Let’s Talk Sports: Problematic Mascots
As an athlete I’ve always been a huge fan of Nike and the gear they make, almost to a fault. Despite this, it was Adidas that had my attention this morning.
As I did my daily reading and digging on ESPN’s website I found an article that said Adidas is going to give high schools across the nation the resources to help remove problematic Native American mascots if they wish to do so.
Sports can change lives. We’re honored to visit the @WhiteHouse Tribal Nations Conference today to support high school mascot name changes.
— adidas (@adidas) November 5, 2015
ESPN’s article, covered by ESPN.com’s news services with contributions from the Associated Press, can be viewed here.
Disgust with the treatment of Native Americans in history goes hand in hand with the Civil Rights Movement. Their rights are still being fought for, and have been fought for since the 1960’s, and one of the things continued to be fought for is the elimination of these mascots.
Growing up I never realized that names and depictions of Native people, such as the Cleveland Indians or Washington Redskins for example, were offensive. As I’ve gotten older and become more educated on the issue it has become clear to me that something has to change.
Arguments that using these mascots pay homage to anyone or any tribe is simply ridiculous when you consider the genocide carried out by European colonizers. Not to mention that the depictions in team logo’s or of their live mascots at sporting events are often wildly stereotypical. When you become aware of this, further arguments that these mascots are representative and show pride for the history of the team and former players should be moot.
Stanford, one of the finest universities in the nation, recognized the fundamental problem with their mascot at the time (the Indians) and made the switch to the Cardinal in 1972. Unfortunately, the majority of schools haven’t followed Stanford’s lead. ESPN’s article says that there are roughly 2,000 schools in the nation that choose to use mascots that are problematic to many different tribes.
It’s 2015, we should be passed all of this. But we’re not.
As for what Adidas is doing, it’s unprecedented and I’ve never seen anything like it. These mascots were created before we as a country could really grasp the negative impact of using them before it was too late. The sports world carries immense weight in a lot of people’s lives and with this issue there’s real opportunity to make a positive change in society.