Note: I was orginally going to make this one post about Prejudice in Sports, but for better or worse I have plenty to say here. So I’ve decided to make this a three post series. Part two can be found right here, and part three can be found here.
You’ve probably heard by now, but news came down Wednesday that the Washington Redskins trademark has been revoked by the US Patent and Trademark office. This is a step in the right direction – there is no doubting that.
However, when seeing this story come across the wire I can’t help but think about all of the prejudice and racism in sports that still exists. And in 2014 it is not something to be taken lightly.
Racism in Sports Against Native Americans
I opened with the story about the Redskins, so I’ll talk about it for a bit.
Some Native Americans consider the word “redskin” to be just as offensive as African Americans consider the word “nigger.”
That alone should stop this debate in it’s tracks. Period the end.
And the fact Daniel Snyder has been so bold as to say he will NEVER change the name of the team says something about not only him, but his representation of the NFL and his representation of corporate America.
Additionally, the public opinion of Snyder just dropping the team name to make this go away has begun to outweigh the other side. It’s not like people will stop buying Washington jerseys and merchandise with a new team name; in fact people will likely scoop up more to support their new mascot.
But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg in the subject of not only racism in sports but racism against Native Americans in sports.
While the Washington football team (as Peter King rightfully continues to call them) has made the most headlines in this issue, prejudice in sports against Native Americans exists across the board. A prime example of this occurs in Major League Baseball, with the Atlanta Braves’ tomahawk chop.
If you’ve never heard the chant, I can’t even explain it. I would link it up here, but then I would have to listen to it myself to find it. The fact is we’re in the 21st century and a professional sports team uses a cartoonish Native American chant to pump up its crowd. This needs to stop. That is all.
Racism in Sports Against African Americans
Unfortunately racism against Native Americans isn’t the only prejudice we see in today’s sports world. Even more unfortunately, a prejudice that has torn this country apart more than once still exists in the sports world.
First of all hockey. In a league where less than 5% of the players are black you would hope racism wouldn’t be an issue, but that is simply not the case. A prime example of this happened just a month ago in an incident where more than a few racist tweets were directed toward Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban because he had a good game. According to analysis company Influence Communications, the terms Subban and the N-word were used simultaneously on 17,000 tweets. In fact, the N-word was a trending topic on Twitter in Boston for a time after the game.
Then there’s soccer. The world’s game has a world of problems, despite their revolutionary Say No To Racism campaign. In a recent Spanish League match, standout FC Barcelona and Brazil star Dani Alves had a banana thrown his way while preparing for a corner kick. In a gesture that could only be described as fitting, Alves promptly ate the banana, showing he was not affected in any way by the racist act.
Then this small act created something much bigger and better – prominent players from all around the world followed suit in making a mockery of throwing a banana at a black athlete. It may be a small step, but at least it’s something to help us realize how stupid it is things like this still exist in the sports world.
So Where Do We Go From Here?
Look, I kind of hear the “there’s bigger issues in the world” argument. But at the same time I don’t because racism is a world issue. And how often are we encouraged to look at professional sports franchises and prominent figures as role models? What kind of example is being set?
I’m not calling for Washington football to be permanently shunned by the NFL for their mascot. But it’s time for some awareness. It’s time for some type of change.