When we were kids, the most popular game we boys played outside of sports was cowboys and Indians.My family and friends often remind me that I was always the Indian, and I took the part very seriously — using my homemade bow and blood-weed arrows (with metal soda-cap points) quite effectively against my buddies who made up the cavalry.That may explain why, whenever the bigger-than-life cowboys-and-Indians game was played out on TV between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins, I often pulled for the team from the nation’s capital.That, of course, was heresy for a native Texan.As Washington comes to town to play its archrival, it brings along the escalating controversy of the team’s mascot and iconic but stereotypical logo, which many American Indians find offensive. They’ve fought for years to get the symbols abolished.The team’s owner, declaring that the Redskins name pays honor to American Indians, has vowed he’ll never change the mascot or the logo. Many who agree argue that the mascot, which has been around since 1933, has a storied history that outweighs any offense to an ethnic group.While I’ve taken positions against certain mascots for college and high school teams in Texas, I’ve never weighed in on the Washington Redskins controversy — until now.It is time for the team to get rid of the mascot and symbol, which is more than stereotypical. It is derogatory.While I’m at it, I might as well tell the Cleveland Indians, under similar pressure for its Chief Wahoo caricature, that it should follow suit.Who are we to argue with what offends people?In the late 1960s when the mascot of what is now the University of Texas at Arlington was the Rebels and the school flew the Confederate flag, I argued for change.I felt the same when area high schools, namely Fort Worth’s Southwest and Birdville’s Richland, once wrapped themselves in the Confederate theme. While “Redskins” was always pejorative, other American Indian names and their derivatives are not as easily categorized as offensive. The word Indian itself, or Braves or Chiefs or the name of a tribe can be honorable, I suppose. The Florida State University Seminoles have the blessings of that tribe, which considers the mascot a tribute to its people. Texas high schools have more Indians than Cowboys. In addition to the 17 or so “Indians” names, including Keller High School, there are “Warriors,” “Kiowas,” “Chieftains,” “Braves” and “Comanches.” There are two schools with the “Indians” mascot that make perfect sense to me: Comanche High School, in a city named for the Comanche tribe, and Quanah High School, whose town northwest of Fort Worth was named for Quanah Parker, the last chief of the Quahada Comanches.These debates over mascots and logos will go on for a long time, and while I have my opinions about what is appropriate and what is not in good taste, I still must be willing to listen to what others think, especially those who are offended. I’m not to judge someone else who says they are hurt by a term or symbol.I know it’s time for the Redskins name to go, regardless of tradition or how much it may cost the owners to come up with another brand.There’s a way to make such a change less painful. Simply involve the die-hard fans in the process.
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