Thursday, December 04, 2003

The Kansas City Star and Gregg Easterbrook both refuse to use the team nickname Redskins, as in Washington Redskins, on the ground that it's a demeaning and racist term. Easterbrook defends using names like "Chiefs" and "Indians", though, on the grounds that we name sports teams after people or things we admire. You know, the Tigers or the Lions, or the Giants or the Patriots. The Jets are fast and the Bears are strong and the Steelers and the Packers are tough working dudes. You have names that celebrate real groups of people, like the Forty-Niners or the Seventy-Sixers. And you have teams named after other ethnic groups, like the Vikings and the Fighting Irish. Or the multiculturally correct Padres, named for the brave pioneer priests and monks of Spanish / Mexican origin who founded the first mission settlement at San Diego.

"Redskin", though, is thought by many to be offensive. I have to admit I've never thought of it as insulting, but I'll of course happily leave it up to the Indians, most of whom not only don't mind being called "Indians", but use the word themselves. If they think "Redskin" is offensive, though, then it ought to be changed.

Either P.J. O'Rourke or Mike Royko once wrote a piece on how we ought to name sports teams after their city or state's most prominent ethnic groups. So you'd have the San Antonio Spicks and the New York Jewboys and the Atlanta Niggers and the Boston Micks and the Milwaukee Polacks and the New Joisey Wops and the Dallas Trailer Trash. You could have the Los Angeles Entire Third World. Or maybe the Los Angeles Japs, in honor of both kinds. But what would you call the San Francisco team?

You could name teams after their city's best-known social group, like the Seattle Slackers or the Detroit Criminals. The San Jose Nerds. Maybe the Brooklyn Gangstas. Or the Cincinnati Rogue Cops or the Kansas City Inbred Ozark Mountaineers. The New Orleans Burglars. The Tennessee Hillbillies. The Utah Bigamists. The Las Vegas Mafiosi. The Mississippi Klansmen. The Texas Shitkickers. The Bronx Arsonists. The Florida Coffin Dodgers.

Or maybe we could have really offensive names, harping on what cities would like to forget about themselves, so we could have the Dallas Dead Kennedys, thus managing to name a sports team after a rock band. Or maybe the Detroit Race Riots or the California Forest Fires. The Alabama Lynch Mob. The Chicago Dillingers. The Montana Vigilantes. The Oklahoma Dust Storms.

European sports teams don't have nicknames, at least not official ones. Too bad. Here in Barcelona we could have two teams, the Barcelona Polacos and the Barcelona Charnegos. Maybe the Bilbao Etarras or the Guipuzcoa Terrorists. The Sevilla Thievin' Gypsies. The Extremadura Unemployed. The Valencia Salmonella Paellas or the Benidorm Sunburned Tourists. The Mallorca Krauts, of course. The Madrid Fightin' Drunks. The Burgos Fachas. The Sitges--we'll skip that one, too. The Galicia Dope Traffickers. The Almeria Migrant Workers. The imagination boggles.

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