I feel like there are about 100 other factors that go into what this study is purporting to measure, but I throw it out there because it’s interesting.
Two researchers have looked into the impact team mascots and names have on the bottom line. They studied colleges who changed their nicknames and mascots away from Indian names and symbols and on to something else and then looked at the growth in revenue for Indian-named pro teams compared to their non-Indian counterparts.
The results: college programs experienced a small, short term reduction in revenue but over time saw revenues increase. For the pros:
Examining the financial performance over the past dozen years for four teams—the Kansas City Chiefs and the Washington Redskins in the NFL, and the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians in Major League Baseball—revealed the eye-opening result that having a Native American mascot appears to cost professional sports teams millions of dollars in annual revenue—at least $1.6 million per year in the NFL, and $2.6 million per year for MLB’s Braves and Indians.
The linked story talks to the researchers and explains their theories about their findings.
Like I said, I question how exact this sort of science can be and whether a lot of other factors aren’t accounting for them. For example, there is mention of a revenue bump when the Washington Wizards changed their name from the Bullets. Which, yes, did happen. But it also coincided with that franchise getting a ton of good young talent in the mid 90s, winning more games than it had and moving into a new arena. The impact of the name may have caused some people to get new t-shirts or maybe even to patronize the team’s games more often. But winning and new facilities had to be a bigger factor.
One thing here is indisputable, though: the bottom line will drive a business’s decisions more than anything else. And, this study aside, if the Indians, Redskins, Braves and other teams experience a revenue drop off they themselves attribute to their nicknames and mascots, they will change.