ESPN host Max Kellerman ignited backlash on social media by suggesting Tuesday that the University of Notre Dame should change its nickname, the Fighting Irish, because it is racist.
On his ESPN show First Take, Kellerman was commenting on the Cleveland Indians’ decision on Monday to banish its mascot, Chief Wahoo, from the teams’ baseball uniforms, caps, and helmets beginning in 2019.
The team’s move comes after decades in which Native Americans have long argued that the Wahoo mascot is an offensive and stereotypical caricature of their race.
Kellerman said that the Indians’ decision should also apply to the Washington Redskins football team.
ESPN host Max Kellerman ignited backlash on social media by suggesting Tuesday that the University of Notre Dame should change its nickname, the Fighting Irish, because it is racist
Notre Dame Fighting Irish mascot the Leprechaun celebrates during the NCAA football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Temple Owls at Notre Dame Stadium last September in South Bend, Indiana
Notre Dame’s official logo for its athletic program features a caricature of a leprechaun
On his ESPN show First Take, Kellerman was commenting on the Cleveland Indians’ decision on Monday to banish its mascot, Chief Wahoo, from the teams’ baseball uniforms, caps, and helmets beginning in 2019
Some Native American activists have argued that ‘redskin’ is a slur, but the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, has resisted public pressure to change the team’s nickname.
Kellerman, who is also a boxing analyst, said on ESPN on Tuesday that he has been thanked by Native Americans for his opposing offensive nicknames.
‘When I go to Native American reservations around the country to call fights, I am approached – I’ve received feathers in honor and letters saying, “Thank you for your stance”,’ he said.
Kellerman then said that Notre Dame, a private Catholic university in South Bend, Indiana, should follow suit and do away with its Fighting Irish nickname.
‘Many Irish-Americans are not offended, but many are. And should that also change? The answer is yes, unequivocally yes,’ Kellerman said.
‘Pernicious, negative stereotypes of marginalized people that offend even some among them should be changed. It’s not that hard.’
Kellerman’s remarks got social media users angry. They say it is an example of political correctness run amok.
But Twitter user Brian Kenny agreed with Kellerman that the Fighting Irish mascot needed to go.
Despite Kellerman’s comments, there doesn’t appear to be any organized movement among Irish Americans to have the school do away with its logo or mascot.
In August 2005, the NCAA, the ruling body of college athletics, ordered its participating schools to do away with ‘hostile and abusive racial/ethnic/national origin mascots, nicknames or imagery’ during postseason tournament games.
This past August, the University of Illinois barred the so-called ‘war chant’ that was played during the school’s sporting events after it was deemed offensive, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The move came 10 years after the school’s board of trustees voted to bar the Chief Illiniwek mascot.
In 2015, the University of North Dakota voted to change its teams’ nickname from ‘Fighting Sioux’ to ‘Fighting Hawks.’