The Cleveland Indians were under pressure for years now to finally change their team name. Just recently, they finally did, as they are now known as the Cleveland Guardians. Understandably so, Cleveland’s previous team name (The Indians) was known to be offensive and racist towards many people even beyond the Native American population.
The same can be said about the Washington Redskins not too long ago. They were faced with lots of pressure to change their name for years now, and they finally did so last offseason.
If they had not changed their name, they would have lost tons of money as many of their sponsors, such as Nike, FedEx (their home stadium), fanatics, etc., threatened to disassociate themselves with the team.
It is no surprise that as soon as money gets in the mix, owners, particularly in the NFL, gave in almost immediately.
The interesting part of it all is that they were not even able to come up with a different name in time for the season last year.
You would think that they would have had a name ready, considering this has been inevitable for years now. Therefore, they called themselves The Washington Football Team, which is still their name today. For a professional team to not have a name for this long is shocking, to say the least.
Nonetheless, there is a team also in the NFL that I believe will be next to change their name. The Kansas City Chiefs have been getting some backlash over the years.
Despite their name originally being linked to a previous Kansas City mayor, it has drawn references to Native Americans.
The editorial board of the Kansas City star suggested that “it’s time for a real examination of all of it: the tomahawk chop, the drum, Arrowhead stadium, Warpaint and the costumes worn by the fan’s at the game.”
In response to this request, the Chiefs decided to prohibit fans from wearing “headdresses and Native American style paint” at home games starting last August.
I suspect that the Kansas City Chiefs name has been in the background due to the fact that the Redskins and Indians, for example, are more direct references. Now that both teams have changed their names, I expect the Chiefs to be next in the spotlight.
In a national survey not too long ago, 50% of Native Americans proclaimed that “the tomahawk chop” worn by Chiefs fans was offensive.
Despite Kansas City banning fans from wearing that anymore, Amanda Blackhorn (the lead plaintiff in the trademark case against the Washington Redskins) believes that the only solution to this entire controversy is for them to change their name.
If they get enough external pressure as the Redskins and Indians did, I do not believe Kansas City will even have a choice to retain their name.
To me, it is a matter of when and not if. It will be interesting to see how long it will take before it ultimately happens.