1. Cleveland Indians
Why They Should Change It: It’s super racist. Not only is their referring to Native Americans as Indians inaccurate (last I checked Columbus was wrong about the whole “getting to India” thing), but their mascot is an incredibly offensive caricature called “Chief Wahoo.” As Kanye would say, “That shit ray.” (Kudos to my friend Rajib for trying to make “That shit ray” happen. You did it buddy.)
What They Should Change It To: Cleveland Buckeyes
Why?: The local population already feels a great connection to the name thanks to Ohio State, but “Buckeyes” was also the name of Cleveland’s Negro League team. That combination of history and modern familiarity make this one a no brainer.
2. Washington Redskins
Why They Should Change It: See above. Some people would argue that “Redskins” is less racist as it can be a non-weighted descriptor (a la “black-skinned,” “light-skinned”). These people are wrong. Society would never accept the Washington Blackskins, because we all know how fucked up that is. Just because Native Americans are a smaller minority group doesn’t mean “Redskins” is a less fucked up name.
What They Should Change It To: Washington Hogs (Razorbacks, etc.)
Why?: Because the Washington fan-base has already adopted the hog as an honorary mascot for the team (after their offensive lines of the ’80s and ’90s). You already have a great alternative, run with it! If you don’t like the simplicity of “Hog” go with “Razorbacks.” You can even keep that “R” logo you sometimes use.
3. Atlanta Braves
Why They Should Change It: Do I detect a racist pattern? The team tries to walk a fine line with “Braves.” They’ve positioned it as a positive nickname for Native Americans, and have long since gotten rid of any offensive caricatures they may have used in the past. But that illusion falls apart when your crowd does the “tomahawk chop” in the stands. Sorry.
What They Should Change It To: Atlanta Kings
Why?: As it stands the team’s history is closely tied to Boston where the team originally played (as the Braves, Bees, and Beaneaters, among others names). Why not use this name change to honor one of Atlanta’s most revered sons, Martin Luther King Jr?
4. Utah Jazz
Why They Should Change It: When I say “jazz music,” nobody thinks of Utah. Literally nobody. Not even jazz performers from Utah think of Utah. Vacate the name and give it back to New Orleans, where it belongs.
What They Should Change It To: Utah Pioneers
Why?: Because it taps into Utah’s frontiersman aesthetic, and it’s kind of boring. You know, like Utah.
5. Brooklyn Nets
Why They Should Change It: “Nets” is fine as far as team names go. It has some great history in the region and is generally inoffensive. But the move from New Jersey to Brooklyn provided the team a chance to start over in a very cool way. They shouldn’t have missed that opportunity.
What They Should Change It To: Brooklyn Dodgers
Why?: What better way to start the only modern major league sports franchise in Brooklyn than to honor the last major league sports franchise in Brooklyn? And what’s worse is that sources inside the Nets organization have confirmed that they considered changing their name to “The Dodgers,” before giving up on the idea. Why do you torture me so Jay-Z. I thought this was a concrete jungle where dreams were made. Not nightmares Jay. Not nightmares.