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Mascots are people, animals, or objects adopted by high school, college and professional sports teams thought to bring good luck. Although some communities are refusing to change team logos, mascots, and/or nicknames, a change must be made in respect to Native Americans. According to “Native American Mascots” by Phyllis Raybin Emert, more than 3,000 mascots are considered to be racist or offensive to Native Americans. Also, the act of making a mockery of Native Americans in sports is covered in great detail. It is noted that various Native American organizations are against their usage, “finding them offensive and a racial slur against their people” (Emert 365). On the other hand, many believe such mascots are a tradition and only meant for entertainment purposes, without the intention to be disrespectful. As some would detest, if sports teams of all kinds no-longer permitted the use of Native American logos, mascots, and nicknames, millions of dollars would be lost from various team merchandise (Emert 366).
A young boy of Native American background sits in front of the television with his family. They are about to watch a football game between the Washington Redskins and The Kansas City Chiefs when suddenly the camera focuses on the home team mascot which happened to be an Indian. The boy feels made fun of, embarrassed. A point is made that “the self-image and self-esteem of American Indian children” is being affected (Emert 366). With cartoon-like characterizations of various team mascots televised across America, many of which portray Native Americans as “wild” and “untamable,” children are growing up with the wrong impression as to how Native Americans really act.
Stanford University, one of the most prestigious schools in the United States, has been known as the “Indians” since 1930. Due to Native American conflicts, Stanford dropped the Indian name in 1972 and it wasn’t until 1981 that they were known as the “Cardinal.” After many protests in the 1970s, hundreds of school based teams began to drop their Native American mascot. Native Americans are making changes in college campuses and public schools, although professional sports teams refuse to change. For major league sports teams, such as the Braves, Chiefs, Indians, Redskins, and Warriors, to forever change their Native American name is a never-ending battle.
Why don’t professional sports teams change their title and thus, end the controversy? Because they rake in millions of dollars from merchandise sales, of course! Every item from t-shirts to mugs would have to be redesigned and previous merchandise would therefore be obsolete if ever a change were to be made. If the Cleveland Indians were to change their widely-known logo and mascot that have been around for decades, millions would be lost and popularity might possibly decline. I feel as though the major league sports teams and the Native American people can come to some sort of an agreement in the near future.
The debate as to whether or not Native American logos, mascots, and nicknames should or should not be used in professional sports teams across the country remains unsolved. Native Americans are being mocked and made fun of in the media and are outraged by this. Their children are exposed to the negativity that is thrown at them and it is because of this that hundreds of American schools and universities have dropped their Native American mascot. Change is unlikely for teams of higher popularity although the effort to demolish their logo, mascot and/or nickname still carries on.
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