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Debatable Topics in SM-Should Native American Mascots be used in Sport

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  • 1. Should Native American Mascots Be Used In Sport? Frank Campo Dr. Gentile Debatable Topics in Sport Management 6 March 2011
  • 2. Face Paint
    • War-colored face paint
    • Represent power and tradition
    • Social act of distinction and a cultural heritage
    • Red=color of war
  • 3. Tribal Dances and Headdresses
    • Reserved for the most powerful and influential among the tribe
    • Feathers added for brave acts
  • 4. Fan/Mascot Imitation
    • Mock American Indian chants and cheers
    • Transform into a "Seminole," or a "Fighting Sioux“
    • Florida State: Chief Osceola, charge onto the field waving a flaming spear
      • Slams the spear into the mascot's image painted onto the turf.
    • Outside the stadium some protest the use of Seminole Indian imagery for the school's sports mascots.
  • 5. Perspectives
    • American Indian mascots represent:
    • strength, power, perseverance, and dignity
    • Represents tradition and honor and as such remains a vital part of school or team tradition
    • Or
    • deeply offensive and mock ancient and sacred culture
    • High school and university administrations have voluntarily switched their team mascot from an American Indian to a race-neutral one
  • 6. The Change
    • Changing Native American mascots-hurt cultural bond at institution
    • Americans aware that American Indian mascots offend many=increasing number of sporting teams have voluntarily changed their mascot and nickname
    • Dartmouth-Indians to Big Green
    • Stanford-Indians to Cardinal
  • 7. NCAA Policy
    • In 2005-NCAA adopted a policy:
      • prohibited member institutions from participating in NCAA sanctioned postseason events if the institution maintained a mascot, nickname, or logo that was offensive to Native American citizens
    • If in violation-cannot display logos on the field, court, or uniform, or as a mascot
  • 8. Washington Redskins
    • In 1992-Suzan Harjo led a group of Native American activists:
      • filed a petition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Court (TTAC) to
    • cancel the trademarks held by the Washington National Football League team
    • Claimed: the term "redskin" degrades American Indians as it was used by bounty hunters in the 1800s to refer to the skins of dead Native Americans
    • Result: TTAC cancelled six trademarks in connection with the Washington Redskins.
    • HOWEVER
    • Ruling was overturned-
      • no direct evidence of intentional degrading by the football team
      • evidence did not show how Native Americans viewed the word "redskins," but assumed how Native Americans should feel
  • 9. Trademark
    • Take a significant financial hit
    • Owner Daniel M. Snyder of the Redskins-has exclusive rights to use the team name and logo on T-shirts, caps and other items worth an estimated $5 million
    • With no trademark- others will be able to produce memorabilia using the name.
  • 10. NCAA Alters Mascot Policy
    • Allowed an appeals process
      • gave opportunity for institutions to keep their hostile mascots and be removed from the postseason ban list if member institutions could provide support for their continued use of American Indian mascots
      • if a local tribe approves of or is supportive of the use by the university
    • Granted appeals to Florida State University and the University of Utah-Seminoles and Utes to keep their mascots, traditions, and mockery
  • 11. University of North Dakota
    • Resisted changing its nickname since its appearance on the NCAA hostile and abusive list
    • The local Sioux tribe-offended by UND mascot
    • Lacking the support of the local tribe-the NCAA rejected North Dakota's appeal
    • Sued NCAA in federal court:
      • NCAA and the University of North Dakota settled the lawsuit-the "Fighting Sioux" has three years to phase out the hostile nickname and mascot or convince the local Sioux tribes to grant their support to the university
  • 12. Professional Sports
    • Atlanta Braves-fans mimic war chants and conduct a series of continuous tomahawk chops throughout the game (described offensive by Native American activists)
    • Professional sports owners have no interest in changing their team names, logos, and team cultures to a race-neutral designation
    • Have multi-million dollar intellectual property protections-lucrative marketing income from the current team names and tradition.
  • 13. Journal Article Reference/Description/Questions
    • Douglas, A., & Cummings, P. (2008). Progress realized?: The continuing American Indian
    • mascot quandary. Marquette Sports Law Review , 18 (2), 309-335.
    • http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?hid=111&sid=eae537d0-3179-4ab5-8da7-b052bec802ea%40sessionmgr110&vid=5
    • A debatable subject matter that is still prevalent in sports is the issue of the use of Native American mascots. There are many high school, college, and professional teams that use Native American logos, nicknames, and mascots to identify themselves. Dances, attire, and chants are also mimicked during sporting events with these teams. Some see this as honoring Native Americans while others see it as degrading and offensive. The NCAA issued a strict policy in 2005 that barred institutions from using Native American mascots as they would be banned from postseason play. They later loosened up on the policy and provided stipulations such as support and approval from local tribes. The Washington Redskins were brought to court over the use of their nickname. It was found that there was no evidence that showed that they were using the term “redskin” in a degrading fashion. In addition, the University of North Dakota refuses to change their Native American nickname of the Fighting Sioux. They remain banned from postseason play as the local Sioux tribe is offended by the use of their name. Professional sports teams generate millions with their name identification and recognition so they do not have any interest in changing their Native American names, mascots, or logos. This topic is one that is still highly debated and gathers diverse perspectives.
    • Follow up questions to consider after viewing the presentation:
    • 1. What is your view on the NCAA Native American mascot policy?
    • 2. What is your position on the use of Native American mascots, names, and logos in sports?

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