By Michael C. Jones

In my household, there are certain words that are not uttered. The couple of most obvious ones my kids hear on a regular basis from their salty-mouthed grandfathers, but Jason and Olivia have the good sense not to repeat them. I’m not sure how many other of George Carlin’s forbidden words they know, because they don’t go around saying them, and I’m not about to ask.

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There’s another, less obvious word that is not used in our house. And if my wife and I accidentally start to say it, Olivia, who is nine, will cut us off – “Language!”

That word is Redskins.

We watched Monday Night Football, and it wasn’t like we rooted against the team that represents Washington, DC. In fact, it’s part of our genetic makeup to hate the Dallas Cowboys, so we wouldn’t have minded if the team we call the R-words had won. We realize these players are doing their jobs, and it’s not up to them what the team is called. But we do look forward to the day – and we’re certain it will happen eventually – when the R-words will change their name and logo. After all, it’s been done before.

With that in mind, here are examples of teams with objectionable names seeing the light and adopting less controversial monikers.

Stanford Indians

Stanford changed its team’s sports names following complaints from Native American students and a vote by student government…in 1972! Sure, now they’re the Cardinal, a color, but it’s a team uniform color, not a skin color. After Stanford first made the switch, they briefly went by Cardinals, with an S, as in a bunch of people wearing their school color, but people were all, “You mean, like the bird?” So they dropped the S to make it clear that they are a color. Though their mascot is a tree. Stanford smarties, go figure.

St. John’s Redmen

Officials at St. John’s also were inspired by the color of their uniforms when they adopted the name Redmen in 1928, and no one seemed to mind at the time. But then a group of alumni brought a cigar store Indian figure to a football game, and the inspiration for the name became twisted. That the figure, dubbed “Chief Blackjack,” inspired “war-whoops” among supporters didn’t help. St. John’s responded to concern about the Native American association and changed their teams to the Red Storm in 1994.

Thailand Tobacco Monopoly

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Yes, there once was a Thai soccer team called the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly, named for a product that kills millions of people every year (six million, according to the World Health Organization). This team plays in the Thai Division 1 League, and they even won the Thai Premier League title in 2005. They formed in 1963 and were named for a company called – wait for it – Thailand Tobacco Monopoly. The team changed its name in 2009, and has changed it again a couple of times since, but each time they retained the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly legacy in the form of initials, and are now TTM Chaingmai.

South African Dangerous Darkies

We are not making this up: In 1991-92, as apartheid was gasping its dying breaths, there was birthed a soccer team called the South African Dangerous Darkies. Their name changed when they merged with another South African National Soccer League team, Witbank Aces, to form the Mpumalanga Black Aces FC, with a logo that reflects the ace of spades.

Pekin Chinks

The founders of Pekin, Illinois differentiated their town from their namesake big city halfway around the world, Peking, China, by dropping the G. But then Pekin High School reaffirmed the association in an unfortunate way by deciding to call their sports teams the Pekin Chinks. Their mascot would bang a gong after a big play. The school woke up to the offensiveness of their moniker in 1980 and changed their name to the Pekin Dragons, a name offensive perhaps only to hobbits.

There are others examples I could cite, but their old names are so objectionable that the administrators who run CBS servers would not appreciate having those names even mentioned on those hard drives.

Eventually, perhaps the R-words will fit into that category as well.




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