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American sports teams, professional, college, high-school and children’s leagues have often adopted animals, mythic humans, or other symbols as emblems and animators for their activities. Many of these names are relatively unmarked culturally except for images of strength, unity and locality—the Denver Broncos, San Francisco, CA 49-ers, or Boston Red Sox, among professional teams, or the Harvard Crimson, University of Southern California Trojans, or Nebraska Cornhuskers among colleges. One strongly embedded cultural tradition, however, of using Native American names or representations—Redskins, Chiefs, Florida Seminoles, or Atlanta Braves (and their “tomahawk chop”) came under increasing attack in the 1990s for the derogatory mythologizations they impose upon a living Native American population. While some supporters argue that such names honor Native Americans and more suggest that they have nothing to do with living peoples (precisely the problem), pressure has grown to drop these names and attendant representations. The Los Angeles, CA school system adopted this policy in 1997, as have other institutions like Stanford. Recent expansion franchises in major-league sports have also care-fully chosen animals or other phenomena—Ravens, Jazz, Saints, Kixx (soccer), etc.—and often rely on more fanciful figures like the San Diego Chicken or Philly Phanatic (Philadelphia Phillies) to raise fans’ spirits.

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