Sports Ethics Minute: Dump the name!

Lancaster High SchoolImagine, just for a minute; a Sports Ethics minute, that your child went to a high school where about 15 percent of the students were from the same racial, ethnic or religious group. In fact, you and your child are also members of that group. Not so far-fetched.

OK, we all got that image?

Let us further imagine there is a negative name, character, trait or a behavior associated with your group; you know, a stereotype. You don’t like the name or character (or both) and it offends you and every other member of your group. Still with me?

Now let’s talk about Lancaster High School, their mascot and name, “The Redskins.” Here we go, once again.

Back to the 1950s

I respect the fact that the decision to keep or drop the name has been the subject of a raging debate within the Lancaster school district. No matter which side of the debate you are on, we need to admire that they are trying to work it out.

The debates have gotten worse, and they will continue to get more contentious; two school districts, the Akron Central School District and the Lake Shore District, have cancelled both their boys and girls Lacrosse games against Lancaster High School. In large part, the games have been cancelled because 11 percent of Akron’s student body and 15 percent of Lake Shore, are Native American. Imagine that; the Native American students at those schools are offended by the team name of another school who call themselves the Redskins.I would also interject that there are a lot of non-Native Americans who are pretty upset as well.

It was an easy decision for us,” Lake Shore Superintendent James Przepasniak told the paper. “We feel this action is in support of the Native American community.”

I find it hard to fault him. This is not “tradition,” so much as people believing the other group is too sensitive or too politically correct – and therefore, they are wrong. Are we in an age where far too many people are “offended?” Yes, we are. However, I don’t think this is one of those cases.

Lancaster Superintendent of Schools Michael J. Vallely said in the statement picked up by the Associated Press (March 7, 2015):

“We have every confidence in the curriculum department, faculty, and student leadership that, as we continue this process of educating ourselves on the other connotations of the term Redskin and build a context for understanding conflicting points of view, the students will have a wider lens with which to view the issue.”

Educating ourselves?

With all due respect, the above statement is so political, the superintendent should consider running for president next year. It is the ultimate pandering; it is trying to satisfy everyone without doing a thing to address the problem.

The term ‘Redskin” is derogatory; Native Americans overwhelmingly find it so. The Washington Redskins, part of the NFL since the 1930s is a private, for-profit organization and they and their fans can find dozens of arguments to support their position. Lancaster is not quite the same thing as Washingon, though. One false argument doesn’t support the other.

Lancaster High School is funded by public tax dollars. They are not a private school. The students don’t need a wider lens unless it’s sensitivity to racism and stereotyping; the faculty should damn well know better. The parents are upholding a tradition that is their own false narrative because they were able to yell and whoop war cries 40 years ago.

Stop it already. Drop the name.









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