The usual suspects among the sports columnists are on the warpath again demanding that the Washington Redskins change their name. No matter that the owner Daniel Synder says that it will never happen as long as he owns the team and that polls taken show that the fans overwhelmingly want the name to stay the same. Finally one ESPN columnist Rick Rielly went against the stream of his fellows and published a column saying did anyone ask the Indians? http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9689220/redskins-name-change-not-easy-sounds. Since Synder owns the team there is nothing that the NFL can do to force a change. This is unlike the NCAA which in 2005 issued an edict saying that any school using indian logos or nicknames would be banned from postseason play forcing many schools to change their names. Perhaps the biggest stink was the case of the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux who were forced into submission because primarily of the prominence of their hockey team - although ironically their logo was designed by a Native American. The North Dakota legislature forbade the adoption of a new mascot or logo until 2015 so as of today they are the University of North Dakota ----------. When the NCAA whose hierarchy is made up of middle aged white men decided that the indian symbols were offensive, several schools notably Florida State (Seminoles) went ballistic. Other schools that had large Native American populations that had indian symbols such as University of North Carolina - Pembroke were granted exemptions. But isn't it ironic (Reilly also points this out) that many schools with Native American students called themselves Redskins, Braves and Savages? The last time I looked, the NCAA must have blinked. Some schools changed prior to the ban (Stanford Indians/Cardinal, Marquette Warriors/Golden Eagles, St John Redmen/Red Storm) while others changed because of it Arkansas State Indians/Red Wolves, Louisiana-Monroe Indians/Warhawks , Newberry Indians/Wolves and Carthage College morphed from the Redmen to the Red Men and their women's teams are the Lady Reds. But Catawba is still the indians, Illinois is still the Fighting Illini, Utah is still the Utes, Central Michigan is still the Chippawas, Alcorn is still the Braves and of course Florida State is still the Seminoles. What is interesting is that all the nicknames connote bravery and stature (Chiefs) rather than scorn and derision. Yes the Atlanta Braves once had a tepee in the outfield and a mascot named Chief Nok-a-homa who did a war dance every time a Brave hit a home run. They also had a laughing indian on their sleeves. But all that is gone leaving only the laughing gap-toothed indian logo of the Cleveland Indians - which even I find offensive. Nevertheless, the baseball team that preceded the Braves were a minor league team called the Atlanta Crackers. So why weren't white folks offended? What is hilarious is that the Negro league team was known as the Black Crackers. Isn't it interesting that the same columnists who have stood up for the indians have been silent on the name Rebels? Of course all the confederate symbols have gone now. When I went to the University of Georgia, the band was the Dixie Redcoat Marching band and played Dixie after the National Anthem and most of the crowd waved confederate flags. All the tailgaters flew rebel flags. But it was worse at Ole Miss. I even turned down an interview for a deanship at Ole Miss because of all the rebel nonsense. However, all that stuff is gone. I went to the Georgia/South Carolina game and saw not one rebel flag. Ole Miss' football and basketball teams are mostly black. My feeling is that if they aren't bothered by being called "Rebels" then why should I be offended for them?
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com