It’s a topic that has been around on some level, but it has been pushed into the spotlight over recent years. Are some sport teams names offensive?
This discussion really kicked off a couple years ago when there were multiple attempts by outsiders to change the name of the NFL team Washington Redskins. In the same breath you can throw the Atlanta Braves alongside the Cleveland Indians in the MLB brethren.
All three reference the First Nations community, and that hasn’t always settled with everyone- including Jerry Howarth.
Jerry Howarth has been a sportscaster and play-by-play man for over 20 years, and is calling the Sportsnet feed of the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians American League Championship Series that kicks off a best of 7 series Friday.
Howarth has not used the term Indians in reference to Cleveland since after calling a World Series that included the Tribe. After the series had ended Howarth received a letter from a First Nations man saying he was a fan of Jerry and his work, and had followed him for years.
The man said he couldn’t watch the World Series because of the reference to Indians, seeing a tomahawk chop the fans do, and the now former logo of the team (which they recently changed to just a ‘C’).
Howarth was so touched by the letter that he wrote the man back saying he will not refer to Cleveland as the Indians or Atlanta as the Braves ever again, and has kept to his word.
So the question remains, do other people feel the same way? The streets of London came across with an expected mixed response.
A few said yes, it is offensive and an easy fix. There are so many names out there unclaimed and changing the team names to something less offensive would be a quick solution.
On the other side of the coin the people who said no generally argue that tradition in sports is prominent and important, and if these teams are called the Indians or the Braves or the Blackhawks then that’s the way it should stay.
Unless you’re the owner or play a significant role in these organizations it’s unlikely we’ll see a change, leaving some people perturbed. One has to think however if a brand new baseball or hockey or football team were to start play in the next season, they would probably opt out of the chance to stir the pot.