Normative Narratives

Cowboys and “Indians” (In Sports)

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Cease-fire in Gaza as of 2pm ET, I want give it a few days to see how effective it is at stopping the most recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict before writing about it.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we should all remember how lucky we are to be Americans, to live in this great country, and to not have to worry about our security on a day-to-day basis. My prayers go out to the innocent people on both sides of this conflict (and the innumerable conflicts going on constantly in the developing world which do not get any media coverage) –they deserve better.

When thinking about a uniquely American culture, it would be hard not to consider the “Western”. The rugged individualism of the stereotypical cowboy embodies many of the qualities Americans value: toughness, hard work, and a certain defiance of the rules. This image has been made even more popular through media, specifically through Western films.

In a less appealing light, there is also nothing quite as American as taking advantage of Native Americans. We are all taught at a young age how the early Americans took advantage of the Native Americans (beads for Manhattan), driving them from their lands and killing those who would not go quietly. There is nothing that can be done about past atrocities, except to be as transparent as possible about what happened, and to be conciliatory going forward to those who were wronged. This holds true for many past atrocities; denying history as a defense mechanism only serves to open up old wounds and ensure new relationships will not form.

Continuing in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to do a little fluff piece about “Cowboys” and “Indians” in another distinct form of American culture—Professional Sports:

MLB:

Cowboys: Texas Rangers

Indians: Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds (?)

NFL:

Cowboys: Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos

Indians: Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs

NBA:

Cowboys: Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs

Indians:

NHL:

Cowboys: Dallas Stars (?)

Indians: Chicago Blackhawks

Some Native American groups have spoken out; saying Native American images in sports insignias are disrespectful. However, polls show these people to generally be a loud minority, with most Native Americans supporting the use. After all, sports are popular, and no press is bad press right?

A few patterns emerge here. For one, most “Cowboy” teams are unsurprisingly located in Texas. Another trend is that more quintessentially “American” sports (baseball and football), seem to feature more “Cowboys and Indians” than more international sports (hockey and basketball). As sports become more international, perhaps we will see even less team names that fit into these two American categories.

I’m sure I missed some, so help me fill in the blanks in the comment section. Also, I know there are lots of college sports teams which fit into these two categories; if anyone with extensive knowledge of college sports wants to begin making a list it would be appreciated, and I will update the post to include them.

Happy Thanksgiving! See you all on Friday.

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