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Saturday, August 30, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 80.0° F  Partly Cloudy
The Daily
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Citizen Dave: Mascot names aren't worth fighting for
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We've got another round of sports mascot controversy brewing. Native Americans are campaigning to get the Washington Redskins to change their name to something less offensive and maybe more descriptive. Washington "Shutdowns" or the "Gridlocks" come to mind.

The team's owner refuses to even consider the idea, which is perfectly in keeping with the mood in Washington these days when you think about it.

Here in Wisconsin, there's a bill (AB 297/SB 317) to make it harder for the state to force a public school district to change a mascot name that community members find offensive.

Among the stupid debates to be having, this is one of the dumbest. It seems to me that if Native Americans find a team mascot to be offensive, well, then it is. So change it. Why is this so hard?

In 1994 and, to their credit, before anybody complained, Marquette University changed its team names from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles. It remained controversial for a decade until there was an attempt to change it back. In response the trustees did something that made everybody angry -- they changed the name to the Gold.

It never makes sense to change a team name to a color. Stanford, for example, is now the Cardinal. They could have just made it plural and, while it would still be lame, the name would make sense. But it's really hard to cheer for a color even when it's a shade of red.

Anyway, everybody hated the Gold, so after another arduous debate and a referendum, MU went back to Golden Eagles and it has been a settled matter ever since. No big deal. Never should have been a controversy at all.

People who want to hold on to team names that others find offensive like to say that it'll never end. But seriously? Are meat packers ever going to be offended in Green Bay? Will Miller demand that the Milwaukee baseball club stop calling their team the Brewers? Will white tail deer demand that the Bucks change their name?

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays became just the Rays. The Cincinnati Reds were once the Redlegs and before that the Red Stockings. The Washington Wizards used to be the Bullets. The Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens but left their name behind for a new team to pick up. Teams change their names all the time.

These are just teams playing games. If the names are offensive, just change them to something that's not. Why is this a problem?

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