The Washington Redskins have taken a lot of heat this year for what many say is their offensive name. However, offensive team names are hardly new in the world of sports. They’ve been around for as long as there have been teams to name.
That being the case, it would take an entire book to present a comprehensive list of offensive team names. So this list is really just sampling of the more extreme examples—some recent, some long ago.
Notably absent are teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and Atlanta Braves. Some folks surely would classify those as offensive team names, and at the very least they appropriate Native American culture without permission. However, unlike many of the teams that made the list, at least their names aren’t actual vulgarities or racial slurs. So they get a pass.
You know who else gets a pass? The Florida State Seminoles. They actually have permission from the Florida Seminole Tribe to use the name. So they’re cool in my book.
Which teams did make the list, then? Click on the arrows to find out.
"Hahaha homelessness is so funny. Let's name our elementary school's sports team the Hobos!"
Seriously, Laurel Hill School isn't even a high school. It's an elementary school. And I bet you'll never guess which state the Lau—yeah, you're right. Florida.
20. Laurel Hill Hoboes
There is nothing offensive about the Hereford Whitefaces. Hereford is a town in Texas. Hereford cows have white faces. Hence, the Hereford Whitefaces.
Still, given the historical offensiveness of blackface, whitefaces just sounds offensive even though it's not.
19. Hereford Whitefaces
That's Butte as in Butte, Idaho, which of course is pronounced Byoot. But it looks like Butt Pirates. And while that's actually pretty funny, it's also a little bit offensive. You can see how conservative folk with sticks up their Buttes be upset that the local high school team's nickname sounds like a derogatory term for gay dudes. And you can see how gay dudes might be upset for pretty much the same reason.
18. Butte Pirates
I'm not sure how or when "Oriental" became offensive. I'm not an expert on the etymology of racial slurs. I do know that "orientals" used to literally mean "people from the east"—which is probably why Akron's East High chose it as their nickname. But somewhere along the line it came to be derogatory, and these days you're not supposed to say it unless you're talking about a rug.
Amazingly, East high only got rid of the nickname in 2010. Better late than never, though.
17. East High Orientals
Sports teams from the University of Mississippi—i.e, Ole Miss—are the Rebels. However, they're not named after any old rebels. They're named after the Confederate rebels who seceded from the United States over the issue of slavery, bringing about the Civil War. So that's...problematic.
A few years ago the university tried to de-emphasize the Confederate (and thus slave) connection by ditching their old mascot, Colonel Reb, and replacing him with a big cuddly bear. However, as you can see from this image, the decision was not well-received by some fans. Many refuse to accept poor Black Rebel Bear.
16. Ole Miss Rebels
No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is a giant anthropomorphic c*ck and b*lls skating around on the ice. His name is Scrotie, and he's the mascot of the Rhode Island School of Design NADs hockey team.
Of course, as you probably guessed, the Rhode Island School of Design does not field any school-sponsored teams in any of the major intercollegiate sports leagues. All their teams—like NADs Ice Hockey, BALLS Basketball, and JUGs Women's Soccer—are club teams. And being an art school, they have no problem with the students' expressing themselves. In fact, they probably consider Scrotie a scathing critique of the cultural hegemony of hyper masculinity.
To everyone else, though, he's just a giant d*ck.
15. Rhode Island School of Design Nads
Wahpeton is a small town of about 7,800 people in North Dakota. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume their high school's nickname was purely phonetic and never intended to be a racial slur. But even they saw the problem, because they changed it from "Wops" to "Huskies" by the 1980s.
14. Wahpeton Wops
"Come on, buddy, don't be offended by my ridiculous shirt, makeup, and headdress. I mean it as a tribute to your people!"
If not for Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indians' racist mascot, the team might have found itself excluded from this list of ridiculously offensive team names like the Chicago Blackhawks and Atlanta Braves—that latter of which at least had the good sense to ditch their racist Indian logo in 1989.
In fairness, the Indians have downplayed Chief Wahoo in recent years, replacing him on their caps with a new vintage-looking "C" logo. But Wahoo is still around. And as long as he is, the Indians will be inherently offensive.
13. Cleveland Indians
I assume that cotton farming is a major industry in the Robstown, Texas, area, and that the high school's nickname is supposed to be a tribute to that.
However, given the ignominious history of cotton picking in the American south—the entire southern economy was built on the back of slaves who picked cotton nonstop until they died—the school should probably just find another nickname that doesn't conjure up images of suffering.
12. Robstown Cotton Pickers
The local high school in Frisco, Texas, used to be called the Frisco Fighting Coons—meaning racoons—and they say the old name dated back to before that became a vile racial slur.
Personally, I believe the first part, but not the second. Either way, they're not the Frisco Fighting Coons anymore. Since 2002, they've been the Frisco Fighting Racoons.
11. Frisco Fighting Coons
Midget is not always a derogatory term, but it usually is. (Cf. Manziel, Johnny.) That's why you'd think Freeburgh High School in Freeburg, Illinois—about an hour southeast of St. Louis—would have changed their mascot a long time ago. But no. They're still the Freeburg Midgets.
10. Freeburg Midgets
"Hahaha kids without parents are hilarious. Let's name the high school basketball team after them!"
Seriously Centralia, Illinois. What the f*ck?
Amazingly, this one only dates to the early 1990s. Legend has it that when the school basketball team made it to the state tournament one year, an announcer saw their mismatched uniforms and said they looked like a bunch of orphans...and the nickname stuck.
The girls teams, by the way, are called the Annie. Like Orphan Annie.
9. Centralia Orphans
The men's teams at Bonaventure University used to be called the Brown Indians, which hardly sets them apart from all the other universities that used to have Native American mascots. However, the women's teams were called the Brown Squaws...until a group of tribal leaders and clan mothers from the Senaca tribe in upstate New York told them that, in their language, "squaw" was a derogatory word for vagina.
Now that's offensive.
Anyway, today all the teams at Bonaventure are called the Bonnies—which is stupid, but inoffensive.
8. Bonaventure Brown Squaws
Let's assume for the sake of argument that the name "Redskins" is not racist. I don't know how it's not racist, since it refers to an ethnic group by the color of their skin, but let's assume that for the sake of argument. Even still, the fact that Native Americans come forward and say they are offended by the name makes it, by definition, offensive.
7. Washington Redskins
Even for the 1930s standards, "Zulu Cannibal Giants" was a pretty racist name. This was a travelling baseball team that went from town to town playing local teams while dressed in grass skirts and tribal war paint.
Really, everything about them was offensive.
6. Zulu Cannibal Giants
Surely, I thought, this cannot still be the nickname of the sports teams that play for Lamar High School in Lamar, Colorado. They must have changed their name by now, right?
Wrong. Unbelievably, they're still the Savages. Go to their website and see for yourself. (And here's a screencap for the sake of posterity.)
5. Lamar Savages
I guess when your town is called Peking, you have to call yourself the Chinks, right?
Such was the thinking of the folks in Peking, Illinois. The local high school's sports teams were called the Chinks from the 1930s until 1980, when they changed their names to the Dragons, preserving some of that Chinese heritage.
4. Peking Chinks
Coachella Valley High School adopted the nickname "Arabs" in the 1930s, ostensibly as a tribute and thank you to the relatively large Arab immigrant population who worked on local date farms. However, over the years, it turned into the dancing racist caricature you see here.
In 2014, after years of discussions and protests, the school announced that they would keep the Arabs as their team name—adding "Mighty" to the front of it—and rework the mascot so it's not so blatantly offensive.
Here's what they came up with:
Much better, don't you think?
3. Coachella Valley Mighty Arabs
The Prince Albert Raiders—a junir team based in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan—use a pirate motif in their current official logo. However, they recently reintroduced "Boston Raider," their mascot from the 80s and 90s...who is a clearly Arab.
Needless to say, this decision to bring their racist mascot back did not go over well.
2. Prince Albert Raiders
Number one on our list of offensive team names? The Dangerous Darkies, a former South African pro soccer team that played in the National Soccer League in 1991 and 1992 before merging with another local team to become the Mpumalnga Black Ace FC.
I do not have any first hand knowledge of what it was like to be black in South Africa in the early 1990s. Maybe Dangerous Darkies wouldn't have been offensive at all. But it certainly sounds extremely offensive today.
1. Dangerous Darkies
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