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Mascots

The Shaker Blue Bison is a great mascot. While logically, a bison of any color but brown may not make sense, a strong animal  known for sprinting along the American Great Plains in large packs works as a unifying mascot. Like the pack, the student body is unified in sports, clubs, and academics into a strong community sprinting towards college and a promising future. While our mascot, as well as most other animal mascots, works to represent our community, this cannot be said for all schools and organizations.

Most modern sports organizations with mascots are relatively old with the “big 4” sports leagues in the United States, the MLB, NBA, NFL, and the NHL, all being formed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. That being said, it isn’t surprising that some mascots were chosen at a time when there were very different standards for what was considered ok.

Luckily, many of the more obscene mascots have been retired and replaced due to changing times. For example, until 1980, all sports teams representing a small school in Illinois were called the Pekin High School Chinks. This crude and offensive language was luckily replaced by their new mascot, the Dragon. Similarly, the Kansas City Chiefs mascot until 1989 was the Chief, AKA a white man sporting a headdress riding around the field on a horse sensitively named “Warpaint.” This mascot was changed to a wolf. These changes were certainly for the better and represent the changing times. The previous mascots were very offensive and insensitive. Unfortunately, not all offensive mascots have been changed.

There are several examples of organizations and schools who continue to have racially insensitive mascots. For example, the Cleveland Indians mascot, “Chief Wahoo,” is widely regarded the most racist mascot in professional sports. His face is beet red, upholding the racial stereotype that Native Americans have “red skin,” and he sports a feather which protrudes from behind his ear. Another professional sports mascot upholding this stereotype is the insensitively named Washington Redskins. In the NHL, the Chicago Blackhawks possess the Native American insensitivity with their mascot being named “Tommy Hawk,” a play on the Native American word “tomahawk.”  Some colleges and High Schools continue to have racist mascots and names as well. Perhaps the most infamous college is Florida State University, their name being the Seminoles, and their mascot being Chief Osceola. At a FSU football game, you can’t miss the popular “war chant” echoing through the stadium or the “tomahawk chop” hand motion, urging their team forward. Surprisingly, some of the worst school names and mascots exist in High Schools. In California, there are the “Coachella Valley High School Arabs,” and in Texas, the “Robstown High School Cottonpickers.”

The fact that so many racist mascots exist is a sad stain on our country’s progressive nature. Over the centuries, accepting minds have strived to better our society by debunking racial stereotypes and increasing levels of acceptance across all fields, including sports. Hopefully over the next few years, we will see the downfall of these controversial and offensive mascots. However, for the time being, we will just have to deal with the sad truth about American society.