From offense to offensive

There’s not a lot that could ruin the good old American sport of football.


Well for some people, namely Native American tribes across the country, the celebrated sport has had negative connotations.

Take Sunday’s game when the Green Bay Packers hosted the Washington Redskins for their home opener. Members of the Wisconsin Indian Education Associations Mascot and Logo Task Force were there to protest the Redskins choice of name and logo.

I think they had every right to be there, especially since the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin is one of the Packers’ major sponsors.

In an article from the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Brandon Stevens, an Oneida tribe business committee member, said the tribe opposes any characters, mascots or images depicting Native Americans in a disrespectful manner, and that includes the Washington team name and logo.

“We’re actively and proactively creating an avenue of education and seeking out remedies to see how we can come to an understanding where the offender isn’t the one dictating what the intent of the mascot is,” Stevens said.

I completely agree with Stevens’ remarks. It’s not fair for people to say that because the name and logo weren’t meant to be offensive, they automatically aren’t and the tribes aren’t allowed to be offended because of that intent. The bottom line is people are offended by it.

I am not Native American, so it’s hard to relate with them on the issue. I’ve never had to face the problem of being reduced to a mascot, but I’m guessing it’s not a good feeling.

There are probably die-hard Redskin fans out there arguing that changing their name would change the whole dynamic of the team and change the game of football … or something stupid like that.

But they are talking about a football team and a sport of which the main purpose is to entertain. The Native Americans are fighting for their race and their culture, a culture they’ve been fighting to keep alive for centuries.

There’s been a demand for change elsewhere, as well. These kinds of derogatory names have been pushed out of high schools too.

One of my close friends went to Menomonie High School, and during her four years there, a mascot change took effect. Former UW-Eau Claire student Rachel Wesley went from being a Menomonie Indian to a Menomonie Flying M.

“It was a school pride thing,” Wesley said. “I grew up being an Indian and all of a sudden I had to graduate a Flying M. A lot of students weren’t happy about it.”

The change surfaced when Menomonie residents approached the school board about changing the name. For Wesley’s senior year, the school adopted the Flying M’s as a filler-mascot while options for a new, permanent one were being picked.

Ultimately, after Wesley graduated, the school chose “The Menomonie Mustangs” as their official mascot.

“It wasn’t meant to be offensive to anyone obviously,” Wesley said. “That was kind of the argument from the students for being against the name change. But it still made people upset so I can understand why something had to be done.”

I’m not saying we need to go around and change every possibly offensive mascot out there, but I think something should be done when someone is legitimately offended by something. The Redskins are a nationally known sports team. They should be setting an example.

I just don’t see the problem with making a name change. Redskins owner Dan Snyder said he will never change the name, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said team officials “need to be listening” to the consistent calls for a change. At least there is someone out there aware of this problem.

Will the change happen any time soon? Probably not. But with more people spreading the word, a name change is possible.

On the bright side, we crushed the Redskins on Sunday. Go Pack.