Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Ban on Native American References in Sports

In May 2012, the Oregon State Board of Education implemented legislation which required schools to eliminate the use of Native American names as well as references to tribal customs or traditions.  Political correctness appears to be the underlying rationale for the new legislation. The use of Native American names and mascots were often racist and created negative stereotypes which were directed towards Native American students. Examples of negative team mascots included: Redskins – referred to skin color and also signified the blood on the body after a battle; Savages – referred to the violent nature and lack of sophistication. However, many Native Americans were proud of the names and viewed the mascots as a way to honor their history. 
The Financial Fall-Out.  The new legislation will cost Oregon taxpayers thousands of dollars as districts are required to erase all references to Native American names from buildings and athletic programs. As it relates to athletics, think about the cost factor as programs must purchase new uniforms, replace logos and signage, modify court and field surfaces, and warehouse old trophies, newspaper clippings, and honor walls.  It should be noted that the legislature only provided five years for these changes to be made; schools must remove all reference to Native Americans by July 2017.
The Forgotten Groups. If it is offensive to Native Americans to use their nicknames and mascots, do the Greeks and Romans have the same argument in the usage of their heritage as a name logo? Why is there NO controversy surrounding the Trojans of the University of Southern California (USC) or the Michigan State University Spartans?  What about Notre Dame’s use of the Fighting Irish mascot?  Are those of Irish decent not offended by the notion that all Irishmen are violent and looking for a brawl?
You Make the Call.  As a relatively young nation, the United States has very little history compared to other nations.  Should we celebrate the original inhabitants of this nation? Are Native Americans owed a sense of gratitude and recognition for their role in American history?  Eliminating all reference to Native Americans seems irresponsible and revisionist. Has political correctness gone too far?


  1. I think that it is a great honor to Native Americans for Sports teams to use Native American names. This is just one more example of why America is now a bunch of babies.

  2. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that they are wanting to ban the use of Native-American nicknames for teams. Its just a mascot! Nobody is going out there and making racial slurs about Native Americans to these teams. Like you said, why don't people make more noise about the Trojans, the Spartans, or the Fighting Irish?? It blows my mind how people try and change the way things are when they are perfectly fine as is.

  3. I personally do not think that there is anything wrong with these mascots. The students and athletes that represent these schools are proud of their mascots! People of these cultures should be proud that they are represented by schools and that cultures are admired by many. A mascot is something that is viewed a symbol of strength and leadership, not something that is being belittled.

  4. I actually have quite a bit of Native American decent in my family and I am opposed to schools having to change their Native American mascot names. However if it offends a great deal of other Native Americans than it should be taken down. I do not believe the original intent was to make fun of this heritage but if it is causing an uproar then maybe it should just be changed. I think the mascot names are a part of history and taking them away would be like erasing a part of history. I like how you tied this in with the Greeks and Romans and how their is not an uproar with this group of people when it comes to mascot names. I find this very interesting.

  5. Great topic! I wonder why there is not an uproar over the nickname "Sooners" (Oklahoma University)? The nickname is thought to reference the white settlers who came to the state in the late 19th century and took over land belonging to the Indians. Does this name enrage the 21st century Indian tribes that currently live on reservations in Oklahoma or attend OU?