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Chief Wahoo deserves banishment from newspapers

I hope that you’re sitting down, folks, because I have some bad news. It is my sad duty to report that the Stanley Cup made from LEGOs has been stolen.

I know we’ll all remember where we were when we heard the tragic details. The replica Stanley Cup was lovingly fashioned from more than 6,000 LEGOs bricks, and was in the midst of a whirlwind national tour, which was to culminate by its display in Florida as part of the NHL All-Star festivities (who says that pro hockey doesn’t know how to market itself?). But the model was swiped last week from a sports equipment show in Las Vegas, according to LEGOs North American Headquarters in Enfield.

There’s only one thing left to do, of course — form massive search parties and scour the country. The item should be easy to spot; just look for anyone carrying a Stanley Cup. When you see one, kind of edge up carefully, sneak a peak and see if it’s made of LEGOs. If it is, do not act on your own — call the police. Or drive directly to the North American LEGOs Headquarters and fill out a report.



If we all work together, we can bring the LEGOs Stanley Cup back safe and sound, to its rightful owner. Reward offered.*

After we accomplish this, perhaps we can tackle other, less important issues. Here’s one: racial stereotyping in team nicknames. The Lincoln, Neb. Journal




Star, just announced that it will stop using the “Redskins” nickname in stories about Washington’s NFL team. The newspaper also said it has stopped

carrying logos for teams that “adopt imagery such as an arrowhead and ones that caricature Native culture.”

“We’ve made this decision out of respect for Native people,” editor Kathleen Rutledge wrote in the Star. “Plain and simple.”

The Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo is also not welcome in the paper. Also, the word “Fighting” will not be used when in conjunction with sports nicknames, such as “Fighting Illini.”

Also, “Cincinnati Bengals,” has not appeared for several months, but for reasons completely unrelated to the issue at hand.

The Journal Star isn’t alone. The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Oregonian of Portland and the Kansas City Star are among newspapers, which, in their coverage, have also banned or limited the use of nicknames or images linked to Native Americans.

And this reporter’s own alma mater, Sequoia High in Redwood City, Calif., was recently embroiled in controversy when it considered dropping the nickname

“Cherokees” from its sports teams. Students and alumni objected, and so a compromise was reached — the nickname stayed, but the costumed mascot was

changed to a raven. This turn of events baffled everyone, including the raven, which doesn’t even show up to games — it just wanders aimlessly around campus bumping into walls.

The question is, are we at a point in this republic where major sports franchises can be persuaded to change their nicknames? I’ll bet when Steve Spurrier signed on in Washington he didn’t figure that a nickname controversy would eat into his game day preparation.

In this reporter’s opinion, however, it’s about time these Native-American themed nicknames hit the road. Haven’t our native peoples suffered enough? We

slaughtered the buffalo, took their land, destroyed their way of life, and as the only compensation we give them the Cleveland Indians? Have you seen that

pitching staff? Just a slap in the face to all Native Americans.

What are our schoolchildren to learn of the people who first came to North America by the Bering Land Bridge? Do we give them facts, or foam tomahawks?

Do we teach them that the Cherokees developed a written language and produced the first Native American newspaper, or do we dress in loin cloths and dance

around a campfire? And what about this kid in the raven suit, bumping into the cafeteria? He must also be stopped.

I’ve often wondered why sports nicknames such as Washington Redskins or Kansas City Chiefs are acceptable, but Detroit Negroes or New York Jews are not. I don’t spend a huge amount of time thinking about this, you understand, but occasionally I wonder what the logos would look like. Dang it, it’s just not right, and it’s about time we changed it. The only reason we haven’t is that there aren’t enough Native Americans around to make a louder fuss. And why aren’t there more Native Americans? Um … have you seen any late night western recently?

Naming your sports team the Indians or Chiefs or Braves shows so little creativity anyway. The old street gangs in New York City had the right idea. They were the Dead Rabbits and the Bowery Boys and the Slaughterhousers. Show up in a gang fight with the name “Indians” and you’d get beat up just for having no imagination.

Well, I’ve had it. Cheers to the Lincoln Nebraska Journal Star, which had the courage to do what it thought was right. I want to show my solidarity, but there are no such sports teams remaining in my area (Stanford University changed from Indians to Cardinal in 1972). So I’ll just drive out to my former high school and punch that raven in the beak.

Then I’ll … wait … I think I see the LEGOs Stanley Cup! Stop, thief!

* May consist soley of LEGOs.

— Rick Chandler’s interactive sports column, Capacity Crowd, can be found at NBCSports.com. Contact him at RickChand@earthlink.net


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