There is another mania overtaking the US, this in relation to the supposed racist or wrong-think names that have been applied to some of the sporting teams, some of whose names go back for generations. You may know, for example, that the Washington Redskins are in the process of changing its name because the name “Redskins” is for some reason not nice. Since the names represent some kind of totem portraying positive qualities – mostly manly qualities which is perhaps part of the problem – you would hardly think these are intended as insults. But before I get into that, I wish to raise something about that has happened here in Australia which is an Americanisation I wish we could reverse.
My football team in Canada is the Toronto Argonauts. Every North American team is comprised of the name of a city (or a location as with the Texas Rangers) along with a team name. It is perfectly normal to say both together when referring to a team, or separately, as in Toronto which everyone will understand who you mean if you are discussing a particular sport, or the Argonauts on its own. Or you can say The Toronto Argonauts which is a bit longwinded but formally OK and euphonic. But when I came to Australia, a team was referred to either by its civic location – Collingwood, Carlton – OR by its name – The Magpies, The Blues. One never said both at the same time. One never said Carlton Blues. To me it still sounds foreign. They were Hawthorn or The Hawks, Geelong or The Cats, but never both together.
Now for some reason, we have Americanised the names of our sports teams, specially in sports reporting. I wish we would stop and go back to the Australian way.
As for the latest stupidity in the US, almost entirely from amongst people who are the least likely to be interested in professional sport, the desire to rob teams of their ancient names has arisen as some sort of sop to political correctness. This was a letter to the Sports Editor at the Chicago Tribune in which this mania is discussed.
Dear Mr. Page:
I agree with our Native American population. I am highly jilted by the racially charged name of the Washington Redskins. One might argue that to name a professional football team after Native Americans would exalt them as fine warriors, but nay, nay. We must be careful not to offend, and in the spirit of political correctness and courtesy, we must move forward.
Let’s ditch the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians. If your shorts are in a wad because of the reference the name Redskins makes to skin color, then we need to get rid of the Cleveland Browns.
The Carolina Panthers obviously were named to keep the memory of militant Blacks from the 60’s alive. Gone. It’s offensive to us white folk.
The New York Yankees offend the Southern population. Do you see a team named for the Confederacy? No! There is no room for any reference to that tragic war that cost this country so many young men’s lives. I am also offended by the blatant references to the Catholic religion among our sports team names. Totally inappropriate to have the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Angels or the San Diego Padres.
Then there are the team names that glorify criminals who raped and pillaged. We are talking about the horrible Oakland Raiders, the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Pirates!
Now, let us address those teams that clearly send the wrong message to our children. The San Diego Chargers promote irresponsible fighting or even spending habits. Wrong message to our children.
The New York Giants and the San Francisco Giants promote obesity, a growing childhood epidemic. Wrong message to our children. The Cincinnati Reds promote downers/barbiturates. Wrong message to our children.
The Milwaukee Brewers. Well that goes without saying. Wrong message to our children.
So, there you go. We need to support any legislation that comes out to rectify this travesty, because the government will likely become involved with this issue, as they should. Just the kind of thing the do-nothing Congress loves.
As a die-hard Oregon State fan, my wife and I, with all of this in mind, suggest it might also make some sense to change the name of the Oregon State women’s athletic teams to something other than “the Beavers” (especially when they play Southern California. Do we really want the Trojans sticking it to the Beavers???
I always love your articles and I generally agree with them. As for the Redskins name I would suggest they change the name to the “Foreskins” to better represent their community, paying tribute to the dick heads in Washington DC.
As in, foreskins and seven years ago.