5. What is your reaction to the suggestions for a new team name mentioned in the article? What ideas do you have about how the team should approach its renaming?
6. What can you add to the final column in your K/W/L chart? You might also have additional questions or reflection ideas that you can make note of on your chart and include in the Going Further activity below.
This year, we asked students if they thought it was offensive for sports teams and fans to use Native American names, imagery and gestures. Here is what some of them said in the comments:
Being Native myself I get to see how things like this affect the Native part of my family and friends, and sometimes me, although I don’t face a lot of these things firsthand because I’m a kid in a newer generation, and I don’t have necessarily “dark” skin, nor fit into many of the stereotypes. I do see how every single insensitive action, like just the naming of a sports team, affects my community. My mother works with the Native community as part of her job, but not just locally — she works with Native communities throughout the country, and even the rest of the world — and rarely comes home and tells me about how happy a tribe is about the way they are portrayed in mainstream culture.
I do not believe that it is offensive. Although many may not know the history, the fact is that these teams are representing history. People today keep trying to erase history because everything is “offensive.” That is the problem, that people need to feel what they want to and if you do not agree it turns into hate or racist motives. If the Chiefs’ fans are offended by their use of the tomahawk, then I want the New York Giants to change because I am very tall and it’s offensive to use the name Giants. That is exactly my point. People are too sensitive and take offense when it is not derogatory in any way.
@Katie What you said about being tall and wanting the Giants to change their name is a completely different point. People have not been attacked for hundreds of years because their height is above average. You haven’t had to live in poverty or worry about your life because of your height. People don’t need to “toughen up” because their ancestors have had to live through terrible conditions. They’ve already been tough. They’ve developed the thick skin you so desperately want them to have, so now they have the absolute right to be upset about the same people who look down on them because of their race and make light of their traditions. They regard them as less than human for generations, then use their life to get publicity. It’s not that hard not to be racist. It IS hard being degraded so that a sports team can make more money. They’re not trying to erase history, they’re trying to have a better future.
Now, write about one or more of the following questions, or engage with the questions below by using a graffiti board. Consider the above student comments in your own responses. If you’re participating in a graffiti board activity, take time to notice what your peers write and respond to their comments, ideas and questions.
Do you think it is offensive for sports teams and their fans to use Native American names, imagery and gestures? Do you agree with any of the perspectives shared by the students above in response to that question?
What is your reaction to the decision that the Cleveland team made? Do you support its decision? Why or why not?
How do you think teams should approach changing their names or other imagery associated with them? Who should be part of those conversations?
What do you think the Cleveland team should do next? Is renaming the team enough, or should it formally apologize? Should the team further involve local Native American tribes?
The featured article notes that other professional sports teams, including the Atlanta Braves, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Blackhawks, have said they do not intend to change their names. Do you think those teams have a right to keep their names? Or do you think they, too, should make changes?
If you are participating in the graffiti board activity, debrief your experience in a class discussion: What common themes do you notice among the comments and questions? What are the areas of disagreement? How does reading your classmates’ comments influence how you think or feel about this topic?