By Phil Hecken
We’re ready for the next Uni Watch design contest, and this one is a little different than all the past contests — we’ll be doing more than just designing a logo and uniform for the two teams whose current logos you see above, we’ll be deciding upon new names for them as well. Just why might the Cleveland baseball team and the Washington football team need new names and logos, you might ask. If the above graphic doesn’t make it pretty clear, please allow me to elaborate. But first, the rules:
Today, we’ll be voting on a new name for the Cleveland baseball and Washington football teams. I’ll leave the polls open all week and next weekend, the winners of the new names for both teams will be announced. After that, it’s pretty much going to be like the other contests on UW — using the new name, design a new logo and uniform for each team. I know a lot of people are quite fond of the current colors of the Washington team (burgundy and gold), as am I, so when it comes time to designing a new uniform, feel free to use the current colors and/or template. Just make sure you incorporate the new name and a logo into them. OK? OK. Now, onto the voting:
If it isn’t apparent as to why we’re having this contest, the idea came into being just over two weeks ago (March 2, 2012 to be precise), when there was quite of bit of commentary by many readers about the North Dakota athletic department, and the discussion over their nickname “Fighting Sioux.” As is our wont, in the comments, some heated (and mostly respectful) statements were made, and the conversation inevitably morphed to pro teams that use Native American (or other ethnic) names and logos. I won’t rehash all the commentary, but you’re free to refer to it by following the link above.
Hatched within those comments was a suggestion put forth by a reader who goes by “JAson” which read as follows:
“I’ll just throw out the suggestion of a rename-the-Indians contest for weekend posts. Maybe the commUnity could come up with a good replacement nickname then we could have a design contest to go along with the new name? Any takers??”
And the contest in which we’re about to engage was born.
Now, I’m sure many of you agree with me that both the current names for the Cleveland and Washington teams are, if not outright racist, are certainly offensive. And before any of you say, “Oh, get the hell of your high PC horse,” I’ll be the first to say I’m NOT one to jump on the PC bandwagon. I believe the decision to remove the cigar from the Tampa Smokers uniform and the (thankfully rescinded) decision to remove the gun from the Houston Colt .45s jerseys in the name of “political correctness” was absolute hogwash. But changing the logos and name of the Washington team, and the logo (and almost assuredly) and name of the Cleveland team are far beyond what anyone should consider “political correctness.”
Let’s take Cleveland first. A bit of background on how the team came to acquire its name: According to Sports E-Cyclopedia, “Professional baseball in Cleveland pre-dates the founding of the American League. Cleveland had teams in the National Association, early National League, and American Association before the Cleveland Spiders joined the National League in 1889. … The Indians never manage to win the pennant and after the 1898 season their owner Frank Robinson buys the Cardinals and ships all the stars, including Cy Young, with him to St. Louis. The remaining Spiders team is so bad no one shows up to watch them play and the team is forced to play every game on the road for a few months. The Spiders finish with an embarrassing 20-134 record, which still remains the worst in baseball history. After the season the Spiders are one of four teams the National League disbands leaving Cleveland without a Big League Ballclub.” Apparently, at some point in the 1890s, the name “Indians” was also used informally.
By the time 1901 rolls around, the American League forms and Cleveland is awarded a franchise, which is nicknamed the “Blues” and then the “Bronchos.” They keep that name for a few years, and during this time, UW hero, and godfather of the stirrup, Nap Lajoie joins the team — quickly the team is re-nicknamed the “Naps.” They’d continue to play as the Naps until Lajoie left. It was at this point when the Cleveland team got the name it carries today. Here’s how:
With the departure of Nap Lajoie, the team needed a new name, so it decided to revive a name the old 1890’s National League team had once use, Indians in honor of Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian, who played for the team in 1897. In their first season known as the Indians the club finishes in seventh place with a 57-97 record. (Sports E-Cyclopedia)
While the naming of the team, at least on the face, was ‘honorific,’ the use of offensive and derogatory imagery began in 1928 and continues to this day. The current smiling “Chief Wahoo” isn’t cute or honorable in the least. You wouldn’t put the caricature of a black man or an Asian man on a sleeve or a cap, would you? Of course not. So why is it acceptable to have an extremely red-faced, smiling caricature of a Native American on a cap? That’s right, it’s not.
In fact, if you knew nothing of the baseball club, and someone showed you these caps and told you they were legitimate teams, you’d tell them (or at least I hope you would) to “GTFO.” Want more proof? You wouldn’t use the logo on the left for a ballclub, right (even though it’s technically more correct, since ‘American Indians’ were misnamed from the start). You wouldn’t even, in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, use whites for a team name, right? Of course not. Let’s look at one more. You’d never accept any of the other three logos without feeling a bit repulsed, so why would the one currently in use be “OK”? That’s right, it isn’t.
So that’s why we need to rename (and re-logo) the Indians.
The Washington team is even worse. While at least the name “Indian” is not in and of itself offensive, the term “Redskin” most certainly is. You wouldn’t name a team “Niggers” or “Kikes” (not if you wanted to ever show your face in public, anyway), but “Redskin” is somehow “OK”? No, it’s not. And it would be one thing if the name had a deep historical precedent (at least “Indians” has some ‘historical’ claim), but the entire name and team were shrouded in racism at the time the name was selected. A review of the book, “Racist Redskins” (for the review, click here) explains it better than I ever could. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, allow me to select some choice passages:
The (Redskins) nickname had been the brainchild of George Preston Marshall, a laundry magnate and flamboyant showman who had bought the Boston Braves football team in 1932. As his second head coach, Marshall hired William “Lone Star” Dietz, a journeyman coach at the collegiate level whose mother was most likely a Sioux. It was in “honor” of Dietz, who coached the team for just two seasons and who at Marshall’s urging willingly put on war paint and Indian feathers before home games, that Marshall changed the team’s name to the Redskins. When Marshall, frustrated by Boston fans’ lack of support, moved the franchise to the nation’s capital in 1937, the coach was gone, but the team name stayed.
The move to Washington meant that the Redskins were now the young National Football League’s most southern team, its only one below the Mason-Dixon Line. Marshall, a native of Grafton, West Virginia, a small railroad town, had grown up with very Southern attitudes. In 1936, when he proposed to his wife, Corrine, he arranged a set piece to impress her, writes Thomas G. Smith in Showdown: he wooed the former MGM starlet “amidst fragrant honeysuckle while a group of African American performers sang ‘Carry Me Back to Old Virginny’” (“Massa and Missus have long since gone before me/Soon we will meet on that bright and golden shore”). Attending them were two young black women dressed in costumes out of Gone With the Wind (published that same year) who brought them mint juleps. Marshall aggressively marketed the Redskins as the South’s team. He would be the last NFL owner to integrate his team and did so after years of heavy resistance and only because of government pressure.
Now, maybe the author of that book has an ax to grind. Maybe his facts are slightly askew. But there is more than enough evidence elsewhere to point to the fact that the name chosen by Marshall was, even if not considered by the standards of the time, offensive if not outright racist. The logo most certainly is. Beginning in 1937, and, except for a brief 2 year respite during the time Vince Lombardi redesigned the uniforms to look like his championship Packers teams, the Washington football club has always used a Native American (one whose skin tone was decidedly darker than red), with an especially offensive alternate logo in use from 1960-1965.
The helmet has also used Native American imagery, since the first logo was added in 1959. That was used until 1964, and replaced with the spear logo, which stayed on the helmet until the “Lombardi ‘R’” (less offensive, but still using feathers). It was quickly replaced in 1972 with the Native American head (inside a tribal drum with attached feathers) that is basically the same logo as they use today.
Do you consider this offensive? If not, then I ask you whether you consider this or this to be offensive. And if the names of either of those teams were “Blackskins” or “Yellowskins,” complete with a cartoonish caricature, surely then you’d find them off-putting, at the very least, yes?
Yet the Redskins organization refused to change the name, even after being taken to court:
In 1992, four years after Jesse Jackson joined Stanford students in chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go,” the Native American writer and activist Suzan Harjo, who had moved to Washington, D.C., in the 1970s, became the lead plaintiff in a case against the Washington Redskins football organization. She was joined by six other Native Americans, including the writer Vine Deloria Jr. This intended blow on behalf of Native American dignity—an attempt to force the team to change its name—took the form of a trademark registration case. Under the Lanham Act of 1946, any “mark” that is disparaging or that may bring a group of citizens into disrepute is not afforded the normal trademark protections.
One last passage from “Racist Redskins” sums it all up very well:
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary labels “redskin” as “usually offensive,” placing it in the company of “darky,” “kike,” and “dago.” But the Redskins fought the suit for years, and finally, in 2009, the Supreme Court refused to hear the plaintiff’s appeal, letting stand a lower court decision in favor of the football team chiefly on the grounds that the plaintiffs had waited too long to file their claim.
Would the plaintiffs have won had they filed sooner or chosen a different legal claim? I’m not a lawyer so I wouldn’t even hazard a guess, but obviously the team could change the name if they so choose.
I’m sorry to have gone on so long about this (and I could easily go on for another 2,000 words), but it is something about which I feel very strongly. As I say, I’m opposed to the PC Police cleansing things (particularly historical uniforms) for our “betterment.” But this goes far beyond PC. This is about fairness and decency. You can cite to me all the “polls” and “surveys” you want that purport “80% of the ______ tribe don’t find the Redskins name and logo offensive.” But if I told you a survey said “20% of African Americans find the name Nigger Offensive” you wouldn’t go touting that as evidence that the term is perfectly acceptable to use.
It’s not just the Washington football team or the Cleveland baseball team. There are other teams at the pro and college level that continue to make use of Native American names and imagery — whether with tacit approval or not — and those should change as well. But history and the Supreme Court seem inclined to keep permitting the use of these names and symbols.
In that comments of that article from March 2 that I cited above, Paul put it in a different (but equally compelling) light. And he looks at it from another equally important (if not more so) perspective:
It’s not about whether the names themselves are “derogatory”; it’s about whether a culture that stole a continent through a genocidal campaign of ethnic cleansing has any right to be appropriating the cleansed culture’s iconography. THAT’S what’s offensive — cherrypicking names and imagery from a people you more or less destroyed, and using that imagery to SELL STUFF. It’s vulgar.
Well said Paul, well said.
OK — I’ve had my say. There aren’t too many issues about which I feel this strongly, but this is one of the big ones. Maybe our little “Rename the Cleveland and Washington Teams” contest can spur on some meaningful change. Maybe not. But at least I got this off my chest (which probably now has a giant bulls-eye for some of you). Fire away.
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Bit smaller set today, but still featuring the G&G Boys, and a bonus — I had been sent some colorizations about 2 weeks ago that I completely missed posting, so I’m running them today as if they were brand new. We’ll start with those.
Up first is Pete Woychick, who has sent in some nice colorizations before:
Two more NHL colorizations:
The image is rather grainy (newsprint scan?) but I couldn’t resist those Bruins uniforms. Judging from the article and the uniforms, I believe this is early- to mid-1960s, so this game would have been in Boston. (I was a little disappointed I wasn’t able to include the distinctive blue kickplate from the old Montreal Forum.) I confess I have no idea what is going on with the Boston socks, as apparently no two were alike, haha!
Talk about protecting the net! Is it just me, or does the skater nearest the puck look a bit like Frank Sinatra? I was really pleased with the way adding a touch of blue to the windows in the background made the whole scene feel more cold and wintry.
Thanks Pete! Sorry for not running these when you sent them in!
Up next is “Curious” George Chilvers, with three (count ’em) THREE for us this week:
Thanks for the kind words :)
I’ll set things off for this week with this colourisation of the 1912 Great Britain Olympics gold-medallists. I had a look through the records and miraculously only one of the team (Joseph Dines) fell in the First World War which started just two years later – although a couple did receive injuries. Of strange note however is that the goalkeeper, Ronald Brebner, died on 14 November 1914 as a result of head injuries while playing in goal for Leicester Fosse.
You will note that, although the shirts are uniform, socks and shorts are not. This was quite common at the time that the organisers of the team provided shirts but the rest of the kit was the responsibility of the players. So the shorts in this picture are of differing styles and shades (the guy in the middle looks like he’s appropriated some jodhpurs!) and socks were of the players’ own teams.
Original can be found here.
And George the Second:
This is an action shot from a rugby game played locally back in 1972. The team in amber scoring are Orrell and the tale is told by the photographer, David Simm:
“Back in 1972 the Lancashire Cup was brought out of retirement after 70 plus years under wraps, the two finalists were Orrell RUFC and Liverpool at the Waterloo ground. It was a fairly tough match with absolutely no score until the closing minutes. There was a small contingent of news/sport photographers covering the event and even the most hardened pros were not ready for what happened with just seconds to go.
As spectators were drifting towards the club house for the obligatory post game pints Orrell forwards broke through the Liverpool defense and passed the ball to Barry Fishwick, who powered his way across the try line to win the game for Orrell.
Only two of the press contingent were able to capture the image, Gordon Hurst, from the Brock Mill Office of The Lancashire Evening Post, who had walked under the Liverpool sticks with me, after I had said “If it’s going to happen at all it has to be now”. Together we waited until Barry put the ball down at my feet and I went home with the best shot of the day.”
Liverpool RUFC by the way have a slight claim in history. When Everton FC had an argument over rent with the landlords of Anfield, they moved on to Goodison Park. But some stayed to form a new club at Anfield. They wanted to call themselves “Liverpool FC”, but the rugby club (here pictured) objected as they already had the name “Liverpool”. It was all settled amicably – but that’s how close we were to talking about “Liverpool Rovers” playing at Anfield :)
Here’s the black and white of the above colorization.
And…the Madness of George the Third:
And a third for this week.
As it’s St Patrick’s Day this weekend we must celebrate him, so here’s an 1895 picture of the football team of the country of his birth in their green and white shirts. Yes – that’s right – it’s Wales.
And for anyone on UW who might just be interested in team colours etc (I know it’s a long shot that there will be anyone that sad, but you never know) Ireland at the time wore pale blue shirts.
Yours, happily informative
And the original of the above.
Outstanding, as always G. Love that harlequin kit of Wales!
We close today with the second (or is it first) half of the G&G Boys, Mr. Gary Chanko, with a bit of large furniture (or would it be a Splinter with a big stick?):
I’m always searching for unusual sports photos to colorize, particularly images that have an interesting history or backstory. While looking through the LIFE Magazine archives I came across a Ted Williams photo I’d never seen before and one that headed me down yet another rabbit hole. If you’re from central Mass or have been through the City of Gardner this story may be familiar.
In late August 1946 it was Gardner Day at Fenway Park. The September 9, 1946, issue of Life magazine [p. 53] covered the event with a feature article [worth reading], including the amazing Williams photo. When I set out to begin the colorization I had no idea what color the “Big Chair” might be. After a bit of Internet research I found my answer and a few more surprises.
Outstanding as well Gary.
OK, that’s it for the colorizations for this week. Back with more next time around…
by Rick Pearson
And the subject, believe it or not, wasn’t politics…
And of course, the full-size.
Thanks, Rick. That slogan might look great on a t-shirt:
How ’bout you readers? Would you buy a “Benchies” t-shirt? Not necessarily either of those (I just fooled around with them one night), but if Rick were to make some tee’s up, would any of you have any interest?
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
And so, lets begin:
We start with David Jarrett, who has some concepts for the Panthers of Carolina (and making sure to add the MOTB):
Hi, I’m a HUGE Carolina Panthers fan. And when they release the new logo I kept thinking “I wonder what their uniforms would look like if they changed them.” So I designed this picture — I am by no means a professional uniform designer — I did most of it with a paint brush on Photoshop. I left the jerseys alone, basically (besides adding the new logo and Nike logo) changing the pants to black with the same “tooth” design with the logo inside, and the socks are blue. I made the helmet black because since the removed the white border, black is the best background color for it. Please let me know what you think!
Next up we have Lee Traylor, who remakes the Titans, also taking care to add the swoosh to the mock:
Attached my attempt to re-make the most nauseating uniforms in sports. Maybe a little too boring for some people, but I love the simple, throwback look. With awesome uniforms like the Oilers’ in their past, I have zero patience for the Titans’ current atrocities. Zero. Patience.
Finally we have Shaun Woods, who has a USA soccer redesign (also with swooshie goodness):
This is my re-design of the new US soccer away kit. Let me know what you think.
That is all for this weekend. Back next weekend with more.
MoVi’s NCAA 5 & 1
That’s right, last time we heard from Señor Vilk, he was debating 5 & 1 retirement, having put up with my crap for an entire NCAA Football Season. But with spring just around the corner and his favorite sport that doesn’t involve intentionally kicking a ball in full swing, he’s revitalized and out of hibernation to bring us his first set of 5 & 1’s for the NCAA hoops tourney.
So, let’s see how he’s doing:
Forty-four games to choose from in this first list, so there will be some honorable mentions.
Such as…New Mexico State/Indiana — I was rooting for the Aggies, but both unis are winners.
And South Florida/Temple — That Temple player must have seen my bracket.
5. VCU/Indiana — I was rooting for the Rams, but…well, you know the rest.
4. BYU/Marquette — Jimmerless, but definitely not colorless.
3. Gonzaga/Ohio State — A little busy, yes, but in a very good way.
2. St. Bonaventure/Florida State — Love the feather and the stripes.
1. Long Beach State/New Mexico — The colors, “The Beach,” the fonts…this might be the most unique game of the tourney.
And the bad one: South Dakota State/Baylor — I actually like the Baylor unis…but not on Baylor.
Ah…MoVi. We missed ya. (But our aim is getting better)
And THAT, folks, is a wrap. Enjoy your Sunday, vote in the “Re-Name The Indians/Redskins” polls, tell us whether you’d have any interest in a Benchies T-Shirt…and at least consider the need to change the Cleveland baseball and Washington football team names. Next weekend, I’ll announce the poll winners and set up the contest parameters.
“This is not a knock on the Redskins fans, or on their great teams in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, but you can’t deny that there may not be a pro sports franchise in North America that has a more troubled history regarding race. George Preston Marshall was a bad guy. He fought tooth and nail against integration. The Redskins were the last team to break the color barrier. “Redskins” is just part of the problem.” — Cort McMurray