Taking Offense…

Enough is enough. And too much is plenty. The bleatings from various sources and segments of society about the critical importance of having teams’ change their nicknames have gone overboard. It’s over. These complainers need to find a new hobby. Maybe they need to do an in depth study of the needlework artistry of the Visigoths so that they might recreate that form of expression for the seven people on the planet who give a rat’s ass!

I have heard all the arguments about why the Washington Redskins need to change their name. A small fraction of them actually make a modicum of sense; but at the end of the day, it does not matter a whit what these people say. All that matters is that the Redskins continue to be covered in the press and that their “gear” continues to sell. Until one or both of those conditions ceases to obtain, Danny Boy Snyder is not going to change the team name. Get over it.

I can agree that if a new team were to be formed in some new league for a new sport that I’ll call goofyball, no team in that newly formed league ought to go out of its way to seek out a team nickname that is offensive to a segment of society. But changing a team name that has been in place for more than 50 years is different than naming a new team.

And I do not want to hear about the noble and enlightened colleges – such as Stanford – that “saw the light” and changed their names without being coerced. These are organizations and institutions that have time on their hands with students and professors that feel most important when they are the champions of a cause. Hey they won this one and that can make them feel good. When they try to solve world hunger, they get frustrated; and so, this is a way to keep them from coming together in a mass meeting and drinking a Jim Jones Kool-Aid Cocktail.

Here is a problem. The professional bleaters have defined those team names that have to be changed and have defined the level of affront that those team names present to some afflicted or oppressed segment of the planet. But they don’t cast their nets very wide; they just screech about something that happens to offend them or some friends of theirs. I think that a huge fraction of team nicknames can offend just about anyone or anything if you let your imagination work. And without an “offensiveness meter” to let all of us know that some name is really offensive, all we have to go on is the assertions and the imaginations of the do-gooders who revel in telling everyone else what the world is doing wrong.

PETA challenged the name “Packers” for the Green Bay football team because the name derives from meat packers and this celebrates the cruel and final disposition of animals that will wind up on the tables of people who choose to be carnivorous. Tell me, why didn’t they protest the San Antonio Spurs? Does anyone think that spurs are used in some loving way with regard to animals? Or didn’t the PETA folks think of this one yet? Or maybe it was too stupid a protest even for them?

Far too many team names would have to be changed if the standard were to become:

    No one may take offense at the name for any reason.

Consider Holy Cross. They are the Crusaders. Don’t you think that some people somewhere might feel intimidated or offended by that name? Are the alumni and the people who run Holy Cross evil? I don’t think so.

Consider the Arizona Cardinals, the Louisville Cardinals – or even the enlightened Stanford Cardinal. In light of the burgeoning scandals regarding the cover-up of sexual predation on young boys by members of the Catholic clergy, might not some victims and their families be insulted by a team of such a name? I can hear the righteous Stanford folks explaining now that their team name is a color and not a rank of the clergy. Compare that explanation to the one that says that “Redskins” was a name originated in Boston to honor the men who disguised themselves and threw the British tea overboard. If someone is offended, it makes no difference, right? You think that Cardinals are too far removed from the offensive behavior so this name is OK? Then, how about the San Diego Padres or the Providence Friars?

How about the Dallas or the Oklahoma State or the Wyoming Cowboys? Cows aren’t boys. Think of the insult this could inflict on the transgendered. Think of the insult these people have already inflicted on themselves and you will see how any added stress is simply too much.

The New England Patriots? Every anarchist worth his/her salt should be marching in the streets to protest this affront to everything – actually the nothing – that they stand for. Unless of course, some of them have better things to do such as rearranging their toothpick collection.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ name is a threat to the international cooperation between the US and the UK. The name throws up revolution and defeat to our allies in Britain; it insults everyone of British extraction. It has to be changed immediately. Conversely, why isn’t every descendent of someone on who came here on the Mayflower or someone who died in the Revolutionary War outraged by the name of the baseball team in Kansas City?

After September 11, 2001, how can the NY Jets not offend anyone?

While we are thinking about the teams in New York, are not the “vertically challenged” intimidated by the Giants? Where is the outrage, I ask? Don’t even mention the Tennessee Titans.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders and the Pittsburgh Pirates glorify violence, pillage and plunder. (So did the San Diego Conquistadors in a former time and a former league.) To some extent the Minnesota Vikings and Michigan State Spartans celebrate this same behavior since the history of the Vikings and the Spartans is hardly one that would win either of them a lifetime achievement award from the Nobel Peace Prize committee. No wonder we have violent crime in this country.

Might the Anaheim Angels offend a devout Christian? If they don’t, how about the Duke Blue Devils, the DePaul Blue Demons, the Arizona State Sun Devils or the Wake Forest Demon Deacons? Or don’t devout Christians matter enough to be worthy of a protest?

I wonder if any of the folks at MADD think the Milwaukee Brewers celebrate something that the people at MADD do not like?

Imagine the humiliation faced by the women on the Oregon State basketball team when they dash onto the court for their opening game and the public address announcer screeches, “Here come the Beavers!” Come to think of it, how must the men feel? Someone needs to stop this gratuitous humiliation.

Suppose I tell you that every time I hear the name, Fighting Irish, all I can think of is the bloodshed and animus between religious groups on the Emerald Isle? Does that make me a sensitive visionary or a flaming a-hole?

Hurricanes deliver death and destruction and despair to thousands of people a year. Yet Carolina and the Universities of Tulsa and Miami glorify these instruments of death and destruction. Iowa State obviously tried to duck this issue by calling themselves the Cyclones but after all, a cyclone is the same thing as a hurricane but not quite so devastating. What could they all be thinking?

In modern America we have advertisements for drugs and herbal concoctions to correct Erectile Dysfunction. You would think that these would be embarrassing for spokespeople of these products but that is only the beginning of the levels of embarrassment that can be caused by team nicknames. Should we not agonize in the deep and profound angst that men who suffer from premature ejaculation must feel when they hear teams such as the Oklahoma Sooners or the UMass Minutemen?

The Trojans of the University of Southern California glorify a nation that started a war by kidnapping the beautiful wife of a neighboring king. After all of the killing in that war, they wound up getting their butts kicked. Role models for the youth of America? I don’t think so. There is another interpretation of Trojans as a nickname, but that one is just too easy to make fun of…

If some poor surfer dude were attacked by a great white shark and made into an appetizer on some sunny afternoon, do you think his parents would like to go to a hockey game in San José – even if they could find their way to the arena?

What level of sadistic cruelty is contained in those names that mock and confuse colorblind people – or should they be called “the retinally challenged folk”? Put yourself in their shoes and contemplate what could be the context of the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, or the Williams College Purple Cows or the California Golden Bears or the Syracuse Orangemen?

Enough already. Just as there is no genius associated with making things complicated and difficult, there is no genius associated with finding new and more arcane ways to take offense at team nicknames. And what is annoying to me is that the protests are such impotent gestures whose only achievable end is to get a couple of people named in the newspapers and maybe interviewed on TV. If these people were really smart – as they would like you and me to believe they are in their heightened state of awareness – they would see the path to achieving the end of getting a name change. To paraphrase the campaign slogan of Bill Clinton in 1992, it’s economics, stupid. When you get people to reduce the profitability of a name you find offensive, the name will change. Until then, save your breath to blow your beans.

The sad news is that this controversy is now reaching down to the high school level and is reaching new proportions of stupidity. In Michigan, a new high school was going to be named the Predators based on a vote of the students there. But some people objected because it reminded them of “Sexual Predators”. And the school and town officials gave into the pressure of that argument. So the students voted again and chose Wildcats. Not very original to be sure, but the kids stuck to their “predator theme”.

The next thing you know, some protesters will demand a name change for the Chicago Bears because it reminds them of what bears do in the woods and that is not something that puts them in their happy place. Sigh…

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

    Oh, just for the record, no animals were harmed in the composition of this rant and no electrons or other sub-atomic particles were annihilated in the transmission of this rant over the Internet. I thought all of you would want to be sure of that.