What’s in a name?

Of all the crusades under way, surely the silliest must be the one against the names of certain teams. Native Americans and their supporters complain about Chief Wahoo, the cheerful image of the Cleveland Indians. This season, such forces made progress – if it can be called that – when the Chief was officially replaced on batting helmets by the most mundane C ever designed. For the time being, his grinning face still appears on the shirt. 

Now the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has dubbed the name of the Washington Redskins “disparaging.” What next? Will someone try to outlaw the war chant and tomahawk chop done by fans of the Florida State University Seminoles and the Atlanta Braves? (The Seminoles have the permission of the real tribe.) Even Jane Fonda, aka Hanoi Jane, could be seen a few years back doing the chop.

What about the Yankees? Doesn’t that name offend those Southerners for whom the Civil War is called The War of Northern Aggression? Are there no bear lovers willing to lie down on the field to protest the names of the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Cubs? 

As a birder, maybe I could get miffed by the use of bird names – Blue Jays, Cardinals, Orioles – by pro baseball teams. When the Blue Jays play poorly, as they have of late, or slugger Mark McGwire of the Cardinals admits to using steroids, it reflects badly on my feathered friends. Such slights are right up there with being placed on the endangered species list.

So here’s my proposal. The only safe course is to change all the team names to colours. In hockey, we already have the St. Louis Blues. In baseball, why not the Milwaukee Mauves, Pittsburgh Pinks and Houston Heliotropes? The only grumbles might come from the fans and the players. And who are they to have say? 

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