Smoke’em Peace Pipe: Political Correctness and Sports
Noted sports columnist Phil Mushnick recently got into hot water for suggesting the New Jersey Nets be renamed the New Jersey … well … N-words.
To his defense (I think), Mushnick did not mean “-ers” but instead “-as” or perhaps the more tasteful “-az.” He also was referring the Nets’ move to Brooklyn and the team being partially owned by the Hova himself, Jay-Z, who is also done – personally – a new urban marketing and branding campaign with the team.
Ultimately, Mushnick was commenting on the rap culture’s loose use of calling females “bitches” and “hoes” (his idea for the cheerleaders) and the extremely liberal dosage of the N-word.
Now, Mushnick is not a racist as much as he’s a retard: A white, calloused sports writer looking for page views while trying to make a point. An alternative could have been a thoughtful column about Jay-Z using his image, money and opportunity with the move to Brooklyn to be (more of) a positive influence in the area and especially the black culture.
Recently, the Board of Education in Oregon banned – by a vote of 5-1 … who was the lone racist, huh!? – the use of Native American logos, mascots or nicknames. This applied only to high schools, although no collegiate or pro teams in Oregon have Native American mascots or nicknames (although I’m waiting for the Oregon BEAVERS to get a re-do … we’ve lost control of that word).
As a sports fan, I’ve always wondered how we generally turn a blind eye to blatantly racist mascots and nicknames in these extremely politically correct times. When you really think about it, it’s downright shocking.
High schools are the easiest to manipulate because they are state funded and locally governed. More than 600 high schools have changed their mascots from culturally insensitive caricatures. In Dallas-Fort Worth, up until a few years ago, Richland High School were the “Rebels” and had the stars and bars prominently featured along with a large-headed Confederate soldier in his dress greys. No longer. It’s a fascinating topic, actually.
Should we mind that the Ole Miss Rebels represent, arguably, the country’s darkest period, but also the legacies (for better or for worse) of millions below the Mason-Dixon line? One person’s family lineage, however, directly reflects the slave trade. Ancestors weren’t rustlin’ cattle … they were rustlin’ people. (Before George Lucas squashed it, students attempted to replace Colonel Reb with Admiral Ackbar, which is arguably the greatest idea ever.)
I don’t have an answer for this.
I do know that a big reason culturally insensitive nicknames and logos still exist is money. No question here. It’s easy picking on high schools. Going up against professional sports franchises, worth billions, is tough business. The Atlanta Braves have been the “Braves” since 1912 starting in Boston to Milwaukee and finally to Atlanta.
Outside of a gigantic, long-term boycott, the Atlanta Braves will not change their logo or nickname as a privately owned organization. If the stadium’s half full because they’re sort of racist, then they will change. Also, what we do without the Tomahawk Chop? (I say this knowing that the Washington Bullets became the Washington Wizards sometime in the 1990s. Apparently, franchises are cognizant of sensitive subjects like violence. Just not race or ethnicity.)
With that said, here are five logos/nicknames that are extremely insensitive:
Imagine the Houston Rockets being renamed the “Darkies.” It is one thing to be called the “Braves,” “Warriors” or “Seminoles.” But this is a direct comment on the color of the indigenous people of North America. For my money, I see little difference in “Redskins” and the “New Jersey N-words.”
About three of the most destructive killer hurricanes in the annals of recorded history hit Florida. It’s like shaking your fist at God.
There are a ton of “Indians” out there. What gets me is the logo. His name is “Chief Wahoo,” and, no, he’s not based on some historical figure. Early renditions gave him a skinner visage with an elongated, crooked nose. Later versions actually color him red with a shorter, more bulbous schnoz. His Felix-the-Cat eyes are only offset by his big, toothy grin.
Los Angeles Lakers
It might be frowned upon, but someone in Utah has John Coltrane, Miles Davis or any other kind of jazz music (the Jazz uprooted from New Orleans and wound up in Salt Lake City in 1979). There, however, are no lakes in Los Angeles (moved from Minnesota in 1958) and plenty in Minnesota.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (circa 1979)
“Buccaneer Bruce” is the most offensive homosexual mascot ever. No self-respected gay man would don the Creamsicle orange.