Notre Dame's leprechaun mascot, is it time for a change?

There is little doubt that an overwhelming majority of Americans are fed up with racism and prejudice in all its ugly forms. The latest example involves Native Americans and the Washington Redskins football team’s name and logo.

Many in the Native American community take offense at the images portrayed by the Redskins name and logo. They are joined by numerous groups which include people of all races, religions and nationalities. Significant numbers of Redskin fans have joined in the growing chorus of people who simply want the name and images changed; and are lobbying the team’s owners to take action. President Obama himself has indicated that the team owners should consider the feelings of Native Americans and remove the offensive nature of the team’s title.

A national move to correct racial and ethnic stereotypes in professional and college sports is reaching a fever pitch. One ever increasing controversy involves Notre Dame and their football program which has long employed the term “Fighting Irish” coupling it with the use of a logo which depicts a tiny leprechaun who darns a mean and angry face, with raised fists and legs spread far apart in a ready to fight stance.

Many, who know the history of the Irish in America, understand that severe discrimination existed against them in this country and abroad for years, especially in the 19th century where Irish immigrants were forced into abject poverty as a result of employment and housing prejudice. The Irish have long been portrayed as unintelligent, drunken brawlers and many feel that the Fighting Irish logo only helps to foster this stereotypical image.

“I think you are going to see a movement to replace that silly looking leprechaun with something more respectable,” said Sean K. an Irish American College student, who currently attends NYU.

“That image of Irish Americans is not only far outdated but also offensive,” remarked the student. 

One Washington Redskin fan, Patrick O, a school teacher of Irish decent teacher from Brooklyn, NY, went even further in his criticism of sports teams using stereotypes to depict team images by saying: “I think we are on the precipice for ridding sports teams of these horrible images once and for all. People are sick of seeing teams exploit Native Americans by using names such as chiefs, warriors, braves and Indians. I think you will see all of them begin to disappear over the next few years.

The teacher went on to say: “I think colleges are far ahead of professional teams in this regard. That reflects the changing face of America and how the youth see things more clearly. Notre Dame knows that stereotyping is wrong in all its forms. As a leading educational institution in this nation, it must respond to those of us who demand an end to faulty and hurtful depictions of racial, ethnic or religious stereotypes. The college will either have to dump the leprechaun or face the shaming process which will include on site protests in the near future. I have to go through that now with my own team – the Redskins.”