BOTTOM LINE: Defending Sports Names Until Price Is Right

Written by Chuck Gruenwald on August 30, 2014

As organized sports – professional and amateur — fall victim to politics, political correctness, and the other irritants that plague the rest of our existence, it becomes more difficult to use sports to escape from these very issues. Although there has always been some form of real-world contamination within the sports world, this recent infestation has the ability to fundamentally transform the nature of our seasonal pastimes.

On the other hand, there are people who find refuge in sports: politicians and professional victims.

While the Middle East is slowly falling prey to folks who find comfort in the good old days – in this case, the Eleventh Century – the US economy continues to stagnate, the repercussions of having unprotected borders threaten our personal security, and power grabs at every level of government push us toward a constitutional crisis, politicians have decided that harassing schools and team owners over their organizations’ names are the perfect vacation from addressing issues that are more job related.

And, not known as a group that fears attention like they fear select publicly-displayed religious symbols or smokers, the members of the Fraternal Order of the Perpetually Offended have decided to take it upon themselves to take offense — on behalf of the ethnicities that these folks look down upon – to team names that those minorities “aren’t smart enough” realize that such names are demeaning in nature.

Yes, the attention mongers who object to team names that refer to ethnicities — except the Fighting Irish — and the Army’s practice of naming helicopters, look down upon their “lower classpersons.” If self-described intellects and leaders did not believe that they have somehow attained a higher level of social importance than others, then they would not think that others are less important; that those who occupy lower social perches need to feel good about themselves to compensate for their lesser importance. This also applies to the politically correct renaming of certain jobs, such as sanitation engineer.

Contrary to the narrative of those self-important souls, names are meant to honor, not degrade; the people who criticize “derogatory” names have most likely never tried to achieve a personal goal in which they felt any pride. Therefore, they have no grasp of pride or accomplishment.

Some people define success as trying to pull others down. These individuals don’t know what success is, so, as a defense mechanism, they project their failures onto others. With no acceptance or knowledge of the true meaning of success, a relabeled version of failure becomes a more accessible goal.

Although owners and fans alike are proud of the teams that bare names that others criticize, perhaps the honor associated with a name may find itself replaced with a price tag.

It’s hard to criticize a business entity for trying to find new ways to increase revenue, just as long as honor isn’t sacrificed.

While reading about the histories of the new generation of ballparks, I had noticed that online searches minimize results for Jacobs Field. Growing up, I believed that names for buildings were picked to honor an individual or a defining moment in history. When the owners of a sports franchise are willing to take pride in the name of their team, yet sell the name of the team’s “home” to the highest bidder, it becomes obvious that there is such a thing as pseudo-honor, and it has a price.

As long as a company is willing to stroke its ego by placing its name onto a stadium, both parties involved will take offense to any comment – accidental or otherwise – to anyone who refers to that venue by its former corporate name, or the name of a competitor; try referring to the former Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois as the “Rosemont Horizon”, or the “State Farm Stadium” to an Allstate marketing person or stadium manager, and find out what happens.

Maybe selling naming rights isn’t a totally soulless decision. Perhaps the owners of the Washington Redskins could pacify those who object to the team’s name by finding a corporate partner. I would support such a move, but only if the Redskins organization sold its naming rights to the Indian Motorcycle company.



Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for