5 sports mascots that stir up controversy

With the Washington Redskins opening their season Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, an American Indian tribe in upstate New York has launched an ad campaign condemning the team's use of what it says is a racial slur as its mascot and name, a news release said.

The Oneida Indian Nation is demanding NFL commissioner Roger Goodell "stand up to bigotry" and denounce the team's "obviously wrong, insensitive and unacceptable" name, according to the radio ad.
"We do not deserve to be called redskins," Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter says in the ad.

"We deserve to be treated as what we are -- Americans."

The ads will run on sports radio stations for the duration of the NFL season in the Washington, D.C., market, as well as in cities where the team will play away games.

The lack of reaction from the NFL to the demands of the "change the mascot" campaign has been "quite troubling," Halbritter told ABCNews.com.

"As American Indians, we often are treated as a historic relic or mascot," he said. "Sports and politics have a really important intersection. Symbolism really matters."
But Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has been firm that he has no plans to make changes, USA Today reported.

"We'll never change the name," he said in May. "It's that simple. NEVER -- you can use caps."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Associated Press that the while the league respects the opposing viewpoints, "the name from its origin has always intended to be positive and has always been used by the team in a highly respectful manner."

The Redskins aren't the only team with a name that incites controversy. Click through to see which sports teams have fallen under fire for their contentious mascots and names.

Florida State University Seminoles

In August 2005, the NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by college sports teams during the postseason, calling a number of schools' team names and imagery "hostile or abusive," The Associated Press reported.

At first, the Florida State University Seminoles had made the list, but the university quickly fired back. The school's then-president, T. K. Wetherell threatened to take legal action, calling the NCAA label "outrageous and insulting," according to the AP.

While the ruling went into effect in February 2006, FSU got itself exempt from the ban within weeks after it was announced. The school was deemed eligible to keep its name and mascot after the Seminole Tribe of Florida endorsed the school's use of its name as a moniker and Chief Osceola as its mascot, USA Today reported.

Max Osceola, the chief and general council president of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, said it was an "honor" to be associated with the university, according to USA Today.

Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves came under fire after an ESPN uniform preview showed the team selected a "screaming Indian head" logo for its 2013 batting practice caps.

ESPN's Uni Watch got a first look at the batting practice designs for the 2013 season back in December 2012. Upon reviewing each team's new design, the Braves got a big, fat F for reinstating the contentious image that was believed to have been tabled.

"Unfortunately, it turns out that the logo hasn't been permanently mothballed. Disappointing,"ESPN Uni Watch's Paul Lukas wrote.

The Braves responded on their website, saying the cap "was one of five proposed," but that the "final decision had not been made before the potential hats were leaked" by ESPN. The team ultimately opted for the safer, script "A" logo instead.

Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians' "Chief Wahoo" has gotten push back from detractors who think the red-faced, wide-grinning mascot is in poor taste, but the team remains unmoved from making adjustments.

"We have had discussions with people of all races who have no problem with our name or our logo," Bob DiBiasio, Indians' senior vice president of public affairs told the Ohio News-Herald in August. "We've had discussions with people who dislike the Chief Wahoo logo but are OK with the name and we've had discussions with all races who dislike the Chief Wahoo logo and the name.

"What we like to share in these discussions is the concept of individual perception," he said. "We firmly believe when people look at [the Chief Wahoo logo], they think baseball."

Chicago Blackhawks

While many hockey fans may not feel the Chicago Blackhawks logo is controversial, some American Indians continue to push for the team to change its image.

Suzan Harjo, of the Morning Star Institute, a Washington-based advocacy group, told the Chicago Tribune in June that the Blackhawks' logo "lacks dignity."

"There's dignity in a school being named after a person or a people. There's dignity in a health clinic or hospital. There's nothing dignified in something

being so named (that is used for) recreation or entertainment or fun," she told the Chicago Tribune.

Yet for the most part, Harjo said people may turn a blind eye to the team's Native American imagery since hockey doesn't have as much reach as baseball.

Blackhawks Executive Vice President Jay Blunk responded to Harjo's criticisms, telling the Chicago Tribune the team thought its logo was "respectful and proud."
 


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