The debate about the Washington Redskins' name has been a hot issue for a while, and for good reason. Yet it seems strange the Blackhawks are getting a free pass.
I'm not about to say the Blackhawks logo is worse than the Redskins', a name that is unquestionably a slur and shouldn't have a place in sports, or life. I even understand how people don't take exception to the logo. But it's not about degrees of wrongness. It's about being wrong.
The Blackhawks were named after the original owner's infantry division in World War I, nicknamed the Black Hawk division, which was named after the Native American leader. Even at its inception, the name wasn't meant to honor Native Americans. Yet the symbol they went with was a Native American in face paint. For a team that prides itself on the national anthem, there's a disconnect by being named loosely based on a man who fought against the U.S. and for his people on multiple occasions.
The problem with naming a team after a person or people is that one image is picked to represent all aspects of that group of people. And the grin on the Blackhawks logo's face makes him look dumb and submissive. With the team being played in a country that has systematically decimated those very people, it feels wrong.
I know the Hawks have a loose relationship with the Native American community in Chicago.
But let's be honest. It's more about PR, for this very point, for this very column. And to their credit they don't have a tomahawk chant (although they do play stereotypical drum beats), and making Tommy Hawk a hawk was a nice touch. Yet some fans wear face paint and feathers, as depicted on the team logo.
Simply put, if there were a new hockey team starting in Chicago, you couldn't use a similar logo. So why keep it?
While the Hawks have beautiful jerseys, a simple logo change would fix all the problems. They could move toward the bird idea and even keep the name, the color schemes, everything. After all, most fans even refer to the team as the Hawks.
There are definitely worse things to worry about. But while the conversation is ongoing about the Redskins, it would be wrong to not at least consider the issue. The Hawks would lose some tradition, but anytime the excuse for continuing tradition is tradition itself, it needs to be reconsidered.
Scott Bolohan is a RedEye special contributor. @scottbolohan
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