Washington Redskins team football helmet. Image via The Official Twitter Feed of the Washington Redskins: https://twitter.com/Redskins/status/846356286581198848

Historic Agreement between Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians

For several years, the Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and several other sports teams have been accused of team names that are insensitive to Native Americans. In a historic agreement, each team will change their official name and mascot simultaneously. The date for this change has not yet been agreed-upon.

Sports Teams Come Together

Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld, Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Mr. Jim Folk, vice president of Ballpark Operations discuss the "Chief Wahoo" battle flag that was flown on the now decommissioned USS Cleveland for nearly a decade. This flag was given to Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee and World War II Navy veteran Bob Feller on August 30, 2006. (DOD Photo By: U.S. Army Staff Sgt Sun L. Vega, Joint Staff)
Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld, Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Mr. Jim Folk, vice president of Ballpark Operations discuss the “Chief Wahoo” battle flag (DOD Photo By: U.S. Army Staff Sgt Sun L. Vega, Joint Staff)

The three teams hope to set an example for other teams. Each will change their name, mascot, and logo. The Chief Wahoo logo has been particularly contentious and will be the first to go.

In some cases that will even include discontinuation of gestures, such as the Tomahawk Chop.

This will involve a complete overhaul of team marketing, including their social media presence. As previously mentioned, the logos are expected to change. However, the team colors will not.

Team jerseys, t-shirts, and other authorized clothing and novelty items with the current team names and logos will be discontinued. No decision has been made on how existing items that fans have already purchased and received will be addressed. The teams are considering a mandatory recall.

Additional Teams Considering the Move

The University of Notre Dame has not officially joined this agreement. However, multiple insiders shared on condition of anonymity that the Fighting Irish are facing a name change as well.

Some groups also oppose the use of animals for mascots or team names. Dozens of college and professional teams would be affected by such a change. If this is also mandated for K-12 teams, the churn in team names could be monumental.

Naturally, this would be a boon for companies involved in any way with team logos. Industries likely to experience a windfall include:

  • Sports uniforms
  • Gifts and Novelties
  • Printing
  • Marketing and advertising

Why Now

Many social and political forces are converging. The Trump presidency has amplified sensitivities for some.

Increasing concern about head injuries in football lead some to question whether football is safe to play at all. As a result, since the teams are considering name changes, they are considering a change of sport as well.

Some players have begun to ask whether this fundamental change provides an opportunity to switch to a less violent sport that doesn’t involve cleats and heavy pads. Now that beach volleyball is an Olympic sport, and involves only the skimpiest of uniforms, the teams have no choice but to consider changing their sport at the same time they change their identity.

 

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