As we’ve all heard, the Washington Redskins will be changing their pro-football team’s name. Admittedly “Redskins” comes close to being pejorative — possibly expressing contempt or disapproval of Native Americans. Yet if a psychologist were to display Rorschach-like cards bearing the names Chiefs, Indians, or Braves, would responders react with the same shame?
As for the soon-to-be-former “Redskins”, to me they’ve become the alliterative “Washington Weenies”. A weenie has no backbone. A weenie caves to allegations that a long-honored team name has suddenly become anathema. Vehemently disliking a name for little reason is just as bad as name-calling. Obviously our latest adult generation hasn’t heard the adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me”.
Like many in Northeast Ohio, I’m an Indians fan. Have heard our team may revert to their pre-1915 name of “Naps”. As any sportswriter will tell you, Napoleon “Nap” Lajoie was our popular team captain back then. Using that rationale, how about going instead with “Cleveland Fellers”, after the great Cleveland pitcher Bob Feller?
“Rockers” has been suggested. Might apply, but not because of Alan Freed’s WJW stint. Our “Tribe” - pardon me for offending anyone — hasn’t won a World Series since 1948. One could say our players are sleeping in their “rockers”. Hopefully they’re not off them. (By the way, the team “we” beat in that series was the Boston “Braves”.) As “Rockers”, confusion might reign should we ever play the Colorado Rockies. But if we can fit all the letters onto players’ shirts, the “Rocky Colavito’s” might work as a compromise.
Back to “Naps”. Wouldn’t we be confused with the Washington “Nats” (Nationals)? And didn’t Stevie Wonder’s hit “I Wish” include the lyrics: “Looking back on when I was a little nappy-headed boy”? Will there be protests — followed by looting and burning — from those misconstruing the meaning or intent of our team’s name?
Some claim that discrimination is in the eyes of the beholder. In other words, one must be a Native American, African-American or of another minority to truly understand a name’s effect. So, will a Scottish pacifist place-kicker at Notre Dame vehemently object to being one of the “Fighting Irish”?
Methinks our nation has too many builders of mountains from molehills.