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Mike's Soapbox - Best 1999 Rants

7/25 – So, they had a Woodstock 30th Anniversary event in Rome, New York, that quickly erupted into violence and chaos. Way to celebrate peace and love, people. Anyway, some of the rioters tried to justify their actions saying they were being charged $5 for bottled water and $8 for a burrito. You know, I used to live in Rome, and those are damned good prices! You may think they were trying to screw you, but you can thank the high taxes in New York for those prices.

9/10 – So, I am driving home the other day and I notice the car in front of me has this sticker for their kid's sports team.  It said that he played for a team called the "Freedom".  Huh?  What ever happened to tough fighting team names?  Then, I starting thinking about all of the stupid team names I had heard.  I've seen the "Rainbows."  Go Rainbows.  Doesn't really sound tough, does it?

When I was in high school in Norfolk, Virginia, my mascot was the "Crusaders."  But, down the street was the Norfolk Collegiate School, which was home of the "Oaks."  The Oaks?  Go Oaks - drop acorns on them!  If I remember correctly, there was another school in our division who were the Bulldogs.  Should have made for interesting match-ups.

So, with all the controversy over the sports teams mascots, I hope we haven't gone too far with the politically correct, abstract names.  I don't want to see a bunch of teams with names like "Freedom", "Rainbows", "Pride", or "Magic".  I mean, come on, where are the great tough fighting names that people can rally around?

But don't get me wrong.  There are a number of team names that are very politically incorrect.  Teams that have Native American mascots have come under fire for their insensitivity, and there is a debate over how to resolve the issue.  I have remedies that I hope will be acceptable to all sides:

The Atlanta Braves - The issue here is the use of the Native American mascot, not the name.  So, I suggest that they keep the name, but change the mascot to that of a Viking.  I am a Scandinavian-American, and so the use of the Viking does not offend me.  Were the Vikings brave?  Well, they climbed into a rickety small boat, rowed across the northern Atlantic, and then arrived at North America.  And the Native Americans won't be offended at this, either, because the Native Americans kicked the Vikings asses so bad, they didn't come back for almost 600 years.

The Cleveland Indians - The issue here is with the Native American mascot, not the name, so keep the Indian name, but associate with the real Indians.  They could fashion uniforms with a Nehru collar, pipe in sitar music between innings, and serve curry in the stands. 

The Washington Redskins - Okay, this is the most offensive.  Die-hard Redskin fans say that it isn't derogatory and they aren't associating the name "Redskin" with Native Americans (except that the Native American appears on their logo).  One of the compromises suggested when Miami (Ohio) University had a similar issue was to change the mascot from a Native American to a potato.  But I suggest that Washington keep the logo, but change the name to "Warriors."  It is more alliterative, and yet it allows the Native American mascot to be associated with something positive and still non-tribal specific.

As a Scandinavian-American, I don't take offense to the use of the name "Viking" used by the Minnesota Vikings.  In fact, I think it helps preserve some of the heritage of my ancestors.  But, I wouldn't be as supportive if they called them "The Raping and Pillaging Swedes", which I think is the issue with so many Native Americans, when they portray Native Americans in a not-so-positive light.

So, I agree that some things should change, but let's not go so far as we start changing all the "Warriors", "Braves", and "Raiders" to "Hope", "Rainbows", and "Oaks".

And while we are on the subject, how about this:

Favorite Team Name:  Macon Whoopee.  So, it's a little abstract, and their symbol is a whooping crane, but you have to admit, there is something pretty daring when you name your team after sex.  And that's cool.

Most Original Name:  University of California Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.  It's kind of wimpy, but it is named after an animal and the students and fans seem to support it.  And it's still better than the Freedom or Oaks.

Worst Name:  Columbus Blue Jackets.  Back when it was speculated that the Hartford Whalers would relocate to Columbus, everyone knew that the team would be called the "Explorers."  But when Columbus finally landed a team, they called them the "Blue Jackets".  What the hell is a Blue Jacket?