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3 Days That Rocked the World of Native American Sports Imagery

Good morning! Greetings from Uni Watch HQ, where all three inhabitants continue to be healthy and safe. Hope the same is true at your home and that you all did your best to enjoy the weirdest Independence Day of our lifetimes.

I know many people kind of tuned out from following news developments during the holiday weekend (I tuned out quite a bit myself, in fact), so you may not realize just how much churn there’s been on the topic of sports teams using Native/Indigenous imagery. The short version is that it’s now basically a done deal that the Washington NFL team will be getting a new name, possibly even as soon as this season, and potential changes are also afoot in Cleveland (MLB) and Edmonton (CFL).

It’s astonishing how quickly these developments have taken place. When we all woke up last Wednesday morning, we had no inkling that any of this was going to happen. By the end of Friday, the entire landscape had shifted. To put that in context, here’s how last week played out in terms of Native and Indigenous issues in sports:

Monday and Tuesday: Nothing.

Wednesday: AdWeek runs story about shareholders and investment firms urging FedEx, Nike, and PepsiCo to divest from ’Skins until team name is changed.

Thursday afternoon: FedEx calls on team to change name.

Thursday evening: ’Skins merchandise disappears from Nike website.

Friday morning: ’Skins announce “thorough review” of team name.

Friday afternoon: Multiple NFL journalists report that name change is highly likely to happen, possibly this year. … Meanwhile, CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos announce plan to “ramp up our ongoing engagement with the Inuit communities” regarding the team’s name.

Friday evening: Cleveland Indians announce search for “best path forward” regarding team name.

That’s a pretty amazing sequence of dominoes falling in such a short time. (Of course, you could also say it’s taken an agonizingly long time for these long-overdue moves to happen, but the pace of last week’s developments was still remarkable.)

There was a bit of additional news yesterday:

• ’Skins coach Ron Rivera said he’s been working with team owner Dan Snyder on a new team name, indicated that he’s particularly fond of two of the options they’ve discussed, and said it “would be awesome” if the change could be made by the start of the 2020 season. He also repeated his odd qualifier, first expressed in the team’s “thorough review” statement on Friday, that the new team name should honor the military. (Rivera comes from a military family and is a strong pro-military advocate, but it’s not clear why that would have any bearing on an NFL team’s name.)

• Indians manager Terry Francona announced that he’s in favor of the team changing its name.

So that’s where things currently stand.

These developments have prompted a lot of questions. Here are the ones I’ve heard most often:

We’re always hearing how it takes two years for an NFL team to get new uniforms. How can they possibly do a total rebrand in two months?

It’s true that the normal process calls for a two-year time frame, but that’s largely due to retail supply-chain issues, not because it takes two years to create the design itself. That said, I’d imagine some combination of the following issues are in play here:

First, since the team’s name has been an ongoing controversy for years now, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that some sort of “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” options have already been prepared and are largely ready to go.

Second, whatever the new team name turns out to be, they may end up keeping the same colors and even the same basic uniform design (helmet logo and chest wordmark notwithstanding, of course), so a redesign wouldn’t necessarily be a drastic visual makeover.

Third, they could take the intermediate step of removing the helmet logo and chest wordmark from the uniform set and simply play as “Washington” in 2020, with the new identity and design to follow in 2021.

What do you think the new name will be?

I have no idea. I’m just glad the old name will soon be gone.

What about the Braves, Chiefs, and Blackhawks?

I’ve long thought that Chief Wahoo and the ’Skins name were the low-hanging fruit, the no-brainers, regarding this issue. I think the other teams will be harder, but I expect they’ll receive some scrutiny — or at least I hope so.

Why do you hope so? There’s nothing offensive about the Chiefs. What’s the problem there?

As I’ve long explained, my position on this stuff has nothing to do with what’s “offensive” (a subjective term that has largely been rendered meaningless in today’s cultural debates). I see it more simply: When a non-Native team uses Native iconography, they’re using something that doesn’t belong to them — something most of us are taught not to do at a very young age. If a school on a Native American reservation wants to call itself the Chiefs — or, Braves, or Indians, or Redskins — more power to them. But the Hunt family? Nuh-uh.

But that’s just me. It’s true that most other people do tend to view this issue through the lens of “offensiveness” — that’s why Chief Wahoo and the word “Redskins” were the low-hanging fruit to begin with, and why I think it will be harder to achieve change with the other teams (although the Braves and Chiefs will draw added “offensiveness” scrutiny thanks to their fans’ use of the tomahawk chop, which many people view as distasteful, so that could be a factor).

What about the Vikings, Celtics, Yankees, etc.?

Those are all examples of a culture celebrating itself (Minnesota was settled by Scandinavian immigrants; Boston is a heavily Irish-American city; New York is in the north), which is very different from misappropriating someone else’s culture. But if you have objections to any of those team names, feel free to start a movement protesting them. If your position is convincing, I’m sure it will gain traction, just as the ’Skins movement did.

We may as well just change every team to the name of an animal, because any other name will be offensive to someone.

Actually, I’ve never heard anyone take offense to non-animal-based team names like Mets, Dodgers, Astros, Angels, Patriots, Packers, Steelers, Jets, Texans, Chargers, Titans, Heat, Rockets, Knicks, Clippers, Suns, Nuggets, Pacers, Maple Leafs, Oilers, Red Wings, Flyers, Flames, Senators, Blues, or countless others — have you?

It’s true that several categories of team names that were common and acceptable in previous eras are now being reassessed. Names associated with Native Americans are one such category; names associated with the Confederacy are another. Reasonable people can have differing good-faith positions about those names. But trying to delegitimize the entire discussion by saying “Every name is gonna offend someone!” is a bad-faith tactic.

This is so phony. Everyone knows the ’Skins are only changing the name because they’d lose a lot of revenue otherwise.

Soooo many people have said this, or something like it, in recent days. (Other versions included “There’s no altruism here — it’s just about the money” or simply “Money talks.”) The unspoken subtext of these comments — sometimes unintentionally, sometimes very intentionally — is that the team’s impending name change is somehow tainted, or less satisfying, or less legitimate, or less of a win for longtime name-change advocates, because it was based primarily on financial considerations.

I disagree. Would it be nice if Dan Snyder somehow saw the light and did the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do? Yes. Is he instead engaging in a somewhat cynical exercise driven by his balance sheet? Also yes. But why is he doing that? Because FedEx and Nike put pressure on him to do so, that’s why. And why did those companies do that? Because their shareholders and investment partners put pressure on them to do so. And why did that happen? Because that’s where we are right now as a country: Cultural standards of acceptability have shifted and lots of things are changing as a result, including an NFL team’s name.

So yeah, in the little picture, Snyder is changing the name because of dollars and cents. But in the big picture, the change is happening because our collective sense of right and wrong has shifted — that’s why the team name is no longer financially viable. In other words, it is happening for the right reasons, and it’s very much a win for those of us who’ve long advocated for it.

It’s also important to remember that economic boycotts have a long history of spurring meaningful change. The Montgomery bus boycott, for example, was a key step in the Civil Rights movement; consumer boycotts of non-union fruit as a result of the Delano Grape Strike helped achieve major victories for farm workers in the 1970s; the movement to divest from South Africa helped topple apartheid; and so on.

There are also plenty of previous examples of successful boycotts connected to sports: The NFL’s decision not to hold Super Bowl XXVII in Arizona helped spur the state to finally to finally establish a holiday for Martin Luther King; multiple leagues boycotted North Carolina in 2016 due to the state’s discriminatory “bathroom law” (including the NBA, which moved its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte), leading to the law’s partial repeal in 2017; and the NCAA’s decision last month to boycott the state of Mississippi may have been the deciding factor in the move to change the state’s flag.

Whether done by big companies or by individual citizens, boycotts are perfectly legitimate forms of civic engagement and are an example of democracy in action — voting with your wallet! Is it sad that that’s the only language Dan Snyder understands? Yes. But while that may taint him as a human being, it doesn’t taint his team’s name change in any way. It’s the right outcome for the right reasons.

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What’s in a (nick)name?: One ’Skins side issue I’ve been noticing is that lots of media outlets have said the team is changing its “nickname.” ESPN’s story about Ron Rivera and Dan Snyder discussing new team identity options, for example, is headlined “Coach Ron Rivera says he has been working with Redskins owner on new nicknames,” and the article itself refers several times to the team’s “nickname.”

But the word “Redskins” is not the team’s nickname; it’s their name. Similarly, I often see articles saying that such-and-such high school will be changing its “mascot,” and then it turns out that they’re actually changing their team name and don’t even have a mascot! The three terms — name, nickname, and mascot — increasingly seem to be used interchangeably.

That bugs me — in part, I admit, because of my own detail-obsessive neuroses, but also because mistakenly referring to a team’s “nickname” (instead of their name) has the effect of diminishing and thus trivializing the issue, as if we’re just talking about a conversational or vernacular trope instead of the actual, formal name of a multi-jillion-dollar enterprise.

It seems like a basic taxonomy guide would be helpful here:

Name: Cleveland Indians
Nickname: Tribe
Mascot: Slider (current); Chief Wahoo (retired)

Name: New York Yankees
Nickname: Bronx Bombers
Mascot: None

Name: Philadelphia Phillies
Nickname: Phils
Mascot: Phillie Phanatic

Name: San Diego Padres
Nickname: None
Mascot: Swinging Friar

And so on. I suppose we could go further and distinguish between mascots that exist solely as logo depictions and those that exist as live, costumed characters, but you get the idea. Further feedback/input welcome!

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Membership update: Sometimes when we get an unusual membership card design request, I tell the enrollee, “I’m not sure our designer can do that — let me check with him and get back to you.”

That’s what happened when reader John Wood Jr. recent requested a card based on pro wrestler Ric “Nature Boy” Flair’s robe. I was pretty sure card designer Scott M.X. Turner would say, “No way,” but instead he said he’d do it — and it turned out great!

John’s card is part of a new batch that’s been added to the membership card gallery, as we continue our push toward 3,000 designs.

Want to help us reach that milestone? Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.

As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 2,800 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: Here’s Pirates RF Dave Parker wearing a helmet with a football facemask to protect a broken cheekbone in 1978. In 2008, Paul wrote about that and Parker’s other adventures with cross-sports masks that season (from Nick Stamo). … A D.C. Little League team is wearing uni numbers positioned against an outline of the district’s shape (from @VictoryCB). … The Brewers have added a new ribbon board to their ballpark.

NFL News: Pro Football Journal’s John Turney conducted a fascinating uni-centric interview with former Rams DL Jack Youngblood. And yes, Youngblood’s double-decker FNOB is one of the topics addressed in the interview.

Hockey News: The goalies are wearing different jerseys in this 1973-74 team photo of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos, who played in what was then called the Western Canada Hockey League (from Wade Heidt).

Basketball News: In case you missed it over the weekend, here is the list of the 29 social justice messages that the NBA and the players’ union have approved for use in place of NOBs when the season resumes. Players can also opt to retain their standard NOBs instead of a message. … Here are some of the uniforms for The Basketball Tournament, which started this weekend with a reduced number of teams compared to previous years (from Timmy Donahue).

Soccer News: The NWSL’s Sky Blue FC wore a Black Lives Matter sleeve patch on their warm-up shirts on Saturday. … Real Madrid officially started a women’s team after completing a year-long buyout of the women’s Primera División’s CD Tacón. One consequence of that process was Tacón’s home matches this season were only open to Real Madrid members, even before the pandemic. … Also in Spain, the men’s Segunda División’s SD Huesca have brought a different captain’s armband to every away league game this season, usually highlighting a landmark or famous person from the home team’s area, and give each of them to their hosts (from Alvin Nguyen). … Both teams in the women’s German Cup final, VfL Wolfsburg and SGS Essen, wore second kits — Wolfsburg’s is for next season and Essen’s for this season. … In Italy, Juventus commemorated goalie Gianluigi Buffon’s record 648th Serie A appearance on their sleeves. … New first and second shirts for English League Two’s Oldham Athletic, and they also mentioned that a new English Football League number/NOB font is coming this month (from Ed Żelaski). … New shirts also for Brazilian team Corinthians and English League One’s Peterborough United.

Grab Bag: A San Diego high school named after Junípero Serra, an 18th-century Catholic priest who built some of the Spanish missions in California using Native American labor, wants to change its school name and “Conquistadors” team name (from Brad, who didn’t give his last name). … A school in Princeton, B.C., is dropping its “Rebels” team name (from Timmy Donahue). … Formula One drivers wore “End Racism” T-shirts — the championship’s one Black driver, Lewis Hamilton, wore a BLM shirt instead — and a majority knelt before yesterday’s Austrian Grand Prix, although some were not comfortable kneeling. … Australian Football League team West Coast wore their indigenous-designed jumper, which appears to me to be unchanged from last year’s design.

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What Paul did last night: I’ve mentioned a few times that we have several stray cats in our neighborhood. On Saturday we saw one of them, who we call Puma because he’s solid-black, being chased up a tree by another cat we’d never seen before. They were screeching and hissing and swatting at each other — nasty stuff. Eventually the other cat retreated and Puma came down and went on his way.

While porching last night, we saw Puma walk by. He didn’t look so good — he wasn’t exactly limping, but his gait seemed tentative and timid, like he was suddenly much older. We worried that maybe he’d been injured in the cat spat.

But about 10 minutes later, he came back the other way, seeming more like his sprightly self — good to see! Maybe he was just a little hung over from Fourth of July activities, same as us.

I miss the branch.

As always, you can see the full set of daily Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos — now more than 110 of them — here.

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Our latest raffle winner is Jon Goudreau, who’s won himself a Pierogi T-shirt. Big congrats to him! — Paul

Comments (254)

    to everyone who wanted to change the name of the Redskins and any other team with the same type of name Why were people were good with the name 40 years ago and now everyone has there panties in a wad. I’m gonna make a new shirt I still call them REDSKINS

    Societal standards change. What was acceptable at one time may no longer be acceptable at another time. That’s why women can vote, Black people aren’t enslaved, and child labor is no longer legal.

    What’s that line about preferring to be a hypocrite than to be someone who never changes? Seems right here, in terms of individuals or societies.

    People “didn’t have an issue with it 40 years ago” because racism was much more acceptable than it should have been (and is now) and because it was easier to silence or ignore opposing voices.

    But that logic, we can never change our minds and things would have remained the same through the years because “we always did it that way”.

    The exclusion of non-white men from Major League Baseball was always unjust; it didn’t suddenly become unjust in 1947.

    The fact that oppression and injustice have been tolerated in the past doesn’t mean that they (or their symbols) should be perpetuated for all time.

    Also, I’m sure there have always been people who have never been “good” with their name/iconography. There just seem to be more of them now. What’s wrong with learning, evolving, growing? I’m sure you wouldn’t be the only one in that shirt, but let me know how many eye rolls you get while wearing it.

    I don’t know about 40 years ago. But my high school was the “Indians” and we (successfully) campaigned to change it in 1990. This is not a new issue.

    In 1974 Dartmouth (College) Indians was dropped. In 1994 St Johns University dropped Redman. In ’95 Warriors dropped from Marquette University. Times change.

    Hey Paul,
    I too have been thinking about all these people picking the low hanging fruit..and you know what it sounds like to me Paul?

    A bunch of hypocrites trying to pretend their not part of the problem….sorry, but unless you’re a Native American, your just a foreign occupier of stolen lands.

    Oooooh, lets make all these teams change their names…but lets not talk about giving North America back to those Native peoples we stole it from, and fucking off back to Europe like the Euro trash we are….

    As usual, accusing someone of hypocrisy is a classic example of trying to indict the messenger instead of engaging with the message. It is a bad-faith tactic — please refrain from engaging in it.

    Does changing a team name solve all the issues relating to Native American genocide? No. But is it meaningless? Also no.

    If your concern is genuinely with Indigenous Peoples (and not trying to hold onto the team name) there are scores of organizations that could really use your time or your dollars.

    Every little bit helps whether its helping with educational opportunities or battling the coronavirus.

    In my experience and observation, passive-aggression doesn’t solve much of anything. YMMV, of course.

    Starting a sentence with a passive aggressive “Ooooh” is an excellent way to inform anyone reading it that nothing before or after that sentence should be taken seriously.

    Unless you’re posting from Europe, having f***ed right off as you say the rest of European-Americans should, your hypocrisy is manifest.

    Give him a break on that front. As I always say, just because you’re a hypocrite doesn’t mean you’re wrong. (He’s wrong for other reasons, of course, but that’s a separate issue.)

    I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all. But Paul, I do hope & trust you’ve never waved off any objections to such name changes as a “slippery-slope” fallacy. Because this “first, the low-hanging fruit” ethos comes across like a blatant declaration of wanting to barrel down the entire damned slope.

    this “first, the low-hanging fruit” ethos comes across like a blatant declaration of wanting to barrel down the entire damned slope.

    You’re misinterpreting it. My stated goal all along — the goal I’ve been advocating for since 2011 — is for all of these teams to stop using Native imagery. By “low-hanging fruit,” I didn’t mean that the ’Skins and Wahoo were a Trojan horse hiding some larger, previously unspoken agenda; I just meant that the first steps would be easy and the latter steps will be more difficult. There’s no “slippery slope” from here to there, because my “there” is the same as it’s always been. If you’re not aware of that, then, respectfully, you haven’t paid much attention to what I’ve written over the years. This is far from the first time I’ve used the term “low-hanging fruit.”

    People like to say, “See, give ’em an inch and they want to take a mile.” But my “inch,” so to speak, has always been plainly stated: It’s for all of these teams to make changes. As I see it, we’ve now gone about one centimeter — plenty of inch left to go.

    In that case, I salute your honesty and integrity. I’ll do my own damnedest to see that it goes no further than this, and may the better side win.

    Regarding Dandy Dan’s motivation, I’ve always felt that, while doing the right thing for the right reason(s) is best, doing the right thing for reasons that could be perceived as wrong is the next best thing. Since so many people in positions of considerable power are often moved by less than fully altruistic motives, sometimes we’ve got to settle for second-best. And shoot me as a consequentialist, but I’ll take the right outcome any day.

    Paul, always appreciate your insights and passion on the Indigenous imagery issue. As a Blackhawks’ (nee Black Hawks’) fan, I had always understood the name’s origin to have to do with the Black Hawk infantry division and the logo having some loose ties to honoring Chief Blackhawk.

    While I understand that there could be legitimate concerns as to whether, at this point in time, the “honoring” is problematic, would it be a reasonable solution to keep the team name and simply change the logo/imagery?

    BlackHawk doesn’t seem, on its face, to have the same inherent issue as “Braves” or “Chiefs”, but is the name and imagery too intertwined?

    For the record, I think the team should at least change its imagery. I’ve come to chat conclusion over the last number of years, as nice as I think the logos are. I just cringe when I see people where headresses, etc., and feel they have a license to do so. I also cringe when my son used to wear a hat with the ‘Hawks’ main logo on it.

    I never thought that would be me, but this is where I’m at. And I’m a life-long die-hard.

    The infantry division you speak of was based in Wisconsin. Why should a Chicago team be named after that?

    I’d rather clear the decks and start fresh. But that’s just me.

    Because the original owner of the Blackhawks, Frederic McLaughlin, was a major in the Black Hawk Regiment. And Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak (Black Hawk) was born in what is now Illinois.

    Is the Blackhawks name intended to some extent earnestly as a tribute to an individual Native American who is worthy of honor and respect? Unlike the Cleveland Indians, absolutely. But is naming a pro sports team a normal way that we as a society show our honor and respect for revered historical figures? Sure, we certainly make up stories to that effect to excuse and defend teams with Native American-themed names and mascots, but in almost no other context do we as a society do that or think that doing so is normal. Where are the other pro teams named the Altgelds or Stantons or Tubmans?

    The case here is a little more nuanced. That said, the fact that there’s this debate and differing views on the nuance, I think they should just go ahead and make the change at least to the imagery. Maybe keep the name and get a license for the Black Hawk Infantry Division, or just go wholesale as Paul suggests.

    Again, I’d rather see them be leaders here. It’s a losing long-term battle for the team to fight otherwise.

    I’d still be a fan.

    Would like to know your thoughts on if the Black Hawks kept their name but changed their logo to feature a black hawk (bird)?

    Also, my name is Bill and if there are any other readers out there named Bill that want to work getting the Buffalo NFL team to change their name, let us know.

    Would need to see the bird logo and overall presentation. Generally speaking, though, I’m not a fan of half-measures.


    The artist sold the logo to an Ottawa-area minor hockey organization.

    I think it is a great logo. I would be OK with keeping the name while adopting a new logo, but I also get Paul’s “half-measures” take.

    I also agree with the commenter who said the Adidas makeover really ruined the Chicago jerseys, logo aside.

    There have been articles written (and they are a bit older now) that the Blackhawks ownership group actually has regular communication with local (to the Chicago area) Native groups.

    There was a recent Athletic article on this exact issue and much of that relationship ending in 2015.

    It’s a little more complicated now and there are very strong opinions in both directions.

    At this point, I’d be pretty proud as a fan if the team took some positive steps at change and were leaders in this area.

    As a fan, I’m of two minds. I love the logo aesthetically but I’m also with you in wanting my team to get ahead of the curve on the issue.

    I think if they changed to a version of the Black Hawk logo that have been floating around for a few years, I’d be fine with it.

    To be honest, I’ve got more angst about the way the Adidas collar looks than a possible logo change.

    Yes. Precisely.

    I know that logo you speak of, and don’t love it. Think they could do better. But they also could do a lot worse.

    Tom, if it is the logo that I am thinking about (The bird head with the familiar feathers) I could be wrong, but I think that was designed by a Native American. Would be an even more perfect new logo if that is the case.

    Interesting facts regarding Black Hawk, the Sauk leader.

    Following his capture after the Black Hawk War, President Jackson sent him on a tour of Eastern cities with the thought it’d show the vanquished leader how powerful his foes were. Well, it backfired. Spectacularly. A one-on-one visit w/ Jackson went badly. The public was curious about Black Hawk and rather than paint him in chains, various artists did quite the opposite, depicting the 66-year-old in full regalia as though he were free, a symbol of individual freedom, and in defiance of authority. In this covid world, the impression seems to have lasted. Perhaps a little too well.

    In case you looked at the Australian AFL jersey and thought that logo looked familiar – Hungry Jack’s is the name of Burger King in Australia (because Burger King was taken when expansion into Oz took place).

    It’s also important to remember that economic boycotts have a long history of spurring meaningful change.

    The American Revolution started as an economic boycott. Arguments among the boycotting colonists about exactly what to boycott in 1774 led to calling the First Continental Congress to decide on a unified boycott list. Meanwhile, the British government dispatched troops to try to break the American economic boycotts by force, which radicalized many previously pro-imperial colonists to favor independence, which the Second Continental Congress declared in July 1776. Point being, the independence that we just celebrated in the United States began with an economic boycott. (Also, anyone who thinks there’s too much “political correctness” today and that “woke” radicals are policing speech should try reading pamphlets written during the boycott debates of 1773-74. People who expressed even minor disagreement with the patriots’ radical agenda were physically assaulted, their homes sometimes looted and burned, and their families frequently physically forced to leave their towns. Many Loyalist tracts began with long whines about how hard it was to find a printer willing to publish their opinions. “Cancel culture” today has nothing on the censoriousness and mob actions of the Founding Fathers.)

    Wooooo! Kudos on being open-minded enough to accept the Ric Flair card design! It turned out great!

    An interesting point about the 1973-74 Swift Current Broncos. That was their last season in Swift Current before relocating to Lethbridge, AB.

    The Lethbridge Broncos then moved back to Swift Current in time for the 1986-87 season.

    Current Swift Current Broncos wear blue and green, but they do have an alternate uniform which is a nod to the old days in Swift Current. The alternate is green with yellow and black trim.


    I just love the idea of Washington taking a new name to honor the military!

    I think Troops, Soldiers, or Militia would be great!

    Personally, I think the last thing our society needs is more conflation of sports and the military.

    I could get behind link, though, recognizing and promoting the Tuskegee Airmen. I really hope that’s what he’s talking about.

    I assumed he meant “Warriors,” but not sure what stronghold the NBA team has on that trademark.

    How about the Washington Generals? It has a clear military basis, and has a resonance in sports history that fits the Washington team’s recent record.

    Couldn’t disagree more. There’s far too much flag/military fetishism in sports (especially the NFL) as it is.

    Regarding “nickname,” my understanding dating back to childhood (1980s) has always been that the Bears, Dodgers, and Indians were nicknames for Chicago, LA, and Cleveland. That’s how my dad phrased it to me, anyway. He came from an era where people tended to say “Detroit Vs Chicago” as opposed to “Lions Vs Bears.” I am totally with you on “mascot,” though.

    That’s how I understand it as well. The official name of the Chicago Cubs is “Chicago National League Ball Club” and “Cubs” is their nickname. (Note that it’s “ball” rather than “baseball” because back in 1876 you didn’t have to specify that it was baseball; there were no other organized professional ball sports.)

    Up until well into the early modern era, “nicknames” were all that most teams had–very few of them were official in the current sense, as you say. My dad was old enough to remember some old-fashioned announcers who’d refer to a team as, for example, “the Baltimores.”

    Dodgers is a reference to Brooklyn residents being skilled at dodging streetcars. It’s an anachronistic name from the team’s previous home, like Lakers and Jazz.

    Lifelong Cleveland Indians fan. I argued for retaining Wahoo until the 2016 World Series when I saw some younger fans who attended a game in “redface.” My only beef when they dropped it two years later was the boring block C logo. The cynic in me wonders if that logo, and the lack of a replacement for the jersey sleeve where the Wahoo patch used to be, was because the team knew this day was coming sooner rather than later. My hope is whatever the new nickname is, it’s representative of the Cleveland area, doesn’t resemble a minor league team and isn’t the Spiders.

    Thanks for the Jack Youngblood interview link. Good read from one of my all time favorite players. He has little use for the wordmark and ads on jerseys. I guess Jack Youngblood is definitely one who “gets it.”

    Pretty similar boat as you (left a longer comment below with my full thoughts on the tribe situation). Agreed that our phasing out of Wahoo has seemed like a signal of something bigger coming.

    No one likes the block C and how generic our identity feels post-Wahoo. So either the organization doesn’t care (possible but unlikely if you constantly complain about payroll but give us no interesting merch to buy after years of one of the “best” logos in baseball – objectively offensive, just speaking to it as a unique design element that was iconic and that people loved to wear), or they have been working on a plan behind the scenes for the last couple years knowing a full rebrand would be necessary.

    I think your qualifications for a good team name feel right – nothing generic or cartoony, this should be far closer to the Browns identity than the Cavs (if you can even say the Cavs have one identity). Curious if you have any specific names you would like?

    For the record: While I was steadfastly anti-Wahoo, I’ve never liked the block-C and think Cleveland fans deserve something better than that.

    Absolutely. We went from at least having an “icon” (albeit problematic) to looking like a generic baseball team in a B-movie.

    Hell – that faux team from a commercial that you all wrote up (I think it was Gotham or something else NYC-adjacent) has a better visual identity than the tribe right now. That shouldn’t be the case for a 100+ year old franchise

    FWIW, I see an awful lot of those C caps around New York. And although further anecdote is still not data, my extended family in Ohio loves the old-school feel.


    My own anecdote is that sooooo many Cleveland fans in recent years have said they don’t like it. But they may simply be more vocal than those who *do* like it.

    Based on all of my experiences in Cleveland, Spiders would be the best bet. I haven’t found anything good there to represent.

    I’ve recently seen concepts with the block C given a white or cream outline, and the inside of the C filled in with a spider web of the same color. Which, as much as I actively love the block C in its present form, and as much as I really really dislike spiders, would be an amazing ballcap for the team.

    Black cap with a red hourglass. Local writers can call them “The Tarantulas.”

    A few years ago I made a mock-up Cleveland jersey with the block C transformed into the Cherokee letter tsa: Ꮳ.

    I suppose that would be considered some kind of cultural appropriation by today’s standards, but I still think it would be a great way to draw attention to the Cherokee people and the syllabary that Sequoyah ingeniously developed for them nearly 200 years ago.

    As an arachnophobe, I detest the name Spiders. However, I admit that it has great potential and is very unique among North American sports teams. Off the top of my head I can only think of San Francisco of the XFL 1.0…oh also Richmond University (University of Richmond?) I had been thinking of the Cleveland Americans as a team name since they already have the color scheme and it would complement the Washington Nationals.

    As an arachnophobe, I detest the name Spiders. However, I admit that it has great potential and is very unique among North American sports teams. Off the top of my head I can only think of San Francisco of the XFL 1.0…

    They were the Demons. I don’t think any of them were named “Spiders”.

    I think Rivera might be hinting at a change to the Washington Redtails, aka the Tuskegee Airmen. They could even recycle the old gold helmet design if they chose that moniker.

    Not that I know of and I apologize that I implied as much. However is an easy switch, they could use an old helmet jersey combo, it makes some sense with them playing in DC and from a public relations standpoint should appease the vast majority of their fans in one way or another. Almost a different kind of low hanging fruit if you will.

    Awesome! I didn’t know that. For me it seems like a slam dunk as it’s inclusive and patriotic while allowing them to rationally keep their current color scheme. Can even dress up a Red Tail Hawk in pilots gear as a mascot.

    I hope that’s where the team is going. I fear that instead it signals a shift to a Warriors name, which will have the double un-benefit of both deepening the overt militarism of the team’s self-presentation and the fan experience and enabling holdout fans to continue with the redface displays. Worst possible outcome.

    If I could wave a wand, the team would become the Washington Monuments, which was also my first choice for the Nats when the Expos moved to town. When you have a pun of such potency available, you use the danged pun!

    Knowing how media tend to shorten these long team names, can you imagine the “mons” puns?

    I fear that instead it signals a shift to a Warriors name, which will have the double un-benefit of both deepening the overt militarism of the team’s self-presentation and the fan experience and enabling holdout fans to continue with the redface displays. Worst possible outcome.

    I agree. Keeping anything connected to “savages” and adding the military-industrial complex nonsense seems about the worst of all possible options.

    In general I prefer how team names and nicknames have evolved in soccer throughout most of the world. Team names are often just the name of city or part of the city. Any additions to that are generally very generic – United, City, Town, Athletic, Real, etc.
    Nicknames develop over time (Gunners, Hammers, Blues, Black Cats, etc), but since they are unofficial the team doesn’t control them and they can evolve with society.

    I could be wrong, but teams with Real have royal lineage or that had been blessed by the Spanish royal family.

    Lol, Don’t get me started on MLS names trying to mimic European clubs, it’s just too silly.

    MLS mimicking European teams isn’t much different than Italian teams calling themselves “Milan” instead of Milano or “Genoa” instead of Genova.

    Just typed a long ish reply about why US soccer teams aiming for a European or Latin American aesthetic makes perfect sense.

    But it seems to be in comment purgatory, and I’m not typing it out again. Another time maybe.

    Aled, I just looked for your comment in the moderation queue — no sign of it. If I do see it, I’ll approve it!

    After seeing some uniform concepts and understanding a bit more about what the name means, I am starting to like the idea of Red Tails as the new Washington NFL team name.

    Nice! With the lack of white in the dark uniforms, the look reminds me of what the Concordia Stingers wear in Canadian university football.


    Often comments of this nature are written in the context of, “what will they change next?” so I want to start by saying that I support Native American name changes. Over the weekend I was thinking of potential options for Cleveland. I hate Spiders so that’s a no go for me personally. Then I was thinking about the Barons. FWIW I would be surprised if they took the name of a former NHL franchise but it got me thinking: would there be significant pushback to the name Barons today? Wealth inequality is a popular talking point in today’s political discourse, so would a team named the Barons be considered a misstep? I don’t know what my opinion is yet, but would be curious to hear from others.

    *Unpopular Opinion Alert*

    I harken back to the days when St Louis was a two-Cardinals town…
    Just call Cleveland’s baseball team the Browns.

    It’s not as if the Orioles are ever going to use that name again. Just do it, Cleveland.

    Boy do I hate that, especially as a die hard Cleveland fan.

    It would be a logistical nightmare for one – no one wants to have to clarify which Browns they are talking/writing about. And the Browns name/identity is too iconic/football specific to slap on the tribe at this point, an older and as storied franchise. It would be a disservice to both teams and the fans.

    Every now and then I still hear people refer to the East Rutherford Giants as “the New York Football Giants.” And this is what… sixty-plus years since New York had two Giants teams?
    Not a big deal to differentiate the two. Just do it, Cleveland.

    Not sure why I can’t reply directly, but I don’t think those are apples to apples situations.

    With the Giants there are still multiple “Giants” in pro sports, and multiple “New York” teams in football. You have a unique history where local fans are used to distinguishing across teams, and national writers would be accustomed as well. As a result, “New York Football Giants” is historical, functional, and because it’s been around it has a tinge of nostalgia that people like. But you don’t have to use it and in most casual settings you don’t see it.

    There’s a reason it doesn’t happen any more – it’s dumb for fans, reporters, and merchandising/branding purposes (this isn’t like the European multi-sport athletic clubs).

    I get you might just be having fun with the idea – it is kitschy and nostalgic – but there aren’t really any logical arguments for doing it.

    Another great historical Cleveland team name with too much baggage: The Crusaders.

    Regarding Ron Rivera’s comments about honoring the military with the new team name, there’s been a lot of scuttlebutt about the new naming being Warriors – some ESPN sources have reported that Snyder/the team have already trademarked it; this name and term is something used throughout the military, particularly the US Army, although the Army has moved away from its use some in the past couple years.

    Totally agree about the distinction between a team name and a nickname. Conversely, British soccer clubs typically have official team names (e.g. Manchester United) and their other identities are more akin to true nicknames (Reds, Red Devils).

    I would also argue the San Diego Padres’ fairly common nickname is the Friars.

    Many years ago while in Tijuana, a cab driver called the San Diego Padres, the Fathers. Which, if I’m not mistaken is English for Padres.

    There has been “offense” taken on the Packers though. Back in 2000, PETA wanted a new name because it “promotes violence and bloodshed” due to the meat packing history.

    PETA suggested “Pickers” (in reference to fruits, veggies, and other crops) or “Six-Packers” (in reference to the state’s brewery tradition).

    Who says they weren’t serious? It happened to Green Bay in 2000. It happened to a high school in Minnesota in 2001. It also happened to a high school in Nebraska in 2002.

    Three straight years of trying, searching, and contacting doesn’t really seem like hyperbole. It wasn’t a major campaign, by any means, but it still happened.

    Man, that Jack Youngblood interview kicked ass! He totally Gets It tm and if I were a voting council member, I’d grant him an honorary membership card.

    I met and had a conversation with Jack Youngblood at the Taste of the NFL in 2007. He is genuinely a great guy.

    Well it has finally happened – the sports leagues have jumped the shark. With baseball millionaires & billionaires arguing over money to the protests/boycotts over sports nicknames all during a PANDEMIC, it is time for me to move on. There are much bigger things to worry about right now than if the Redskins will change their name.
    I am lifelong sports fan, but the recent events have shown me how much I DON’T miss watching sports. Whether or not sports return this fall, I, along with many others won’t be watching.
    To those who will continue to watch – good luck!!
    I have religiously made uni-watch a part of my daily routine, but I have lost interest over the past several months. I do want to thank Paul and the crew for their many years of great product and wish them nothing but the best.

    Found the architecture of name/nickname/mascot really interesting, especially as a tribe fan. I do think it needs adjusted a bit and the Indians show why – Slider is our mascot (for better or worse). To my knowledge, we haven’t ever used a live Chief Wahoo and I have never heard fellow fans call him a mascot.

    IMO it would look like:
    Name: Cleveland Indians
    Nickname: Tribe
    Primary Logo: Chief Wahoo (former), C (current, blegh)
    Mascot: Slider

    What’s really interesting to me is parsing the different components of the Indians identity as we move forward. I don’t really know any fellow fans that consistently call the team “the Indians” – maybe it’s just my family/friends but we tend to use the phrase “tribe” way more often (“catch the tribe game last night?”, “go tribe”, “roll tribe”). As you pointed out, Wahoo was the really inflammatory part of the identity, with “Indians” being closer to dumb on the spectrum of offensive/dumb. I had been wondering if we would just change the name to the “Cleveland Tribe” as a result – cuts straight to a stronger name that would carry language fans already use and connotes some stronger elements (togetherness, community).

    At this point it sounds like anything Native-adjacent is out of the question, lest you want to do another remodel in a couple years though. A return to the Spiders would be visually interesting and unique (in the pros) but isn’t very catchy. Buckeyes would be great as a nod to the negro leagues but they can’t do that with the behemoth OSU brand identity. Honestly, I’ve loved the idea of just going with “Cleveland Baseball Club” and seeing if something organic forms in the years to come – would be a great nod to how team nicknames originally formed and you could still do cool things with the branding in the interim (likely play on Art Deco influences and the guardians statues).

    I agree that people would view “Tribe” as “Native American adjacent”, but the definition of Tribe is as follows:

    “a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.”

    Could they become the Cleveland Baseball Club with an informal nickname of “Tribe”?

    I think at this point nobody would go for that, even if I believe that it’s a good compromise.

    I would really prefer to NOT be the Spiders…even though the stadium could be referred to as “The Web”.

    I have nothing but respect for anyone who’s insulted by the team name the Cleveland Baseball Team currently has….I would prefer them to keep their name but I am willing to evolve with the times as well.

    I would just ask that let’s not be pick-and-choosy here ….If Redskins and Indians are out, then Chiefs, Warriors, Blackhawks, Braves, etc all should be out – even if some Native American groups are OK with certain names.

    I would just ask that let’s not be pick-and-choosy here ….If Redskins and Indians are out, then Chiefs, Warriors, Blackhawks, Braves, etc all should be out – even if some Native American groups are OK with certain names.

    Conversely, I think we should take each individually. This is essentially an intellectual property issue, so let’s have teams license their names and logos from the owners.

    That’s what Florida State did – they had to get the permission of the three recognized Seminole Nations, which they did. I understand that they also pay a fee, which to my mind should be a requirement.

    If you can’t secure a license from all interested parties, such as the University of North Dakota only getting permission from one of the two Sioux tribes, then it’s out.

    That’s a very fair point about the Seminoles giving FSU permission and that should be considered differently because it’s a SPECIFIC Native American group.

    However, I don’t think that should be applied to the general Native American named teams -Braves,Chiefs,Indians, Warriors, etc. because there’s never going to be one unifying body that can approve/deny those team names.

    I still stand on my previous opinion that we shouldn’t pick and choose among broadly named teams that call on Native American imagery. Indians and Redskins out….be consistent and end the others.

    I would be happy treating them all equally in the “license the IP or don’t use it” sense.

    In the case of Seminoles and the like, that’s a simple matter. For “Indians” or “Braves” or “Chiefs”… much tougher. And that’s okay.

    The Seminoles got the blessing of the Seminole tribes of Florida. Seminoles of Oklahoma (forced there in the Trail of Tears) did not approve. I don’t know why only in-state tribes matter. What if all North Dakota Sioux/Lakota approved but nearby SD Sioux opposed? Why does their opinion not matter? The OK Seminole are the same tribe, they were just forced from Florida. The Seminoles of Florida did not really have a choice. They depend upon the state legislature for so many business dealings and the legislature is full of FSU law school grads and government people who go to FSU games in the capital. Even slightly ticking them off could be a disaster. That is why it was shocking the ND Sioux/Lakota didn’t approve. So we have the name AND Chief Osceola on Renegade with a flaming spear and chants with arm motions (Atlanta team officials copied the chant/arm movement and called it the “Tomahawk chop” as a marketing ploy.) On the other side, Seminoles probably feel the FSU association engenders good feelings about the tribe from those officials and lawmakers. Even if the concept may be uncomfortable, using the name for an advantage makes their lives better. I am not opposed the FSU name but I don’t think it is simple a case of Native American imagery done right without problems.

    The Seminoles got the blessing of the Seminole tribes of Florida. Seminoles of Oklahoma (forced there in the Trail of Tears) did not approve.

    The Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma link, though. The name couldn’t have gone forward without their consent.

    (Atlanta team officials copied the chant/arm movement and called it the “Tomahawk chop” as a marketing ploy.)

    My recollection is that the chop came to Atlanta with FSU’s Deion Sanders, and was quickly adopted by the entire Braves fan base.

    The Seminole Nation in Oklahoma voted not to oppose the name. The governing body has also later passed a resolution that says “The Seminole Nation condemns the use of all American Indian sports team mascots in the public school system, by college and university level and by professional teams.” Like I said it is complicated. (That is probably why so many articles say stuff like “Some Oklahoma Seminoles oppose”, which is where I got confused). In the end the Seminole tribe of Florida gets something out of the name, and they would suffer harm if they opposed. That seems to be good enough for the Oklahoma Seminoles and it is good enough to keep the name. (I do wish the Chief Osceola “symbol” would give up the flaming spear).

    I think the issue with “Tribe” – either informally or as the official name – is that people wouldn’t adopt that more general definition. Indians fans are used to Wahoo and seeing Native imagery associated with the team, so “Tribe” would continue that connection.

    Seeing some of the reporting in the last couple days, I think the real public push will become removing Native American imagery/references from any team identity unless there is an explicit connection to an indigenous group being represented by the team (e.g. High Schools on a reservation, Iroquois Lacrosse). If the Redskins/Indians fall this quickly after decades of criticism, the other dominoes will likely follow.

    I understand that wouldn’t be “good enough” to a lot of people, but I am simply pointing out that removing any N.A. imagery associated with the team (at this point, there’s none for the Indians except their name)and going by “Tribe” is an equitable compromise in my opinion.

    People will always refer to the Cleveland Baseball Team as the Indians, just as people buy shirts that say “I still call it the Jake”. No matter what they change the name to, there will be plenty that will still wear their Indians shirts/jerseys/caps, etc.

    This could be the way to not alienate the fan base, and to remove any native connotation to the Native Americans who are offended by the name.

    (FULL DISCLOSURE..I am more than FINE with the team changing their name to just about anything. It’d be fun and neat to have a new name. I am merely playing the Devil’s Advocate role here for conversation)

    People will always refer to the Cleveland Baseball Team as the Indians…

    On what basis do you make that assertion, Rich?

    I never hear people referring to the Washington Wizards as the Bullets, or even to the Tampa Bay Rays as the Devil Rays. Do you?

    I understand that wouldn’t be “good enough” to a lot of people, but I am simply pointing out that removing any N.A. imagery associated with the team (at this point, there’s none for the Indians except their name)and going by “Tribe” is an equitable compromise in my opinion.

    It’s hard to make the argument that “Tribe” isn’t a N.A. reference, though. I know that it can mean any societal group, but that’s not how we really use it.

    And considering the team originally adopted it specifically because it was a N.A. reference, it would seem disingenuous to disclaim that today.

    I think the issue of whether racial epithets like “redskin” or caricatures like Chief Wahoo are appropriate names or symbols for sports franchises, is a separate question from whether American Indian motifs, names and imagery are appropriate for sports teams more generally. I don’t think the answer has to be the same for both questions.

    I personally don’t take issue with the word “Indian” since it literally means “native” (from the Latin indigen), and in my experience and observation American Indians prefer to be called American Indians (or North American Indians) versus “Native Americans,” although both are acceptable and, again, both mean the exact same thing. That said, it’s really not my place to take issue or not take issue with it, since I’m not an American Indian, and my not taking issue with it is not to say that it’s necessarily an appropriate name for a team.

    I agree that it’s really not the place of a bunch of white guys to decide what is and is not acceptable.

    Personally, I tend to defer to the National Congress of American Indians. And they have link.

    Indigenous (from indigen) and Indian are false cognates. Indian derives from the Indus River Valley in India/Pakistan. That name was then misapplied to the peoples of the Caribbean when Columbus and the Spanish arrived. Apologies for quoting wikipedia, but: Notably, the origins of the term “indigenous” are not related in any way to the origins of the term “Indian.” (from indigenous peoples article). I too have often heard that “American Indian” is preferred to “Native American” by Native American Indians so the origins of the word don’t matter much in that sense.

    I’ve read conflicting authorities on the etymology issue. I’ve also read, separately, that the word “indian” in this context is a derivation of the Spanish phrase “in dios;” the idea there is that Columbus, being Italian, couldn’t quite translate “God’s people” into Spanish.

    It should also be noted that adding the letter “n” to the end of a country’s name to denote inhabitants of that country is a convention of modern English, not 15th-century Spanish or Italian.

    The Athletic article about the Blackhawks is kind of required reading if you want to opine on the Blackhawks name. Shines a light on the fact that natives aren’t a monolith. One of the women quoted is against all native names regardless of context, which I assume would include FSU. Interestingly, while the local Seminole tribe in Florida has no issue with Seminoles, the Seminole Nation in Oklahoma, which is larger, has a blanket objection. So maybe FSU will wind up changing.

    The Seminole Nation originally granted their permission, though. If they hadn’t the NCAA wouldn’t have let Florida State keep the name.

    They should have established some sort of sundown or limited term before permission had to be re-negotiated. But it appears they didn’t.

    And yeah, of course there’s no such thing as a monolithic ethnic group. Especially one as diverse as our First Nations. Doesn’t mean that we can’t establish a consensus. In this case, I would suggest using the National Conference of American Indians, who link.

    “Nicknames” for college teams can sometimes be strange. Slippery Rock University has no “nickname”, but breaking it down like Paul did today it would look like:

    Name: Slippery Rock (nothing more)
    Nickname: The Rock

    On the rare TV broadcasts for any Division II sports, where the on-screen graphic would read, for example, in small-type Cal U and then large-type Vulcans, for SRU it would read Slippery Rock, The Rock. It always felt like a goofy relic, like the athletic program couldn’t be bothered to file the paperwork to make the team name official.

    As a lifelong Braves fan, I have made my preference to change the team name and move away from Native imagery known for years. I even took your advice, Paul, and emailed the team letting them know that they should do so. I did that last year. Unfortunately, I got a canned “We’ll forward your concerns to the appropriate parties” email back. On Friday when the Indians made their statement I kept refreshing the Braves social media pages hoping they would at least issue a statement, but nothing happened. I plan to send another email this afternoon, and I’m encouraging my like-minded friends who are also Braves fans to do the same. Maybe a little pressure prompt some actual change this time.

    I too have been periodically checking the Braves’ twitter page, wondering if they’ll issue a statement. It will apparently take some external pressure before they respond to current events.

    Just for what it’s worth. I crafted a follow-up email and sent it to the Braves this morning. This time I received a more detailed canned response. I’m not sure anyone is interested, but I’m pasting it below:

    Good morning Jake,

    Thanks for your follow up. It’s passionate fans like you that make our organization one of the luckiest in Major League Baseball. We sincerely appreciate your feedback and thoughts, and your e-mail and others like it are being shared within our office. We are unable to offer an “answer”at this time but do want you to know your voice is being heard.

    Atlanta Braves

    In the Grab Bag section of the Ticker, Jamie included the item that “A school in Princeton, B.C., is dropping its “Rebels” nickname”, despite Paul’s earlier comments indicating that it would be more appropriate to call it their name, not their nickname.

    Crap — I caught a couple of those while editing J’s Ticker this morning, but I guess I missed that one. Now fixed!

    I think I’d like to see Washington renamed the link, which would allow them to keep their entire current visual program (including, perhaps temporarily, the primary logo, and excepting the chest wordmark). I personally think that American Indian motifs and imagery are not necessarily inappropriate per se, and this move would at least eliminate what Paul called the “low-hanging fruit,” viz., the racial slur itself. They could easily bring back the “spear” helmet, modify the early-’70s “R” primary logo to go with the maroon helmets, or just go without helmet decals for a year.

    I also like the USFL connection, as the Orlando Renegades of 1985 originated in Washington as the Federals. Although the NFL may be reluctant to invoke the USFL it has been over 30 years, and it did name an expansion team the Panthers 25 years ago. This could be a viable short- or medium-term solution.

    I personally think that American Indian motifs and imagery are not necessarily inappropriate per se

    Seems to me that if they’re making the change, they should just go all the way. Especially when Cleveland is on the verge of doing so. Why continue to antagonize these people?

    Well, but the idea here is to retain as much as possible of the team’s current visual program, at least in the short term. I don’t think the proposal outlined above “continue[s] to antagonize” anyone, since the only objectively-offensive (and inappropriate) element is the name itself, and changing it constitutes a significant concession on the franchise’s part.

    the only objectively-offensive (and inappropriate) element is the name itself

    Not according to the National Congress of American Indians. And I am loath to tell them they’re wrong.

    The NCAI’s position does, and should, carry a great deal of weight. However, I’m not sure that their position is that all uses of American Indian names, designs, &c. in sports are necessarily “derogatory,” “racist,” “negative stereotypes,” or “harmful.” The piece linked above seems to articulate a position specifically against those names and images that are “derogatory,” &c., without (indeed, carefully avoiding) saying that they all are.

    At least, that’s how I read it.

    Pretty Clear that they view all names and mascots as derogatory.

    About “Indian” Sports Mascots & Harm

    Born in an era when racism and bigotry were accepted by the dominant culture, “Indian” sports brands have grown to become multi-million dollar franchises.

    The intolerance and harm promoted by these “Indian” sports mascots, logos, or symbols, have very real consequences for Native people.

    Specifically, rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.

    I strongly disagree; indeed, I don’t think that is in any way “clear.” The rest of the piece is very careful to qualify its statements, as noted above; indeed, even this quote stops short of suggesting that all uses of American Indian names and design motifs constitute or qualify as “caricatures” or “stereotypes.” It’s the caricatures and stereotypes that are “harmful,” not the use of American Indian motifs in and of itself.

    I love the idea of Renegades as well. Could retain the cursive R logo from the Gibbs era. Maybe put it within the circle logo rather than the Native American head.

    That’s the general idea. They could also use a variation of link as the primary, with the current helmet color scheme.

    There actually could be some good faith arguments about the Vikings moniker.

    The term “Viking Age” is used to describe the entirety of Scandinavian culture from the late 8th to the mid 11th Century which included everything from exploration and peaceful trade to nation building and the creation of recognizable crowns of Denmark and Norway.

    However, to “Go a-viking” was to conduct raids on non-Scandinavians, especially Slavs and Irish, which included murder and enslavement.

    I’m sure if you asked the monks at Lindisfarne Abbey what they though of the Norsemen who went a-viking on their monastery in 793, you wouldn’t get a positive response.

    Further, the use of the horned helmets reflects an a-historical 19th century romantic nationalism which has its own problematic legacy.

    There’s also interesting overlap with Indigenous Peoples since explorers from Greenland were the first Europeans to encounter Indigenous Americans and some of the encounters were violent.

    It’s not so far removed from other problematic names like the Crusaders given that the First Crusade was proclaimed in 1095 and the end of the Viking Age is generally marked by the defeat of Harald Hardrada at Stamford Bridge in 1066.

    However, there are far fewer ongoing connections to that period, unlike the continued depredations faced by Indigenous Peoples and Black Americans.

    That Ric Flair robe membership card is INSPIRED! I am kicking myself for not thinking of it. I’ve never ordered one specifically because I can’t land on one design I like more than another.

    Kudos to John for the idea and Scott M.X. Turner for making it look perfect.

    I had always been taught that the name/nickname/breakdown went more like this, using my Mets as the example:

    Team Name: New York Metropolitan Baseball Club
    Nickname(s): Metroplitans, Mets
    Mascot: Mr. Met

    I’m not sure if every team has a separate corporate or formal name like the Mets do though.

    I’m not sure if every team has a separate corporate or formal name like the Mets do though.

    Exactly. The Mets are an unusual case in that regard. For most teams, the formal corporate name is the team name.

    It may be unusual now, but a century ago, the club names were just “Pittsburgh Baseball Club” or what have you, and I think that shift in corporate names has been gradual.

    I’m still not sure exactly when teams officially adopted their don’t-call-them-nicknames. Before that, they were just used in newspapers, which is why Brooklyn could go by so many names.

    Oh, for sure, Jerry. I’m aware of that history but didn’t want to delve into it in this discussion. Hasn’t been that way in a long time. Team names are essentially formal corporate names at this point — or at least that’s my understanding.

    For the record, the Mets have never been formally named or nicknamed the “Metropolitans” (although some sportscasters and commentators have occasionally called them that on-air). In fact IIRC when the name was first announced the team President (or some other official) made the point that “Mets” was not short for anything; “It’s just ‘Mets'” or words to that effect.

    By comparison, the Knicks are in fact named, and “Knicks” is in fact short for, “Knickerbockers.”

    March 6 – The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club Inc., formally receives a certificate of membership from National League President Warren Giles. The Mets’ name was judged by club owner Joan Payson as the one that best met five basic criteria:
    It met public and press acceptance;
    It was closely related to the team’s corporate name (Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc);
    It was descriptive of the metropolitan area;
    It had a brevity that delighted copy readers everywhere;
    It had historical background referring to the Metropolitans of the 19th century American Association. Other names considered included Rebels, Skyliners, NYBs, Burros (for the five boroughs), Continentals, Avengers… as well as Jets and Islanders, names that would eventually find their way onto the New York sports scene.

    May 8, – New York’s National League club announces that the team nickname will be “Mets,” a natural shortening of the corporate name (“New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc.”)


    Right; just “Mets,” which is related to “the corporate name” NYMBC, Inc. (and the 19th-century club) but is not the “shortening of” a longer formal or official name “Metropolitans” — again, not like “Knicks” is a “shortening of” “Knickerbockers.”

    1961: At a ceremony at the Savoy Hilton‚ the New York expansion entry into the National League is officially named the “Mets” — not Metropolitans‚ the name of its big-league predecessor of the 1880s, just Mets.


    This link has “Short for Metropolitans” in the title but the article itself says the same thing: “Not Metropolitans, just Mets.”

    I still can’t find the name of the club official who, IIRC, was quoted as saying that or something like that at the time.

    As a Blackhawks fan, all I can say is I’ve personally become increasingly uncomfortable wearing clothing with their logo on it over the last decade. Just feels weird as a grown man wearing a cartoon “Indian Head” logo on my chest. Maybe it’s because I’m evolving with society, or maybe I’m maturing into my 30’s, but it seems like the right time. I imagine they’d just call themselves the Black Hawks and go with a similar style logo with the profile of a hawks’s face.

    To add to the financial considerations of changing the name… wouldn’t the Washington team sell a ton of new jerseys and t-shirts with a new design? That seems to be the case with any redesign regardless of the motivations behind it.

    Maybe, but a legacy brand has more value in the long term than the short-term boost in merchandise sales it would get from a name change. There’s a reason why the Yankees, Bears, Celtics and Red Wings don’t change their names every five or ten years.

    That ‘nickname’ thing has been a person pet peeve of mine.
    Back a century ago teams may have been officially “The (insert sport here) club of (insert city here)” and writers, fans, etc. came up with different nicknames on what to call the team on regular basis – something less wordy and officious sounding.

    These days I would think most would (should) consider a nickname some short hand slang. For example …
    team name: Montreal Canadiens
    nickname: Habs
    mascot: Youppi!

    While I’m on the pet peeves, I still hear in the media things like “Hockey is postponed and may return whatever date for playoffs, etc.”

    No, it’s not hockey it is the National Hockey League.
    hockey > NHL.
    The sport is much, much more than some professional league.
    Heard this same b.s. on a regular basis during professional sports lockouts/strikes

    end rant

    “ The NFL’s decision not to hold Super Bowl XXVII in Arizona helped spur the state to finally to finally establish a holiday for Martin Luther King”
    I had just moved to Arizona in 1990 when this happened, and what I remember was that this was expected to pass, but when Commissioner Paul Tagliabue warned that without a King holiday the Super Bowl would be in jeopardy, the voters voted against it in protest of an outsider giving them an ultimatum. So pressure from the outside actually hurt the cause this time. It also hurt that there were two ballot initiatives, and people were confused if they could vote in favor of both. Thankfully it passed during the next election.

    I’ll always remember John Stewart’s take on that particular news item: “But, you know, since it’s Arizona, it’s a DRY hatred.”

    I always viewed team nicknames as similar to a person’s given name, while the region(or city) is the surname. For example here in DC. Washington is the surname and Nationals, Capitals, Wizards, Mystics are the nicknames.

    Assuming that the Redskins’ name is cultural appropriation because the Hunts aren’t native Americans then also applies to the Vikings since the Wilfs are Polish Jews. Although I don’t agree in the cultural appropriation claim since Native American history is part of American history and to a European like myself it seems silly to say these Americans have their own culture that can’t be touched but these other Americans can (Celtics, Vikings, etc.).

    Sorry — “the Hunt family” is shorthand for the larger KC community, which is not Native. Sloppy usage on my part.

    The Vikings represent Minnesota’s Scandinavian-immigrant history. The current owners are the stewards of that legacy. The Chiefs represent … white people’s idea of turning Native people into mascots. The Hunts are the stewards of *that* legacy.

    I have never understood the general opposition to cultural appropriation. As a nation of immigrants cultural appropriation would seem to be a feature, not a bug.

    Depends, I think, on how the group being appropriated feels about it.

    In the case of First Nations, they aren’t “immigrants” in the sense that every other ethnic group is. And they’ve been on the receiving end of a very singular pattern of treatment from the others.

    The problem is that the SJW’s never stop. One has not been paying attention if they believe that this will stop with Native American imagery. Soon enough there will be call soon to change the names of the Patriots, Vikings, Yankees, Celtics, Cavaliers and Cavaliers because they promote white supremacy.

    It only took a couple of weeks to go from tearing down statues of Confederate traitors to abolitionists to Fredrick Douglas.

    Actually, there is zero evidence that most of the team names you mentioned will face any scrutiny. You are simply engaging in a paranoid fantasy by projecting certain actions onto people with whom you disagree.

    But: Even if those names do face scrutiny, so what? What would be so bad about having a public debate about the appropriateness of those names (or of anything else)? If those names are as good as you apparently think they are (and I think most of them are fine as well), then you should welcome that debate, because your point of view would carry the day.

    Things move fast. President Costanza gives a speech in front of Mount Rushmore and CNN reports it as a speech in front of two slave holders. You don’t need to be a weatherman to know where that wind is going.

    Debate is great and highly encouraged. Unfortunately, in a time when people lose their jobs because of a costume they wore two year years ago or an article they wrote over 30 years ago against women serving in combat there is no chance for a debate to occur.

    Debate requires understanding of nuance and context, things that are in short supply now.

    President Costanza gives a speech in front of Mount Rushmore and CNN reports it as a speech in front of two slave holders.

    And the problem with that is..? It’s an accurate statement. It doesn’t necessarily mean Mt. Rushmore should be torn down; it adds “nuance and context” (your terms) to what had previously been an exercise in mythmaking. And I say that as a longtime fan of Mt. Rushmore, which I’ve visited several times and hope to visit again at some point.

    I strongly disagree with your assertion that there is “no chance for a debate to occur.” I submit, respectfully, that you simply don’t like the way certain debates are turning out.

    100% agree with Paul here.

    Also things do not move fast. The work of changing societal attitudes towards the slave-holding of the founders and blackface is the result of years of discussion, debate, and self-examination.

    It’s been 6 years since Black Lives Matter became a movement and the national opinion has shifted in favor very gradually. Action has come comparatively swiftly from public officials this summer, but a lot of that is the direct result of the years of organizing, protesting, and agitating finally producing fruit.

    It’s not that there’s no opportunity for debate, the debate has been ongoing. Paul, et al. have been discussing the Washington Football Team name for the majority of the time this site has been in existence.

    I must have missed the CNN segment, article or chyron whose headline or lede was “President Gives Speech in Front of Two Slaveholders.” Can you provide a link to the CNN piece with that headline/lede?

    That’s not a headline or lede from CNN. That’s a thing that one CNN correspondent said one time. So, this:

    CNN reports it as a speech in front of two slave holders.

    is false, or at least misleading.

    Thank you for clearing that up.

    To clarify: …something one CNN correspondent said one time, at the end of a segment, summarizing the views of interviewees as expressed in recorded videos that had just been shown.

    Soon enough there will be call soon to change the names of the Patriots, Vikings, Yankees, Celtics, Cavaliers and Cavaliers [sic] because they promote white supremacy.

    I will bet you a $1,000 donation to the charity of your choice that none of that will happen in the next five years, beyond anecdotal comments from random people on the Internet or Twitter (i.e., let’s define a “call” as an organized movement of more than 100 people at a time, taking steps beyond merely saying that they want this or think it should happen).

    The answer to the question “What’s next?” is always the same: What’s next is whatever’s next. If we end slavery, what’s next? If we allow non-white men to vote, what’s next? If we allow women to vote, what’s next? If we allow mixed-race couples to marry, what’s next? It’s called progress. The real question is, what’s wrong with progress? Why shouldn’t we examine the traditions, symbols, stories and myths that we’ve always taken for granted? And why should we perpetuate symbols of oppression and injustice, just because we have tolerated them up to now?

    Do you honestly think that reexamining and retiring the symbols of oppression and injustice, past or present, is more painful to those who wish to perpetuate them than perpetuating them is to the actual victims of oppression and injustice?

    “Do you honestly think that reexamining and retiring the symbols of oppression and injustice, past or present, is more painful to those who wish to perpetuate them than perpetuating them is to the actual victims of oppression and injustice?”

    It all gets down to what constitutes a symbol of oppression and injustice. Given the effects in Rochester last night there are people in Rochester who think a statue honoring Fredrick Douglas is a symbol of oppression and injustice.

    I get why the Redskins name, the logo, and Chief Wahoo are offensive. What I don’t get is why names like Braves or Chiefs are problematic. If that is the case logic would dictate that you object to names like “ Fighting Irish”, “Celtics”, “Dutchman”, “Warriors”, “Tar Heels”.

    Given the effects in Rochester last night there are people in Rochester who think a statue honoring Fredrick Douglas is a symbol of oppression and injustice.

    You can’t really believe that either. And you didn’t answer my question, which along with this ^^ speaks louder than any answer you could have given.

    And no, there is no “logic” that would “dictate” anything in the scenario you’ve labored to describe. Inter alia, if you don’t understand the difference between appropriating another culture or ancestry vs. invoking one’s own, it’s either because you don’t wish to understand the difference, or the difference is not what you think it is. In short, there is nothing inconsistent or hypocritical about having different opinions about different things.

    I get why the Redskins name, the logo, and Chief Wahoo are offensive. What I don’t get is why names like Braves or Chiefs are problematic.

    I understand that position. To me as a white guy, those names seem fine.

    But as a white guy, I understand that I don’t get to make that call. And since the native community is as varied and diverse as any other good-sized group of people, they aren’t monolithic in their response. That’s why I tend to fall back on the National Congress of American Indians, which was founded to represent the diverse community in situations just like this one.

    “Do you honestly think that reexamining and retiring the symbols of oppression and injustice, past or present, is more painful to those who wish to perpetuate them than perpetuating them is to the actual victims of oppression and injustice?”

    “And no, there is no “logic” that would “dictate” anything in the scenario you’ve labored to describe. Inter alia, if you don’t understand the difference between appropriating another culture or ancestry vs. invoking one’s own, it’s either because you don’t wish to understand the difference, or the difference is not what you think it is. In short, there is nothing inconsistent or hypocritical about having different opinions about different things”

    In regard to your question: The names Braves, Chiefs, or Indians are not symbol so of injustice. It would be interesting to know if Native Americans really care about this issue.

    Regarding your second point. As an American my culture is pretty expansive. It includes Duke Ellington and Hank Williams. It includes pizza, tacos and Yorkshire pudding. It includes the imperfect implementation of the philosophy of the founders and the hope for a more prefect future. It includes Ralph Ellison and Margaret Mitchell. And yes, it includes Cowboys and Indians.

    The idea that an American’s culture can only be defined by their family tree is prettying much a Fascist concept.

    As Frank Sinatra wrote to George Michael (hopefully one of Irish heritage is not committing cultural appropriation by quoting one of Italian heritage) – “Come on George. Loosen up.”

    Now I am going to get back to my Kung Pao taco.

    Again, you’ve thoroughly avoided answering my question, and nothing here comes anywhere close to my “second point.”

    This is the old “when will it stop?” argument. The original poster was probably one of those people against gay marriage because it was going to cause people to marry farm animals.

    A rudimentary understanding of domestic-relations laws since ~1970 invalidates most of the slippery-slope arguments against marriage equality; most notably, the consent requirement.

    Don’t invoke God’s name when you argue against the dignity of all persons.

    This is a perfect opportunity for the Cleveland baseball club to re-brand as the Blue Collars. Would symbolize the city’s gritty, grind-it-out work ethic.

    I know you’re just trolling, but I’ll take this opportunity to express my overall first choice for a “new” name: Cincinnati has the Reds… Ohio’s other team should be the Blues. Especially since there is historical precedence.

    The most likely option I’ve seen so far (imho) is the Guardians from the Guardians of Traffic statues. The word even ends with “dians”… One of my best friends is a die-hard Tribe fan, so i’m interested in this… actually spent several hours researching Cleveland history and area wildlife species, but everything i came up with sounded too much like minor league or college names.

    Blues isn’t original or unique. St.Louis’ NHL team already is named that, and the Columbus NHL team is the Blue Jackets.

    If the Tribe has a name-the-team contest though, i may submit a few.

    Although I am against a name change, I agree that Blues would be a good choice as it could reflect on the Rock Hall Of Fame ,(not Rockers, too campy!) it was a name from the teams past, and I like the Ohio Blues/Reds thing!

    Publicly owned corporations (like FedEx and Nike) and teams that play in publicly financed stadiums (or have anti-trust exemptions) should always be interested in what people and society in general think of their image.

    It’s odd that it took so long, but this is the kind of issue they should be responsive to at all times. Very few sports and corporate entities are truly private corporations. (Although I guess the Redskins are more private than most because they own their stadium… so that’s why it took corporate pressure to get them to change.)

    I think maybe a year or two ago you had a nice alternative for the Braves. Dropping the “s” and being the Atlanta Brave or adding a “T” and being the Bravest. Both simple routes to take, remove the tomahawk from the jersey, and they’re good to go.

    Sorry, there was no “reply” tab on your comment so I am copy/pasting it here:

    People will always refer to the Cleveland Baseball Team as the Indians…
    On what basis do you make that assertion, Rich?
    I never hear people referring to the Washington Wizards as the Bullets, or even to the Tampa Bay Rays as the Devil Rays. Do you?

    I am guilty of speaking for a larger group than I probably should. But I am in my late 30’s and most of my friends that are die-hard Cleveland Baseball fans have by and large stated that they will refer to the team as the Tribe or Indians no matter what they change the name to.

    I have been listening to a lot of local talk radio in Cleveland since Friday and the majority of callers are saying the same thing…they will always be the Indians to them.

    I think the difference between the Indians vs. the Bullets or Devil Rays is the generational aspect of their names. The Bullets were the Bullets for ~35 years and now have been changed for 2/3rds of that time to the Wizards. The Devil Rays were the Devil Rays for approx 10 years?

    The Indians have been the Indians for 105 years already. People have grand and great grand parents who have been rooting for that name so I think the stance will take longer to soften than people who are fans of the Bullets or Devil Rays.

    I am not trying to say this will “always” be the case and that time won’t put space between “Indians” and “New Team Name”….but I do think that this def is similar to the T Shirts you sell that are “I am still calling it the (blank)”.

    Just to clarify: You can always keep a given thread going by scrolling up and clicking on the last available “Reply” button. It won’t nest/indent, but it will remain in the same thread.

    Thanks for clarifying your point. I agree that some people will keep using the old name (not just for the Indians but also for the Redskins), at least for a while. But I also think new names tend to take hold, in part due to their repetition in media coverage and also as younger fans grow up with the new moniker.

    You are correct that repetition in media coverage will lead to people gradually getting used to/accepting the new name. I used to be an ardent “arguer” about Chief Wahoo and the Indians team name because I think by and large I felt mad/resentful that I was “a bad person” for loving the team name and logo that I grew up with. I always viewed them with such love and pride because they were MY TEAM.

    I think that is the issue internally I had. I will still be sad that a chapter of my life will change, but if it makes people who were unhappy happy that the name is gone well I can’t argue that. I just hope that the new team name would be in place by the time my son (almost 6) really gets into sports and the new team name will be “All he’s ever known” so he won’t have to have any issues down the road of being conflicted over a team name he loves.

    You certainly have crystallized my attitude toward wanting to keep the old names out of rebel pride; I want to shield MY TEAM from interlopers who didn’t love them the way I did. The first instinct is to presume the agents of change are attackers who don’t have my best interests at heart.

    Rich, I think you crystalize something that I have noticed. We often dig our heels in about something in order to not do what no one is asking us to do. Specifically, no one is asking that you feel bad, or feel you are a bad person, for rooting for the indians or liking the wahoo caricature. What is being asked is that we evaluate the depiction / name itself and how it represents another culture. I would always argue against the idea of white privilege by saying that I shouldn’t have to feel bad about being white. No one was asking me to feel bad, just acknowledge someone else and how their experience and standing is different than my own. Changing from Chief Wahoo, the Indians and Redskins names, and other offensive imagery, is an opportunity for us all to grow. No shame in that.

    Does it end with just a name change?
    Or should the entire history of the Redskins now vanish.
    Should all photos, videos, Super Bowl highlights of the Redskins disappear?
    Will all the great Redskin players, games, and highlights banished forever?

    Something to think about.

    Actually, I’m not aware of anyone who has suggested doing that.

    Why would you paint such alarmist fantasy that has no basis in what’s been taking place in real life?

    Something to think about.

    I don’t consider that question to be alarmist.
    I consider it to be more a realist point of view especially with everything that is taking place in America today.
    Statues being torn down, movies banned, etc.
    Once you deem something as racist and offensive to a group of people, how far do you go to remove it from society?
    For example,
    Is ESPN going to want to show Redskin highlights going forward worried about any backlash? Will sponsors be reluctant to have their commercial aired on a Super Bowl 7 replay or highlight show.
    Only time will tell.
    So it may just be a subtle disappearance.

    consider it to be more a realist point of view especially with everything that is taking place in America today.
    Statues being torn down, movies banned, etc.

    But not a single person who was represented by a statue has been erased from the history books. The Civil War has not been erased from the history books. Gone With the Wind has not been erased from the history books (and was not “banned,” incidentally).

    So the real-world examples you cite bear no resemblance to the alarmist fantasy you’re spinning.

    Taking down the statues is a direct result of MORE history not less.

    It’s because we know that Nathan Forest had black soldiers murdered after they surrendered at Ft. Pillow that there’s a push for statues honoring him to come down.

    It’s because we know R.E. Lee held slaves and refused to treat black soldiers as combatants (which led to the end of prisoner swaps resulting in tens of thousands of Union AND Confederate POWs dying in squalid camps like Andersonville and Chicago) that his statue needs to come down.

    It’s because historians have done a great job spreading the actual secession decrees of the Confederacy that we know they fought explicitly to preserve white supremacy and slavery.

    This is the direct result of more people knowing history.

    I would add, as a corollary to Tom J’s comment, that it’s leaving these things in place that “erases” history, by lulling people into believing that there’s nothing to learn.

    It ends wherever it ends. Which is to say, it ends wherever enough people decide it should end, until enough people decide it should end somewhere else.

    Since there’s absolutely no precedent whatsoever for “the entire history” of any franchise, or of “all photos, videos, [championship] highlights [if any] of” any franchise, “vanish[ing]” or “disappear[ing]” or of anyone “banish[ing]” “all” of a franchise’s “great … players games, and highlights” from any place or forum, as a result of that franchise changing its name (or moving to a new city, or merging with another franchise, or another league, or the franchise or its league folding, or…), let alone any conceptual framework for how any of that could be accomplished as a practical matter, in the “information age” or any other time in history, one wonders why anyone would even consider this an even remotely realistic possibility.

    Is this based off of how many statues are now being toppled? I don’t think that people would be against the “Records” of the Washington team but I could see how many today feel like history is being “Erased” and extrapolate it here. I don’t agree with it, but I guess if that was your angle, I can see how someone could think along those lines.

    I’m with Wade Heidt. I really like the Red Tails as the new moniker. It seems to hit a lot of the right notes in 2020.

    I mean, it still bugs the hell out of me that we have five MLB teams named after old minor league clubs, but not a single one referencing the Negro Leagues. What a missed opportunity.

    If the NFL can step up to celebrate an African-American contribution to our collective national history, I’d be all for it.

    I grew up in the Midwest believing, as did the adult men in my family, that the Kansas City Royals were named in honor of the Negro Leagues’ KC Monarchs. That supposed connection is literally why I learned about the Negro Leagues as a child. Now, I know that tale of the Royals’ name was not correct, but I also know that the misperception is fairly common. So why on earth haven’t the Royals just done a little PR retcon job and declared that the team name honors both the city’s cattle industry and its great Negro Leagues heritage?

    I am a little concerned about naming the team Redtails. This is an esteemed part of African American history. It seems like it could be a case profiting from something that isn’t yours. They would be wrapping themselves up in African American glory. It smells of stolen Valor. Would it be okay to name a team Green Berets, or Purple Hearts? What about naming them Windtalkers to use an American Indian military story. These names mean something important to their communities and I don’t know that the Washington Football Franchise has really earned their usage (the players may be majority black but the ownership isn’t). Especially since the names will be trademarked and merchandised like crazy. I don’t know the answer to these questions but, naming the team Redtails isn’t the slam dunk sign of respect some people seem to think it is.

    I was wondering about exactly this. I have seen a number of people enthusiastically embracing the Redtails as an alternative, but I wonder if that doesn’t just trade one troublesome misappropriation of a minority group for another.

    Then do what every native-themed team should do – contact the Tuskegee Airmen still living, get their permission, and write a check every year to the African-American charity of those men’s choice.

    I know it’s going to get lost in the shuffle today with the Washington/Cleveland stuff going on, but that Jack Youngblood interview was fantastic, and I’m not even a football fan. Definitely a guy who Gets It.

    Good stuff as expected today.

    The delicious potato dumpling is spelled incorrectly in last sentence of today’s post.

    Big thanks to you, Paul, for always providing a thoughtful and nuanced take on current events in the Uni-verse, especially when they overlap with what’s happening in other, dare I say, “more important” areas. I might not always agree (although we’re probably in sync about 95% of the time), but I always respect the intelligent way in which you approach these sometimes divisive topics.

    And, speaking of intelligence, did anyone else notice the way the respondents most resistant to scrapping racist team names seem to have a also have a problem with the written form of what I assume is their native language? As in: “everyone has ‘there’ panties in a wad” and “a bunch of hypocrites trying to pretend ‘their’ not part of the problem…’your’ just a foreign occupier of stolen lands.” Coincidence?

    Thanks, Joe. But let’s please not ridicule people for typos and such. Between autofill, dyslexia, and so on, typos are gonna happen! (I certainly make enough of them myself.)

    I’m glad you said that, Paul. Typos and such are much easier to make when one feels threatened, isolated, etc. As much as I disagree with those who oppose the changes, and as much as their rhetoric sticks in my craw, I have to remind myself to be empathetic. This sea change is a hurricane, and there are a lot of people who feel up against the ropes right now. Agree with them or not… that’s a lousy feeling.

    Thanks, Paul, I didn’t even consider that (and yes, I make typos as well)! And StLMarty, right on, we should all be more empathetic.

    I agree with the idea that The Dan has had contingency plans in place for a while, like newspapers having obituaries already written for famous/important people ready to go with their passing.

    I don’t see the legal issue if they choose Warriors vis a vis Golden State. Plenty of name duplication across US sports.

    Paul, a few days ago you published a uniform idea for the Oklahoma City Thunder with a thunderbird motif. It wasn’t clear whether the designers were themselves American Indians.

    But the thing I would most like to see is more attention paid to Indians and Indian reservations. Further peripheralization of their culture would be the worst of all possible outcomes.

    “Rivera told the Post it is important that a new nickname respects Native American culture and traditions, while also saluting the military.” This is weird since the discussion is about not using Native American names at all. Do you similarly respect the military by not mentioning them? Warriors would be a terrible choice since it would be playing off of the previous name and accentuate warlike violent stereotypes(even if it wasn’t explicit).

    Pads, Friars… Wasn’t totally serious but every team has to have nickname of some sort

    I guess. All nicknames are unofficial by definition, but I feel like some are more informal while others are more entrenched to the point of being quasi-official. Definitely a subjective/shifting line, though.

    I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure pumas aren’t solid-black.

    Washington Wizards Jerseys: “Say Their Names”

    Washington Redskins: “We’re not allowed.”

    Yes, I’d agree, comparing the name of a pro sports team to human beings murdered by the police is a perfectly reasonable comparison that really bolsters your case.

    Am I the only one who’s initial reaction was to wonder why the hell Ron Rivera has any involvement at all in selecting the new team name? In an age where team images are carefully curated by the leagues, team marketing departments, branding agencies, uniform manufacturers, etc.. it is somewhat preposterous to think that the Washington team’s coach and owner are sitting in a room together spit-balling new team names. My guess is that Riverboat Ron is overstating his involvement in this process and agree with the many people that have suggested that the team and league have been making contingency plans for the team name for years.

    I wondered the same thing — especially for a team whose owner tends to hire and fire coaches at a breakneck pace! Based on Snyder’s coaching carousel history, Rivera could have a say in the team’s new name today and be unemployed tomorrow!!

    It all feels more like college football, where the coaches tend to have more of a hand in the branding. If what Rivera’s been saying is true, it’s very odd to see it happening this way for an NFL team.

    Paul, from articles in the Washington Post, Snyder has been out of the country and with the firing of Bruce Allen, he has named Rivera as the “voice of the franchise.” I believe he was even responsible for helping draft their Black Lives Matter response. A lot of responsibility for any coach let alone one who has yet to coach a game for his employer.

    Perfect name one of the teams:


    So much great marketing can be done with it.
    It doesn’t offend anyone (yet). It can represent a large swarth of the city / area. I will take my check / season tickets now, than you

    A local high school in my hometown went from the Chieftans to the Pride in the early 2000s

    — Calling people “SJWs” unironically
    — Citing a “what about the Celtics” slippery slope argument
    — “This name has been so offensive for so long, so why stop now” argument
    — “First my favorite sports team, where does it end” argument.

    The half-baked, non-nuanced arguments are getting too predictable now lol (Although the “will Washington football history now disappear” question is a new one).

    On the plus side, nobody has (so far) said, “We need to keep these team names or else people will completely forget about Native American people!” — an an old favorite that has, perhaps, finally been retired.

    The predictability is one thing that makes them easy to refute. The intellectual dishonesty is another.

    Personally, I dig the “Redtails” as the new Washington nickname. However, the former marketing major in me really sees “Warriors” as the obvious choice. I could see Snyder holding a press conference and announcing “Warriors” as the new moniker and, for this season only, the helmet logo would be replaced with a different veterans charity each week or two and a portion of the proceeds from merchandise sales for the 2020 season would go to various veterans charities. Then, starting in 2021, a redesigned helmet logo would be used. The rest of the uniform would remain the same, minus the jersey wordmark. A little cynical, maybe, but seems like an easy out for Snyder and the NFL from a marketing standpoint.

    “Warriors” has a nice alliterative quality (W.W.), so if they want to replace the Indian head in the primary logo with a “W” that would work nicely. The only problem, really, is that there’s already an NBA team called the Warriors, and I’m not sure the NFL will want to deal with that potential issue.

    I personally prefer “Renegades” because it allows them to keep their entire visual program (except the chest wordmark) and gives them the option to use any of their throwback helmets and logos as well. It also has an indirect connection to D.C. as the USFL’s Orlando Renegades (whose logo was a tomahawk with feathers) originated in Washington (as the Federals).

    Spencer Dinwiddie said weeks ago that he would wear “Trillion” for his NOB but I don’t see that on the 29 names approved by the NBA.

    Does the NBA just not like Dinwiddie?

    Dinwiddie says he wants to sell shares of his contract to the public and the NBA said no.

    Dinwiddie changes his number from #8 to honor Kobe and then in the same season Tyler Johnson decides to wear #8 when he could have easily just picked #24 if he wanted to wear a number to honor Kobe.

    And now apparently the NBA won’t let Dinwiddie wear “Trillion”

    Great stuff today, Paul! I love your summary of the issues and the clarity with which you state your position on these complex issues. I’m curious to see where this all leads with not only the teams you mentioned today, but all teams that use indigenous American imagery and names. My suspicion is that the landscape will look quite different a year from now.

    You mentioned that most teams named after non-Native American or Confederacy-inspired humans don’t generate many protests, and I think that’s generally true. Of the examples you mentioned, I’m unaware of any genuine protests. A commenter above mentioned a PETA protest against the Packers, but that seems more like a publicity stunt than a genuine movement to change the team name.

    Two examples that didn’t make your list but that I am aware of involve teams with names that connote America’s Westward Expansion history: The San Francisco 49ers and the University of Denver Pioneers. Earlier this year during the lead-up to the Super Bowl, the Chiefs were subjected to some public scrutiny for their team name and the behavior of some of their fans. But a few writers also critiqued the appropriateness of the 49ers name because of the way that the California Gold Rush led to the displacement, marginalizing, and brutalization of many people groups, including Native Americans and local Hispanic populations. Here are some articles I remember seeing during that time:




    I’m not sure I fully agree with the claims or conclusions in these articles, but I found them eye-opening nonetheless. I’d been unfamiliar with any criticism of the 49ers’ name before this year.

    The Denver Pioneers’ name has had its detractors for a number of years now, including from within the student population. The gist is that the mascot, when meant to symbolize the historical pioneers of European descent crossing the American frontier in search of land to settle, were part of a system that displaced and led to the deaths of countless other people already living in these lands (again mainly Native American and Hispanic peoples). DU’s cartoon mascot, known as “Denver Boone,” also wound up being retired because it was deemed to represent the ethnic and gender diversity of the university community. Here are a couple of articles I’ve seen on these issues in Denver:



    As a white Welshman, it’s not really my place to opine on whether a team should change it’s name.

    As a writer and someone who thinks I Get It ™ I just hope the new names are *not* alliterative.

    As a white Welshman, I don’t have much useful to add on whether a team shoul change its name, drop Native American imagery, and which should, which shouldn’t.

    As a writer and someone who thinks I Get It ™ I just hope the new names are *not* alliterative.

    I don’t understand the argument that the NFL would not want to clash with “Warriors” when there are other teams across the sports landscape that share names, including *gasp* some NFL teams like the Jets, Giants, Cardinals, and Panthers. The Kings name also stands out and I may have forgotten others. This isn’t to say I think it is a good choice for Washington, just that I don’t believe there is as big a conflict in the name that some people believe. I think they should run from anything that could even possibly be related back to native imagery.

    Somewhat related, I went to Catholic schools until college and my grade school teams were the Warriors with a spear logo and layered feathers (think something like California Angels mid-late 90s jerseys) because St. Michael is known as the chosen one who lead the angels of heaven in battle against the fallen angels, thus Warriors. The logos were based off of a statue in the church of victorious Michael with a spear to satan and wings fully spread.

    I mean I think there’s a strong case to be made that the examples that do exist only don’t pose significant problems today because they’ve been around for a long time at this point. But when you’re trying to establish a strong brand name from scratch, voluntarily choosing one that is similar in an extremely substantial way to one already used by one of American sports’ most high-profile teams seems like a needless shot in the foot, unless there is something about the name that is just so perfect that nothing else will do. I don’t see why Warriors would be that for Washington.

    We need to have a Cleveland Spiders concepts contest on here pronto. And if it was up to me we would give bonuses to those who can manage to make a good design that also gets Cleveland out of the tired navy blue-and-red MLB basic realm. Two birds one stone!

    Different subject:
    Where do you get the uniform drawings that are like the ones they post on “Dressed to the Nines”? Unfortunately since 1995, they don’t post the alternates, and when looking at this years MLB changes you had alternates for Rangers, D-Backs, etc.Love the site!

    It’s sad that it took money to motivate Snyder to change the name, however, it’s a means to a much needed end.

    Kudos to Paul (and other who have contributed) for the ongoing coverage of this issue. Uniwatch was on top of this story long before the recent (much needed) uprising surrounding inequality and racism.

    I hate that it’s taken years and money to finally move in the right direction for the Washington organization, but happy that it’s changing.

    At the heart of this debate is the misappropriation of Indian symbols and culture, emblematic of a larger abuse of Indians by European invaders. Would you contemplate a scenario where Native American art is solicited and used fairly? For instance, subcontracting graphic artists of Indian lineage to work with NFL Designs, MLB Properties, et al? Though I don’t expect them to jump for joy just because Washington and Cleveland change their names, I do anticipate Indian participation because, well, indigenous art is beautiful and mythical. I saw elsewhere the Seattle Seahawks insignia is considered ill-gotten; was it not rendered by Haida artists? That would be a pity, because the Pacific Northwest has such a rich legacy of native iconography, an Indian artist probably would have done a better job.

    I was disappointed to see “Knicks” listed among the non-offensive team names. “Knickerbocker” refers to the Dutch people of the New Amsterdam colony. They displaced the First Nations people of Manhattan and maintained slave markets. Those Dutch colonists shouldn’t be celebrated.
    And at a time when we are finally re-examining our history, the City of New York should change its name too, seeing as how it’s named for England’s James II. He was a major player in the slave trade through his Royal African Company. No name lasts forever, and whatever honor the English colonists gave the Duke of York shouldn’t echo through eternity just because of inertia and an unwillingness to study history.

    Nothing is really fair until we return the country to the indigenous people. I doubt this can or will happen, so we need to somehow agree on how to move forward.

    As for the Knicks, they have been offensive for many years. In all seriousness though, If a groundswell of protest seized on your point and argued it with facts, the name Knickerbockers might not survive.

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