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?