With the talks going on about changing team names in Cleveland and Washington D.C., let’s explore possible team name changes for some sports teams that have received pushback from Native American tribes on their current names. Teams are ordered based on what I see to be the likelihood of a name change.
FedEx and Nike asking for Washington to change their name was the move that re-sparked this discussion, so they seem to be the most likely to see a name change in the coming year or two, especially with the added pressure of Nike not even selling their products online. Here are a few name changes I’ve seen being floated around:
Personally, I was a fan of the “Pigskins” name, due to how close it is to their current name (meaning they can still go by the ‘Skins) and its closeness to football, but since hearing about the history of the name “Redtails” and its connection with the Tuskegee airmen, I think I like that more. The team would still get to use their refrain “HTTR” and the color scheme would fit it perfectly. There’s even some nice looking designs around social media for their logo and uniforms:
Cleveland has also started exploring a possible name change, with even Manager Terry Francona expressing his desire for the team to alter their name. Here are some possibilities:
These all have roots in the team’s history, so they all seem like good options to me, but my favorite has to be the Cleveland Spiders. First, this is the team name Cy Young was inducted into the HOF with, so it probably has the strongest historical significance of these three. Second, I’m just a big fan of the mock-up logos and uniform this twitter user posted:
Imagine defending the racist Cleveland Indians when you could go back to the original name, the Cleveland Spiders, and have THIS merch. pic.twitter.com/xAf0vEGQXW— EZPZ (@NahNotFeelinIt) July 3, 2020
Looks pretty awesome to me.
The CFL Edmonton team is also looking into their name and exploring their name with the Inuit tribes in Canada. I’m not going to pretend like I know the CFL, so honestly I’m not going to spend to much time on this one. If the tribe grants it, I think the Edmonton Inuits is a great and easy switch, even if they have to alter their logo some. This change uses the correct name of the tribe, and from what I understand that’s the main concern here.
Kansas City was subject to this controversy earlier this year as they prepared for the Super Bowl in February, and while they have taken more of a backseat recently as we focus on the previous teams, they have received just as many calls for change. Here are a few names that might make sense:
The Wolves makes sense because the team’s current mascot is a wolf, and the Wasps would be in reference to their most recent Super Bowl. That said, as a Baseball fan I love the callback to the Monarchs, a Negro League team from 1920-1965. It fits with their current MLB team, the Royals, and they could fit their color scheme with the name. Maybe they could even use more gold with the name change? There’s history and options here with this name.
The current name of Chicago’s NHL team has an interesting history compared to the others on this list, and the issue might be more the mascot rather than the name itself, which seems to be more in reference to an infantry division in World War 1 (though that was a reference to a Native American chief, so I might be understanding things wrong). Regardless, the team has remained rather silent in this wave of controversy. This team seems to have the most simple name change, if they do undergo some changes, as changing to the Chicago Black Hawks (2 words) would allow them to separate some from any Native American stereotypes if a mascot change follows (as advocated by a Quebec First Nations chief).
Atlanta seems like the least likely team to change their name to me, mostly because I read a statement released by them where they asserted they’ve been in conversations with Native American tribes and they seem to have received the green light to keep the name. However, they might have to change some of their traditions. If they do decide to change their name, though, here are two options:
The Bees were the original team name in Boston before becoming the Braves, and the Eagles were a name change discussed in the early 70s that didn’t gain traction. Personally, if they do change their name, I like the Bees. There’s a lot of ways you can go with that name and again, it connects to the history of the team (see the theme?)
I hope we can all learn from each other as we explore these questions of sports and politics. The goal with all of these conversations is to allow sports to be something that unifies us, rather than divides. If the people groups we are supposedly “honoring” with these names have trouble with them, then we should take that seriously and allow them to be correctly supported and honored.
Feel free to let me know what other name options you might be thinking of!
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featured image source: SB Nation