Steve Barnes

Barnestorming: Nickname Police Need To Be Arrested

Created on Sept. 27, 2013 10:22 AM EST

I am offended about the nickname argument in sports these days.  

No, I am not talking about whether or not Washington should drop the Redskins nickname. I am offended by the people who claim they are offended.  

On two occasions, I covered games at Arkansas State. In the 1990s, ASU played at Indian Stadium because the team was known as the Arkansas State Indians. They even had a tepee on the sideline. It was cool. But ASU, like Stanford, Miami (Ohio) and Louisiana-Monroe, dropped the name because of pressure from the Nickname Police.  

At the moment, the brouhaha is concerning the Washington Redskins. I am not sure if that offends all native Americans, but if it does, I will side with them. But why now and not in 1950? Why not then when their owner would not allow an African-American players on the squad? In 2013, this is suddenly an issue? Or are the offended looking for their 15 minutes of fame in the same manner as a Kardashian, Kato Kalen or Paris Hilton?

Folks, I am sure the booking people at the Jerry Springer Show are out there; just find their number.  

Still, hey, I am with you guys, let's get rid of it. Redskins is offensive to some. But, we can't stop there. Take a look at the nicknames in college football. I found a bunch that could be considered offensive. We need to change them all. I even broke them down into categories that I believe no one could argue against banning. I have warmongers, ethnicity, criminals, and one each for religious reasons and Prohibition.  

I've heard someone say the Atlanta Braves is an offensive nickname. I don't see that. I see a Brave as a warrior. Therefore, a warrior is offensive.

OK, here we go.

My family is from England. A Knight is to England to what a Brave is to Native Americans. So, Army, Rutgers and Central Florida lose the name Knights. Also, in the same spirit, Virginia can't be Cavaliers; Michigan State and San Jose State, get rid of Spartans; Southern California and Troy, sorry, you can't be Trojans anymore; Vanderbilt, you can cancel the idea of being Commodores; UNLV and Ole Miss, Rebels is really out of bounds and Hawaii, what were you thinking calling yourselves Warriors? See you later Tennessee Volunteers. I didn't even mention the Western Michigan Leathernecks. Not all of us were Marines.  

But at least those nicknames were based in a time of war. What about those who are just plain criminals?  

East Carolina, your mascot is based on a history of rape, robbery and murder. So long, Pirates. I guess it is the same deal for the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and the Idaho Vandals. It seems even a colorful adjective will not save a couple of you.  

Let's not forget the Carrie Nation group out there that must be appalled by the Purdue Boilermakers. I am sure that was a profession a century or so ago, but to me it is a shot of whiskey in a beer. Get them out of here or society certainly will go straight to hell.  

We can't forget religion either. Surely major league baseball can dissolve the San Diego Padres because protestants would be offended. Hey, Tampa Bay dropped "Devil" from their original name to become the Rays. Then again, they went to the World Series soon after so there might be something to it. So adios Arizona State Sun Devils, no matter what Pat Tillman did for your school and our country. He was proud to be a Sun Devil and so he is now offensive.  

But the original argument was about ethnicity. I can deal with that. Louisiana-Lafayette Rajun Cajuns? Sorry, that is no good. You have to go. Central Michigan Chippewas? Way over the line. It doesn't matter the Seminole Nation approves of using the moniker for Florida State as a way to represent a Native American tribe with pride. Too dangerous. Grrrrr.  

There is one school that is very offensive. For some reason, however, I don't see the NCAA or an advertiser or a fan getting on them for it. What can be more offensive to a segment of the population than the Notre Dame Fighting Irish? They name an ethnic group with an obvious anger problem. Would they have been named the Fighting Italians, Fighting Negroes or Fighting Swedes? I doubt it. Where is the outrage about that mascot? It depicts a leprechaun, smoking a pipe and striking a fighting pose. So does Notre Dame support short, drunk smokers who are looking to kick someone's butt?  


Neither do the schools I mentioned before because of their nicknames. We have honest-to-God problems in this country. Children don't learn in school, veterans are homeless and the elderly can't afford health care. Is a nickname really a big deal?  

Nickname Police, either give it a rest or arrest yourselves.

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