The First Nations Fiasco: Sports
First nations logos, mascots, and even names have a symbolic background with their history; however, should sports teams be allowed to use them? This has been a debate of controversy for decades and there isn’t much of a reason for them not to use it. There are many reasons why they can, whether it is racial appropriateness, lack of knowledge, or even the fans in general. It’s not always a negative thing when First Nations logos and mascots are used. Sports team should be allowed to use those First Nation Icons.
In most cases, the names for sports teams were created in honor of First Nations and their people. For example, The Chicago Blackhawks, where “Blackhawk” was the name of an influential Native Chieftain in the area, who recently passed away. Many assume at first that these names were a second thought or that it was making fun of them, and yes, that could be assumed when there are teams like the Cleveland Indians who have a controversial logo, a stereotyped misrepresentation of who they are. All these teams have names that could be called offensive, all with stereotypes such as Indians, Redskins, or Eskimos, ironically however, most First Nations are surprisingly not offended, with a research survey estimating that around 9/10 First Nations feel no negative affection towards the names (Shapira, Ian. “A brief history…” The Washington Post, 19 May 2016) ; moreover, in the past the Natives themselves as well as their chiefs even in official statements and speeches referred to themselves as “Redskins.”
Although, it can be seen how it may be annoying, as it would be uneasy watching a team called the Philadelphia Filipinos and see how the crowd would represent that, whether with a super exaggerated stereotype on Filipinos, or with a representation of “Asian.” Doubtful that the situation would ever happen, the problem still exists… Simply, people. Fans, that do not know how to properly appropriate culture and what is, and isn’t okay, yes, the First Nations have been, said perfectly by Rita Pyrillis from the Chicago Sun-Times: “the most pressing issue is our transparency,” but that doesn’t advocate the ignorance put upon them by people who don’t understand what’s okay or not. Considering this, at games for the Atlanta Braves, many fans do the stereotypical “war-cry,” like the boys from Lord of the Flies, hands flapping over the mouth while making noise. Cultural appropriation is important, but it is up to the team to make a statement on what is and isn’t okay. The fans are simply ignorant, and yes can stir more racism, but that wasn’t the intended point by using First Nation logos.
To continue, even though issues exist, the intention isn’t meant to be negative. Sports teams should be allowed to use First Nations logos and mascots. There does need some work in terms of social and racial appropriateness, but that comes with education, a stronger stance set by the team, and a better understanding of how not to be arrogant. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Shapira, Ian. “A brief history of the word ‘redskin’ and how it became a source of controversy.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 19 May 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-brief-history-of-the-word-redskin-and-how-it-became-a-source-of-controversy/2016/05/19/062cd618-187f-11e6-9e16-2e5a123aac62_story.html?utm_term=.3ec863e65bba
Pyrillis, Rita. “Sorry For Not Being a Stereotype.” Chicago Sun-Times, 24 April 2004.