the blog entry)


    Please drop Retro College Cuts….they are selling St. John’s REDMEN clothing…

    Original intent had nothing to do with any race of people, mearly the color of their uniforms.

    “Until 1994, the university’s nickname was the St. John’s Redmen, which referenced the red uniforms worn by its teams in competition. The name was interpreted as a Native American reference in the 1960s, and the University did have a Mascot (adorned in Native American dress), which eventually led to the teams name change to the Red Storm.”

    But the university itself apparently felt it was too “natively” tinged, since they changed the name themselves. Just like the Blackhawks, regardless of what the history of the name was, it just takes a quick look at the uniform to see the issue.

    For the record, I’m not on board with Paul on this one, but I respect that this is his site and he is more than welcome to espouse what he wants and enforce what he wants. But I also think for the sake of consistency, Paul M. is right.

    I don’t really feel any guilt about what happened to the native Americans. Not only because I didn’t do anything wrong, but neither did any of our ancestors. Their land wasn’t “stolen” they weren’t “subjugated” they were conquered and treated better than any conquered people in the history of the known universe.

    Surely that doesn’t mean they were treated well, but when there’s a conflict between two groups and one wins no one usually cares about the losers.

    Treaties are meaningless pieces of paper. As long as the winner wrote them, they can violate them. If treated well means genocide and banishment, I guess we did okay.

    I don’t think this is such a “misinformed comment.” Whether you want to argue that we stole their land or conquered them is up for debate. 200 years ago the europeans conquered the Native Americans. Today? We stole their land. Keep in mind mindsets are completely different today than they were 200 years ago. So 200 years ago? The Europeaners did what they thought they should do. If the NA had more firepower that the Europeans had it would still be their land.

    That said, with the enlightenment I’ve gotten over the past few days on the subject, I do believe using imagery of a population you overtook (by theft or by conquering) as noble warriors or fierce fighters is a bit off the mark.

    And again, back when these teams were named, Americans were in a different place. The names are too engrained, so keep the names, lose the imagery.

    This is also a misinformed comment.

    What we did to the Native American population as a country after they did nothing but help us survive when we first started to settle here is a gross and egregious crime on civility. The forced move and genocide of a generally cooperative and peaceful people is indefensible and deplorable.

    It was a different time, you wouldn’t understand.

    THAT was the way of thinking back then, that was what was RIGHT back then. Just like you think what you think is right today, they thought that was right back then.

    It’s ok to admit that thought processes have changed in 200 years. Do I think it was wrong for them to do back then? Yes. If I was alive back then would I have stood up and said hey, this really isn’t right? People would have looked at me like I was crazy.

    But again, today, we can see the atrocity. Back then it was no atrocity. Just because you can’t open your mind to understand that things were different back then doesn’t mean you should judge other folks comments.

    Hey, back in 1975 it wasn’t offensive to have your kids riding in the front seat without a seatbelt. Heck, it was normal. Now, can you believe we did that?

    Everything your saying can be applied to American slavery, another indefensible part of our history which I didn’t have to ‘alive’ during to know it was indefensible and deplorable.

    Last time I ordered you, and that’s wrong, so now I’ll ask nicely:

    Please, will you stop. You’re trying to defend something you don’t know enough about because if you did, you would realize it’s indefensible.

    Yes, in todays terms it is indefensible and deplorable. Agreed. Back then it wasn’t.

    Don’t worry. In 20 years you’re going to look back on things that happened today which seem acceptable and wonder what the hell we were thinking.

    I think this is the phenomena you’re arguing about-

    Historicism – a theory that all cultural phenomena are historically determined and that historians must study each period without imposing any personal or absolute value system.

    In other words, can we apply our value system today to the world of hundreds of years ago? Or is it impossible to understand exactly what happened while applying today’s morality?

    Whether or not what the settlers/invaders did was right was immaterial to the issue of whether the jerseys worn today are in good taste.

    Tom V.
    Just thought I’d chime in and let it be known that the history books you’ve read are subjective. Just because a history book might describe what they did as acceptable at the time doesn’t mean a damn thing. History books were written by descendants of the conquerors, which gives no regard to any opinions other than their own. To defend that as something that was ‘just a part of life back then’ would be ignoring the fact that it is morally wrong, at any time, to do what was done. You must realize that the people who wrote the history you’ve read(assuming you’ve done so out of respect) are likely to have benefited from the actions of the Europeans, and as such, are unable to properly convey the truth. The information we were given in our history classes, or books, was what the writers wanted us to hear. The most severe of their actions aren’t even touched upon. For how many years were people taught that Christopher Columbus was this bumbling genius who discovered beautiful things about the world, ignoring his brutal actions? We celebrated a man who murdered, raped, enslaved, and decided that people who didn’t live life his way should, for years. If that’s the case, shouldn’t their be a Hitler day too? Oh, that’s right! Since that happened to a different type of people, and in a different time, that was unacceptable, right?

    Your defense, that things always look a bit worse in retrospect, is true. Looking back on some of the things within our culture today that are acceptable, we will all likely shake our heads at something. Riding with your kid in the front seat with no seat belt is nowhere near as severe as genocide and ethnic cleansing, however, and that is obscuring the moral aspect of this history. That’s like comparing rape to theft.

    I still think that this will be something we look at as wrong for centuries to come. Of course, it’s some people’s way to sweep things under the rug, never apologize, lie to their children about it, and then mock the victims’ maturity for not getting over it. That’s the entitlement that comes with the territory of being an American, right? To each his own.

    One correction, also: That didn’t happen 200 years ago. It began more than 500 years ago, when Columbus decided that the Native Americans were inferior due to their nudity. Good day.

    “What we did to the Native American population as a country…”

    We? So what if my family just moved to the US in the last generation? What do I have to do with what went down with some Western European settlers 100-500 years ago? Why is the argument always “us vs them”…no one I know has ever had anything to do with dismantling the American Indian culture.

    No, Tom V–to the Native Americans, it was just as indefensible and deplorable then. Conquering is just a euphemism for stealing. You need to really read up on this era of this country’s own version of “ethnic cleansing” before rattling off such misinformation. “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (Illustrated Edition)–an Indian History of the American West” by Dee Brown will open up your and anyone else’s eyes and minds to the unspeakable cruelty and betrayal heaped upon the people who were here first. I agree with Paul–permission for mascot/logo use = good. If not, move on. The actual games are thing, period.

    As long as the corporate douchebaggery welcome mat is out…

    The Consumerist started a discussion yesterday on the worst naming rights deals for sports and concert venues. Feel free to join in the fun here:

    Great piece. As I read this I can’t help but think that there’s this mentality in this country (and I’m sure in other countries too) that try to just brush systematic injustices under the rug. The NA imagery is one example; I do work in health research and one of the universal facts in American health is that racial/ethnic minorities fare much worse in health, and the accepted line of thought is that disparities that currently exist are due to systematic prejudice against groups of people. So, those who make the argument of “it’s not our fault stuff is this way” and just accept the way things are basically are allowing these injustices to persist.

    If anyone would like to put their distaste for corporate use of Native American imagery into positive action, consider making a donation to the Ted Nolan Foundation. Coach Nolan’s foundation is a registered charity promoting healthy lifestyle choices for young First Nations people. It works to develop programs for First Nations youth in communities, no matter how isolated or poverty stricken. Learn more: link

    I must say that I do not always agree with your positions Paul vis-a-vis uniforms and logos. For example, I kind of like purple and also I am not opposed to teams selling advertising space on their shirts/jerseys. However, on this issue I am in total 100% agreement. Every view you stated is exactly how I feel on this issue. Thanks for writing such a wonderful piece.

    I must say I also liked this little tidbit, “with great privilege comes great responsibility” Stan Lee would be proud of that one.


    That reminds me, I need to get my dad to find his old Cedeno glove he’s had since the 70s. Nicely broken in, and red leather to boot.

    You certainly seem willing to live by your convictions, and I admire that. I’m not as consistent, and I would fight (in the face of contrary evidence) efforts to whitewash my teams iconography. Think of it as a father defending his loutish son, merely because blood happens to be thicker than water. I can’t bring myself to be outraged by the restrictions on your membership cards, because a) they are offered at your pleasure, and b) mine was going to be Marcel Dionne’s #16 in a purple Kings’ sweater :)

    I said it on that Sunday, but in order to solve two problems, the NFL team representing D.C. could to be called the Washington Redbullets.

    From an old Tonight Show with Jay Leno monologue: “The Washington Bullets are changing their name. They don’t want their team to be associated with crime. From now on, they’ll just be known as the Bullets.”

    I feel like the re-naming of Native American themed team names is a real bad case of ‘white man’s guilt.’ Even more true when those certain people think that the ‘Fighting Irishes’ of the world are okay. What, just because Native Americans lost the war, we must remove those names and not other culturally offensive names? Native American team names should stay in place, and they can still serve as educational points for generations to come.

    Even as a Redskins fan I am okay with the name change ideas (though the logo to me could stay as is if we went with a PC name).

    But the one argument I always will call BS on is the Vikings/ND/Yankees defense by those on the pro name-change side of things.

    First of all, Viking’s didn’t get systematically exterminated, thats true. But you know what they did a lot of exterminating. Naming a team after a race or nation of people who are most known for “rape and pillage” isn’t exactly politically correct.

    The Notre Dame icon is as raciest a character as the logo of the Cleveland indians. It just is, and both should be moved out.

    Yankees was started as a slur from the Brits about the Americans, still considered one in the south. Not saying it should be changed, New Yorkers re-claimed it as their own, but if we are going to be honest about our history, lets be honest about our history.

    Your last line is the most important. Our history is only as good as the people who are/were telling it at the time. If you’ve ever visited a history museum in Europe you’d see that they view the war much differently than we do. I always tread lightly when discussing the history of events that happened before video cameras were around. It’s safe to say none of us know what really happened, thus we should all tread lightly when leaning on the “facts” from the 1600’s.

    OK, next person who says “PC” or “politically correct” gets a Sean Payton suspension. It’s just a way of not dealing with substance or argument.

    First, Vikings. For sure, some rape; lots of pillage. Zero extermination. Zero wholesale removal of non-Nordic populations. The opposite is true, in fact: outside of Scandinavia, Viking populations assimilated rather nicely into much larger native populations (France, Ireland, England, Russia, even Sicily). Get back to Paul’s point: we are nicknaming a population that white Americans came close to exterminating and then systematically confined in concentration camps. I will grant that the near-extermination came more from microbes than from bullets, but still… To suggest a parallel with unsystematic marauders of the 11th Century is a reflection on your education.

    Second, Fighting Irish. A stupid name, in my opinion, and all leprechaun imagery is annoying. But that little dude putting up his dukes for Our Lady is, well, a fairy. You know, he’s not like a person. Besides, Notre Dame’s student body was once upon a time predominantly irish (my father played football there, Class of 1932) and they could dig it the way that the oldsters from Bethany College (Lindsborg, KS) like “Swedes.” In the tally of the 20th Century, Irish and Swedes were winners.

    Third, Yankees. It was the Dutch, not the English, who coined the term. The Brits just picked it up. Only Confederates found the term insulting, and only New Englanders clasp it to their bosom.

    You ought to read more.

    A rule of thumb that I find works more than 90% of the time: the first person who uses the terms “PC” or “political correctness” in an argument, doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Usually, he’s actually wrong on either facts or logic or both, but even if he is on the right side of an argument, it’s by accident, not because he’s thought it through. “PC” is invoked, always and only, as a substitute for reasoned thought or knowledge. It’s passive-aggressive-ism at its worst: I won’t or can’t argue the point, so instead I’ll call you names.

    When people I agree with invoke “PC” in an argument, I take that as a sign that I need to critically examine my own thinking, because there’s a good chance I’m as wrong as the “PC”-invoking idiot I agree with.

    Thank you sir and to Connie above. I’ve seen a couple of comments decrying political correctness or “white guilt” with no supporting argument whatsoever. Mocking cultural sensitivity itself is a quick and easy way to smear the whole subject.

    If it’s not too late for a “rename the Indians” suggestion, I’d like to nominate the Cleveland Connies. Not a huge Nor’Eastern connection that I know of – but when one can express oneself as clearly & cogently as this on a topic as unfortunately divisive as this, one deserves to have a team named after oneself.

    Also, alliteration’s always an appreciated attribute, amirite?

    Hitherto unrevealed fact. In 1980, fantasy baseball was invented by Dan Okrent and a bunch of New York magazine types who created the Rotisserie League, named after the eponymous Manhattan eatery. The RL was by and for National League fanatics. Dan then invited me to help create the first American League Rotisserie analogue. We called it the Bush League, and I was its first Commissioner.

    There were the Alcoholics, the Darrelicts, the Norman Invasions, the Stevedores, the Tony Express. the Dandelions, the Tomahawks (oops) and, yes, the mighty Connstellations. We had a great uni.

    There is a group of Native Americans at Northern Colorado that try to show what Mr. Peck has shown:


    There is a group of Native Americans at Northern Colorado that try to show what Mr. Peck has shown, through the name of their intramural team:


    In your discussion you make reference to “near-genocidal campaign of ethnic cleansing” as rationale, in part, to support your view. That Native American peoples suffered horribly is indisputable. However to label their treatment as genocide, a legal term developed some sixty years ago, continues a pattern of exaggerated thinking.

    Those with interest in this subject should read widely on the historical facts of this tragedy. A good start can be found here: link

    Yes, “genocide” as a legal term was codified only 60 years ago. (Though the concept is at least 20 years older than that in the philosophical and legal literature.). But the various campaigns by European settler colonies against the native peoples of the America in many cases easily fit the definition of genocide as codified in treaty and as applied by international tribunals. “Ethnic cleansing” might be a more broadly applicable term, since not merely most but essentially all American dealings with natives meet the commonly accepted definition of that layman’s term. Still, genocide is genocide, even when it happened before 1946.

    The governing convention on the prevention and punishment of genocide defines it thusly:

    “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”

    Which does, in fact, characterize much of American conduct toward its native peoples. In many instances in effect, but in a significant minority of cases, in terms of actual stated intent. Under both the Convention and under the mandates of tribunals established under it, particularly in the 1990s, acts short of killing that nonetheless tended to destroy an ethnic group’s ability to perpetuate its identity – such as raping women, or closing schools – have been prosecuted as genocide. Article 2(c) of the Convention in particular applies to things like territorial confiscation and removal to concentration camps, ghettoes, or reservations.

    As to the implied notion of historicity, the term “genocide” was coined explicitly in response to prior events, particularly the Armenian genocide during WWI, and genocide was explicitly named as an offense in several Nuremberg prosecutions prior to any treaty on genocide taking effect. Anachronistic use of the term, then, is foundational to the term itself, so crying anachronism doesn’t fly. As to the timing, the concept is usually dated to a proposal to the League of Nations in 1933; the Convention was promulgated in 1948 and ratified in 1951. 51 minus 33 is 18, so “about 20” is in fact accurate.

    The analysis again falls short. The key phrase is “intent to destroy” and there is no historical record of the US Government or its European predecessors having willfully set out to destroy the whole Native American population. Individuals or groups may have wished this outcome, but it was never a policy of any governmental entity.

    So the use of the term genocide, irrespective of it’s legal or inferred meanings, is distorted thinking.

    Legislative acts and statements by executive officials, both civil and military, indicating deliberate intent to destroy particular native cultures, are widespread in the historical record. One need only refer to the legislative bounties offered for killing natives during colonial times, or President Jackson’s statements and executive orders regarding the Indian removals from Georgia, or General Sheridan’s statements and commands regarding conduct of the Indian Wars of the 1870s to see clear statements of intent that meet the standards applied in genocide tribunals for the last twenty years.

    Further, the intent component of genocide has been accepted by tribunals in cases where civil or military leadership failed to discipline actions that tended to have the effect of genocide. By that standard, most of the U.S. Army’s conduct on the 19th century frontier would demonstrate the federal government’s genocidal intent, since the record shows many instances of indiscriminate killing and abuse of noncombatants but very few instances of any private soldier or officer facing punishment for noncombatant massacres.

    Plus, the Convention in Article 2(e) specifically identifies the removal of children from their families, which was the legislative and executive policy of the United States for nearly a century.

    Key to your misunderstanding may be the phrase “whole Native American population.” Indians are not a single ethnic group, neither in reality nor for the purposes of applying the Convention on Genocide. They are, rather, a collection of many distinct peoples. And the granular history of these many peoples shows repeated instances of actual, intentional genocidal conduct by the civil and military authorities of the British colonies, the United States government, and the several state governments.

    Finally, the Convention does not apply to governments or official actions alone. Rather, it speaks of violators as “persons.” So if you grant that any individuals or groups engaged in genocidal conduct, as you have, then you grant that the legal standard for genocide is met.

    if i ask for a membership card based off of the 1951 Cleveland Indians road unis… and the request is declined due to the new restrictions… then how similar is that to MLB telling the Astros that they can’t have a gun on their Colt 45s throwbacks?

    really just asking, not trying to stir the pot in a negative way

    But seriously, I hear you. PC is different than “what’s right”, as other people have said in the comments. If the MLB were to make the Indians change their name, I would imagine that they wouldn’t allow them to produce throwbacks that use the old name.

    I really wish the Blackhawks logo was acceptable for no other reason than it loos really good aesthetically. The colors, lines, and stitching method are blend really well with the sweater. I think I will always appreciate it on that level.

    But you’re right Paul. I 100% agree with what you said. It was obviously the product of serious rational thought and it was a delight to read. Who knows, maybe the Wirtz family could strike a deal with an indigenous charitable organization and use them with permission. Until then, these things have to be judged on their merit and the context of the situation. Given the history of our society’s interaction with indigenous peoples, some things are just inappropriate and people should know better.

    How do you pay “people” when the Blackhawks’ logo is specifically based upon one man? Should the wishes of Chief Black Hawk’s family not be given higher priority than some random donation to “an indigenous charitable organization”?

    To me, it’s a bigger injustice to pay some random organization who will undoubtedly use a lot of that money for “administrative tasks” and who may have no affiliation with the Sauk tribe that Chief Black Hawk represented than doing nothing at all.

    You’re absolutely right. There is a serious question of whom could you request permission for a reference to a specific person. (I know the story about the WWI army unit but the logo still references the Sauk leader) Would you talk to the Sauk or the family?

    Honestly I don’t know how the Chicago Blackhawks could rightfully use the imagery. I wanted to express the vague hope that it could be done given how much I enjoy the uniform on an aesthetic level.

    This is the slippery slope.

    I don’t deny that a donation and possibly more be done as an act of goodwill in using the logo, but I think there needs to be some consideration given to the man whose face is being represented on the uniform. It was his name that the military division used based on his legacy on the battlefield.

    And what happens if the tribe demands that they be granted the right to determine where the money goes? After all, the tribal elders would make those decisions now. Perhaps the Black Hawk lineage isn’t even in the hierarchy of the Sauk tribe today.

    Again, we’re in slippery slope territory.

    I saw an eye-opening exhibit at the Heard Museum in Phoenix over the weekend about Indian boarding schools, where for about a century the U.S. government essentially kidnapped Indian children and forced them into off-reservation boarding schools where conditions could often be described as Dickensian. The stated purpose of these schools was to crush Indian culture, language, and family ties to “civilize” Indian children. “Kill the Indian to save the man,” as the program was described in an earlier, more honest era. These forced boarding schools continued until quite recently. These were, in many cases, concentration camps for Indian children, plain and simple.

    Anyway, here’s the thing: some of the Indian boarding schools had varsity sports teams, and the exhibit had several football, basketball, and cheerleading uniforms. (I’ll post pictures later.) Guess what nicknames the white administrators chose for their schools, which were established explicitly to engage in ethnic cleansing against Indian societies?

    Braves. Indians. Chiefs.

    With logos & mascots of Indian heads & feather regalia that make the old Boston Braves or Cleveland Indians look respectful.

    Just a reminder that this isn’t theoretical, and it isn’t ancient history. This was happening in the 1980s. Right here in America.

    i totally get where all this is coming from, and really wouldn’t mind some name and logo changes (Indians & Redskins, in particular).

    but i put team names and imagery like the Blackhawks & Braves in the same vein as the Vikings and Pirates. Vikings and Pirates were no sweethearts, but they were/are legendary characters. the Patriots come to mind too.

    Honest question from an impartial observer: is it possible for a team name to HONOR Native Americans? It doesn’t seem like Paul’s standard allows for it.

    This whole thing makes me feel… icky? “Redskins,” Chief Wahoo, those are really gross. But so is whitewashing our history, and it sure feels like that’s what we’re setting out to accomplish (even if we have the best of intentions). It seems to me that hitting the backspace button on the Chicago Blackhawks or the Kansas City Chiefs will ease our white guilt but sweep the underlying issues under the rug.

    I think it is indeed possible, in limited circumstances. The Seminole tribe apparently feels honored by the connection to Florida State. Enough so to license their name.

    And can we put “white guilt” in Connie’s “PC” penalty box? This isn’t about any of us feeling guilty, as Paul illustrated. Plus, it’s a nonsense term that can only shut down substantive conversation, not encourage it.

    San Diego State University would like to think that the Aztecs nickname honors the heritage it represents. They avoided the NCAA ban on the grounds that no specific tribe was an aggrieved party, “Aztecs” being a generic name for native Mexican peoples. Arguments were raised to change the name anyway. Most agreed that the name did respect the heritage–white guys dressed up as “Monty Montezuma” aside–though the school was compelled to update logos and imagery to historically-accurate versions.

    The biggest difference between Aztecs and Indians is who killed them, and the fact that there aren’t any actual Aztecs left alive.

    I have to wonder if “we” (the US Government of 180 years ago) had decided to *completely* kill off the Natives rather than eventually realizing that was wrong and putting them on reservations, would the Redskins/Indians/etc would even be an issue? They’d just be another historical dead culture/race, like Spartans or Trojans.

    Short version: If the Native Americans hadn’t survived, would anyone care about using the names & imagery?

    “If the Native Americans hadn’t survived, would anyone care about using the names & imagery?”


    you did not just say that, did you?

    yeah…i guess you did

    while i understand were Paul is coming from, isn’t it just as bad to impose your beliefs on the community. i don’t get why he would ban those teams from being made into membership cards when none of the imagery for these teams are being used.

    It’s his community, though. You don’t have to believe in what he believes in, but he’s certainly entitled to his opinion.

    Agree with Scott. Without Paul we wouldn’t have this delightful forum, I think we owe it to him to honor his decision.

    i agree he’s entitled to his opinion, but no need to push it on others. the nice thing about forums and communities is that it brings people together that have similar interest but who also have difference off opinions. i just think personal politics should not come into play here. but like you guys said it his to do with whatever he wants. just really non-inclusive to leave out those fan bases

    I don’t think this is an example of pushing an opinion on others. That would indicate an insistence that you agree with the stance, and I don’t see that. I see a person deciding that his work will reflect his own personal beliefs. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with it or enforce a ban on these names or images in your own life.

    True enough. I wouldn’t impose such opinions, but then again, it’s not my sweat and toil, so I defer to Paul.

    I’m trying to avoid commenting today, since I already had my say in the text, but this one calls out for a simple response:

    I’m not “imposing my beliefs” on anyone. The Uni Watch membership program is a club — my club. You can join or not, up to you. Most people choose not to join, since the site has over 10,000 daily readers but the membership program has about 1300 enrollees. And that’s fine.

    But if you DO want to join my club, you have to play by the club’s rules. One of the rules is that we don’t do cards that include purple (except on May 17 — Purple Amnesty Day). Another rule is that we have never done cards that include the Mets’ black drop-shadow, because Scott and I just refused to have anything to do with that. Another rule, just adopted today, is that we don’t do cards based on teams that use Native American names/images/etc.

    If you don’t like the rules, that’s fine — don’t join the club. No harm, no foul. Meanwhile, the site is here, just like it’s always been, open to all.

    Carry on.

    Perhaps I should offer up my Blackhawks alternate jersey membership card on eBay as a soon-to-be rare piece of historical memorabilia.

    If I want a Rockford IceHogs card, will you deny that too? How do you separate the AHL from the NHL when the vast majority of the AHL wears uniforms that are the identical to that of their NHL affiliate?

    Although you’re not imposing your beliefs about the Indian issue with your membership cards, you are with your feelings about purple. Purple is my favorite colour, but if I wanted it on my uni-watch card, I’m not allowed, because the leader hates purple.

    See the discrepancy?

    I can’t even tell if you’re being serious or sarcastic….

    Just in case: I’m not “imposing” anything. I also ask that you give me your name to put on the front of the card — is that an imposition? I ask that you give me your address so that I can ship the card to you — is that an imposition?

    We don’t do cards with manufacturers’ logos — never have, never will. Is that an imposition?

    What if I just got tired of doing the membership program (trimming and laminating the cards is actually a fairly substantial time sink) and scrapped it altogether. Would *that* be an imposition?

    Your argument assumes that you have an entitlement to something (in this case a Uni Watch membership card) and that I’m somehow infringing on that entitlement. But in fact nobody is entitled to a Uni Watch membership card — it’s something that has to be requested, according to certain terms. One of those terms, as of today, is that we don’t do cards based on teams that use Native American names/imagery.

    If you don’t like those terms, that’s fine — you don’t have to join.

    Of all the things that could be controversial about today’s post, this was the last thing I would have guessed….

    I read and reread that and the only comparable organization I can think of would be the He-Man Woman Haters Club.

    No commentary, just informational…

    Morgantown High School in Morgantown, WV uses the nickname Mohigans. Technically, they’re names after the school *yearbook*, the MOrgantown HIGh ANnual.

    But as you can see, the name certainly lends itself to Native American imagery.

    Named after the yearbook? My high school would have been the Rogers Rybs (Rogers Year Book).

    The Irish don’t fall under the description of a victimized class who have had their land stolen?
    I guess Robert Emmet and Bobby Sands died for nothing. I guess the words of Michael Collins speeches and the lyrics of Wolfe Tones songs are just gibberish. I guess the hiberophobia and the No Irish Need Apply signs my father taught me about were made up. I really love this blog, but I can’t help but to feel burnt here. Tiocfaidh ár lá.

    dude, paul woke up with some sand in his Va-J-J and felt like he had to piss and moan about something

    Actually, “No Irish Need Apply” is mostly a myth.

    But the point is that our nation did not dispossess the Irish. A team in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne calling itself the Fighting Micks would indeed be pretty reprehensible. But here in America, we opened our arms to the Irish, making this country the great place of refuge for the Irish diaspora in times of famine and oppression. And here is where the money and guns came from that first the Fenians and later Collins’ Republicans used to liberate themselves from British dominion.

    So, you know, pretty much the opposite of this nation’s history with the Indians.

    Give it a rest, Doyle. The Irish in the US were discriminated against in the 19th Century, to be sure, but rose steadily in the 20th to the point where self-identified Irish trail only self-identified Jews and self-identified (Asian) Indians in household income. The Irish in Ireland were occupied by a foreign power, threw it off in the early 1920s, and then became richer than their former oppressors in the 1990s. Then they connived to throw away a lot of that wealth through corruption and speculation, though they’re basically fine. I was born there and I’m there a lot. Has close to zero to do with Notre Dame sports iconography.

    Pogue mahone.

    Mainly because they were Catholic. For instance, Catholics and Jews were systematically discriminated against at Harvard for generations. The modern-day victims are high-achieving Asian Americans.

    my bulldog just told me through a bark that he is offended by some of the imagery on uniforms of Georgia, Butler U, etc. We need to stop this endless persecution of innocent animals. Will someone stick up for the animals please? do it for the hipsters!!!

    its these types of personal attacks that dehumanize bulldogs everywhere. I’m reporting you to NPR!

    I get it, you’re trying to be funny…But you’re essentially putting American Indians on the same plane as dogs. Classy.

    Not to be a contrarian, but there are 2 Native American colleges:

    University of North Carolina at Pembroke (Braves, NCAA D2)
    Haskell Indian Nations (OK) (Indians, NAIA)

    I’m a history major, so the line “if you don’t remember history you are doomed to repeat it” rings in my head about this subject.

    A vast majority of kids will go through school remembering nothing of the Indian Wars BUT a cast majority of kids also watch sports multiple times a week.

    Rather than whitewashing history, which is a terrible idea, the teams using NA imagery should have to do some sort of educational programming about what has happened in the past AND donate a % of their profits towards the specific tribes they represent. If you turned into Redskins games and they had free air time for NA charities and had a college fund for NA kids, wouldn’t that be better than simply changing the name and ignoring the issues at hand?

    The name-changing PC movement is just an attempt to feel better without actually having to do anything like donating time/money.

    One final point, let’s not forget that the reason North Dakota is still using the Fighting Sioux name is that they were sued by members of the Lakota Sioux Tribe to keep using the name.

    the Pembrooke University one is slightly controversial due to the Lumbee aren’t seen as a tribe in the eyes of the Tuscarora Nation of New York, Cherokee Tribe or the US Government. Only the State of North Carolina views them as an actual Native American tribe.

    let’s not forget that the reason North Dakota is still using the Fighting Sioux name is that they were sued by members of the Lakota Sioux Tribe to keep using the name.

    Actually, I would say that the reason they’re still using it is because the state assembly passed a law requiring them to use it, in an attempt to circumvent the NCAA agreement.

    There are two tribes that control the name “Sioux.” The University could well keep using it, so long as they secure a license from both of the tribes. One agreed to a license, the other did not.

    It’s not that “the other did not”. The elders in the tribe refused to allow their people to vote despite the population being in favour of UND using the name and imagery. Because the elders did not allow a vote, the NCAA refused to recognize any sort of approval from the Sioux tribe.

    The elected representatives of the Standing Rock Sioux have declined to license their name to the University of North Dakota. And since theirs is a representative democracy, that’s all that counts.

    If the people of the tribe disagree, they can always vote in people who will change the policy. Until then, we can indeed say that the tribe declined to issue the license.

    I love this idea, rm. Just like the Colt .45 pistol, history is history and I don’t think these names should be changed. Offensive images, sure, replace them with more neutral marks, but the names should stay and be used for educational purposes whenever possible. As weird and unsettling as it is having kids of Euro and African descent running around as the Seminoles, Utes, Sioux, etc. I don’t want to see the names go away, provided something good like this comes of it.

    Re: Grey basketball uniforms. Different sport, but baseball teams have been GFGS since, I dunno, ever? It’s true that they are good-looking and serve a purpose, but there are other options that would look good and serve a purpose that haven’t been explored out of laziness. Can anyone give me a good reason why the Toronto Blue Jays road uniforms are grey?

    Because road uniforms in baseball are traditionally gray. And white home uniforms versus gray road uniforms looks good and right.

    Walter, using your logic then the Reds, Red Sox and Cardinals’ road uniforms should be Red, correct? Or the White Sox White? Got to be consistent.

    But as an original Blue Jays fan from Day One in 1977 I am here to tell you that the Grey road uniforms look 1,000% better than the Powder Blues of ’77-’88.

    No, the White Sox should wear WHITE SOCKS. They can wear all the colors of the rainbow on their uniforms, they need white socks, instead of the black ones they currently wear.

    Grey uniforms look pretty good, I gotta admit. It could be the reason so many basketball teams are going with it :)

    Cardinals gold-accented jerseys: If metallic gold is not a team color, then you shouldn’t wear it. Totally reeks of a cash grab. A sleeve patch should be more than enough.

    Maybe if they wore all season long I’d feel different, and there is some precedence to that. But it’s not like metallic gold is specifically dedicated to MLB World Series winners, and that’s what I have the problem with. The Brewers, Royals, Angels & Astros have all worn metallic gold in some capacity with no WS motifs.

    Phil or Paul, I am not sure which one of you wrote this article, but I applaud it. I like the way it was written, and the fact you had to preemptively respond with the same tenor of speech as those who would rally against you. (unfortunately, politics is the same way, and people will not let themselves hear a contrary argument, and respond harshly). I have though long and hard about the team names and logos. My alma mater was the chieftans and changed it due to the same problem (although I am sure it was meant for an Irish chieftan, but it changed it to keep any problems out of the way).
    The problem is people are not interested in history, especially others histories. Many of the historical names we use, Spartans, Trojans, etc… were noble, as were the Native American names used, and the intent may be to honor the Native Americans, however, people are not willing to learn what was done by the Europeans who came here, and be the US afterwards.
    I highly recommend that people visit the Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ. (I am from Boston,not Phoenix) It has a lot of Native American history and can open your eyes to their suffering, and the fact that we still have not done enough to begin to compensate them. They can more easily understand what happened in WWII to the European Jewish population, but not what happened in the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th centuries to the Native American population because it was not put in front of them.
    Now, their name, images, culture is used to profit others. Let’s have the leagues rule that they can continue to use these names, but only if they come to an agreement, approved by the leagues, courts, or Congress, to share in the profits.

    Now, agreed, we are well ahead of other countries, sad to say (Australia, NZ, even Canada), in dealing with native culture issues, however, we have a ways to go.

    “Phil or Paul, I am not sure which one of you wrote this article, but I applaud it.”


    today was all paul (well, except for the blockquoted bit at the very beginning from brittain)…i had my say last sunday

    PC! PC! Brenda Warner! Purple! Nike!!
    Everyone wear Wahoo!! Support your local tribe!
    I find the treatment of bulldogs deplorable!! How many bulldogs have to be subject to die to represent corporate douchebags? It so un PC! All white guys sitting around computers complaining unite!! Sock fetish people come out of your top drawers!!

    OK, I’m going to sidestep the whole Native American issue, other than to say that I’m right in line with Paul’s thinking.

    As for uni-related stuff, two things:

    1) Those 1960’s Astros caps are an amazing find! Never seen them before.

    2) I think we did discuss that NBA Championship Rings poster before and one thing still bugs me about it: The 1969 Boston Celtics ring is totally wrong. I’m guessing the “artists” had never seen one and assumed it was like the other Celtics rings. It looks like this: link

    After today’s collectivism lecture , UniWatch has lost a fan’s readership…its’ sponsors, a customer.

    Spare me…two PC, do-good, look how sensitive I am, columns on one week. What a load of crap.

    If I were North Dakota I’d tell the NCAA to kiss my ass. Those hypocritical bastards at the National Communist Athletic Association are the last ones to order any school to change their identity. For many years the NCAA was headquartered in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, a town named after a Native American settlement. Then the NCAA moves to, of all places, INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA!

    Why didn’t the NCAA select a more politically-correct site for its’ new home? And why didn’t the NCAA order the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana to change their respective names before they moved there?

    Until the NCAA relocates to a more name-friendly city and state than Indy then I recommend that all schools under threat for using “offensive” names and logos tell them to go screw themselves and the luxury jet the rode in on!

    Goddamn sanctimonious bastards!

    Here’s one of my issues, if sports aren’t allowed to use NA names and images, why on Earth are we okay with the entire Midwest being filled with names that reference the people that we forced out of this region? Why doesn’t anyone get upset about Sioux Falls, Iowa, Illinois, the Dakotas, Omaha, Indiana/Indianapolis, Oklahoma, etc.? Seriously, as an Iowan, it’s around me everyday.

    Amherst College celebrates its namesake, who’s believed to have American Indian blood on his hand. Maybe they should think twice about honoring him?

    The SCC Blackhawks pic in the ticker link totally ties in with today’s topic. The school’s mascot, indeed, was selected in honor of the Sauk leader (he wasn’t a chief). Black Hawk quietly retired to southeast Iowa and died here in 1838. The newspaper for which I work, The Hawk Eye, was named on his behalf.

    After Black Hawk died, his bones were stolen, recovered, then put on display, and finally were lost to a fire. Would that have happened to a white man?

    A few years ago, the local community college changed the depiction of its logo from Black Hawk himself to the black hawks depicted on the bat. Initially, the school tried to spell the nickname “BlackHawks,” but gradually it has reverted to “Blackhawks.”

    Everything seems to be cool with fans.

    Now personally, I find the Redskins name indefensible. Chief Wahoo makes me cringe for the Indians name, but I find it less offensive. I’m OK with Warriors, Braves and Chiefs except when they’re paired with cartoonish or otherwise offensive depictions and when fans do ridiculous things like the tomahawk chop.

    It’s possible to honorably reflect local Native American influence, but Americans have proven they cannot be trusted. Still, Indian influence on American culture is deep and is reflected in town names, creeks and rivers, and other geographic landmarks across the country. Extending that to mascots should not be out of the realm.

    Cleveland ought to replace Chief Wahoo or go with a new identifier altogether; Golden State, Atlanta, Kansas City and others need to be on their best behavior. In that spirit, I’m OK with North Dakota keeping the Fighting Sioux name as long as there’s tribal permission and licensing revenue is shared (Full disclosure: I LOVE that green and black motif!)

    Good topic today.

    The main contention of the North Dakota usage, as far as the NCAA has been concerned, is having permission from the ND-based Sioux tribes. The Spirit Lake tribe has generally supported the use of the name, and voted in favor of it a few years back (about 67% approval, so there are those in that tribe who don’t like it). What’s held up passage is the council of the Standing Rock tribe, who decided to vote it down themselves, and not even let the general population of the tribe vote on the matter.

    It’s managed to be a pretty divisive issue throughout the Sioux nation, with some filing litigation against the school and state to get them to stop using the name, to others filing against the NCAA to get them to back off.

    So, yeah, no matter which way the school goes, they’re going to be pissing off a sizable chunk of people, of both indigenous and colonial descent. Though, with a name change, future generations will likely be more accepting of the new name.

    “Stirrups are great!” or “Purple sucks!” or “The Mets should ditch the black!” or “Football jerseys should have real sleeves!” (or even “I love eating meat!”).

    Testify, brother!!

    Personally I don’t think I care about how the offended person feels. If the Seminole Tribe decide they are okay, then in 20 years change their mind, should the Uni have to then change? Basing a decision on how other people feel about it doesn’t leave you on strong ground. How do you feel about it. What are your motives behind the name you choose.

    I think more important is how you(the team, the fans) feel if you are going to use the imagery. I wouldn’t want to cheer for a team called “Directional University N*ggers” because of the history behind it. Not that someone would be offended, but I wouldn’t want to feel like I was associating with the people that used that term.

    If I was picking a team name, I wouldn’t want to pick one like the Redskins. Whether or not current Native Americans feel okay about it or not should be irrelevant. Do I want to associate myself with racists of the past. Would I want to use a characterture like the Indian logo? I would rather choose something/someone I respected. Say “Directional University Screaming Eagles”

    So for me

    Redskins – no
    Indians – meh, logo no
    Seminoles – sure, but I sure wouldn’t have some yahoo student riding a horse around with a feather leaden spear.

    Ultimately, Phillip, I think of all the opinions expressed today, yours is the one I most agree with. But I still like my steaks rare.

    Of all the points you’ve argued today, Paul, this is the only one I really disagree with. Championship tout-bling is awesome. The only problem with what the Cardinals are doing is that they’re not doing it all season long. Back in the day, when the champion team would wear “World’s Champion” jerseys the following season – we need to get back to that, or the gold-cap-logo or sleeve-patch equivalent. It’s a game! It’s supposed to be fun!

    Back in the day, when the champion team would wear “World’s Champion” jerseys the following season — we need to get back to that, or the gold-cap-logo or sleeve-patch equivalent.

    I would dig that, actually. It’s more the “me too”-ism of the gold trim that bugs me. Come on, think up your own celebratory statement instead of just saying, “Yeah, I guess we’ll do the gold thing.” Use some imagination instead of rubber-stamping the same old thing!

    Step one is getting teams in the habit of doing this sort of thing. Step two is getting them to be creative about it. Which they mostly won’t, even in the best of all worlds.

    Personally, I would love it if the Cards, or whoever the reigning champ is, came to Washington with championship-touting unis, whether it’s a gold cap logo or a sleeve patch or ermine-lined pants or whatever. It would add to the fun and drama of rooting for the Nats at the park or on TV. It would be right out there that either your team is beating, or being beaten by, the reigning champs.

    I wish more teams would wear championship-celebrating elements on their uniforms, too. All season long. In fact, I’m kind of surprised this isn’t a normal part of championships. That said, I see what Paul is saying about the gold. It would be nice if teams got creative with it – I’d love to see World Champions somewhere on the Cards jerseys, or the Mavericks wearing the O’Brien trophy patch this year, or the 2012 Giants having some element on the jersey or helmet.

    Actually screw it…the gold accents are really cool.

    I seem to remember back in 1975 that the Philadelphia Flyers planned to wear a patch reminding everyone that they were the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. But this sort of braggadocio was met with disdain by the NHL establishment, especially when combined with the Flyers’ “Broad Street Bullies” reputation. The threat of retaliation from their opponents was just too strong.

    Therefore I similarily believe that most championship teams today don’t want “cheap shots” taken at their players for the “in your face” wearing of a “We’re-the-champs-and-you’re-not-Nah-Nah-Nah-Nah-Nah!”

    I’d much prefer to see “my” Cards have 11 small stars on the back of the jersey at the neckline or around the base of the sleeve. Something like that to note the 11 championships might be classy. Gold trim, meh.

    I’ve posted a few comments on this in the past few days, and to be completely honest, I was mostly just arguing for the sake of arguing. I don’t really see a problem with their names, but ultimately I don’t care what the Washington or Cleveland sports teams call themselves. I don’t care if they’re as offensive as possible or as bland and unoffensive as possible. I think, when all is said & done, the First Amendment overrides this entire argument. Free speech does not end because someone is offended. Maybe Redskins and the use of Native American imagery is offensive or “wrong”, maybe it isn’t, but the team should have every right to use it, regardless.

    Straw man argument. Nobody is legislating anything; nobody is curtailing anyone’s speech. We’re just having a discussion about right and wrong. Nobody’s forcing anyone to change a team name; the idea is to convince people of a particular point of view so that they want to change the team name.

    And before you say, “The NCAA is curtailing UND’s speech,” keep in mind that nobody is forcing UND to be part of the NCAA.

    You could call your team the Niggers, and the First Amendment would (and should) protect that too. Has zero bearing on whether it’s appropriate.

    So in other words, we don’t want to force them to “have” to change it, we just want them to see that enough people feel a certain way that they’re gonna “want” to change it.

    How is that any different then ESPN saying they think Hank Jr. should be able to say whatever he wants, but they are removing him from the Monday Night Football telecasts because public opinion forces their hand. He can exercise free speech all he wants and say whatever he wants, he’s just gonna lose the MNF gig.

    Any organization or entity or whatever that doesn’t want to have to cowtow to public opinion (or political correctness or whatever you want to call it) only does so because of money, it’s all about the money.

    Like the Masters, they didn’t want to have to suffer their corporate sponsors having to face public opinion and potentially boycott, so they went without sponsors that year.

    That’s how you roll.

    Hank Jr. has a First Amendment right to say whatever he wants without the government shutting him up. ESPN likewise has a First Amendment right (two such rights, actually: free speech and free association) to not employ people who express opinions ESPN objects to, again without the government forcing it to employ anybody.

    In short, the First Amendment guarantees that you can say what you want. It doesn’t guarantee you a job – or if you’re a corporation, it doesn’t guarantee you profits.

    So in other words, we don’t want to force them to “have” to change it, we just want them to see that enough people feel a certain way that they’re gonna “want” to change it.

    Well, yes. That’s how public debate works.

    It’s all about the money.

    Because nobody ever did anything for any reason except a profit motive, right? If you truly believe that, I feel sorry for you. If you live your own life based on nothing besides a profit motive, I feel even sorrier.

    That’s my point.. people or corporations or whoever aren’t free to truly believe whatever they want – if people are dependent on a paycheck, then they sometimes have to leave their opinions (or at least the public expression of them) at the door, lest they risk losing their job. Networks/corporations/whoever in the public eye, that is dependent on corporate sponsors are always at the risk of if they do something that is publicly unpopular, they could lose sponsors, money, etc.

    It’s all a form of legally encouraged blackmail. You have to think they way we (employers, sponsors, public opinion) think that you should, or you’ll (lose your job, lose your sponsors, lose your endorsement, lose your whatever)

    Freedom of speech is just hypothetical. You can say whatever you want, just be prepared to face the consequences. True freedom of speech, i.e. retribution for exercising it would be illegal, has never existed. Our freedom of speech only pertains to it being “legal” not necessarily practical.

    Because nobody ever did anything for any reason except a profit motive, right? If you truly believe that, I feel sorry for you. If you live your own life based on nothing besides a profit motive, I feel even sorrier.

    No, I’m not saying I live my life based on that, I’m saying that’s the method of change you’re describing… that the “Indians” should be shamed into changing their name if enough people (thereby profit motive) think they should, not because the valid arguments persuade them it’s the right thing to do.

    Have I encouraged a boycott? No, I have not. I have simply tried to encourage discussion.

    Not that I think there’s anything wrong with a boycott. Someone earlier today posted a comment saying that he doesn’t like today’s post and will therefore stop reading the site and stop patronizing our advertisers (guess he’ll have to stop buying all those No Mas shirts). Nothing wrong with that — a boycott is a perfectly legitimate tool. Is this person “blackmailing” me? Of course not. A boycott is a simple way to use one’s leverage as a consumer and as a citizen.

    But again, that’s somewhat beside the point, because I’m not calling for a boycott. I’m just encouraging a discussion on what is and isn’t appropriate. You know, right and wrong — some people still make decisions based on those parameters.

    Nothing wrong with that – a boycott is a perfectly legitimate tool. It’s not “blackmail”; it’s a way to use one’s leverage as a consumer and as a citizen.

    I didn’t mean to imply it was good or bad, I’m just saying that a boycott essentially is blackmail. If a “bad guy” has pictures and extorts a $1,000,000 from someone to get his way lest the pictures go public, it’s blackmail.

    How is it any different then, if a group of consumers band together and say we’re not going to buy your products if you do something we disagree with.

    It’s both either “you do X, or we’ll do Y.” If it’s a group of people threatening to not buy a product, it’s a “legtimate tool”, but if it’s one guy threatening something then it is “blackmail”?

    If 10,000 Indians fans threaten to not renew their season tickets unless they change their name, it’s a legtimate tool, but if one Indian fan threatens to blow up Jacobs Field, then it’s illegal. (Sure threatening to blow up the stadium in itself is probably illegal, but it’s really just an asymmetrical application of the same principal, it’s just that one fan doesn’t have as much leverage as 10,000.)

    I’m not saying right or wrong, I’m just pointing out it’s the same thing, really.

    It doesn’t really matter, then, whether it is right or wrong to use the “Redskin” name. If enough people complain, then when it makes financial sense for them to change their name, is when they will, and not because its the “right thing to do.” If enough people complained – for whatever reason – about a different name “Jets” “Vikings” “Cardinals” it similarly too could get changed.

    If being “right” was all that mattered then the name would get changed simply for that reason, not because public opinion forced it.

    I think you are mistaken. You don’t have to look very hard to find countless examples of people — of entire societies — changing their minds on certain issues for reasons that had nothing to do with economics. Very simple, very current example: A generation ago, the notion of marriage equality for homosexuals seemed absurd; today it is increasingly viewed as a civil rights issue; in another generation it will be commonplace.

    And yes, there have been some gay boycotts, but that’s a red herring — it’s not what’s driving the change in attitudes. What’s driving the change is an increasing public awareness and reassessment of things people had long taken for granted. Which is exactly what I’m trying to encourage here.

    Oh, and your notion of “true” freedom of speech, without any “retribution” — that’s very, very far off the mark, both in a legal/Constitutional sense and in human sense. Being held accountable for what you say is not “retribution”; it’s called being a responsible adult in a functioning society. If you want to disengage from society, you can live in the woods and say anything you want — no responsibility, no “retribution.” But you know what they say about a tree falling in the forest….

    Okay, maybe “retribution” is the wrong word. Perhaps “repercussions” is a better word choice.

    I’m just saying if you don’t give people power over you, whether it’s because you need a particular job, or a TV show needs it’s sponsors, or whatever, you aren’t going to be beholding to their wishes.

    People have to make sacrifices of their principles all the time.

    You will not find a more convinced opponent of the Redskins name than I. The name should be changed. Period. It is an inexcusable, morally wrong, almost but not quite evil thing for a sports team to use that name.

    But I’m not disputing the team’s right to call itself whatever it wants. Of course the team has that right. Just because someone has a right to do a thing, it does not follow that he should. I have the right to burn the American flag, but I will never do so. I have the right to call people ethnic insults, but I will never do so. Just so in this instance: The Redskins have the right to use that name, and they are wrong to exercise that right.

    The First Amendment does not justify offensive speech. It protects offensive speech from government censorship.

    You are correct; it does not. The First Amendment protects only from government censorship (there are exceptions, such as government coercion that are too technical and boring to get into here). ESPN, the NCAA, the NFL, the NHL, etc. are not government entities. They may do whatever they want to regarding speech. If Goodell said the Redskins have to change their name or else lose all draft picks and face a hefty fine, the Redskins could not challenge that on First Amendment grounds.

    This error in understanding happens every time someone is fired for saying something stupid, potentially offensive, etc . Hank Williams can say whatever he wants about Obama and Boehner without fear of government reprisal (so long as he’s not making direct threats or other similar conduct) thanks to the First. But that doesn’t mean ESPN, ESPN’s advertisers, or the NFL have to accept it. They are not subject to the First Amendment. Now, if Congress legislated that no Native American imagery could be used, or Congress said Hank couldn’t say those things, then there exists at least a claim.

    One of the biggest non-understanding of the First Amendment occurred when Palin (a politician) said the media was infringing on her First Amendment rights. The First protects the media from politicians, not the other way around.

    This is the point I’m trying to make… that freedom of speech is only as far as the law is concerned, not from the monied interests that pull the strings…

    But that doesn’t mean ESPN, ESPN’s advertisers, or the NFL have to accept it.

    ESPN has to accept whatever it’s advertisers want… because if they pull the ads, they lose money. So if they had wanted to keep Hank Jr., but public opinion exerted financial pressure on sponsors to back out, then ESPN is making those decisions with the bottom line in mind, not because they think what Hank Jr. said was right or wrong, but because the advertisers are bowing to the public pressure of what the public thinks is right or wrong.

    I would have respected a company like ESPN much more if they had said “we disagree with comments Hank Jr. made, but we respect his right to say whatever he wants.” Not “we respect his right to say whatever he wants, as long as it doesn’t piss off anybody that might wind up costing us some money.”

    hee hee, first amendment debate time!

    Here’s a better explanation: It’s about a guarantee of governmental non-interference in bigotry and oppression by private individuals. That’s it. Not about being able to say what one wants, but who is allowed to control, and oppress opinions, views and ideas.

    just got an email to check out the site today, and what do i see?
    indeed that interview was long ago, and if i remember correctly, i had to cut short a post-softball sunday bender in order to conduct it.
    i bet i still have the questions saved somewhere.

    there’s a fine line between paying homage/remembering and just plain ignorance.

    how is getting rid of every native american mascot different than ole miss getting rid of col reb? imo redskins is a FAR offensive name than rebels. and its not a pc thing, its the morally right thing to do.

    arkansas state stopped being the indians a few years ago- and they had a pretty conservative logo. teams like the indians and redskins seem a little more risque – and its ridiculous that they get away with it

    The subject of the interview should brush up on his history, the Irish WERE subjects of genocide and oppression MUCH longer than the native peoples of the Americas, and STILL are.

    And exactly what genocide and repression is STILL being imposed on the people of Ireland?

    The situation in North Dakota is not entirely as you say. UND is the only institution that the NCAA required to get approval from two tribal groups — all other universities were only required to get approval of one group. One of the groups gave its approval in the 2000 decade; the other group was the one that gave UND permission to use the nickname in a religious ceremony in the 1960s and has not seen fit to hold another vote.

    If UND, which has never had a mascot, were to host Florida State, UND would be barred from using the nickname, but a son of immigrants from FSU would be permitted to dress as a Seminole and throw a spear into the field.

    And what exactly is a Hoosier? In St Louis, it is a fightin’words insult along the lines of Redneck. The Indiana University Rednecks.

    a hoosier is the name for the people of Indiana. during the 19th century the settlers of Indiana formed a sense of community by identifying their work ethic and spirit with the name hoosiers….i went to the indiana state museum during super bowl weekend and thats what the exhibit said

    and remember when linsainty started? the media made some racially insensitive remarks about 17’s skin color….and they were bent over the coals for it. i’d love for someone to tell me how this is different? a cartoonish indian with red skin? or an indian with maroon skin? and a team called the redskins? seems obvious

    One of the things I dislike about what Paul calls “corporate douchebaggery” is its will to power over consumers’ brainspace: this bland admen’s insouciance in changing the names of stadia or events into something that suits them. This site rightly has none of that, and likes to offer slogans like “I’m calling it Joe Robbie.”

    But this controversy over teams’ names isn’t so different. I’m glad the argument’s been put so civilly, but there’s less daylight than UniWatch thinks between itself and a mega-corporation. Both would import their own interests into the very language of ordinary fans.

    And it’s no good to say that A is profit-mongering, while B is just trying to be decent to Indian tribes. Making a profit isn’t an INHERENTLY immoral enterprise, any more than is worrying about the feelings of others. But the former virtue can cross a line into rapacity, just as the latter can cross a line into priggishness. And priggishness is a mere subspecies of douchebaggery. UniWatch might think it’s staying on the right side of its particular line, just as many corporations think w/r/t themselves. I’m not so sure.

    The “I’m calling it Candlestick/Joe Robbie/Jack Murphy” sentiment resonates because ordinary fans are repulsed by self-appointed betters who’d re-school them in what a thing’s name is. Even though I appreciate the civility and reasonableness of today’s post, it inspires a single response at the gut level: “I’m calling them the Braves/Indians/Redskins/etc.”

    I’ve always called them “Atlanta”, “Washington” and “Cleveland” and variations on these. I’ve never been required (legally or otherwise) to use a name I don’t like.

    The Irish were not a victimized people? That statement has as much truth as “Paul Lukas is not ignorant.” The Irish were oppressed not only in their own country, but shipped as slaves to Australia & the Americas. In fact they were viewed as worth less than African slaves. Then later on after slavery ended in the US, they were continued to be discriminated against. Good luck trying to get a decent job if you were Irish.
    Google Irish slaves and see what you find. Or try “Irish Redlegs” – descendants of Irish slaves still living in horrible conditions in the Caribbean.

    Mike, your references are for places not named “United States of America”. There is no denying that the Irish have been discriminated against in the US at a point in history, but they have made great strides in rebuilding their culture in their new home.

    Read before writing.

    Teebz, Excuse me for using the collective “the Americas” instead of the United States. And the one direct link I included referenced the Irish slave trade in New England and Virginia specifically.

    Read before writing.

    “Irish were oppressed not only in their own country” – part of the Americas?

    “were shipped to Australia” – part of the Americas?

    Look, the issue isn’t about Irish slaves. I conceded earlier that your people had been discriminated against, but it’s absolutely clear that your people were not exterminated nor were they repeatedly displaced by Europeans. They got to live, albeit as slaves, while the Native Americans were being slaughtered for hundreds of years before that time. This is like comparing your life’s anguish to the persecution of the Jews.

    In terms of degrading team names, there has never been a Cincinnati Irish Redlegs. You’re placing your own slanted view on something that has long been abolished in a big way.

    The Irish have two prominent religions in the US: Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant. You have a holiday that you’re free to celebrate (St. Patrick’s Day). There are significant populations that live in the largest cities in America unsegregated from the rest of the population.

    The Native American population is still fighting all of the battles your people overcame and more. They have no recognized religion of any sort unless they accept someone else’s religion, they have zero holidays to celebrate their background and patriotism on that is exclusively for them, and they are extremely segregated in society.

    And you wanna bitch and complain about the reputation your people built in the early 1900s? Ever see Gangs of New York? The Irish’s reputation was well-deserved, and the not hiring of Irish people was based solely on the idea that they were malcontents and gang supporters.

    Mike, walk a mile in a Native American’s shoes. No one crosses the street to avoid an Irishman in today’s society, but Native Americans are routinely looked down upon by all facets of society.

    You, sir, have absolutely nothing to bitch about in comparison.

    Boy Teebz, I was willing to engage in a healthy dialogue as my original comment was related to what I interpreted as an ignorant comment by Paul. He stated “The (Irish) were not a victimized class subjected to genocide, theft of their land, etc.” That statement is 100% false, but I acknowledge many are not aware of the Irish plight and can understand a certain level of ignorance.

    However, your most recent comment goes to a whole new level. You say “Ever see Gangs of New York? The Irish’s reputation was well-deserved, and the not hiring of Irish people was based solely on the idea that they were malcontents and gang supporters.” The Irish “reputation was well deserved” and they were “malcontents and gang supporters?” And you base this off a movie? Even if I accept the movie was completely accurate, you are painting with a very broad brush. You sir have gone beyond ignorant and made a blatantly racist statement. The vast majority of the Irish in this country at that time were good working class people trying to improve their lot in life.

    “… The vast majority of the Irish in this country at that time were good working class people trying to improve their lot in life…”

    Yeah, and they did. And their great grandchildren got rich. No pogroms, no persecutions, no prejudice potent enough to compare to that suffered by many other immigrant peoples. And the Irish prospered in Chile, Cuba and lots of other places in the Americas (and Western Europe, for that matter). The “Irish slave” trade in the Caribbean is less-than-minute in comparison to the trade in African humans. This bizarre attachment to the national myth of oppression as if it’s a current realty is really depressing. Get. Over. It.

    Gangs of New York, for your information Mike, was filmed with all the truth of the time period. The Irish were viewed as malcontents and gang supporters because they routinely supported their own and often underbid to secure jobs. There were many cartoons in newspapers that link in American because of their demeanor.

    Hell, there was a riot in 1863 in New York City over being drafted into the American Civil War. As written in Reconstruction: America’s unfinished revolution, “Many of the rioters were Irish laborers who did not want to compete with emancipated slaves for jobs.” In fact, the Protestant mercantile workers (read: Irish) were involved in the riot where black emancipated slaves were being enlisted to fight in the war. Black people, from babies to children to women, were killed on sight during the three days of fighting… by IRISH PROTESTANTS!

    So don’t start telling me how pious you are because your people were slaves and how there was genocide in America. As true as that may be, you’re no angel – the Irish were entirely responsible for genocide of black people in New York City, making “your people” as guilty as anyone else who has committed genocide.

    If they want to live completely guilt-free, all white Americans who are truly torn up about their race’s genocide of the Native Americans should renounce their US citizenship and return to Europe. Get the fuck out of the Western Hemisphere and leave your property to an Indian if it’s really keeping you up at night.

    I’m not quite sure what this comment is supposed to mean. A robust discussion is taking place, so yes, I’m quite happy about that.

    And several people have e-mailed me to say that they never thought much about this issue before but are going to have to think harder about it now, which is pretty much the best compliment that can be paid to a writer, so yes, I’m quite happy about that too.

    …and the sooner they whitewash all these names we can stop having all this thought-provoking dialogue and robust discussion, and go back to trying to forget about all those Native Americans the white man tried to exterminate.

    Maybe keeping the imagery, and thereby keeping this very discussion alive, in a perpetual “is-it-offensive” or “is-it-not-offensive” way is the best way to honor the Native Americans, or on some level at least better than removing the names and forgetting about them.

    With respect to the Free Speech Issue: There is a difference between “can” and “should.”

    I “can” lick an active circuit breaker to see how it tastes because there’s no law against it but I “should” not lick an active circuit breaker because it would probably kill me.

    what if you have a terminal illness that’s going to mean months of intense pain with no hope of recovery? Surely you might consider that you “should” lick the active circuit breaker then?

    I want to point out that the name Chiefs came from the Mayor of Kansas City that convinced Lamar Hunt to move the team to KC, H. Roe Bartle. His nickname was “The Chief” and Lamar named the team in his honor.

    If you’ve noticed – which you probably haven’t, because we’re nowhere near either coast, so why on Earth would you care about our unbelievably rich history? – every reference to Native Americans has been replaced over the years: unless you really want to go as far as to say that a mere arrowhead is offensive. Our mascot is even a freakin’ wolf. And if just the name “chief” is offensive on it’s own – despite the fact it relates to an individual, not a group of people – then CEO needs to be changed, the President should no longer be called any of the Chief names they are called in their duties, and so on.

    I understand so many others, but I hate when people just throw Chiefs in the discussion just because they don’t know its history.

    Their logo is the shape of a flint arrowhead, typical of pre-Columbian Native cultures. They even play in “Arrowhead Stadium.”

    And Native Americans aren’t the only ancient cultures to have used arrowheads. And if that’s really so offensive that it needs to be changed, then we really ought to do away with any weaponry and other items that may have at one time referenced something that may have been used by/against the Native Americans.

    I’ll give ya the ‘tomahawk chop’, but I doubt that’ll go away anytime soon. After we stole it from FSU, it took off around here.

    Not the point. Yes, stone tools were used by many ancient people stretching back tens of thousands of years. However, if you combine the logo with the team name AND the context in which it was born (mid-20th century USA) then it becomes obvious that it is referencing/using Native American imagery.

    That fact qualifies it to be part of the discussion. Is it as awful as Chief Wahoo? Absolutely not. It still can and ought to be included in a broader discussion about the use of Native American imagery in sports.

    Yeah, and the Chiefs horse that runs out on the field after touchdowns is named War Paint. Did the mayor ride a horse to work?

    One of our local high school teams is the Chiefs, because the village was named after a local chief. They haven’t been forced to change the name yet – Wisconsin has a state law that all-but-forces schools to change mascots if one person in the district files a complaint – but there have been jokes about keeping the name and bringing in the village fire/police chief* to serve as a mascot on game days.

    *hey, it’s a small town.

    Did a whole shit-ton of other people ride horses? Yes. We’re not allowed to have a cheerleader ride on a horse, given the midwest’s rich history with pioneers, cowboys, and others riding horses around here?

    You know what’s funny? We have a team named after Buffalo Bill. You know that team in upstate New York that decided to name it’s team after a man from Iowa? He drove a species to near extinction, was celebrated, then a team from an area that had no connection to him whatsoever named themselves after him and then had the gall to use a buffalo as their logo. I get that there’s a distinction between people and animals, but isn’t their still a value to life for all species? I know people will mockingly bring up bulldogs or whatever, but this is a totally different case.

    “I want to point out that the name Chiefs came from the Mayor of Kansas City that convinced Lamar Hunt to move the team to KC, H. Roe Bartle. His nickname was ‘The Chief’ and Lamar named the team in his honor.”

    Bah-loney. That’s a convenient happenstance that is now reverse-engineered to stave off criticism over the nickname. If that is solely the derivation of the name, why the arrowhead on the helmet and the logo of the Indian warhooping across a number of plains states?

    If you believe the Mayoral Rationalization then I suppose you also believe the Cattle Show Coincidence…that that expansion baseball team choosing a nickname suggesting royalty in no way had anything to do with the fabled Monarchs playing in KC. Was all about the livestock show. Just total chance. Weren’t trying avoid criticism from racist elements in KC at all. Nn-uh. No way.

    Stop being so gullible and swallowing all this revisionist claptrap that’s getting shoveled at us, people.

    “Stop being so gullible and swallowing all this revisionist claptrap that’s getting shoveled at us, people.”

    …and/or the incredibly transparent “spin” of those days.


    You don’t even have to be from the town to file a complaint. Someone complained about Berlin’s (Ber-lynn) nickname, and the person was from Ripon (if I remember correctly). All it takes is one complaint. I also like how the Badgers have a policy that they will not play teams with NA nicknames, in a non-conference home game (unless of course ESPN comes calling i.e. Florida State in the B1G/ACC Challenge).

    How about using an medieval European-style metal-forged arrowhead design in team imagery, rather than a chiseled stone arrowhead? Would that help at all?

    Just throwing it out there for opinions.

    You’re freakin’ kidding me, right? His nickname was “The Chief”. He was the leading factor behind the team being moved to Kansas City. Lamar Hunt names the team for him. Done.

    That’s not revisionist history. That’s been the reasoning behind it since 1963.

    As far as the Royals, I don’t think you’re going to find a city that celebrates its Negro Leagues past more than Kansas City – which, oh yea, has the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

    But whatever.

    The story of deciding the name may be true but its pretty clear they use Native American imagery.

    Remember this?

    Its the use of imagery that’s being discussed and the Chiefs fall into that category.

    No, it’s not revisionist.

    It’s a nice way of REMEMBERING the mayor, saying his nickname led them to the name they chose. That it inspired their selection. But they were NOT “named after him,” not named FOR him

    I clearly remember reading a wire service story at the time saying that the second choice was “Mules”. And I want to say that was the results of fan voting, but can’t be sure. But I do know what came in second.

    That was in reference to recognizing the Monarchs.
    I mean, c’mon, if “Royals” was a reworking of Monarchs why not say so? Why not point to it proudly?

    Why come up with a diversion that says it was all about the livestock show?

    Explain that unnecessary story.

    I mean, only three years earlier in 1966, network affiliates in the south prempted “I SPY” and ran their own programming because they objected to a black man (Bill Cosby) was co-starring with a white man (Robert Culp). You could look it up.

    You can’t say that attitudes of 2012 can be dropped onto 1969.

    Found this, googling “Bill Cosby, I SPY”…

    “In 1965, when he was cast alongside Robert Culp in the I Spy espionage adventure series, Cosby became the first African-American co-star in a dramatic television series, and NBC became the first to present a series so cast. At first Cosby and NBC executives were concerned that some affiliates might be unwilling to carry the series. At the beginning of the 1965 season four stations declined the show; they were in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.”

    And where did the mayor’s nickname come from, we ask?

    Hunt and head coach Hank Stram initially planned on retaining the Texans name, but a fan contest determined the new “Chiefs” name in honor of Mayor Bartle’s nickname that he acquired in his professional role as Scout Executive of the St. Joseph and Kansas City Boy Scout Councils and founder of the Scouting Society, the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. A total of 4,866 entries were received with 1,020 different names being suggested, including a total of 42 entrants who selected “Chiefs.” The two names that received the most popular votes were “Mules” and “Royals.”

    “Tribe of Mic-O-Say”…

    Final related point.
    Royals were named in ’68, prior to their first season in ’69.
    The Negro League Museum in KC wasn’t established until 30 years later.

    Anyone who thinks there weren’t a helluva lot of changes in U.S. race relations and attitudes thereunto between 1969 and 1999 either wasn’t around for it, or just wasn’t payin’ attention.

    I don’t really see how one can call this a uni-related issue. It’s politics. This topic has been hashed, re-hashed, and re-hashed again. There’s nothing left to say, really.

    because it involves red-faced “injun” stereotypes on sports uniforms in some cases maybe, for instance?

    Here’s a cute story about a basketball court at the top of the Matterhorn in Disneyland. Note their backboard has what looks to be an original Disneyland logo on it.


    i haven’t watched a lot of basketball this year, but did louisville’s unis look orange last night?

    Yup, I too thought they looked kinda orangey. Just glad they weren’t going BFBS! As an aside, my girlfriend was wondering why the Cardinal had to look so aggressive with it’s toothy look.

    It’s a horrible shade of red. Depending on your t.v. it looks orange-ish or pinkish. Cincy has the same problem with theirs.

    Uni-wise, the tournament has just become unwatchable for me the last 5 years or so. College basketball has aesthetically bottomed out.

    I would agree the nickname Redskins is inappropriate, along with the cartoon imagery sometimes associated with teams like the Indians should go. But when the cultural imagery argument is extended to any name which has Native American references, I’ve never heard from any Native American how and why that is offensive. For example, the Kansas City Chiefs or the Chicago Blackhawks logo.

    It’s also troubling to me if this is such an offensive issue to Native Americans, why in the world would any tribe ever authorize any use of any sports logo(Utah Utes and FSU Seminoles)? It seems odd any tribe would authorize any agreement, regardless of the size of financial compensation, if these images were deemed to be universally offensive. Is it possible the vast majority of Native Americans either don’t see the connection, don’t care, or feel logos done in a noble manner are acceptable?

    While not nearly at level of mainland U.S., native Hawaiians were killed, and their land was taken. It seems like a contradiction how the University of Hawaii embraces the cultural imagery for their sports logos. Don’t live in Hawaii, but it seems plausible at least a small minority would have issues. Why don’t we ever hear about that?

    It’s also weird how the writers or faces of opposition to Native American sports logos don’t happen to be Native Americans! I recall there was an organization connected with the movement to remove the name Redskins about 20 years ago, haven’t seen or heard from them since. Paul compares this issue to slavery, women’s suffrage, and civil rights. In each of those cases, representatives of those groups were known, and especially in the last century, spokespersons for those movements. So who are the Native American leaders, and the organizations which supposedly represent the outrage about these logos? How many non-Native Americans reading this can actually name one Native American and/or organization leading this “movement”? I find that very troubling.

    I just don’t think we’ll ever see close to the true number of Native Americans actually offended by sports logos because it won’t help the “movement” to abolish these logos. You’ll also won’t see or hear from Native Americans who support or are ambivalent about said logos because it doesn’t the “movement”.

    That article about Alex Smith’s facemask switch has taught me an important lesson about facemask model names: the letters are not random and actually stand for something!

    This is a HUGE revelation to me! I always wondered why facemask model names were such bizarre acronyms. Now I know they actually have meaning! Awesome!

    The article actually has a number of errors (kind of disappointing the writer didn’t do a little more research):

    OPO-SW – Oral Protection Only, single wire (Montana/Young)
    OPO – Oral Protection Only (like Favre/Brady)
    OPO-DW – Oral Protection Only, double wire (Smith’s old mask)

    Terrell Owens actually wore a ROPO (Reinforced Oral Protection Only — the Reinforced part is the extra bar at the top), not a OPO-DW.

    There is no such thing as a DW-ROJO — the RJOP-DW (Reinforced Jaw Oral Protection – Double Wire) is a longer facemask commonly worn by linebackers (contrast with the JOP-SW — which is what Marino wore).

    I had always heard that the Boston Redskins started as the Braves because they played at Braves Field, and when they were kicked out after a season and had to move to Fenway Park, G.P. Marshall was stuck with a lot of Native American-themed stuff and had to change the name. Indians was in use, so…

    Granted, Marshall was the biggest bigot in NFL history, so it shouldn’t be a surprise he picked an insulting name.

    I don’t understand why you would pick an insulting name. When you name a sports team, you become forever linked to that name. I like cats, I hate spiders, I’m not going to name *my* team the Spiders. The last thing I’d want is to be forever associated with spiders when I don’t even like the stupid creepy things. You just don’t name a team after something you hate. It just doesn’t make any sense.

    I think the Redskins were named that solely for the imagery associated with it – the feathers, warpaint, spears, etc. It was probably more out of fear than respect – he probably viewed them in the same way as Pirates/Raiders/etc, but I really doubt that it was an intentional “let’s be as racist as we can be” thing.

    “When you name a sports team, you become forever linked to that name.”

    Forever meaning “until they move to another town, or fancy a rebrand”

    so what if i live in a red state, and am wearing purple baseball pants..down to my ankles…while eating tofu…am i entitled to join the secret uniwatch club and get a super power id card? or is that off limits too? Just trying to see how far we’re going with this?

    First thing I thought of when I looked at the UK’s new Olympic uniforms…


    …was the U.S. Olympic mens gymnastic team’s 2004 uniforms:


    The 2004 uniforms were blue, black, and white. They did not look anything like what we’d expect U.S. Olympic gymnasts to wear, like Mary Lou Retton’s flag leotard:


    The TV commentators explained that the reasoning for the odd choice of colors was so terrorists wouldn’t be able to pick American athletes out from the crowd, since this was the first Olympics since 9/11. I remember thinking the uniforms didn’t look remotely American in any way, mainly because of the inclusion of black and the absence of red.

    The new UK Olympic uniforms remind me of the 2004 U.S. uniforms because the red in the Union Jack has been changed to black (or an extremely dark navy blue). I wonder what the reasoning is in this case?

    “Why are you getting so worked up about this when polls show that Native Americans themselves don’t care about this issue?”

    I have a better, simpler answer than this one – because its a question of right and wrong. If something is wrong, it doesn’t matter what the poll numbers say, its still wrong. Majority support doesn’t change a wrong into a right.

    Bigger picture: Who gets to decide whats right and whats wrong?

    Sure, 2+2 ain’t 5. That’s wrong. 4 is right.

    But when it comes to things like this, its from person to person to decide whats wrong and whats right. It’s their opinion.

    And then you need to start going back to a majority poll.

    My personal choices:

    1. MLB Cleveland Stallions
    2. MLB Cleveland Knights
    3. MLB Cleveland Bruins

    1. NFL Washington Cavaliers
    2. NFL Washington Red Hawks
    3. NFL Washington Colonials

    Is Colonials an acceptable alternative? Weren’t some of those Colonials that we would honor with the name among the very folk that took land from the indigenous people?

    Yeah, but that’s pretty indirect to me. I would consider Colonials to be a name with strong connotations of hardiness, perserverance, industry, and adventure. If we start ruling out indirect references, we’d have to get rid of Texans, Patriots, Cowboys, Rangers, and Warriors, as well. It’s all a matter of where you draw the line, and I guess, I draw it after Redskins/Indians/Braves.

    I assume Red Hawk is an actual type of bird, and not just another Native reference, such as Black Hawk? Anyone know?

    Miami of Ohio became the Red Hawks after changing their name in the 90s.

    Colonials would bother me just about as much as Redskins. First off, it’s already the nickname of a school in DC. (Though bonus: the GW Colonials don’t have a football program!) Second, the city of Washington did not exist until after the United States achieved independence from Britain, so nobody here was ever a colonial. Third, the whole point of Washington, the actual dude, was that he led the fight to stop being colonials.

    The better alternative would be Continentals. Washington led the Continental army, and the government seated in Washington is a direct successor of the Continental Congress.

    Since all the really good DC names are already taken, or can’t really be used by an NFL team (see Generals or Federals), I’d be very happy with Continentals or Americans.

    As a GW alum, the Colonials nickname has always irked me!

    what does Washington have to do with tyres though?

    they should go for a double barrelled effort with the initials “DC” imo, that’d work quite well if it’s two fairly short words

    “Tyres?” Ah-ha! You’re the same Diz who used “fancy” as a verb, aren’t you? Saxon Oppressor! You and that guy Chilvers have a lot of nerve coming on this site, what with your hands dripping red with the blood of innocent Irish people from the Barbados to Bloomsbury. Why, my grandfather used to tell me….

    Maybe I agree with your opinion that the Washington NFL Sports Franchise (“WNSF”) should change its name, maybe I don’t. Maybe on the basis of your recommendation, I’ll contribute to Brittain Peck’s organization, maybe I won’t. But I grew up in the DC area. I’ve been a Redskins fan since Sonny Jurgensen was the QB – he was my very first sports hero. I didn’t pick the team name and my ability to influence change is limited. But my “brand loyalty” to the WNSF goes back long before I had any knowledge about history or genocide or offensive speech. It’s your blog, it’s your club, etc. – but not being able to get a burgundy and gold membership card with # 9 pretty much sucks.

    “We will not do card based on the uniform of any team with a Native American-based name (Redskins, Indians, Braves, Chiefs, Warriors, Blackhawks, etc.), because we think those team names are inappropriate and we don’t want anything to do with them.” But Paul will have something to do with the publication of a “guest entry” detailing how that contributor “converted a room in his house into his own personal Redskins sanctuary”(aka: homage to genocide/racism)?


    I’m not a fan of any of the teams in question and certainly agree that “Redskins” and Chief Wahoo are offensive, but you make a fair point, Chris. Will future non-political discussion of the imagery associated with these teams now be taboo?

    And on a question above about why Native American leaders aren’t leading the charge on this one – where I live in Canada, where First Nations issues are very top of mind, they’re occupied with issues like clean drinking water, alcoholism and solvent abuse, living conditions, poverty, unemployment…

    If you asked the leader of the reserve on the edge of our city if he cared about these issues, I think the answer would be “no” because he’s dealing with issues like those above. The fact that he’s not the one leading the fight to change the name of the local high school doesn’t mean anything.

    “solvent abuse”


    dude, WTF?

    i’d say renaming the local high school would be down on my priority list too

    Is that the new name for things sniffing glue and huffing aerosol cans and doing whippits?

    mike actually emailed me on this…it’s even worse than i thought:

    Mostly gasoline, inhaled from plastic bags.


    I’ve said this before, Canada doesn’t have the “trail of tears” history the US does, but the issues that first nations face today are just awful.

    yeah, i’d say renaming the local high school is probably WAAAAAAY down on the priority list

    I will say that a term like Warriors could be turned into anything; granted, it did reference for some time Native Americans, but it could easily be turned a new direction now.

    And on the subject of a team like the Vikings, if you think about it, it was a group of people descended from the cultural group that named the franchise. Sadly, Native American communities haven’t been given a similar opportunity.

    What a great day to come back to UniWatch after a long absence.

    Clearly, some names are just offensive and there’s no way around it (see: Redskins), and some team names are very specifically about certain tribes (Seminoles) or people groups (Sioux).

    But my broader question is about names that are actually honoring a more generic classification: What about the Braves, Chiefs, etc. that aren’t so specific (who gets the compensation from that, anyway?) and that actually were chosen by the teams because they represent a desirable quality?


    You win. And I am not saying that trying to be a douche. I rolled my eyes when I saw the headline and image on today’s entry. I told myself that I was not going to read today’s comments or get involved in any conversations (thought I didn’t have enough Advil to get me through it)

    Over the past week or so as this subject kept surfacing, I was in the “who cares”/”I have no strong feeling”/”Okay, whatever” camp. I saw your point, but since not one of my favorite teams include Native American images, and I know no Native Americans, I felt I had no dog in this fight and could care less. I also tend to believe that us imported American’s (not of the native kind) are over sensitive today and chalked up all this ‘to-do’ to that.

    But, like the bastard you are (I only name call people I like/respect) you made me think about it. Damn you sir. I thought about it more than I have ever done. Usually I quickly dismissed the issue and moved on. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense and the more I realized it was mighty hard, and foolish looking, to defend against your points. Bottom line is, I try hard be a decent person and supporting, encouraging and defending the arguments you make are the decent thing to do.

    Nobody should have their history/identity characterized for profit, especially if it is a highly offensive and insensitive rendering. Permission and compensation seems the right path. Supporting your fellow humans, and trying to atone for the past, is the HUMAN thing to do. Chances are my ancestors didn’t have anything to do with what happened to the Native Americans, but as someone who benefits and lives off the land that their ancestors once occupied and then wrongly and brutally taken from, supporting them in this instance seems like the least I could do.

    If such changes are broadly successful, it will be a bit ironic that an unintended consequence will be that the way will be paved for a huge percentage of the country to forget that American Indians/Native Americans ever existed.

    seems quite xenophobic to assume that all of the USA will suddenly forget something that is part of recorded history. It’s surprisingly hard to make such things totally disappear in the 21st century

    Except for, you know, history books. And actual Native people and all.

    Regarding the Redskins name and tradition… Just Change It. Start a new tradition. Nobody wears Redskins apparel outside of D.C. or diehard fans; at least no one in my city. I’d be embarrassed to wear it…. So, make a bold, new tradition that people want to wear. Give RG3 a stunning new brand that’s the talk of the NFL. Sell tons of new merchandise. Make a tradition that new fans will be proud of. People will adapt.

    Anyone know if Central Michigan has tribal permission for their Chippewas name too?

    Yes, and how many people have regular interaction with “actual Native people” or pay any heed to history books?

    I’m not opposed to the changes, I just know that such things often come with unintended consequences.

    CMU has permission from the tribe. The tribe wanted to put a casino in Mt. Pleasant (near campus), CMU basically said if you want to put in a casino, you need to give us permission.

    First of all, I think it’s valuable for you to be arguing that we have a civic responsibility to end the names of Native inspired teams. However, if you ask me, I’d like to see a complete history of a team’s name history before making any changes. I’m a diehard Chicago Blackhawks fan, and the reason for their name is based off a military unit. However, one can only assume that the name of the military unit was derived respectfully (or even lack thereof) off a Native’s perspective. I do think the idea of getting permission and paying some form of royalties works though.

    Here’s a thought to chew on: What if the Cleveland Indians or Washington Redskins were owned by a Native American or group of Native Americans? Would it then be OK for those teams to continue using the imagery/nicknames? Is it morally offensive that the current white owner of the Redskins is making a profit but would it be OK if his name was Daniel Littlefeather of the Ojibway tribe?

    As far as the Whiteskins thing goes, it reminds me of the Fightin’ Whities. link

    Who needs motivation when you have helpful anonymous emailers writing you to remind you how difficult it is to spell your last name and how big your ego is.


    Paul, you’re also a LIAR. You call yourself a “big fat jerk”… yet you’ve posted photos of yourself on this blog, and you are NOT fat.

    (Sarcasm hopefully detected. Excellent post today, Paul.)

    My feelings are the more racist terms and logs should go: Redskins for sure. The logos that insult the tribes (Native Americans is a misnomer- they aren’t any more native they we are; they should be called by their tribe names) as well.

    But for team names like the Braves, the Blackhawks, etc- that to me is honoring the tribes. They were brave men and women who were good people. I don’t by into the idea that I should have any guilt about what people that I didn’t descend from (my families came over in the early 1900s) did to the tribes. I don’t buy that I should change things for actions I’m not in any way responsible for.

    They could easily have a logo that is properly representative of the tribe or race they are named for. I find nothing wrong with naming teams after honorable people.

    “… Why doesn’t anyone consider then name ‘Rebels’ offensive?…”

    I’m offended by it, probably for the same reason that Arr Scott doesn’t like driving on a road named after Jefferson Davis. The “War of the Rebellion,” the winners called it in the years right after 1865, and that fits me a whole lot better than “War Between the States,” the anodyne formulation that Confederate apologists adopted. Oh, but they were brave, and fighting for what they believed was right. Damned rebels, I say, protecting the Slave Power in defiance of federal authority.

    But I’m in a dramatic minority. Most people don’t care, I know. Hell, a basketball school in Las Vegas calls itself the “Runnin’ Rebels” (with teams composed mostly of the descendants of slaves), and no one says a peep. Just biding my time.

    Valid point, Trevor.

    And I was thinking the same thing earlier today.

    Confederate flag’s a no-no.
    But “Rebels”, clearly in reference to the Confederacy (and, some would say, all it stood for) is okey-dokey?

    It’s certainly not okey-dokey with me. Never has been.

    But here’s a question: What exactly is the point that you’re making when you (or whomever) says, “What about the Rebels? What about the Fighting Irish? Huh? Huh?”

    Is the point that these names are offensive too, and that we should therefore urge for them to be changed? If so, OK — we can talk about that.

    Or is the point that you’re trying to say, “You want THIS thing but not THAT thing, so you’re intellectually inconsistent, and therefore I don’t have to listen to you”?

    If it’s the latter, I think that’s a bogus argument designed to distract from the point at hand. It’s like calling me (or whomever) a hypocrite. OK, fine — in addition to being a hypocrite, I’m also intellectually inconsistent. Now that we have that squared away, would you like to tell me why it’s OK to use these Native American names/images/etc.?

    Steadfastly on-topic,


    Like many have said, I would never have thought twice about this before reading your article. I’m a huge Braves fan and have never really thought about the negativities to the name. Though after reading your article I am still a Braves fan and don’t have any problem with the name, BUT it has definitely made me think and not even in just the realms of sports but other things as well. Like street names after Native Americans, should they be changed? But just like when a road gets named after someone due to respecting that person, do you think maybe that’s what sports teams did for their organization? Do you think it was just out of respect for them? I feel like almost all professional teams name their teams after 1. something that is supposed to be a sign of strength and fight and 2. something that is related to the area. So maybe they named their team after a Native American because they loved the will, strength, and passion they had.

    I could be completely off on this topic and sound very ignorant but that’s my opinion. I think this was an excellent article and if this was to ever become a issue to the point a team was going to change their name, I think this is the article everyone should read if they have a problem with it.


    In terms of the logistics… keep in mind teams change their identities all the time. Most of the time keeping the name, but that’s irrelevant.

    They still have to change logos, letterhead, signage- everything.

    As well, if the Redskins did change their name, they’d profit mightily from it… tons of people would go out and buy new jerseys, etc.

    I think the next person who argues against these name changes by pretending to be offended by the Fighting Irish or the Vikings should be shot in the dick, nursed back to health, then shot in the dick twice more.

    If the person complaining is a woman, she should have surgery first to implant a dick, then have it shot as described above.

    “But what if I’m color-blind, and I’m offended by the Red Sox name? WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE?” You draw the line on your pants, where your dick used to be.

    Not Uni-related, but I found this amusing (although some, from Kazakhstan, will be offended):


    This is a tough topic to tackle because I assume most people that have commented along the lines of “these names shouldn’t be changed because…” are not Native American in any way shape or form. I’m mexican therefore how can I possibly even start to imagine how hurtful or offensive a name is or isn’t. I would figure that a name like Fighting Irish would be offensive to Irish people, but apparently it isn’t so why would i say anything, I’m not Irish so how should I know. Point is I feel like if Native Americans are offended by Redskins then it should be changed, regardless of what any white, black, hispanic or anything else has to say. Only they understand the pain, nobody else can. If a team was called the Los Angeles Wetbacks you better believe I would be pissed and would demand a change. Regardless of how much sense some White guys (for example) argument to keep the name made.

    Paul, this is great stuff! I applaud the measured thoughtful manner you’ve presented an argument that few people have taken the time to dig down on. I have to say I’m sympathetic to your position to a degree I wouldn’t have anticipated.

    In Devil’s advocate mode, I will suggest this issue may become moot if the current corporate naming fad continues. It won’t be long before fans will be required to root for the New York CitiBanksters or the Boston Walmart-legs. Our corporate overlords will stop at nothing less.

    As someone else mentioned above, where was all this sentiment when you posted that guy’s DIY Redskin man-cave, Paul?

    Paul’s “views on this topic were still evolving”(When/by whom/about what have I heard that before?) up until today? He was for it before he was against it(I’ve heard a variation on that statement somewhere too, but can’t for the life of me remember who said it and what issue was being referred to.)?

    Good point. Poor judgment on my part. Or, if you prefer, I’m a hypocrite. Either way, you’re trying to make the issue about me, instead of actually dealing with the real issue.

    Like I said up top: Today we’re talking about the message, not the messenger.

    So do we now just pretend the Indians / Redskins / Blackhawks / Chiefs / Braves etc don’t exist and/or are no longer newsworthy? If RGIII’s name is spelled incorrectly on the back of his jersey, does that get passed over in protest? What if some astute reader discovers that Chipper Jones has an upside down 0 on his jersey?

    And what of the San Diego Padres? How do you justify supporting a team whose mascot is a cartoon image of the Spanish missionaries who tried to “civilize” indigenous peoples in California and Mexico?

    So do we now just pretend the Indians / Redskins / Blackhawks / Chiefs / Braves etc don’t exist and/or are no longer newsworthy?

    What are you talking about? I never said I wouldn’t keep writing about these teams. I just wish they’d change their names.

    And what of the San Diego Padres?

    Well, what of them? If you’d like to discuss changing their name, we can discuss that. Doesn’t change the fact that using Native American names/images is wrong.

    This is a red herring. Features and notes here aren’t an endorsement of the teams any more than coverage of the Negro Leagues validates segregation. Pretending the Redskins don’t exist would defeat the purpose: discussion of uniforms. The author is just choosing not to perpetuate those nicknames in a product he is responsible for.

    The American Indian Center of Chicago lists the Blackhawks as one of the organizations in their “Circle of Friends.”


    Is this the kind of mutual respect that makes the ‘Hawks usages acceptable or is it still objectionable? Would more be required or is it beyond helping?

    I noticed a few comments talked about how changing those respective team names would “whitewash history of the Native Americans”. If the only way you remember the Native Americans is by sports team logos, then you honestly should go back to history class.

    But then again, that wouldn’t help. Textbooks tend to down play Andrew “I-Hate-All-Indians” Jackson and everything we did against the Native Americans.

    The reason it persists is because Native Americans as a group lack political clout. No team would dare denigrate blacks in a similar manner because they know it would ignite a political/media firestorm, replete with chanting demonstrators, boycotts, and Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson fighting over the same megaphone. Native Americans aren’t nearly as cohesive or organized, and since they don’t flood Washington’s coffers with $, or wield any real influence within the MSM, they might as well be invisible.

    I don’t know if I’d put a heck of a lot of faith in the “Google this and you see this many hits” concept.

    Google “bieber naptime controversy” and you get 24 million hits.

    “Lukas is a racist” returns 22 million results.

    Just sayin’

    what part of the Blackhawks logo is offensive? i honestly want to know what part of that could offend anyone, so i looked it up. one of the ladies in an interview i found said, “For us, that’s one of our grandfathers. Would you do that with your grandfather’s picture? Would Take it and throw it on a rug? Walk on it and dance on it?” and that is honestly the worst argument for anything i’ve ever heard. if my grandfather’s face was on a jersey, i’d be ecstatic. and if people want to say, “well they don’t get any money from it” then that’s just plain greed and there is nothing unjust about that. and for god’s sake, Black Hawk died in 1838, EIGHTEEN THIRTY EIGHT! who cares? it’s a fucking sweater, there are plenty more ‘injustices’ against natives to worry about. for the record, i’m from North Dakota and know PLENTY of native americans. i’ve worn my Hawks sweater plenty of places, including Mandan ND (named after the Mandan indians!) and no one has ever said a thing to me. honestly, i’m not sure any has even looked at me differently.

    get over it.

    If you want to call your team the Niggers, call your team the Niggers. You’ll just get your games boycotted, unless you’re based in Atlanta.

    Regardless of where anybody, including Paul and Phil, stand on this issue, the team names are what they are. Moreover, it’s very likely they aren’t going to change anytime soon. That said, I think it’s kinda douchey that Paul would deny his most ardent fans a membership card based off of a team name/logo that those fans had no control in choosing. It seems to me like a lame way of showing his disapproval, especially compared to the clever and constructive method employed by Mr. Peck.

    Also, as a couple of individuals mentioned before, Paul just recently did a feature on a Redskins based man-cave. If this issue is really something that Paul wants to champion on this blog, then in my opinion features like that one and any coverage of teams with offensive names/logos should be halted. Maybe it’s just me, but if I strongly disagreed or felt offended by something, I wouldn’t promote it.

    “I think it’s kinda douchey that Paul would deny his most ardent fans a membership card based off of a team name/logo that those fans had no control in choosing.”

    He already does this for every uniform with the color purple in it. It’s a membership to his site, he gets to make the rules.

    No, I get that. That wasn’t so much my point as the fact that it’s cheesy and doesn’t help move the issue forward.

    And if I *didn’t* stop doing membership cards based on these teams, how many nanoseconds would it take for someone to say, “You fucking hypocrite, you’re taking $20 membership fees for these designs!” blahblahblah.

    I think you are mistaken: I think refusing to do these designs DOES move the issue forward, because (a) it shows that a person making an argument (in this case me, but it could be anyone) is willing to put his money where his mouth is, and (b) because the mere fact that the rule is spelled out on the membership sign-up page means that people who see it will have to think about it. And getting people to think about it is my goal here.

    I just noticed that Paul responded to a comment regarding the latter issue I mentioned. I know the discussion is meant to be geared toward the message rather than the messenger, but I don’t think it’s fair for him to say, “my blog, my club, my rules” in one breath, and “don’t shoot the messenger” in another. This isn’t just some news being passed on to the reader, it’s an opinion. It’s only natural to assess a person when they espouse an opinion.

    All that said, love the blog. Long time reader, first time commenter.

    I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound critical, but you’re mixing up your arguments.

    In one case, the key issue is that the Uni Watch membership program is a voluntary club of self-selected people who have to play by the club’s rules. That’s not about me — that’s a simple explanation of the parameters of the situation.

    In the other case, we’re talking about the larger issue of Native American imagery/names. That also is not about me.

    I generally like attention, but I don’t want it today. Stop trying to think about these issues in terms of “Paul does X” or “Paul thinks X” and instead just think about the X.

    I totally understand where you’re coming from, and I fully respect your opinion. I thought about the issue plenty when Florida State got approval from the Seminole tribe a few years ago, and of all the social/civil rights issues on my list, this one is towards the bottom.

    Also, I don’t equate putting ones money where their mouth is to moving the issue forward, however it does show courage in your convictions, and I totally applaud you for that. Getting people to think about it is great, though, however this tactic just seems weak. Whereas the Whiteskins shirt is humorous and benefits Native American charities, the removal of options to fans seems passive aggressive and benefits no one.

    Again, I love the blog and admire how you never fail to put yourself into this and put yourself out there in terms of your feelings. I guess my whole thing boils down to this: if I were in your position, both in terms of your opinion and your platform, I would tackle this differently. But hey, at least you’re tackling it so my hat’s off to you for that.

    Paul, a long time ago, I asked specifically about the Seminoles and you seemed to respond that wrong is wrong, and whether the Seminoles liked it or not, it was still wrong. I responded with something snarky including the phrase “great white father.” In light of what you posted today, I’d like to retract that comment.

    Thank you.


    With the amount of hostility in some of the people against these name changes, I am happy to see that ignorance is not bliss.

    We need to combine all of today’s hit button issues and talk about hoodies with Native American team names on them.

    I can see how it is offensive, but I have never had a problem with the team names. Maybe it’s because I usually give people the benefit of the doubt, so I just assume schools and professional teams use the names to honor the Native Americans.

    That might be an ignorant statement, but I guess, like Paul a few years ago, I still just have never really thought about it. To me, it is what it is. If it changes, so be it. if it doesn’t, so be it.

    That being said, with the plethora of comments today, mine will probably get lost in the crowd!

    I find it such a coincidence that yesterday there was a speaker at an assembly at my high school talking about stuff like this. He went through things like if football teams took on different names that could offend people. He finally got to San Francisco Sluts and everybody was offended. This is EXACTLY like what is going on here. I’m pretty sure that if any of you were offended by a sports team, you would be doing the same thing. Anyways, are the Warriors one of the teams that would change their name (if it did happen) because their first logo had a Native American on it?

    When I was a kid, the rebel flag was displayed with pride where I lived. It wasn’t until some years later that I realized much of the negativity associated with that symbol.

    As time has marched on, the rebel flag has become less tolerated, although not completely invisible. Now, there are some parts of the rebel flag history that isn’t negative, so I can understand that there will always be continued use, but it’s becoming harder and harder to find folks that wave those colors proudly.

    The point of that story is that no matter how entrenched or tradition-filled a team’s symbol or mascot is, it can always be unwound.

    Paul makes a very good point, if one third of the Native American’s do not approve of the mascots/names/logos, that’s more than enough to make a change. We’re talking about sports, which is essentially games. There should never be an issue in sports that can’t be addressed and made right. Especially logos or team names.

    But seriously, in a society where people only watch TV or read websites that spit the exact same opinions they already believe right back at them, Jeff is just mad that people disagree with his opinions on topics he cares about.

    Tough titties. Welcome to America, a melting pot of cultures and ideas.

    Maybe the dude agrees with Paul’s opinion on this issue, but doesn’t enjoy it when he comes for a breezy read about sports uniforms, and this stuff is discussed. Doesn’t mean the guy buries his head in the sand. Just a possiblity.

    Neither Phil nor the UW community owes anything to anybody, I get that. We are all free to share our beliefs, but the world needs outlets to escape the daily beat down of political rhetoric and hyper-sensitivity. This was that place although I am not naive to think that any topic is immune to strong opinions and beliefs.

    I can not remember an entry on this site that divided this community more than this topic. And for what? I respect your belief regarding the use of NA imagery, but as a NA myself I question why this had to become an issue of such contention. I’m sure that not every name has “respectful” origins, but so is the history of our storied country. That being said, not all were named out of disrespect.

    Carry on – it was a very good read, as usual.