A different take on the native iconography in sports argument

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I have a go at Chief Wahoo every six months or so. It’s just what I do.  But I’ll grant that it gets old arguing that Chief Wahoo should go away simply because he’s offensive.

Why? Because it never solves anything. Despite the fact that it is 100% rationally undeniable that Chief Wahoo is offensive, there will always be people who come back with all kinds of complicated, contrived nonsense to say he isn’t because if they don’t their childhood will be ruined or something. I dunno. Ask them. It’s hard to hear their arguments what with all of that mouth-breathing.

Anyway, today Paul Lukas tries to sidestep the basic offensiveness argument — about not just Wahoo, but over native American iconography in general — with this tack:

I see this as more of an intellectual property issue. Basically, for those of us who aren’t Native American (which basically means the vast majority of the people who reading this), I don’t think we have the right to use images of headdresses, tomahawks, tribe names, and so on. It’s not a question of whether such symbols are offensive, or whether they perpetuate outdated stereotypes; it’s that they don’t belong to us. If a non-Jewish group used a menorah or a Star of David in its marketing, wouldn’t that raise a few eyebrows? Ditto for a non-military group using a Purple Heart. And if those examples don’t pass the smell test, neither does a sports team using Native American iconography.

I guess I can see where he’s coming from, but I submit that there are all manner of businesses in this country that use some sort of naming or iconography that doesn’t really belong to them. There are thousands of little shops, campgrounds, restaurants, you name it, that use some sort of name or iconography from some sort of ethnic group or singularly respected group of any kind, despite having no connection to them at all.  People exploit Memorial Day for mattress sales, for cryin’ out loud.

I’m not saying Lukas is wrong here. He makes a good argument, but I still think the best argument is that these things are just offensive.

Oh, and finally: before you wade into the comments with your “what about the Fighting Irish!” idiocy, read ALL of Lukas’ column. There he deals with the usual counter-arguments and dispatches them pretty deftly.

MLB to crack down on sign stealing

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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.