• Help Support The Rugby Forum :

Offensive Team Names

RedruthRFC

First XV
TRF Legend
Joined
Nov 29, 2011
Messages
2,224
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

England

Just spied this on the BBC website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-36965975

Apparently an academic and native American history expert is calling for Exeter Chiefs to change their name as it promotes our colonial past and appropriates native American culture.

I can follow the point to an extent, but it seems like a step too far to me. It's not as if Exeter are celebrating the colonisation and I'm not convinced that cultural appropriation is a negative thing. Should the All Blacks be made to stop performing the haka as they're a diverse group appropriating one particular culture? Should the Cornish Pirates change name as they're celebrating the nefarious ways of their eye patch wearing namesakes?

IIRC, teams in the states have been under pressure to change their names (e.g. Braves and Redskins), but I don't know if anything has come of it. Come to think of it, the Fighting Irish is surely more offensive.

Thoughts anyone?
 

ratsapprentice

Hall of Fame
TRF Legend
Joined
Jan 25, 2013
Messages
12,106
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

England

I don't buy the appropriation aspect, sure, it is appropriation to an extent. But I fail to see how it's any more harmful than the Minnesota Vikings or Saracens, for example...
 

Bruce_ma_goose

First XV
Joined
Jun 22, 2016
Messages
3,835
Country Flag

Scotland

Club or Nation

Italy

If wikipedia is to be believed the term "chiefs" was used in relation to Exeter rugby as far back as the 30s and has been used officially since the 90s. I'd object to a new team being called that in this day and age, but if the name has historic roots I've less of an objection (e.g. Kansas City Chiefs). It touches more of a nerve if the term is used in the US or UK given the history of subjugation and/or imperialism by those two nation-states against native americans. I'd argue its less of an issue in the UK as we don't have a significant native american population. The term "Chiefs" is probably far less questionable in Super Rugby given New Zealand's apparently relatively enlightened attitude to indigenous people (e.g. unlike Australia, I think they recognised them as being human beings . So personally, I'd let all "Chiefs" continue without any issue.

"Redskins" is a different matter altogether and was unacceptable at its creation and is unacceptable now. You don't have to think long about alternatives for other ethnic groups to consider it objectionable and despite claims to the contrary, the people that introduced it had absolutely no intention of celebrating native american culture or supporting the plight of native americans. There should be no issue with Pirates, and the Irish don't have a history of oppression in the US so I don't think "Fighting Irish" has the same negative connotations.
 

Peat

Hall of Fame
Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
10,086
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Ulster

There is totally a history of oppression against the Irish in the US.

However the key word there is history. The Irish are fine in the US today. Native Americans aren't. The big difference between Exeter Chiefs' current image and Minnesota Vikings, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Saracens, whoever, is one is the live cultural identity of a marginalised group and the others aren't. Although if the Arab world started to object to the term Saracens, that might be different. But I have seen no sign of that, while everyone who is interested knows a significant amount of Native Americans aren't too happy with the use of Native American insignia on team badges. That's the difference and its a pretty significant one to me.

Should Exeter Chiefs change their name? No. Them being the Exeter Chiefs predates the whole head dress tomfoolery as far as I'm aware. Should they dump that tomfoolery? I think so and have thought so for a while. Whats it even got to do with Exeter to begin with? I know dumb associations sticking is part and parcel of sport but that one always felt particularly dumb to me.
 

RedruthRFC

First XV
TRF Legend
Joined
Nov 29, 2011
Messages
2,224
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

England

If wikipedia is to be believed the term "chiefs" was used in relation to Exeter rugby as far back as the 30s and has been used officially since the 90s. I'd object to a new team being called that in this day and age, but if the name has historic roots I've less of an objection (e.g. Kansas City Chiefs).

That's about right, the origins have been debated here quite recently, it should be quite easy to find the thread or the articles it was based on if you're interested in reading more (sorry, I'm in a hurry so won't provide links). However, until the rebrand and in particular new logo, there was no implication of a native American link in the name.

Out of interest, what would be the basis of your objection to a new team called Chiefs?

"Redskins" is a different matter altogether and was unacceptable at its creation and is unacceptable now. You don't have to think long about alternatives for other ethnic groups to consider it objectionable and despite claims to the contrary, the people that introduced it had absolutely no intention of celebrating native american culture or supporting the plight of native americans. There should be no issue with Pirates, and the Irish don't have a history of oppression in the US so I don't think "Fighting Irish" has the same negative connotations.

I seem to remember reading a bit about the word "redskins" a while ago now I see it written again and tend to agree with your point of view. According to my comprehensive of Americana gleaned from watching American film and TV, I don;t agree at all about the Irish bit - my impression is that Irish-Americans were and still are subject to discrimination typified by the stereotype that they're a bunch of drunken brawlers.

Re: the Pirates, for the most part, I was engaging in reductio ad absurdum, clearly there is no cultural appropriation going on, but you could argue that it is promoting historic actions that shouldn't be celebrated.
 

ncurd

Hall of Fame
TRF Legend
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
11,200
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Bath

Redskins is considered a racial slur and really bad connotations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Redskins_name_controversy

Nothing has happened on this front.

I suppose I can see the point with Chiefs they play to racial stereotypes with headgear and hollering at theirs games (rather than it being cultural appropriation). Is it worth kicking up a fuss over? I'm not sure.
 

SelimNiai

'Ark at ee mun!
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Messages
6,708
Country Flag

Wales

Club or Nation

Bristol

Just another hysterical person looking for their 15 minutes of fame. Just because you study a subject like this it doesnt mean you know it all and also understand how they'd react to given situations.

The Redskins, yes, needs to go. Its the equivalent of naming a basketball team the N-words. Its that bad. The Cleveland Indians had a logo that was deemed offensive and has since been retired but I think its telling that this call hasn't come from a Native American group or tribe, if it had it may carry some weight. As it is, boring, move on.
 

Bruce_ma_goose

First XV
Joined
Jun 22, 2016
Messages
3,835
Country Flag

Scotland

Club or Nation

Italy

Out of interest, what would be the basis of your objection to a new team called Chiefs?

Well, I'd have no objection if it was a sports team with a strong native american fan base. But that aside I suppose its for two reasons. Firstly, because its fundamentally irrelevant to the area a team is based in (I also hate ones like Leeds Rhinos for the same reason).

Secondly, because a lot of sports names are built on masculine, confrontational stereotypes which makes sense for a sports team (Bulls and Bills rather than cows, Rams rather than sheep, Warriors rather than widows). So I'd argue that Chiefs being employed as a name is probably aiming to project similar images of masculinity, power and confrontation. Probably through some kind of warped interpretation of native americans historically being a single warlike people who made "heap big trouble" and scalped people. I think that's a bit of fun and probably done with the best of intentions 50 years ago. I think it'd be a bit stupid and crass now but I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Its why I liked the US Pro Rugby names so much. Names that often relate to their local area, project power and excitement but don't needlessly offend cross sections of the population.

And apologies if I caused any offence with my suggestion that the Irish weren't treated badly in the States. I was coming from the perspective that, as far as I'm aware, they always had the right to vote and practice their religion(s), didn't get systematically removed from their property by the authorities and weren't disproportionately gunned down by the police or imprisoned by skewed drugs legislation. But as a Scot I can see why the "drunken brawler" stereotype might be a pain in the backside and I'd understand if an Irish American was a bit bummed out with the name (even though the crazy embrace of St Patricks Day probably should reassure them that they aren't a hated minority).
 
Last edited:

ratsapprentice

Hall of Fame
TRF Legend
Joined
Jan 25, 2013
Messages
12,106
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

England

Should Exeter Chiefs change their name? No. Them being the Exeter Chiefs predates the whole head dress tomfoolery as far as I'm aware. Should they dump that tomfoolery? I think so and have thought so for a while. Whats it even got to do with Exeter to begin with? I know dumb associations sticking is part and parcel of sport but that one always felt particularly dumb to me.


About as much as Hampstead FC had to do with Harlequins or Wasps... they just liked the aesthetic.

This is about on the same level as military personnel complaining about teams called "Warriors" IMO.
There are legitimate grievances, if the intention is to actually imply something deeper than an aesthetic caricature, but if that's all it is, then I think it's fair.

For example - I wouldn't be upset if, for example, a sports team from Arizona decided to call themselves "The Redcoats" and had a British soldier as their mascot.
If they called themselves the "The Palefaces" and were clearly trying to patronise or be disdainful towards another culture, then that's a different story.

If I was to start a sports team, I wouldn't be calling them the Chiefs or using Native American imagery to embellish them.
But I don't think there is enough wrong with the Exeter Chiefs branding to get them to change their name or imagery since it's already established (although I can accept that there is an argument about how well established it is).
 
Last edited:

Peat

Hall of Fame
Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
10,086
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Ulster

As I said, dumb associations is part and parcel of sport, but that one is particularly dumb. Wasps, Harlequns, Tigers... neutral concepts. Chiefs? Well, that's a neutral concept in fairness, everywhere has chiefs. Native American chiefs in Exeter? Uhm. Its extra dumb.

And I think its fair to have a grievance with an aesthetic caricature of one's culture. That you would choose not to have such a grievance doesn't mean others don't have a right to, particularly given the difference in esteem our culture is held in and their culture is held in.

Could be worse though. Local ice hockey team to me is the Streatham Redskins. They even have a tom-tom at games. I'm not offended, but I don't half cringe.
 

ratsapprentice

Hall of Fame
TRF Legend
Joined
Jan 25, 2013
Messages
12,106
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

England

So you think the Exeter Chiefs decided to use Native American imagery because they don't hold it in high esteem!?

As opposed to using Anglo Saxon imagery, which is never ever associated negatively with barbarism, is it?
 

Peat

Hall of Fame
Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
10,086
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Ulster

I am sure they hold it in high esteem. I am equally sure the esteem and use is not welcomed by some. Positive intentions do not necessarily prevent negative outcomes.

And see all previous points about the problem with drawing an equivalence between our culture and theirs.
 

ratsapprentice

Hall of Fame
TRF Legend
Joined
Jan 25, 2013
Messages
12,106
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

England

I am sure they hold it in high esteem. I am equally sure the esteem and use is not welcomed by some. Positive intentions do not necessarily prevent negative outcomes.

Those intentions are vitally important when criticising the situation. And those who are criticising should understand that they have a far better chance of encouraging change by not being so ignorant of their target's intentions.
Perhaps I'm underestimating the accuracy of the stereotypical backwards Devonian, but I somehow doubt that the Chiefs fans who wear headdresses are trying to imply, or think that there are a load of Native Americans sitting around in bars or checking their email in ceremonial dress/wielding Tomahawks.

And see all previous points about the problem with drawing an equivalence between our culture and theirs.

I was responding to your point about the apparent esteem with which we hold our own culture - I'd suggest the number of people who think of our own historic cultures as barbaric are probably comparable to the number who think of the culture (caricature or otherwise) the Chiefs imagery symbolises is barbaric. That is all.
 

Dan Kelly is Irish

G.O.A.T
TRF Legend
Joined
Dec 13, 2013
Messages
20,245
Country Flag

Ireland

Club or Nation

Leicester

Personally i think it is very lazy to label it as PC gone mad IMO.

I mean has Exeter done anything to discuss it with say Native american tribes? Get there thoughts on it example the name and the marketing maybe.

Yes the way the article is written is very much i'm offended on behalf of ___________ but there have been multiple examples of this in America Redskins (For everything) Kansas city chiefs for the Mascot and chop chant (Hence why KC changed their mascot).
 

Peat

Hall of Fame
Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
10,086
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Ulster

Anglo-Saxon culture is the culture of a wealthy people, one where the majority is not born into poverty, or held as other by those in power simply because of their ethnicity. There has been no great, serious, successful attempt to alter our history and how it is shown simply to demonstrate we are different to the others to our detriment. And so on.

When people criticise Anglo-Saxon culture/history, I doubt many take it too much to heart. Due to the different situations, that is demonstrably not the same for the Native American community.
 

ratsapprentice

Hall of Fame
TRF Legend
Joined
Jan 25, 2013
Messages
12,106
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

England

Personally i think it is very lazy to label it as PC gone mad IMO.

I'm not saying that.

- - - Updated - - -

Anglo-Saxon culture is the culture of a wealthy people, one where the majority is not born into poverty, or held as other by those in power simply because of their ethnicity. There has been no great, serious, successful attempt to alter our history and how it is shown simply to demonstrate we are different to the others to our detriment. And so on.

I'm struggling to make sense of that sentence, if I'm honest. From what I can make out I'm not sure I agree with it, but as I say... I can't quite get my head around it.
 

ncurd

Hall of Fame
TRF Legend
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
11,200
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Bath

The issue isn't that Exeter fans, team and owners are trying to cause offence. The issue is they use that imagery without any thought of people the imagery represents. Which are a living breathing people that have been oppressed.

We wouldn't call a team the Yiddish Gold Diggers and then wear Yamaka's.

I'm not against the name Cheifs but what is done is in extension to that should be given some thought. Awareness is best thing creating links with the communities in America. Reality is Chiefs marketing team just want to sell more tat.
 

Latest posts

Top