ESPN Host Max Kellerman claims the “Fighting Irish” is just as offensive as a nickname and mascot as Chief Wahoo or the Washington Redskins.
Speaking on the decision of the Cleveland Indians to no longer make use of the mascot Chief Wahoo as their uniform logo from 2019 onwards, co-host of ESPN’s “First Take” Max Kellerman argued on Tuesday that the University of Notre Dame should also be among those sports teams that take note of the offense caused by their mascot and make move to change it.
A strong advocate for the removal of the caricature Chief Wahoo from the Indians’ uniforms, Kellerman stated that "even if it is a minority of the group that is offended," all sports teams should take the voice of the few into consideration, taking a step back to consider whether their mascots and logos are appropriate for use from 2018 onward.
"When I go to Native-American reservations around the country to call fights, I am approached—I've received feathers in honor and letters saying, ‘Thank you for your stance,'" he said, dismissing a recent survey published by the Washington Post that claimed that nine out of ten Native Americans are not offended by the Washington Redskins name.
"Do I believe that's a representative survey of the way Native-Americans actually feel about this? No, I do not.”
The National Congress of American Indians created this poster in 2001. Seventeen years later, the Cleveland Indians are finally retiring “Chief Wahoo.” pic.twitter.com/3dAV2A26YP— Scott Bixby (@scottbix) January 29, 2018
As well as wholeheartedly standing behind the decision of the Cleveland Indians, Kellerman next went one step further, drawing in the Notre Dame name as an example of another sports franchise that should show the same courtesy to the sections of society who believe their name to be offensive.
"Many Irish-Americans are not offended, but many are. And should that also change? The answer is yes, unequivocally yes," Kellerman said.
"Pernicious, negative stereotypes of marginalized people that offend even some among them should be changed. It's not that hard.”
How does the Fighting Irish compare to Cheif Wahoo?
Although the abuse suffered by the Irish in the US in the era of intense anti-Catholic rhetoric and “No Irish Need Apply” can in no way compare to the devastation inflicted on Native Americans for centuries, the “fighting Irish” stereotype was one that evolved at a time when Irish immigrants to the US were regarded as bawdy drunks, fighting amongst each other in the lower rungs of society.
For Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish has been their school’s mantra for most of a century and used along the lines of an underdog warrior fighting back, the way that some advocates of the likes of the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins nicknames believe the names are used solely for the purpose of warrior-style imagery, presenting their team as fearless fighters ahead of battle.
Critics of this present the argument that the names use outdated language and offensive terminology to present a team image that could just as easily be recreated with the use of a different mascot or logo. For example, St. John’s University Redmen became the Red Storm in 1994 and the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux became the Fighting Hawks without any loss of face for the respective teams.
Where did the Notre Dame mascot of the "Fighting Irish" originate?
Once competing under the name “Catholics” before becoming the “Ramblers” because of their love of traveling far and wide for games at a time when this was rarely done, the exact date for when the Notre Dame nickname came about is unknown, although it was officially adopted by University president Rev. Matthew Walsh, C.S.C. in 1927.
One story suggests that the name was born as far back as 1899 when the Northwestern Wildcats were being defeated by Notre Dame 5-0, the Wildcat fans allegedly chanting "Kill the Fighting Irish, kill the Fighting Irish” as the second half started.
Others say the name didn’t come into being for another decade when a Notre Dame player yelled to his losing team, “What's the matter with you guys? You're all Irish and you're not fighting worth a lick." Once the team came back from behind to secure a win, the name just stuck.
Most people, however, believe that the press coined the term in the 1920s because of the school’s “never-say-die fighting spirit and the Irish qualities of grit, determination and tenacity,” according to their school website.
What are your thoughts on the Notre Dame “Fighting Irish?” Is it demeaning to Native Americans to claim this is just as insulting a mascot, should it go or is it all PC gone mad?