Controversial team names: who gets to decide?
Who gets to decide?
Very often that is the real question.
I had a very good friend, Terry Evans, who was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals. He was the first one to teach me about who gets to decide.
The lesson came when Summerfest kicked the midway out. The midway appealed and what it came down to was whether Summerfest had the authority to kick the midway out. It did. There was no ruling on whether the midway a good thing or not. Only, on who gets to decide.
The question of who gets to decide is an important one now in the battle over Native American nicknames for a wide variety of teams at the professional, college and high school levels.
And the Wisconsin Legislature has now gotten into the act, passing a measure that clearly would make it harder to force a school district to change a school team's nickname. The bill would, among other things, require a complainant to gather and submit signatures from 10 percent of the residents of the district.
The merits of this battle are what tear people apart.
People say the nickname "Warriors" for example, is not a derogatory term, and in fact is a praiseworthy term.
Others say any nickname of a racial group has a negative impact. They say, "what if we had nicknames like 'minstrels,' or 'Dagos' or 'Wops' or 'Heebs'?" The derogatory nature would be clear.
The question we are left with, it seems, is who gets to decide.
Can a school district pick any nickname and use it, no matter how offensive? Would any of the above nicknames be okay if the school board said it was?
How about an Indian tribe that says, for example, that "Redskins" is a pejorative term and should be changed?
I am unsure of this, if we use the "who gets to decide" rule. I know a guy who used to be on the Brown Deer School Board who would have been perfectly comfortable using the word "Kike" as a nickname. So letting either group have the ultimate decision seems fraught with peril.
I think Warriors or Chiefs are just fine. I think Redskins is not.
So, it's clear to me that who gets to decide won't end this debate. Perhaps the only way these cases will be settled is by the democratic process of complaints, pressure and clear laws that say you can or cannot use Indian nicknames.
Why don't one of these lefty billionaires just by the team and change the name? These do "gooders" had a chance ten years ago to purchase the franchise. If they were so shocked by this grand atrocity why didn't they buy it up and put this name to rest. We hear about $70,000 dollar checks being cut annually to each and every Potawatomi in the state. If their shocked by the team put your money wher your mouth is by a minority intrest in the team. The truth is no one really is shocked or cares.
This is America. What's so great about America is that you can name your sports team the Redskins or as mentioned in this piece the "kikes". No one should be able to stop you from doing so (if it's your organization being funded by you). But what's also great about America is that fans can protest the name, support the name, talk ill or favorably of the name. That orginazition has to decide if the name is worth the trouble or not. The Washington Redskins have been around for more than 80 years. That's 80 years of tradition and history. You don't like the name, don't support the team. As a MU Warrior fan I hope they don't cave and change their name to the Red Eagles or something lame like that.
I agree with you David....most of the time I think people get a little too "politically correct" on some issues...but to me, Redskins, is over the line. I think Marquette folded too easily on Warriors....I never felt that name was anything but complimentary.
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