'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
TIME TO RETIRE OFFENSIVE TEAM NAMES
Football season is now in full swing, and the annual debate about culturally insensitive team names also is in full swing. Most of the controversial names are based on Native Americans: the Kansas City Chiefs, the Florida State University Seminoles (complete with a Caucasian student in full Indian dress, riding across the field on horseback and carrying a flaming spear), and probably the most offensive of all, the Washington Redskins.
Can you imagine a team called the Baltimore Black Skins? Or the San Francisco Slant-Eyes? Or the Waco Wetbacks? Or the Kalamazoo Krauts? Or the Notre Dame Fighting Irish? No, I didnít think so. But apparently itís OK with Native Americans. I suppose all the casino profits in recent decades are a small bit of cosmic justice.
In my town, we have the Torrington High School Red Raiders. If you think this name might refer to Communist guerrillas, it does not. (Although considering some of the wacky Marxist theories produced by Schools of Education during the last four decades, I can see why you might have thought that.) No, the term Red Raiders means Indian warriors, and for anyone whoís still not sure, a demeaning cartoon character of an Indian with a tomahawk is painted on the school gymnasium wall. Well, at least it was there the last time I was in the gym a few years ago. Maybe theyíve replaced it with a more culturally sensitive, up-to-date cartoon, say, an Indian spinning a Roulette wheel.
It turns out there is one ethnic team name that does not generate controversy: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. However, based on the way I and some fellow ďSons of ErinĒ buddies prepared the night before each game while on our college football team in the 1970s, a more accurate name would be Boozing Irish.
The folks who defend controversial team names claim the names are not insulting. They are instead names of honor and respect. Redskins, Chiefs, Red Raiders, etc., are names that convey strength and power, it is said. The names instill fear in the opponents.
When team names are chosen, obviously the idea is to convey strength and power. Thatís why certain non-ethnic team names are the Lions, the Eagles, and the Huskies, rather than the Kittens, the Chickadees, and the Puppies. (But some UConn athletes in recent years donít seemed to be paper trained very well.)
Maybe itís time to retire the blatantly offensive ethnic slurs and choose new team names. There are plenty of possibilities for names that still convey strength and power, and are certain to instill fear in the opponents.
How about The Torrington Trial Lawyers? The team mascot, clad in a three-piece suit and wielding a briefcase, can run across the field before the game and threaten to sue the opposing team for everything theyíve got. I donít know if this will scare the other football players, but it is a scene that certainly has frightened countless hard-working business people over the years.
Or maybe the Terryville Tax Increases? Citizens are packing up and fleeing this state in droves because our already highest tax burden in the nation continues to go up and up. Talk about strength and power and instilling fear in people!
There are many other frightening things that would make good team names, such as: the Bristol Breast Lumps, the Simsbury Swollen Prostates, the Thomaston Teenage Drivers, and of course, their arch-rivals, the Seymour Senior Citizen Drivers. All truly frightening.
No doubt people get offended way too easily these days. But some of these traditional team names? Címon. This (formerly) Boozing Irishman thinks enough is enough.
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